Pasteles with Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains, Yautía & Achiote

Pasteles pork with yautia and achiote Puerto Rican

If you’ve ever eaten Puerto Rican pasteles or if you make them with your family for Christmas, then you’ll understand the patience that it takes to create this culinary delight. While time consuming, this holiday tradition is a family affair for my husband’s Boricua tribe. From bringing the bananas, plantains and calabaza down to San Juan from their farm in Utuado, to making the masa and filling, then tying each tasty package of yuca or guineo with banana leaves and kitchen string, it’s undeniably a true labor of love—and one done best in a family assembly line.

While some recipes call for milk in the masa or using more plantains than green bananas, my family’s recipe is tried and true, and has evolved throughout the years into a most savory treat. This almost two-day cooking extravaganza takes place over the Christmas holidays, which is when pasteles are traditionally eaten in Puerto Rico. 

Pasteles served with arroz con gandules and a lechuga y tomate ensalada is the ultimate in Puerto Rican food. If you’re not sure how to make sofrito or achiote oil for the pork shoulder mix, we’ve got you covered. !Buen provecho!

A Celebration of Pasteles, Tamales and More!

Curious about masa-stuffed pasteles and tamales around el mundo—and the many other names they go by?

In honor of the festive holiday season this year and every year, Familia Kitchen is honored to spotlight special family-famous recipes of masa-stuffed wonders across Latino cultures. Whether they are called tamales, pasteles, hallacas, humitas, check out these beloved family-famous recipes:

• Luis’ Guatemalatamales;
• Liliana’s Venezuelan beef, pork and chicken hallacas;
• Doña Paula’s Belizean tamales;
• Nanni’s Mexican tamales with pork & guajillo chiles;
• We even celebrate legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s favorite red pork tamales!

If you want to go deeper, check out our history of food in Puerto Rico and the history of tamales in Mexico and across Latinx cultures.

Inspired to Make Puerto Rican Pasteles?

Pasteles de Pork, Green Plantains, Green Bananas, and Yautía con Achiote

4.3 from 16 votes
Recipe by Michelle Ezratty Murphy




  • The Masa
  • 25 very green bananas, peeled and chopped 

  • 5 green plantains, peeled and chopped

  • 2 lbs. yautia or taro, peeled and chopped

  • 1 lb. kabocha squash, peeled and chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups achiote oil

  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt

  • The Filling
  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 4 oz. cooked ham, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 packets sazón con achiote 

  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt

  • 1 Tbsp. cracked pepper

  • 3 Tbsp. adobo

  • 4 Tbsp. sofrito

  • 2 Tbsp. oregano

  • 6 oz. capers, with brine

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 16 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 16 oz. tomato sauce

  • 16 oz. garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1/4 cup achiote oil

  • 3 Tbsp. olives, pimento-stuffed, chopped

  • 3 cups water. to cook pork

  • Building Your Pasteles
  • 40 banana leaves (about 12 by 12 inches each)

  • 2 roasted red peppers, sliced 

  • 12 oz. olives, stuffed with pimento

  • 1 ball kitchen string, cut in 4-foot lengths 


  • Begin by preparing the filling: Cut pork into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour the lime juice and 1/4 cup water into the bowl and stir well. Set aside to allow the acid to tenderize the meat.
  • After 10 minutes, drain the lime juice. In the same bowl, add to the pork, sofrito, salt, pepper, sazón, garlic, adobo, cilantro and oregano. Mix well.
  • Into a large pot, add the pork mixture and sauté for 2 minutes on medium hight heat. Add chopped ham, capers, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, chopped olives and achiote oil. Stir well.
  • Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Refrigerate if you are making the pasteles the next day or bring to room temperature if making pasteles the same day.
  • Make the Masa
  • Prepare the masa by peeling and slicing the bananas, plantains, squash and yautia into pieces small enough to fit into a food processor. As you chop, throw the cut chunks into a saltwater bath so they don’t brown.
  • Drain and place small batches at a time into a food processor on high speed until all the bananas, plantains, squash and yautia have turned into a thick and smooth paste. Put the paste into a large bowl and add 1 1/2 cups achiote oil and 2 Tbsp. salt. Combine well. Set aside.
  • Assemble the Pasteles
  • Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, place a banana leaf on a large, flat prep surface. In the leaf’s center, put approximately 1/4 cup masa and lightly spread the masa into a small circle.
  • Add approximately 2 Tbsp. of the pork filling in the center of the masa. Top with a slice of the roasted red pepper and a whole olive.
  • Fold one corner of the banana leaf into the center, then fold in the sides to make a rectangular package. Secure the four sides with string, tying with a knot.
  • Place the pasteles into salted boiling water, without crowding the pot, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • When ready to serve, cut the string and unfold the banana leaf on each plate, carefully, revealing the pastel. Serve with arroz con gandules or arroz blanco and a lettuce and tomato salad drizzled with salt, olive oil and vinegar.
  • Freeze leftover pasteles in a plastic zip bag for up to 6 months.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Make sure you get very green bananas and plantains.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Peeling and slicing the yautia—or taro.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Making pasteles is a Christmas-season tradition for Michelle’s Puerto Rican husband, Pat, and mother in law, Carmen Casasnovas Murphy.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Échale muchos spices, lima and sazón!
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Season the pork with spices, garlic, lime and adobo.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Each banana leaf wrap should measure about 12 by 12 inches.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Place the masa in the center of each banana leaf.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of pork filling into the center of each leaf’s masa circle.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
As pretty as Christmas presents, the wrapped pasteles should be boiled about 1 hour in a large pot of salted water.
Pasteles de Pork, Green Bananas, Plantains and Yautía con Achiote
Ready to unwrap and eat for your family festivities. Feliz Navidad!

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