Pasteles de Yuca (Puerto Rican Tamales) Recipe

A Puerto Rican Christmas holiday is not complete without the traditional pasteles de yuca! These pasteles are made with yuca (also known as cassava or yuca root)  and mixed with seasoning and oil to form a masa or dough. The flavorful dough is loaded with pork stuffing and wrapped in banana leaves before boiling into the water to cook. 

Although it requires a good amount of patience in preparing and assembling these Puerto Rican tamales, the hard work is definitely worth all the hassle. 

Pasteles de Yuca (Puerto Rican Tamales) Recipe

How To Make Pasteles de Yuca (Puerto Rican Tamales)

This Puerto Rican pasteles de yuca is a classic Christmas treat that’s loaded with tender pork, and wrapped in a flavorful yuca masa dough.

Prep: 30 mins
Chill Time: 8 hrs
Cook: 1 hr 50 mins
Total: 10 hrs 20 mins


For Achiote Oil:

  • 6 tbsp achiote seeds, (annatto)
  • 2 cups vegetable oil

For Masa:

  • 4 lb yuca, (cassava)
  • 1⁄2 cup sofrito
  • 1 beef broth cube, (small)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp oregano
  • 2 oz water

For Filling:

  • 2 lb pork shoulder, boneless
  • 4 tbsp sofrito, (2 ounces)
  • 1 beef broth cube
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp oregano
  • cups water
  • 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup spanish olives, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 14½ oz garbanzos, (1 can)
  • 1⁄2 cup raisins
  • 1 jar pimentos


Achiote Oil:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil, then add the annatto seeds to the oil. Allow the seeds to simmer until the oil reaches a bright red color.
  2. Strain the seeds from the oil and discard the seeds. Allow the oil to cool and store in a sealed container until ready to use.


  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a pressure cooker. Set to Cook for 30 minutes. Let it come back to pressure naturally without releasing it.
  2. Uncover and set to Brown/Simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.


  1. Cut the yuca into 3 to 4 pieces. The yucca should be milky white.
  2. Score the skin, slip the knife under the skin and pry it away from the yuca.
  3. Cut the segments in half and expose a small root that runs down the middle of the yucca. Make a V-shaped cut around the root to remove it.
  4. Using the shredder blade on a food processor or a manual grater, grate the yuca. Place the grated yucca root into the food processor using the blade, run the food processor until the yucca turns fine and pasty.
  5. Place the yuca paste in a colander lined with cheesecloth, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to drain.
  6. In a skillet simmer ¼ cup of the achiote oil and ¾ cup of sofrito for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water, a beef broth cube, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano, simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Add the seasoning to the grated yucca, mix until combined.
  8. Drizzle ½ cup of achiote oil into the yucca. Mix until well combined and the yuca has an orange color, set aside until ready to use.

Prep Banana Leaves:

  1. Remove the ridge from the leaves. Cut the banana leaves into 12x12-inch squares and wash the banana leaves under warm running water.
  2. Working in batches, microwave the banana leaves for 1½ to 2 minutes.

To Assemble:

  1. Set up assembly station with yucca mixture, filling, achiote oil, banana leaves, wax paper squares and butchers twine.
  2. Lay out a square of wax paper and a square of banana leave over it, spread 1 teaspoon of achiote oil on the banana leaf. Scoop ¼ cup of the yucca mixture onto the banana leaf and spread out into a rectangle.
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling down the center and top with pimentos, as desired. Using the banana leaf, fold the yucca over the filling.
  4. Bring the leaf ends together. Fold over twice to create a tight seal. Tuck the ends under. Do the same wrap and fold with the wax paper.
  5. Tie two pasteles together with butchers twine like a present with the folded ends facing each other.
  6. At this point, boil them right away, or freeze them until ready to use.
  7. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in the pasteles and boil for 45 minutes for fresh and 1 hour for frozen.
  8. Using a pair of tongs, pick the pastel out of the water by the string and place on a paper towel. Cut the string and gently unwrap.
  9. Serve warm, and enjoy!


  • Sugar: 5g
  • :
  • Calcium: 166mg
  • Calories: 854kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 185g
  • Cholesterol: 31mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Fiber: 17g
  • Iron: 8mg
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 5g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g
  • Potassium: 1942mg
  • Protein: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 577mg
  • Vitamin A: 363IU
  • Vitamin C: 48mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
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