Pasteles de Yuca | There are three things you must have on the table for a proper Puerto Rican Christmas pernil, arroz con gandules, and pasteles! This post is all about pasteles de yuca, the most magical treat wrapped in a banana leaf.
If you’re not familiar with pasteles they can be a little hard to describe. Some people with compare them to tamales except that they are nothing like tamales except that they are labor intensive and wrapped. Traditional pasteles are made with a mixture of yautia (taro root), plantain, green banana, and sometimes kabocha pumpkin. These pasteles are made with yuca root or cassava.
I cannot tell a lie; pasteles are a project so a lot of times people will buy them by the dozen from someone who makes them. However being in it is difficult to find someone who makes and sells pasteles, I decided to make my own. Besides its more fun to make them yourself.
If you decided to take on this endeavor, it is best if done with some helping hands. It’s a tradition for the family to gather in the kitchen and make a pasteles assembly line. In order to make it easier it is best if the process is divided over 2 or 3 days. Trust me trying to make pasteles from start to finish all in one day is exhausting.
There are two versions of pasteles, pasteles de masa which is made with a mixture of plantain, green banana, kabocha pumpkin and yautia (malanga), and the other is made with a seasoned mixture of yuca root. My favorite is yuca root, so that is what I am going to show you today.
Thankfully making pasteles has become easier with the advances in modern technology. Gone are the times of hand grating yautia and plantains. Today we have food processors with shredding blades and the pressure cooker that cooks in half the time. Unfortunately, the process of peeling yautia, plantains, and green bananas are still up to us. If you have never peeled a plantain or green banana check out this tutorial on How to Peel a Plantain.
Gathering around the table with family assembling pasteles is a bonding Christmas tradition. It’s a gathering of generations, with the older generation passing down culinary traditions to the younger. And, these traditions are some of the most important to pass on.
ASSEMBLE PASTELES de Yuca
It is best to divide this project up over 2 days. You can do this one of two ways. You can choose to make the yuca and the achiote on day one and the filling and assembly on day two or you can do everything on day one and assembly on day two. I prefer the second option, but whatever makes you happy. pasteles
I always joked that pasteles are the gift you unwrap on Christmas Eve. The moment I pull a pastel from the water and start to unwrap it my mouth begins to water. But, let’s be honest, they aren’t the most attractive dish. And, they were a bear to photograph. But, don’t let the appearance fool you they are tender, savory, and complex in flavor. I dance in my chair every time a pastel lands on my plate. I say with all the confidence in the world one taste of this recipe and your knees will buckle.
I know making pasteles can be hard work but Christmas only happens once a year. The time with family and the passing down of tradition is worth it all. The best part of pasteles is the one that gets lost at the back of the freezer and you find it months later when you’re cleaning out the freezer. It’s like Christmas all over again!
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Pasteles de Yuca
Pasteles are a delicious traditional dish served in Puerto Rican during Christmas. Seasoned yuca root "masa" is filled with savory pork.
- 6 tablespoons achiote seeds (annatto)
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- 3 1/2 - 4 pounds of yuca (also known as cassava)
- 1/2 cup of sofrito
- 1 small beef broth cube
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 2 oz of water
- 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- 2 oz of sofrito (4 tbs)
- 1 beef broth cube
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 2 oz of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Spanish olives cut in half
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 14.5 oz can of garbanzos
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 small jar of pimentos
- Equipment: 12 - 14 oz of banana leaves, wax paper & butchers twine
- Heat 1 1/2 - 2 cups of vegetable oil, add 6 tbs of annatto seeds to the oil. Allow the seeds to simmer until the oil reaches a bright red color.
- 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.
- Combine all filling ingredients in a pressure cooker. Set to cook for 30 minutes. Let it come back to pressure naturally without releasing it.
- Uncover and set to brown/simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Cut the yuca into 3-4 pieces. The yucca should be milky white, if it has dark lines, it's no bueno.
- Score the skin, slip the knife under the skin and pry it away from the yuca.
- 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. Like you would core a pear.
- Using the shredder blade on you 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 fine and pasty.
- Place the yuca paste in a colander lined with cheesecloth, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to drain.
- In a skillet simmer 1/4 cup of achiote oil and 3/4 cup of sofrito for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water, a beef broth cube, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano, simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the seasoning to the grated yucca, mix until combined.
- Drizzle 1/2 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
- Remove the ridge from the leaves. Cut the banana leaves into 12 x 12-inch squares and wash the banana leaves under warm running water.
- Working in batches microwave the banana leaves for 1.5 to 2 minutes, this helps make the leaf more flexible.
Assembly *see video above*
- Set up assembly station with yucca mixture, filling, achiote oil, banana leaves, wax paper squares and butchers twine.
- Lay out a square of wax paper and a square of banana leave over it, spread 1 tsp of achiote oil on the banana leaf. Scoop 1/4 cup of the yucca mixture onto the banana leave and spread out into a rectangle.
- Place 2 tbs of filling down the center and top with pimentos if you like. Using the banana leaf fold the yucca over the filling.
- Bring the leaf ends together. Fold over twice to create a tight seal. Tuck the ends under, if the banana leaf splits a little don't stress we are going to fold it again in wax paper. Do the same wrap and fold with the wax paper. If you use only wax paper I recommend double wrapping.
- Tie two pasteles together with butchers twine like a present with the folded ends facing each other.
- At this point, you can get ready to boil them right away, or you can freeze them until ready to use. When ready to cook bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in pasteles and boil for 45 minutes for fresh and 1 hour for frozen.
- 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.
Recaito is a very important part of seasoning the masa. Although it can be bought in many Latin and Asian grocery stores in the frozen section homemade is best. It can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use.
Many of the ingredients including the banana leaves can be found at your local Latin or Asian grocery store.
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Been making this recipe for a few years now. Love it. Only ingredient change is that I use chicken. Process change that will have all my PR ancestors rolling into their graves: mix all the ingredients together (mass, filling, etc.) and place 1/3 cup in heated 12×12 banana leaf and steam. Don’t even tie them in pairs. Saves so much time and tastes the same.
how many serving is inthis recipe?
The Noshery says
As the recipe states, it makes 12 pasteles.
Ashley Dearce says
Have you ever tried cooking the Pasteles in a slow cooker, I have a lot going on for Thanksgiving and wasn’t sure if I could just put them in the slow cooker with some water for the day while I cooked everything else.
In all my life this is the first time I have heard of pasteles being wrapped in wax paper??? What about the wax??? I use the paper that looks like parchment, especially for wrapping them.
Theresa Sanchez says
I just came across this recipe because my Chef Mamachonga was seeking for a recipe for pasteles de yucca. This sounds more or less the way my mom used to make them, except that I don’t ever remember her using beef broth cubes. I love the raisins but I am burned out on those damn maldito garbanzos because we ate them almost every day. I’ll exclude the capers because I have no need nor use for capers.
We’re gonna use this recipe and we’ll let you know how it came out.
I’m glad we’re not those that have to wait for holidays just to make and eat these delicacies.
Iris Dale says
Vivo en MS donde puedo consequir la masa de yuca congelada on line? Aqui es bien dificil concequirla. Por favor enviame nombre Gracias
What fun to read this post…and learn! Your step by step is fabulous.
A Vazquez says
Thank you for the detail info, My sister makes them, but she puts them in foil, so all you do is warm them up..They taste great, I love the regular ones too…I LOVE MY PASTELES….
It’s not Christmas without pasteles! 😉
My ex mother in law shared this recipe with me and she too used foil but she cooked them in the oven,awesome, yucca cooks in less time than regular pasteles.
In the oven you mean ? What temperature and for how long ?
Came out good.. Nice, detailed instructions.. A lot of work for 13 pastels though! Lol. Did over 2 days.. Second day took 6 hours, easily.
Jennifer R. says
Yummmm!! I love pasteles but was always intimated — but the way you broke it down makes it way less daunting lol! I can’t wait to make them.. Once I get my crew together 🙂
You can do it girlfriend! I am planning on making pasteles for the family with my sister-in-law this Christmas!
Jose A Torres says
The yucca variety have always been my favorite. My grandmother used to make them with plantains and they were incredible but my aunt made the yucca ones and they were just to die for. I look forward to the holidays every year just to receive my hand delivered pasteles de yucca made by her. This recipe looks amazing , can’t wait to give a try myself.
Thank you for your ridiculously amazing recipes.
Thank you so much! You are too sweet! I like the yucca pasteles because they have a chewiness that I just love! Feliz Navidad!
Hola: your recipe & pics are wonderful! Great job! Your recipe feeds 10-12 ppl – is that 10-12 pasteles? Or more?
Where do we add the capers in the recipe?
With the raisins and olives.
So glad I found your website, full of lots of wonderful info. Im gonna try the yuca pasteles…feeling adventurous, plus your website is detailed which helps step by step.
Thanks for all the info and inspiring ideas.
Hi, your pasteles look awesome. My favorite are the yucca ones and I decided to make them myself for the first time. They came out great and now people are asking me if I’m selling them. If I do, how much should I sell them for? My cousin sells them for $42 a dozen. That’s too much! What would be a reasonable price for a dozen?
It depends on the cost of the ingredients and the time/effort you put! That will determine the final price! If they taste good people will pay, because any puertoriqueño knows that it’s not easy or cheap! Éxito!
Zaida Hernandez says
I loved this step by step recipe…I am making some for the holidays it’s easier than what I thought.
Enjoy the holidays everyone!!! I know I am with my yucca pasteles……
cepillo de dientes says
Hi, I’m a writer based out of Oldenzaal, Netherlands and I discovered your site via http://thenoshery.com/2011/12/20/pasteles-de-yucca/. Do you have any suggestions for up-and-coming writers? I’m hope to start
my own site very soon but I’m a bit lost on everything. Do you believe I should start out with a free site like Pixie or shell out some money into a pay site? I’m confronted with
quite a few options and it’s all so intimidating… What would you say?
Dee-Dee Rodriguez says
I like both yuka n masa yuka seems easier though.
THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK/TAMMY says
This post made me soooo hungry! I’ve only made pasteles once, and that was with the help of my mother-in-law. It’s about time to pay Mami a visit! 🙂
I made a batch of pasteles de platano, today, I am making de yucca…I used your recipe to support what I already have, looks and smells great. However, I would NOT wrap the pasteles in wax paper, instead, please use parchment, or even aluminum foil. Also, there are TWO kinds of yucca, one which is milky white and the other is striped…so it’s ok to use it… the only time it’s NOT ok is when the yucca is mushy, (that’s why they dip it in wax to fight the mold that grows easily on them)…other than that, your pictures are fantastic…Happy New Year
I’m making these right now. Wow….the smell alone is making me hungry. Thanks for posting. I found another recipe last year that used bananas and plantains for the masa and the pasteles were not tasty at all. These are going to be fantastic!
Thanks for that excellent recipe! its very clear and to the point!! i will be making the yucca ones for the first time. again, GRACIAS!!
FELIZ ANO NUEVO !!!!!!!
Ivan Marrero says
I made these a week ago to have on Christmas day and they were amazing. Thanks for the step by step instructions. It gave me the courage and confidence needed to make them. I’ll definitely make it a Christmas tradition. Thank you!!
Janet Santiago says
Do you have to leave the yucca to strain over night? What happens if you don’t?
It’s to dry out and remove the moisture from the yucca. If there is too much moisture the pasteles won’t hold together.
Thanks for this exceelent recipe!!!WOW, the pasteles (3-day affair for 40 pasteles) were mind-blowing. We tasted one each today. Better than the yautia and plantain ones. The texture, color and taste of the dough was wonderful, biting through into the pork and pimento….mmmm. And the banana leaves gave off a heavenly aroma.
The only thing we had to make do with was annato powder since we could not find the seeds. Straining those was more difficult. Also we used a beef reduction instead of bouillon. Can’t wait to eat them for family dinner tomorrow.
I also used your sofrito recipe for the pasteles and tomorrow, I will use your arroz con gandules recipe too. I know for sure that your recipes turn out fabulous.
Fran Burgos says
I would not use wax paper the paper to use is parchment paper very different to wax.
this is right on…i am making the pasteles this year for the first time on my own and I am making them with the other masa but I like your recipe for the filling and i will put the red pepper on top too. awesome post!
This recipe was very clear and simpler than most out there. I tweaked it a little just bacause of taste preference. Over all amounts of each ingredient just goes perfect. I made them for the first time and they turned out perfect. Thank you for posting this recipe.
Victoria Guerrero says
Wow!! This recipe looks great. I love the way you blog, also the pictures.
My family’s always made the dough out of a mix of plantains, green bananas, yautía, yucca, and pumpkin. 🙂
Ohh pumkin. That sounds good!
Have you ever tasted pasteles de yuca filled with crab? They are fabulous. From Loiza to Culebra, they fill them with jueyes and some call them empanadas de yuca. I’ve tasted the ones in Loiza which have been baked in a hole in the ground filled with wood carbon. OMG, they are wonderful.
Rosalind, where in Loiza? I’m taking a trip to la isla this coming Christmas, I will be staying in the Fajardo area, so will be hitting up los kioskitos de Luquillo. I cannot wait! I miss me my Puerto Rican food, haven’t been back for about 3 years.
I’ll get you the name of a good restaurant in the Loiza area that sells those. Since you’ll be in the Fajardo area, you should check out the fresh fish meals at the local restaurants in Las Croabas and don’t forget the arepas. Also, take the day tour on one of the catamarans to Icacos. It’s well worth the money.
Oh yes Las Croabas, I had an excellent mofongo with langosta over there. I will check out the catamarans, thanks very much
Tara Bliven says
Just stumbled onto your blog, and I’m so excited! My dad was Puerto Rican and I did not appreciate the food until now that he’s gone. Really pumped to try some of these recipes – this one looks so good 🙂 THANK YOU!
Great job with this recipe, I was looking for something like this. I like to eat my pasteles with white rice and a bit of ketchup. Thank you.
Thank you for such concise instructions! My forte is tamales, but I’ve helped my mother in law make these and have never ventured into making them by myself. I think I will try…
this looks so good! I’ve never had pasteles de yuca; my mom only made the yautia/green banana ones. She’s 92 now and can’t make them anymore. How I miss the wonderful smells in her apartment on Christmas holidays.
Thanks for the great receta, Yucca pasteles are the best, I would like to request a sofrito recipe from you. I’m not so fond of the bottled kind, I use 2 green bell peppers, 2 onions and a a whole rubberbanded bunch of cilantro or cilantrillo as it’s called in Puerto Rico. I can never find culantro here where I live. Do you add anything to this? Mine is really good but needs a little oomph. Anyways take care, hope you come back soon
Hi. If you can’t find recao, or culantro, where you live you might try an asian store, one that sells Vietnamese products. They use recao as well and so they usually have fresh ones on hand. My sofrito recipe is very simple: 6 green peppers, 1/2 onions, 1 head fresh garlic, 15 recao leaves, 15 sprigs of cilantro, 15 ajies dulces, and 1 tablespoon dried oregano(not Italian oregano but what we use in PR. It’s called Mexican oregano in the States) I put it all in a food processor until it’s no longer chunky then pour it into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap and freeze it. Once frozen, I pop them out and store them in an airtight container like Lock & Locks. Whenever I need it, just take out the amount of cubes I need. Each cube is about 2 tblsp. of sofrito. Hope this helps.
Rosalind thanks for your reply, so sorry but I just saw this, they have opened up a nice big asian market by my house, I found recao but I’m going to request the ajies dulces, Take care
Made a mistake in my sofrito recipe. It should read 1/2 pound of onions.
Thanks for the clarification of the onions, I was wondering about that, 🙂
Sonia de St. Croix, V.I. says
If you can find and add Puerto Rican sweet peppers (ajis dulce), oregano brujo (Spanish thyme, broadleaf thyme), garlic and celery, you will much improve the flavor. Oregano is sometimes sold at Home Depot, recao too.
Hello again! While looking at your instructions to the making & packing of PASTELES, in comparison to others I’ve looked up online before I knew of your site, YOURS ARE THE BEST! Thank you for your excellent instructions. You should be on the foodnetwork! I know you’d win on CHOPPED! Thanks again.
I’ve been wanting to learn to prepare pasteles for two years. Still everybody who knows how to prepare them are always telling what a hassle it is. Now I’m just going to print this step by step post and I’m preparing this for mothers day (I already bought the ones for x-mas) Thanks so much for posting this.
Heck, I just learned to make tamales last year and now you are upping the ante to these jewels? I have some highly seasoned pork that I smoked with a green chile rub that would go great in these.
Thank you for the wonderful recipe and overview! One detail that concerns me regards the wax paper. Shouldn’t it be parchment paper, instead? Won’t the wax melt when boiled?
Regardless I am gathering ingredients for next week – ¡Feliz navidad!
Thank you for prompt reply. Bless you.
Yeah! You’re back! I think I’ll just come over to your house for some pasteles. Can you even imagine what would happen if I tried to make them? Let’s not.
Joan Nova says
Very good post. Pasteles are so much work (just peeling those suckers) but they are delicioso. You did a great job!
Thank you so,so much for taking the time to share this recipe. I have been looking for over 2 weeks for a good traditional pasteles recipe like my grandmother use to make. Thank you so much for not just the recipe but the illustrations also..they are very helpful.
Can you please let me know how many pasteles this recipe is suppose to yeild?
Do you have a recipe for the other type ,made with the green bananas and green plaintain.?
Wishing you a really great holiday filled with good friends,good times,laughter and lots of love. May the New Year bring you much success. Feliz Navidad!!
I updated the post to answer your questions.
Welcome back! Gracias por la receta, hace tiempo queria hacer pasteles de yuca pero
no estaba muy segura de como manejar la yuca. Aqui en Florida se consigue la yuca ya rallada y congelada. Se puede usar esa ? O recomiendas la yuca fresca
Thank you!!! I have been waiting for this receipe from your website. I love the way you blog and show the pictures. Good luck with your school and your externship!!!and Feliz Navidad y un Prospero Año Nuevo. Till Next Year!!!!
Jeff @ Cheese-Burger.net says
This is the first time that I have heard of pasteles. But it sure looks delicious.
Wow! Esto está bien chévere! Me encantó tu receta y tu blog. Yo soy de Puerto Rico, así que esto suena a navidades para mi también. Que tengas un buen día.
Maribel Ibrahim says
I love this recipe. I may try this next year and will try to break up the recipe into 5 days instead. My mami makes pasteles and they are awesome.
For the platano recipe, what is the ratio of platanos to malanga. Is it one to one?
Those pastels look delicious! I love yuca! They are definitely a lot of work but well worth the labor! Luckily I just received a care package from an aunt in Puerto Rico and my pasteles de guineo & yautia are boiling right now!! Yum!