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Banana Leaf Tamales

Have you ever tried banana leaf tamales? They are amazing! They have a different flavor than the tamales wrapped in corn husks. They’re perfect during the holiday seasons. Give them a try!

tamal in a banana leaf

These tamales are absolutely delicious. They are work though I’m not going to lie however it is completely worth it! You’ll agree once you take a bite of one.

I really love the flavor that the banana leaves gives the tamales. If you haven’t tried them I highly suggest you do!

Tamale Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 head of garlic plus 3 cloves
  • 1 whole white onion plus 1/4 of an onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tbs chicken bouillon
  • 3 quarts water
  • 4lb masa preparada
  • 2 cups manteca
  • 3 bags of hoja santa
  • 1 lb frozen banana leaves
  • 8 guajillo chiles
  • 8 morita chiles
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Looking for more delicious Mexican recipes? Try these:

How to make banana leaf tamales

The first thing we need to do is make the chicken. So put the chicken in a pot along with the head of garlic, 1 whole onion (peeled), the bay leaves, 3 tbs of chicken bouillon and the 3 quarts of water.

Bring it to a boil. Then start skimming of the foam that rises to the top. Then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once done transfer the chicken to a bowl to cool. Strain and reserve the broth. When the chicken has cooled down shred it.

Now we can start on the salsa. Put the chiles and tomatoes in a pot and cover with water. Boil for about 10 minutes. Then transfer them to a blender and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Then add the 1/4 piece of white onion, 3 garlic cloves, 2 whole cloves, 1/2 tsp of oregano, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tbs of chicken bouillon and about 3 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Blend until smooth.

chiles and tomatoes for salsa

Heat up a tablespoon of lard in a pot over medium heat. Once hot strain in the salsa. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste it for salt and add more to taste.

Then add the shredded chicken to the pot. Remove from heat and set aside.

chicken filling for tamales

Now that we have the filling ready it is time to prepare the masa.

masa preparada

Put the masa in a large bowl and break it up into small pieces.

masa preparada in a bowl

slowly add in about a liter of the reserved chicken broth while mixing with your hands.

masa pieces in water

You want to continue to break up the little balls of masa with your hands until you get a smooth consistency. This may take up to 20 minutes.

masa for tamales

Now put the 2 cups of lard in a large pot and heat over medium heat. Once the lard is hot add the masa and stir well.

cooking masa

Now we’re going to add the hoja santa. Add 3 bags of these. Crush the leaves with your hands over the pot as you add them. Hoja santa adds an incredible flavor to the masa.

hoja santa

Stir the masa continuously for 10 minutes or until you notice the masa getting thicker. Then slowly add in another liter and a half of chicken broth and continue to stir for about 15 minutes. Also season the masa with salt to your liking during this time. It’s very important that you stir continuously to prevent the masa from burning or forming lumps.

stirring masa

At the end of the 15 minutes the masa will have thickened. Remove the masa from the heat and set aside.

cooked masa

Now it’s time to assemble the tamales. I am using frozen banana leaves here. These are great because all you have to do is leave them in the fridge the night before and then clean them with a paper towel when you’re ready to use them. Cut the leaves into about 11 inches wide rectangles.

banana leaves

Put about 3 tbs of the masa in the center of the rectangle. Then put 2 tbs of the filling on top of the masa.

assembling tamales

Fold one half of the banana leaf over the masa.

folding banana leaf tamal

Then fold the other side.

folding tamales

Then fold in both ends to close the tamale.

closing banana leaf tamal

You can tie the tamal close if you want using thin pieces of banana leaves but it isn’t necessary.

Repeat the above steps until the masa and filling is gone. You should get about 30- 40 tamales depending on how big you make them.

closed banana leaf tamal

Fill a steamer pot with water and put the tamales in the pot.

Some of the tamales are also wrapped in foil because the banana leaves cracked. If that happens to you don’t worry and just wrap the banana leaf in foil.

Bring the water in the pot to a boil then cover the steamer and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 2 hours.

steamer filled with banana leaf tamales

After the tamales are done steaming let them rest for about 10 minutes or so before serving. You’ll notice that as they cool down they will firm up a bit.

banana leaf tamal on a plate

I really hope you’ll try these banana leaf tamales. They’re pure deliciousness! And the holiday seasons are a great time to make tamales.

Let me know what you think of this recipe and don’t forget to leave it a rating below. Thank you so much for visiting, see you soon!

tamal in a banana leaf
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Banana Leaf Tamales

Banana leaf tamales are full of flavor and are perfect during the holiday season!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword banana leaf tamales
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Servings 35
Calories 301 kcal
Author Carissa

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 3 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbs chicken bouillon
  • 3 quarts water

For the salsa

  • 8 guajillo chilies
  • 8 morita chilies
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 piece of white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbs chicken bouillon

For the masa

  • 4 lbs masa preparada
  • 2 cups lard
  • 3 bags hoja santa
  • 1 lb frozen banana leaves defrosted
  • salt to taste

Instructions

For the chicken

  1. Put all the ingredients for the chicken in a pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

  2. When the chicken is done transfer it to a large bowl to cool. Strain and reserve the broth. Shred the chicken.

For the salsa

  1. Put the chilies and tomatoes in a pot and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes. Then transfer them to a blender and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then add the onion, garlic, whole cloves, oregano, black pepper, cumin, chicken bouillon and 3 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Blend until you have a smooth salsa.

  2. Heat up tablespoon of lard in a pot over medium heat. Once hot strain in the salsa and let cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Add the shredded chicken to the pot. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the masa

  1. Put the masa in a large bowl and break up into small pieces.

  2. Slowly add in 1 liter of the reserved chicken broth while mixing with your hands.

  3. Continue to mix with your hands breaking up the pieces until you get a smooth consistency.

  4. Put the 2 cups of lard in a pot over medium heat. Once hot add the masa and stir. Add in the hoja santa crushing it with your hands.

  5. Stir the masa continuously for about 10 minutes. The masa will get thicker. Slowly add another liter and a half of chicken broth while continuing to stir for about 15 minutes. Taste the masa for salt and add to your liking. After 15 minutes the masa will have thickened.

Assembling the tamales

  1. Clean the defrosted banana leaves with a paper towel and cut them into 11 inch wide rectangles.

  2. Put 3 tbs of masa on the center of the banana leaf. Then add 2 tbs of the chicken filling on top.

  3. Fold one half of the banana leaf over the masa.

  4. Then fold the other side.

  5. Then fold in both ends to close the tamale.

  6. Repeat the above steps until the masa and filling is gone.

  7. Fill a steamer pot with water and add the tamales to the pot.

  8. Bring the water in the pot to a boil then cover the steamer and reduce heat to medium low.

  9. Cook for 2 hours.

  10. After the tamales have finished steaming let them rest for about 10 minutes to firm up.

  11. Serve and enjoy.

  12. Refrigerate any leftovers after they have cooled down.

Nutrition Facts
Banana Leaf Tamales
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 51mg2%
Potassium 267mg8%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 13g26%
Vitamin A 491IU10%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 85mg9%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Rating




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Maria

Thursday 25th of February 2021

How to use banana leaves in cooking: Wipe down the banana leaves, then pass them over a flame or grill, moving them constantly, until they soften and become pliable. The banana leaves have a white film on them. The heat should burn off the white film and make the leaves shinier.

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[…] These mixiotes de pollo are wrapped in banana leaves. I absolutely love the flavor that banana leaves give. Especially in tamales. […]

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[…] another one of my favorites are tamales in banana leaves! The banana leaves give the tamales an incredible […]

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