Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

For Puerto Ricans, Christmas isn’t Christmas unless there are pasteles on the table. These lovely banana-leaf wrapped treats are one of 3 must-have dishes on the menu during the holiday season, along with arroz con gandules and pernil.

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For Puerto Ricans, Christmas isn’t Christmas unless there are pasteles de masa on the table. These lovely banana-leaf wrapped treats are one of 3 must-have dishes on the menu during the holiday season, along with arroz con gandules and pernil.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

What Are Pasteles De Masa?

Pasteles are admittedly hard to describe. I like to call them Puerto Rican hot pockets (lol), except they’re not. Made with a tropical root vegetable dough that’s filled with a savory meat stew, and wrapped in green banana leaves, pasteles are often compared to tamales, but their similarities end with the fact that they’re wrapped in a leaf.

Pasteles are a delicious traditional dish served in Puerto Rican homes during Christmas. Each family has their own secret recipe, but the dough for the pasteles is typically made with a combination of root vegetables, like yuca (cassava), yautia (taro), calabaza (tropical pumpkin) and plantain (plátanos) that is peeled and processed into a paste. The typical filling is a savory stewed pork or chicken, known as a guiso. To hold their shape, pasteles are wrapped in green banana leaves, tied into parchment paper bundles and boiled until the masa is cooked through.

How To Make The Masa For Puerto Rican Pasteles?

If you’re lucky enough like me to live near an ethnic/Latino supermarket, you’ll be able to find grated masa for pasteles in the freezer section. This saves lots of time and energy, as taro & cassava are tough root vegetables that require several steps to prepare for this dish. If you’re unable to find it, that’s ok! You’ll just have to make it the traditional way. That involves processing the peeled root vegetables into a paste and seasoning it.

How To Assemble Puerto Rican Pasteles De Masa

You’ll need parchment paper, banana leaves, and butcher’s twine.

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Cut your banana leaves into about 8-9 inches in length. Remove the hard rib located on one side of the leaf.

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Cut your parchment paper into 12 inch squares.

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To build the pasteles, smear about 1 tablespoon of liquid from the stewed meat onto the banana leaf.

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Then, spread 1/2 cup of masa into the middle of the banana leaf.   Place 1/4 cup of filling into the center of the masa, making sure to drain any excess liquid.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

How To Wrap Puerto Rican Pasteles

1. Fold the top of the parchment over towards you, so that the ends meet.
2. Using your hand, tuck the filling into the center.
3. Make a one inch fold at the bottom of the parchment, then make another.
4. Rotate to bring the folded seam to the center.
5. Tuck the filling in at one end.
6. Fold the end under.
7. Tuck again on the other side.
8. Fold the other side under.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

Stack two pasteles together, with the tucked ends facing inwards.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

Tie the pasteles de masa together using butchers twine.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

You’re now ready to store or cook the pasteles de masa.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

How To Cook Pasteles

If storing, place them in a gallon sized freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.  If cooking them, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then boil for 45 minutes to an hour.  If you’re cooking them from a frozen state, cook for 60-90 minutes.

Drain them, cut the string, and unwrap to enjoy.

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

Puerto Rican Pasteles De Masa

A classic Puerto Rican holiday dish, this authentic recipe features the classic masa mixture that results in super tender pasteles.

Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 12
Author Delish D’Lites

Ingredients

The Meat

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless pork (picnic shoulder or Boston butt) you can substitute chickpeas for a vegetarian version
  • 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
  • 2 packets sazon seasoning with culantro y achiote
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup pimento stuffed olives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sofrito
  • 1 tablespoon tomate paste

The Masa

  • 2 pounds yautia blanca (taro root), peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1 pound yuca root (cassava), peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1 pound tropical pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound green (unripe) bananas, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks Or substitute green plantains if unavailable.
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 packets Sazon seasoning with culantro and achiote
  • 1 package frozen banana leaves hojas de platano, defrosted
  • 12 sheets Parchment paper for wrapping
  • Butchers twine for tying

Instructions

To Make The Filling

  1. Cube up the chicken or pork into small cubes, about 1-2 inches in size. Season the meat with adobo, sazon, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil over the meat, then stir up the mixture to get everything well coated with the spices.

  2. Add the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil to a sauce pan, and heat to medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add in the sofrito and stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat, bay leaves and tomato paste. Stir the mixture to combine. Add in the olives, chicken bouillon cube and chicken broth. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour. Cool in the refrigerator before filling the pasteles.

To Make The Masa

  1. Using the fine shredder blade on your food processor or a manual grater, grate the plantain, green bananas, yautia, and pumpkin. Depending on the size of your food processor you may have to work in batches. Change out the shredder blade for the chopping blade. Working in batches process the shredded vegetables until they form a finely-grained paste. Add remaining masa ingredients and mix until well combined. Mix the sazon oil into the masa thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

To Assemble The Pasteles

  1. Cut the banana leaves into about 8-9 inches in length. Remove the hard rib located on one side of the leaf.
  2. Cut the parchment paper into 12 inch squares.
  3. To build the pasteles, smear about 1 tablespoon of liquid from the stewed meat onto the banana leaf.
  4. Then, spread 1/2 cup of masa into the middle of the banana leaf. Place 1/4 cup of filling into the center of the masa, making sure to drain any excess liquid.
  5. Fold into parcels. Stack two pasteles together, with the tucked ends facing inwards. Tie the pasteles together using butchers twine.
  6. If storing, place them in a gallon sized freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
  7. If cooking them, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then boil for 45 minutes to an hour. If you’re cooking them from a frozen state, cook for 75-90 minutes.
  8. Drain the cooked pasteles, cut the strings, and unwrap to enjoy. Serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Want to make a vegetarian version? Use chickpeas (garbanzos) in place of the chicken or pork. 

Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

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Hola

I’m Jannese, Founder of Delish D’lites

I’m a Puerto Rican girl living in paradise (Florida), and the creative mind behind Delish D’Lites. I love sharing my family recipes and travel inspired cuisine! My favorite things include collecting passport stamps, twerking to Latin music, and kissing puppies. Follow along on social.