How to make Puerto Rican pasteles

By Amy Vega Guobadia

Here’s a recipe famous in Puerto Rican households during the holiday. As far as I can remember my grandma made Pasteles for every winter holiday. Unfortunately, my grandma took her recipe with her to Puerto Rico eight years ago. After a few years of not having this traditional food, I searched the internet for the recipe. The first two attempts, I got the recipes from different sites and they didn’t taste right. I adjusted the recipe and it was great. The third time was a charm. I always make a test batch. I adjust the ingredients for that perfect savory taste. Here’s the recipe:

There are two products that go into a pastels; the masa (dough) and the filling.

Ingredients for masa:

6 green bananas, peeled and shredded

2 green plantain, peeled and shredded

1 medium sized yuca, shredded

1 russet potato, peeled and shredded

salt, to taste

1/4 cup milk

Ingredients for filling:

1 onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

12 oz jar of sweet pepper, diced

1 tomato, diced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced

4 oz can of tomato sauce

1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup water

2 lbs of pork butt or shoulder, cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons oil

salt & pepper, to taste

oregano, to taste

For Assembly:

Parchment paper, 30 sheets. 2 sheets per pastel

kitchen string, about 36 inches per pastel

achicote oil, 1/4 cup

30 olives, 2 per pastel


1- As you shred the ingredients for the masa place into a large bowl of water and salt so it doesn’t turn brown.

2- Drain the water and puree ingredients in 1 cup batches in blender. Add a little milk to masa to smooth mixture. It should look like hot oatmeal. Chill in frig while you make the filling.


1- Heat oil in a large saucepan or pot. Add the filling and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.


Gather the masa, filling and assembly stuff on a large enough area.

1. Layer two sheets of parchment paper. Brush the center of top parchment paper with achiote.

2- Scoop up about 1/2 cup of masa place on the achiote part of the parchment paper.

3- Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of filling in the masa. Place olives in masa.

4- Fold the top of the paper over the pastels. Flip over and fold end over. Repeat with second sheet.

5- Tie kitchen string around it like a package.

6- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Gently boil for 1 hour. Remove string and paper. Serves 12- 15.

Goes great with rice and chick peas. Enjoy!

For step by step picture directions visit my blog at


  1. I have been looking for this exact recipie for years. When I was a young boy my friends mother and her duaghters use to make these once a year when I was growing up in the Projects in the Rockaways.
    Thank You for posting the recipie that I remember as a child.
    Joe G


  2. Hello Bronxmama… I’m a P.R.?? I live in Texas…but reading your recipe, takes me back, when My family and I. Lived uptate New York. My beautiful mom, and my sister and me. We used to make pasteles for Christmas..and save some, freeze a few dozens for New year’s Eve…I haven’t had pasteles for 8 years. I’m going to try your recipe.But my mom used to put a clean piece of banana leaf on top of a piece of aluminum foil..the achiote oil
    And start the process…aww how I miss her.???my queen.?they were absolutely delicious.?


    1. Thanks for sharing Consuelo! I love how food can evoke fond memories of our loved ones! It really is special!


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