Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles
Puerto Rican Pasteles

In Puerto Rico, it’s a tradition to serve pasteles at Christmas time. Pasteles are a type of tamal made with pork and adobo stuffing encased in a green plantain masa and wrapped in banana leaves. Although time-consuming and labor-intensive, this Puerto Rican recipe is worth the effort.

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Unlike Mexican tamales, pasteles are boiled and not steamed.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Straining Time 3 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Servings 20 Pasteles


  • ½ gallon oil
  • 2 tbsp Annatto Seed Oil

Masa Mix

  • 25-30 Bananas
  • 1.5 pounds of pumpkin
  • 1 large potato
  • 1.5 pounds of yautia also known as malanga
  • 3-4 packets on Sazon
  • Meat Broth
  • Adobo


  • 8 lbs. Pork
  • 2 lbs. of potato
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • ½ bunch of racao
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium bottle of olives
  • Adobo seasoning
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large spoon of sofrito



  • Mix 2 large spoons of Annatto seed oil with ½ gallon of oil heat and on medium heat.
  • Once it starts to boil lower flame to low heat for 5 minutes


  • Grate all the vegetables including Bananas, pumpkin, potato and yautia


  • Meat- Ask your butcher to cut.
  • Clean all the pork and take the bone out
  • Skin- Clean the fat off and take ½ and cut in 4’s.
  • Season your meat using: Adobo, oregano, Sazon, black pepper, pour a whole bottle of olives with liquid.

Put to boil

  • Once it’s boiled for an hour, cut 1 ½ – 2 lbs. of potato to your liking.
  • Add both cans of tomato sauce.
  • Add cilantro, cut ½
  • Add racao
  • Let the meat boil for 2 -3 hours.


  • 1 – 2, 11.5 oz. cans of roasted peppers
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 small bottle of olives, (no pits of salad)
Keyword Pasteles

History of the Pastele

In Puerto Rico, the holiday season starts after Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas and Three Kings Day to the Octavas and Octavitas, a religious observance that extends the celebration through mid-January. It seems like pasteles are always a part of each celebration. The Fiestas de la Calle de San Sebastián caps it all off over the course of three days in Old San Juan. Friends will show up at loved ones’ houses singing and playing music, like Christmas caroling but with maracas, güiros and cuatros.

It’s common during these celebrations to make large batches of pasteles. Similar to tamales, pasteles are a combination of grated green unripe bananas called guineos, plantains and either yautia or yuca, blended to make a masa seasoned with achiote oil. The filling — pork, ham or chicken simmered in a sofrito of peppers and onions, then mixed with garbanzos, olives, capers and raisins — is tucked into the prepared dough and wrapped in plantain leaves. Once the pasteles are filled and wrapped, they can be frozen, then steamed or boiled just before serving so they’re ready to welcome anyone who may turn up at your door.


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