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Puerto Rican Pasteles

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Puerto Rican Pasteles
Photo © Zain Deane
Pasteles are a beloved 'Rican staple, and the trick to making them well lies in the masa, or dough, that goes into it. The dough can be made with yuca, or cassava, or a combination of green banana, green plantain, taro, and pumpkins. This recipe is for the latter type. Because pasteles are a labor-intensive food, Puerto Ricans usually cook them in large quantities and serve them at family gatherings and parties, especially during Christmas.

This particular recipe comes from Chef Giovanna Huyke, a celebrated chef, author, and local TV personality who wowed us at Saborea 2010.


  • For the dough:
  • 7 pounds of yautía, a tuber similar to taro (About.com's Latin Food Guide, Hector Rodriguez, has an excellent description)
  • 1 pound of pumpkin (calabaza)
  • 12 green bananas
  • 2 cups of warm milk
  • 2.5 teaspoons of salt
  • Annato (achiote) seed oil
  • Plantain leaves
  • For the filling:
  • 1/8 pound of chopped bacon
  • 3/4 pound of cooking ham, chopped
  • Annato (achiote) seed oil
  • 2 pounds of sliced pork, chopped
  • 8 ajíes dulces (small sweet cooking peppers)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • Chopped cilantro
  • 4 leaves of oregano brujo, also known as Cuban oregano and Spanish thyme
  • 8 leaves of chopped recao, also known as culantro
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 12 stuffed olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoonds of capers
  • 3/4 cup of raisins
  • 1 small can of sweet red peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 boiled eggs, finely chopped


  1. Grind up the yautía, pumpkin and bananas in a food processor, adding the milk until you get a smooth, creamy consistency. Add color with the annato seed oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a heated frying pan, lightly fry the bacon until golden brown and add the ham. Simmer for a few minutes and add the pork with a bit of annato seed oil. Simmer until cooked.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, sweet cooking peppers (ajíes), peppers, cilantro, oregano, and fry until lustrous.
  4. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers and raisins, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a lasagna mold. Cover the bottom and sides with the plantain leaves (soften the leaves first). Put half of the dough on the leaves and add the filling. Add the rest of the dough and cover with more plantain leaves. Place the pasteles in the center of the oven and bake for one hour, or until the dough hardens. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
User Reviews

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 3 out of 5
Pasteles recipe, Member juandd

Pasteles are made all over Puerto Rico and the recipes change according to the region, I found this out while traveling in the army and being invited to other households where the recipes varied a little from the one I grew up eating.

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