Puerto Rican Pasteles (Pasteles Puertoriqueños)

Makes about 24

For the pork stock:

  • 2 pounds pork bones
  • Half a small onion, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fine sea or kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

For the meat filling

  • 2 pounds pork, preferably Boston butt, cut into ½-cubes
  • ¼ cup Achiote Oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Add 1/3 cup Sofrito
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh culantro or ½ bunch fresh cilantro tied with twine

For the Root Vegetable Filling:

  • 8 pounds green bananas, peeled
  • ¾ pounds yautia, peeled
  • ¾ pound calabaza, peeled
  • 1 small green plantain, peeled
  • 1 small (about 7 ounces) russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/3 cup Achiote Oil
  • 1 cup (or as needed) Pork Stock (see above)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea or kosher salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup broth from the pork stew
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea or kosher salt

You will also need:

  • 1 pound banana leaves, cut into twenty-four 7-inch squares
  • ½ cup Achiote Oil for assembling the pasteles
  • 24 pieces (12 x18) parchment paper
  • 24 whole small hot peppers, such as cayenne or bird peppers
  • 24 thirty-inch lengths kitchen twine

Make the pork stock: Preheat the oven to 400° F Toss the pork bones, onion, and bay leaf together in a roasting pan large enough to hold them comfortably. Roast, stirring once or twice, until well browned, about 45 minutes.
Transfer the bones to a 5 or 6-quart pot. Pour in enough water to cover the bones. Add a big pinch of salt and a dozen or so peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the liquid is at a lively simmer. Cook, skimming off any foam or fat that rises to the surface, 1 1/2 hours.
Make the meat filling: Put the pork in a 4-quart pot. Add the achiote oil and bay leaf and pour in enough cold water to cover the pork. Bring to a boil. Cook 45 minutes.
Stir in the sofrito, culantro or cilantro, and salt and continue simmering until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes.
When the pork stock and pork filling are ready, set them aside. Gather the twine, parchment, achiote oil, and banana leaves together before making the root vegetable filling.
Make the root vegetable filling: Grate the root vegetables by hand on the finest side of a box grater. Don’t be tempted to do this in a food processor. Stir in the achiote oil, pork stock, salt, milk, pork cooking liquid and broth. The mixture should be the color of a sweet potato and the texture of a sticky muffin batter.

Oil the center of a sheet of parchment paper and place a banana leaf over the oil. Oil the leaf lightly. Spoon about ¾ cup of the masa over the center of the leaf. Make a little well in the masa and spoon about ¼ cup of the pork stew and some juice into the well. Top with an olive and piece of red pepper from the alcaparrado. Also a whole cayenne. Spoon the masa from the edges over the meat and vegetables. Fold the top and bottom sides of the leaf over the filling. Fold the bottom of the paper over the leaf so the two long edges meet at the top. Make two folds along the long edge so the pastel is wrapped nice and tight. Make a 1-inch fold along one the short ends, then bring that end of the paper and banana leaf over the filling. Repeat with the other short side. You now have a pastel made up of the filling tightly wrapped in both banana leaf and paper. Set it aside folded side down on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining filling, leaves and paper. Tie the pastels: Fold one length of string in half and set it on your work surface with the loose ends closest to you. Center a tamale folded side down over the string, about 4 inches from the folded end. Bring each half of the string outward slightly so it is sitting near the ends of the folds. Bring the loose ends of the string over the packet then under the loop in the string. Keeping the string centered under the folds, pull the loose ends up and out. If this all sounds too complicated, simply tie the folds tightly with shorter lengths of string.

The llunta of pasteles is now ready to be poached in boiling salted water for about an hour.

(see the tutorial)

48 Responses to “Puerto Rican Pasteles (Pasteles Puertoriqueños)”

  1. 1 Roberto Hernandez March 15, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    This is great. Didn’t think anyone was putting a recipe for pasteles on the web. Simply great. elbohemio.wordpress,com

  2. 2 daisy March 15, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Glad I could be of help!


  3. 3 LIbby April 10, 2007 at 2:59 am

    Daisy, Is there something similiar called Pastele Stew? Or Patele Stew? If so, what is your recipe?

  4. 4 Daisy April 10, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Hola Libby:

    Never heard of this, but it sure sounds delicious! If you happen to find a recipe, please share it with me..


  5. 5 Sharon April 18, 2007 at 4:23 am

    This may be a stupid question, but do you bake these or steam them after tieing them up or what? (Gringo here…LOL) Or did I just miss something here?


  6. 6 ADRIAN July 2, 2007 at 8:50 pm


  7. 7 Steve Ortiz July 8, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    I think the last step got left out of this page. The pasteles are BOILED in the salt water for about an hour or “poached in boiling salted water for about an hour” according to the photographic steps outlined on the “Holiday Season” Boriqua Blog page. Here is the link “http://www.daisymartinez.com/cgi-bin/blog/2006/11/15/the-official-beginning-of-the-holiday-season/#more-40”

  8. 8 daisy August 17, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Hola Brad,

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t know that area well enough to make a suggestion. I offer a great tutorial on how to make pasteles on Boriqua Blog, and there’s a great recipe for them in my book. Other than that, you’d better hope you run into some PR friends, who’ll invite you over for some pasteles!

    Hasta pronto,

  9. 9 Helen September 25, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Hello Daisy,

    I am thrilled to find your recipe. My x-mother-in-law, who I adore, is 90 years old and currently hospitalized. I got to thinking how much I love her pasteles and that maybe I am too late to snag her recipe to carry on her tradition. Your recipe sounds like it comes very close with the exception of….she used more green olives. And, I always wondered what the red oil concoction was. She never spoke English (she speaks back country Puerto Rican) and my Spanish is shaky so she could never explain the mysteries of her ‘secret’ spices and oils. Thank you for sharing!


  10. 10 daisy September 26, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    As always, Helen, I’m glad I could be of help!

  11. 11 Daisy Nieves October 28, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Daisy
    Congratulation on your career, I was looking at your website, I wanted to see, before I purchase your book the index section, which you don’t have on your website, is a good idea, you should insert on your website the index as well, so people can see your specialties. I wanted to see if your book has arroz con dulce as well. I don’t eat pork, but I will love to make pasteles with chicken instead. Can you tell me if your book has arroz con dulce? Thanks Daisy

  12. 12 daisy October 29, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Dear Daisy:

    I have a wonderful recipe for Arroz con Leche in my book Daisy Cooks!



  13. 13 Carmen Rivera November 8, 2007 at 7:14 pm


    Am a Puerto Rican that doesn’t eat pork. I would love to make chicken pasteles, Do I follow the recipe using pollo
    instead? Keep up the good work.

    love Carmen

  14. 14 daisy November 10, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Dear Carmen:

    Yes you can!

    My grandmother used to make yucca pasteles with chicken and they were delicious.

    Pasteles can also be filled with fish, and even garbanzos guisados!



  15. 15 carlos November 10, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    como se llama al pasteles en ingles

  16. 16 daisy November 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Dear Carlos:

    As far as I know, there is no real name for pasteles in English.

    It’s very similar to a mexican tamal….

  17. 17 Millie November 12, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    I have literally traveled all over the world in the foreign service and can safely say I have made pasteles in Belguim,Costa Rica, South Korea Peru, California, Virginia and New York City. They all tasted great with local ingredients. I am preparing to make them here in Virginia now that I am back home.

  18. 18 Millie November 12, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Daisy, I neglected to tell you that people can get a grater attachment through http://www.masaperfecta.com and then the only food processor it will fit: Black and Decker # 1445. I first looked at the Black and Decker website and it went for $44.95. I already have a food processor and so I wanted to get it reasonably priced so I went to Walmart=$24.95! I will let you know how it works. You see, I have no “help” like I did overseas and so must rely on myself. Now can you tell me where I can get the sheets of parchment paper?

  19. 19 Daisy November 13, 2007 at 1:09 am

    Wow Millie!! Very impressive!

    I can not claim the same feat: An international pasteles maker!

    I am your #1 Fan!


  20. 20 Estelle Saldivias November 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Daisy,

    I lost my mom in February of 2007, Valentine’s day to be exact. I can’t begin to tell you the sorrow and loss we have experienced, it’s still fresh and difficult. There many, many memories that i have of mom, but one in particular was sitting at the kitchen table watching her prepare the yearly Pasteles. People would fill our house to eat mom’s Pasteles, they were delicious!!!!!. I have never been interested in making them until now and the only person I asked, well backed out last minute. Then I found your recipe. I have to say I was very intimidated by just the thought of trying. I felt like a lost little girl in the supermarket as I scrolled down the list of ingredients. I woke up Saturday morning and as most hispanics do, prayed before attempting this meal, MOM ALWAYS DID. Daisy, your recipe is exactly how mom made them, I have to say they are delicious, I know mom is proud, THANK YOU DAISY!!!! GOD BLESS.

  21. 21 Millie November 18, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    I received the grater attachment and bought the food processor. I own a cusinart, but figure this black and decker will be for pasteles and alcapurrias only. It is quick, the masa fine and the pasteles and alcapurrias de yucca were great. Now I have to make sure I get my exercise in, LOL.

  22. 22 Virginia November 18, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Hi Daisy,
    Is there a secret ingredient to keeping the pasteles soft? Is there an ingredient that I may be using that would make out them come out a little on the hard side?

  23. 23 daisy November 19, 2007 at 1:35 pm


    Regular parchment paper is what I use, supermarket brand


  24. 24 daisy November 19, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Hola Estelle,

    First of all, please accept my deepest sympathy. The loss of a parent is something that I cannot fathom, and I can only say that I pray for the strength needed, when it comes time for the inevitable.

    I am thrilled that the pasteles were to your liking and worthy of the homage you paid your mom.

    You will be paying tribute to her and the love our food that she taught you, every time you take the task on.

    God bless you, and thank you for sharing your story with me.

    Hasta pronto,


  25. 25 daisy November 19, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Dear Virginia:

    The ingredient to soften the pasteles dough is calabaza or pumpkin.

    You might be putting too much plantain in the dough and this is most likely the reason your dough is hard..


  26. 26 Dr. Judd Davis November 25, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Daisy, your recipe brings me back to my childhood!!visiting my Aunts and Uncles on Christmas eve. I remember walking in and smelling the aroma of pasteles coming from their kitchen, Just heavenly. My aunts have either passed away or moved to florida and I never see them. I have not had pasteles in about 15 years. I tried your recipe last year and they were great. I am going out right now to buy some gunieos for the masa. Thanks, Dr. D

  27. 27 Millie November 25, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Guineos or green bananas make the masa soft also. This time around, for Thanksgiving I added chicken broth with the required carnation milk to the masa and it came out great.

  28. 28 Daisy November 26, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Dr. Judd:

    I am thrilled I was able to help with your pasteles quest!

    Let me know how they turn out this year…

    I am sure they will be as delicious as last year’s!


  29. 29 john November 27, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    thanks daisy I been looking for this pasteles recipe for years. I grew up in astoria n.y I use to sell them at randle island with my friends family the price back then 1966 3 for 1 paso. they worked days on them. TY. SO MUCH.

  30. 30 daisy November 27, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Dear John:

    Your family has been making them since 1966!!?? Wow!

    I can almost guarantee your pasteles are way better than mine.



  31. 31 Teri December 7, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    I have been looking for this recipe & am so thrilled to hear yours is so authentic. But I am curious about the banana leaves. Are they edible? Do you eat them like a burrito (without the parchemnt, of course). Thank you again!

  32. 32 daisy December 7, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Dear Teri:

    No, the leaves are not edible.

    I think the pasteles are more similar to a Tamale than to a burrito..


  33. 33 Marie December 11, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    How many pasteles does this receipe yeild?

  34. 34 Daisy December 13, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Marie: It yields 2 dozen pasteles..



  35. 35 Bibi December 16, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks Daisy,

    Your recipe is devine and the outcome speaks for itself. For many years I have bought pasteles from friends who have sold them to me, wanting so much to make it myself. Each time I would want them to give me their recipe, it was never quite right. I finally got up the nerve to do it “all by myself” and let me tell you, I don’t regret it. At first it was a little overwhelming, but I made it easy on myself and broke it down into two days, making the masa first and then doing the rest the next day with a clear head and plenty of Boricua energy. Thanks again and Feliz Navidad my latin sister.

  36. 36 daisy December 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Good job Bibi! I am proud of you!



  37. 37 Millie December 17, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    John, was that place called Randall’s Island? I know that place. I didn’t know pastles were being sold there. Did you ever sell them at Orchard Beach in the Bronx?

  38. 38 LORIE December 27, 2007 at 11:02 am

    My mother & I finally got te courage to make pasteles this year. Your recipe took us back to when we lived in Lajas & my titi Alba made the best pasteles in town. I do have a question is the pork stock really necessary? I didnt know what to do with it?

  39. 39 daisy December 27, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Lorie: My Mami always adds a ladle of the pork caldo to the masa as she is constructing the actual pastel. I have found that it adds flavor and richness to the masa.

    Any left over caldo can be strained and frozen to use when making yellow rice, beans, or a good spaghetti salsa!



  40. 40 Jose A. Rodriguez January 16, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Thank You all the things You cook are great achoite oil rules

  41. 41 daisy January 16, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    It does rule!

    Thank you for your support Jose!


  42. 42 margie ortiz May 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    can you help me find out where i can buy a pasteles maker?

  43. 43 daisy May 30, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Dear Margie try the following vendor for a “masa: maker, not a Pasteles maker:

    LNP Kitchen Store in Puerto Rico:



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