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+ servings
tamal in a banana leaf

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


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


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.