Puerto Rican Tamales

Puerto Rican Tamales
Recipe Info - Skill Level
Recipe Info - Serving Size
12 tamales
Recipe Info - Prep Time
45 min
Recipe Info - Cook Time
1 hr 50 min
These Puerto Rican Tamales take a little time but are well worth the effort. The filling is a delicious combination of pork, chiles, garbanzo beans, olives and raisins. Instead of masa made out of corn flour, this version uses a mixture of yautia, green bananas and plaintain. Yautia, also called malanga, is in the same family as taro root and can be found in Latin American markets.


Step 1

Combine achiote paste and oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; set aside. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes. Oil will turn red in color.

Step 2

Combine pork, orange juice, garlic, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon bouillon and pepper in a large, resealable freezer bag. Shake bag and press with fingers to distribute seasoning in meat. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Step 3

Remove pork from marinade; reserve marinade. Dry pork meat with paper towel.

Step 4

Heat 2 tablespoons achiote oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add pork; cook for 4 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, ajies (or red bell pepper) and cilantro. Continue to cook for 6 minutes.

Step 5

Stir in reserved marinade; cover. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Uncover; stir in garbanzo beans, olives, raisins and capers.

Step 6

Place yautia, green bananas and plantain in food processor; pulse until smooth. Add evaporated milk; pulse to form a puree texture.

Step 7

Transfer masa into a large mixing bowl; add remaining teaspoon bouillon and 3 tablespoons achiote oil. Stir to combine.

Step 8

Drain and discard any excess cooking liquid from pork mixture (approximately ¼ cup).

Step 9

Wipe plantain leaves clean with a moist paper towel.

Step 10

Brush each leaf on one side with achiote oil. Spread ¼ cup masa on leaf and spread to 4 x 3-inch oval. Top with 2 1/2 tablespoons pork filling.

Step 11

Place plantain leaf over a 12-inch-square of parchment paper.

Step 12

Fold bottom of leaf, then top edge, then fold sides, forming a packet. Repeat with parchment paper. Tie with kitchen string. Repeat, making packets with remaining ingredients.

Step 13

Add water to bottom of a tamal steamer. Water should barely be below the rack. Boil water over medium heat.

Step 14

Arrange tamales flat in steamer; cover with damp kitchen towel. Cover with lid; cook over medium heat for 50 to 60 minutes or until masa pulls away from the leaf.


Replace pork meat with chicken meat for a variation of this recipe. Remove meat for a vegetarian version.


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