) “Delicious Tamales Wrapped in Exotic Banana Leaves

Friends, food enthusiasts and lovers of Latin American cuisine, I present to you an exceptional recipe that is sure to transport your taste buds to a different world altogether. The Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves Recipe is a perfect combination of traditional flavors and modern techniques that will give you a taste of true Latin America.

Tamales are a staple food in most Latin American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. However, this particular recipe takes the traditional corn masa dough tamales to the next level by using banana leaves to wrap them. Banana leaves are often used as the substitute for the corn husks because it adds extra flavor and aroma to the tamales.

This Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves Recipe is not only delicious but also easy to prepare. The use of dried ancho chiles, black peppercorns, cloves, and garlic adds an irresistible flavor to the tamales. Moreover, the filling ingredients like cheese calabacitas squash, carrots and tomatoes make this dish packed with nutrients that will leave you feeling satisfied.

Whether you’re looking for a mouth-watering vegetarian dish or want to experiment with different types of meat fillings like mole or pork, these tamales are adaptable and versatile for any palate preference. With this recipe’s unique use of banana leaves as opposed to corn husks that’s commonly known in Mexico or Central America, it will definitely stand out from other tamale recipes.

So join me in trying out this fantastic recipe that has surpassed borders as it’s also commonly known as Tamales Huastecos in Mexico or Tamales Oaxaqueños in Guatemala while still maintaining its unique flavor profile. I assure you that once you try it, the tamales wrapped in banana leaves will become a beloved favorite in your household!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves
Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves

Friends, fellow culinary enthusiasts, let me tell you why you’re about to fall in love with this Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves recipe.

First and foremost, this recipe is a perfect blend of traditional El Salvadoran and Mexican flavors that will have your taste buds buzzing with excitement. It features a delicious filling of masa stuffed with cheese, squash, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, and chili sauce wrapped in a banana leaf – making for an irresistible combination that bursts with flavor in every bite.

The use of banana leaves as the wrapping adds an earthy and aromatic scent that envelops the tamales with a unique flavor that can’t be achieved by using corn husks. The main difference between these two types of tamales is in their texture – the banana leaf tamales are moister when steamed compared to the less porous corn husk texture. It’s something everyone should try at least once in their lives.

What’s more, this recipe is highly versatile – it can be made vegetarian by skipping out the filling ingredients such as cheese and meat blends. You can also modify the recipe to suit your personal preferences by adjusting the amount of spiciness or add toppings for added taste diversity.

If you’re looking for a fun and interactive cooking experience, then this recipe is for you. Making tamales is not only enjoyable but also a fantastic way to bond with family or friends in the kitchen. Why not make it as a group activity?

In summary, if you’re tired of your regular go-to recipes and want to switch things up, then Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves is what you need to try out next. It combines exciting flavors, unusual textures, and offers customizable options suitable for everyone’s preferences. I guarantee you won’t regret making this dish- It’s among the best-tasting tamales recipes out there.

Ingredient List

 Tender, mouth-watering tamales that will make your taste buds dance.
Tender, mouth-watering tamales that will make your taste buds dance.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Tamales wrapped in Banana Leaves recipe:

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound of pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1 dried ancho chili, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

For the Masa Dough:

  • 2 cups of corn masa flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water

For the Vegetables and Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, diced
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Chili sauce for serving

For Wrapping:

  • Banana leaves (hojas de platano)
    *Note: If you can’t find banana leaves in your area, corn husks can be used instead. However, there is a main difference between banana leaf-wrapped tamales and tamales made with corn husks; the texture of corn husks is moister when steamed compared to that of banana leaves which are less porous.

These ingredients can be found in a local supermarket or Mexican/Latin American specialty stores.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect blend of savory and sweet, wrapped together in a banana leaf.
The perfect blend of savory and sweet, wrapped together in a banana leaf.

After gathering all of the ingredients for these Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves, it’s time to start making them! This recipe makes around 15 tamales huastecos, which are a traditional Mexican version made with masa dough, onion, garlic, and chili sauce wrapped in banana leaves. Here is how to make them:

Step 1: Soak the Banana Leaves

The first step when making Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves is to soak the banana leaves. You can do this by cutting them into rectangles and placing them in a large bowl or sink filled with warm water. Be sure to keep the shiny side of the leaf face down in the water to allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2: Make the Chili Sauce

While the banana leaves are soaking, you can prepare the chili sauce. Boil 3 large, fresh tomatoes and 3 dried ancho chiles in a pot of water for about 15 minutes or until they become tender. Once cooked, blend them together with two garlic cloves, half an onion, 1/4 teaspoon of whole cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon of dried marjoram until smooth. This will be used as a filling for the tamales.

Step 3: Prepare the Masa Dough

In a large mixing bowl, combine two cups of corn masa with two tablespoons softened butter and one teaspoon salt until fully incorporated. Gradually add chicken or vegetable broth while continuing to mix until you have a smooth consistency like creamy peanut butter.

Step 4: Mix All Remaining Filling Ingredients Together

The next step is to mix in all remaining filling ingredients – shredded pork or chicken meat (if using), calabasitas squash, carrots, diced tomatoes, minced garlic cloves – into the chili sauce.

Step 5: Assemble the Tamales

Take a soaked banana leaf and make sure to blot off any excess water. Place about two tablespoons of the masa dough onto the center of the banana leaf, then use your fingers to spread it out into a square of almost 8 inches. Place one tablespoon of the filling mixture on top of the masa dough.

Step 6: Wrap the Tamales

To wrap the tamales, fold in one side of the banana leaf then fold in both ends to make a rectangular packet. Then roll up from one end to another so that everything is tightly sealed together inside.

Step 7: Cook the Tamales

Once all of the tamales are wrapped up, place them on a rack in a large steamer basket above boiling water for around 1 hour and 30 minutes or until they become firm upon touch. This will ensure that they stay moist and flavorful inside their wrapping.

Enjoy your homemade Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves!

Substitutions and Variations

 Step up your tamale game with this unique and delicious recipe.
Step up your tamale game with this unique and delicious recipe.

Looking to add some twists to your tamales recipe? You can try different substitutions and variations to spice up your mealtime. Here are some of the things you can do:

– Swap banana leaves with corn husks: If banana leaves are not easily available in your area, you can use corn husks instead. Corn husks add a pleasant taste and texture to tamales; however, they tend to be less moist than banana leaves.

– Go vegetarian: For an all-vegetarian option, skip the meat and stuff your tamales with vegetables like squash, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, and chili sauce. Vegetarian banana leaf tamales are a popular El Salvadorian dish that many people love.

– Experiment with fillings: As for the filling, you can also explore different options like cheese and calabasitas squash or mole (a type of spicy chili sauce). Pork is known as the traditional filling for most types of tamales. However, you’re free to mix it up according to your preference.

– Change up the masa dough: If you want to vary the flavor of your masa dough, add herbs like dried marjoram or swap using dried ancho chiles instead of fresh chilies.

– Vary the size: Tamales are great for both snack and meal-size portions. If you want smaller portions that will be perfect for snacking or appetizers, go for 2-inch tamales wrapped in smaller banana leaves (about 4×6 inch in size). For bigger servings that make a complete meal, go for larger 8-inch tamales wrapped in bigger banana leaves.

Whatever variation you choose, keep in mind that the subtle differences in cooking methods can affect the texture of your tamales. Steaming is the best option since it keeps them moist and flavorful inside their wrapping.

Serving and Pairing

 A burst of flavors and textures in every bite.
A burst of flavors and textures in every bite.

Once you have prepared these delectable Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves, it is time to think about pairing them with the right sides and drinks. The flavor profile of these tamales is bold, earthy, and spicy, so you want to choose accompaniments that complement or enhance those characteristics.

Traditionally in El Salvador, these tamales are served with a light tomato sauce or Salsa Criolla on top. However, you can also serve them with a traditional red or green mole sauce for an even richer flavor. You can also opt for a side of lime wedges, fresh cilantro, sour cream, or sliced avocado. All of them work well with these tamales.

When it comes to pairing drinks with your banana leaf tamales, I recommend a cold beer or a margarita. If you prefer non-alcoholic options, go for hibiscus tea, Agua de Jamaica or horchata. These beverages will provide a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the tamales.

Overall, serving Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves with the right accompaniments will elevate the dining experience for you and your guests. So take some time to think about what sides and drinks will complement this dish best and enjoy!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Who knew banana leaves could add so much to a classic dish?
Who knew banana leaves could add so much to a classic dish?

As with many traditional dishes, tamales wrapped in banana leaves require some time and effort to prepare. To save time on the day of your event or meal, plan ahead and make the tamales in advance by up to two days. Alternatively, you can double or triple the recipe and freeze some of them for later.

To store cooked tamales, let them cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container or wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.

When it comes time to reheat the tamales, there are several options. One popular method is to steam them again, either by placing them in a steamer basket over boiling water for 15-20 minutes or by microwaving them on high with a damp paper towel for 1-2 minutes per tamale.

If you prefer a crispier texture, you can also try reheating the tamales in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10 minutes. This method is especially useful for leftovers that have been refrigerated and have lost some of their moisture during storage.

No matter which method you choose, be sure to check that the tamales are heated through before serving. And remember, reheating times may vary depending on your microwave or oven, so keep an eye on your tamales as they cook to avoid overcooking or drying out.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Make these tamales for a special occasion or just because you deserve a treat.
Make these tamales for a special occasion or just because you deserve a treat.

When it comes to making tamales wrapped in banana leaves, there are a few tips that can make a big difference in the final product. Here are some of my tried and true tips for getting perfect tamales every time:

1. Prepare the banana leaves properly: Banana leaves need to be cleaned and prepared correctly before using them as the wrap for your tamales. It’s important to remove any debris and wipe them down with a damp cloth to get rid of any dirt. To make them more pliable, pass them over an open flame or electric burner to soften them up.

2. Use the right amount of masa dough: The amount of masa dough you put on each banana leaf varies according to its size. As a general rule, use about 2 tablespoons of corn masa per 8-inch piece of banana leaf.

3. Keep the filling moist: Tamales are all about texture, so it’s crucial that the filling stays moist when steaming. If you’re making chicken or pork tamales, cook the meat low and slow until it’s tender and juicy. Vegetarian tamales can benefit from adding some sauce or extra broth to keep them moister when steamed.

4. Line your steamer: Arrange the prepared tamales with the seam side down in a large steamer lined with banana leaves or corn husks to prevent sticking.

5. Steam until done: Bring about 1-2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of your steamer and place the tamales inside. Steam for around 1-2 hours, depending on their respective size, until cooked through and set.

By following these tips, not only will you be able to make delicious tamales wrapped in banana leaves but also ensure that your guests always ask for seconds!


Now, it’s time to answer some frequently asked questions about the Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves Recipe, which can help you relieve any doubts and make the preparation process more straightforward.

Why do you use banana leaves for tamales?

One way to make your tamales stand out is by using banana leaves instead of corn husks. By steaming the tamales in the smoother and less-porous banana leaves, they will have a more moist and tender texture. Additionally, the flavors will become more intense and concentrated as compared to the same tamales made with corn husks.

What is banana leaf tamales made of?

I have a delicious recipe for banana leaf tamales that I would love to share with you. This traditional Latin American dish involves a tamale corn masa that is filled with a mixture of cheese, calabasitas squash, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, and chili sauce, and then wrapped in aromatic banana leaves before being steamed to perfection. These tamales offer a tasty blend of sweet and savory flavors that are sure to delight your taste buds.

What country is tamales with banana leaves from?

Tamales, made from corn masa and wrapped in banana leaves, have a special place in the heart of Salvadorian cuisine and are often enjoyed during festive occasions such as Christmas.

What leaves are tamales wrapped in?

When preparing tamales, it’s common to use a blend of masa and filling, which is then encased in a banana leaf or corn husk and steamed.

How big to cut banana leaves for tamales?

First, begin by cutting the leaves into squares that measure 8 inches each. Remember to put aside those with any tears as they will be useful for steaming purposes later on. It is recommended to have around 18 squares prepared beforehand. Next, take a banana leaf square and spread approximately 1/4 cup of masa dough in a shape of a 4-by-6 inch off-center rectangle. After that, add 2 tablespoons of the braised pork on top of the masa.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, I hope this recipe article has inspired you to try making Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves. Not only is it a classic and delicious dish in Latin American cuisine, but it’s also versatile and customizable to your taste preferences.

Whether you want to make traditional tamales or experiment with different fillings and sauces, this recipe provides a solid foundation for you to build upon. With just a few simple ingredients and some patience, you can create a mouth-watering and visually stunning dish that will impress your friends and family.

So don’t be intimidated by the banana leaves or the masa dough – with practice and perseverance, you’ll become a skilled tamale maker in no time. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll even be able to rival the experts in Guatemala or Mexico!

In the end, making tamales is not just about the final product – it’s about the process and the traditions that go along with it. So gather your loved ones, put on some music, and enjoy the art of tamale-making together. Who knows, it might just become a beloved tradition in your own family.

Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves

Tamales Wrapped in Banana Leaves Recipe

The people in southern Mexico often wrap their tamales in banana leaves instead of corn husks, first wilting the leaves by quickly holding them over a flame or a very hot electric burner. It is said that "the good tamale is known by its wrapper," so try to make a secure and attractive package. Frozen banana leaves from the Philippines can be found in most Asian and Mexican markets.
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Prep Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 268.1 kcal


  • 1 lb lean pork
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 dried ancho chiles, seeds and membranes removed
  • 8 dried guajillo chilies, seeds and membranes removed
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 lb masa dough
  • 5 tablespoons lard
  • banana leaf, 1 large (plus more leaves to line steamer)


  • In a large saucepan, cover pork with water and add 1 garlic clove, 1 onion quarter and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the pork is tender, 45-60 minutes. Shred the meat, reserving the stock.
  • Heat a comal or iron skillet over medium heat. Place the chiles in the hot skillet, using a spatula to press them against it slightly. Turn them so that both sides begin to change color. This will take 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Place the chiles in a bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the tomatoes on a comal or griddle and grill until the skin is charred. Alternatively, put the tomatoes in a baking pan lined with foil and broil until skin is blackened, turning once. Peel and purée in a blender.
  • Roast the other onion quarter, 2 cloves garlic, marjoram, peppercorns and cloves. Drain the chiles and transfer to a blender. Add the roasted onion, garlic, marjoram, peppercorns, cloves and 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) of reserved stock, then purée until smooth.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of the lard in a skillet and sauté the chile purée in it for 5 minutes. Add the puréed tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes; add the pork, stir and cover. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Hold the banana leaf directly over the heat for 5 seconds. Cut into 5-in (13 cm) squares.
  • Knead the masa with 2 tablespoons (1 oz/30 g) of the lard for 5 minutes.
  • Use the remaining lard to grease one side of the banana leaf. Place 3-in (7.5-cm) square of masa on the lard and top with 1 1/2 tablespoons of pork mixture.
  • Fold the opposite edges of the leaf toward the center, then do the same with the same outer edges to form a closed rectangle. To secure tie the tamales with narrow strips of leaf.
  • Place 2 cups (16 oz fl oz/500 ml) water in a pressure cooker, then cover the steamer basket with a layer of flattened banana leaves. Add the tamales to the steamer basket and cover with another layer of leaves. Place the lid on the pan and cook 20 minutes. If you use an ordinary steamer, follow the same procedure but use 4 cups (32 fl oz/1 L) water and cook for 1 hour.
  • Serve warm, with frijoles refritos (refried beans).

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 117gCalories: 268.1kcalCarbohydrates: 12.2gProtein: 18.8gFat: 16.6gSaturated Fat: 5.8gCholesterol: 54.7mgSodium: 438.7mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 1.5g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Christmas, From Scratch, Meat, Mexican, Pork
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.