Chicken Tamales In Banana Leaves Recipe In 6 Easy Steps!

Last Updated on November 26, 2022

Today, we will show you how to make this chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe from scratch. It is packed with sweet, spicy, and savory flavors.

Unlike most cheat recipes out there today, this is an authentic Mexican chicken tamales recipe. It contains a savory rich chicken filling, homemade masa dough, and a spicy chili salsa sauce. Drool-worthy, right? So, read on to learn how you can make it at home as well.

Jump to Recipe

What You Need For This Chicken Tamales In Banana Leaves Recipe

Ingredients for the chicken

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 pounds of chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into large chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 pound of banana leaves (fresh or frozen)

Ingredients for the masa

  • 3 1/2 cups masa harina flour
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening, melted
  • 2 cups water, lukewarm

Ingredients for the salsa sauce

  • 6 ancho chilies
  • 8 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt, to taste

authentic mexican chicken tamales recipe

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Large pots
  • Wooden spoon
  • Forks
  • Whisk
  • Blender
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Ruler
  • Steaming pot

Step by step instructions

Step 1: Make the shredded chicken filling

This part takes the longest to make so start with it first. Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Saute the ingredients until they soften.

Next, add the chicken pieces and allow them to brown in the pot. Once they are browned, add the bay leaves, chicken stock, and water.

Reduce the heat and allow the chicken to cook covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Once the chicken is completely cooked, you can remove it from the liquid and allow it to cool slightly. Shred it until you are happy with the consistency, then leave it to cool completely.

Step 2: Make the masa

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Then, slowly pour in the melted shortening while whisking continuously. Keep adding melted fat until the mixture forms small pea-sized crumbs.

Scrape the dough off of the whisk and into the bowl. Then, add the lukewarm water while stirring the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Once a dough has formed, start kneading it with the palm of your hands for 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover it with a towel. Then, allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.

Step 3: Make the salsa sauce

Next, you can make the spicy salsa sauce for the chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe. First, boil the chilis, jalapenos, and tomatoes in a large pot filled with water. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked ingredients to a blender and add the remaining salsa ingredients. Blend the mixture until it is uniform in texture. You can add more stock to adjust the consistency. We like ours relatively thick, but smooth. Set it aside.

 

Step 4: Prepare the banana leaves

First, we will look at how to prepare banana leaves for tamales. If you are using frozen banana leaves, make sure they are completely thawed. If you are using fresh, ensure they are cleaned completely.

Cut each banana leaf into a square that is 12-inches. Prepare about 40 squares. You will likely not use them all. But it’s best to have more than need to make later.

Then, fill a large pot with hot water. Bring it to a boil and blanch the banana leaf squares for 15-30 seconds. They should be soft. Then, remove them from the hot water and plunge them into a bowl with ice water.

Step 5: Assemble your tamales

Finally, once all your components are prepared, you can assemble the chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe.

To start, lay a banana rectangle on a flat surface. Add about 3 heaped tablespoons of masa dough to the center of the leaf. Spread it flat into a rectangle. Then, top it with some shredded chicken filling. Finally, add some salsa sauce over the chicken.

Take two sides of the banana leaf (that runs parallel to the longest side of the masa) and pull it upwards. Then, fold over the excess banana leaves so it encloses the filling tightly.

Next, pinch the sides closed and fold them over. Set the tamale on a baking sheet as you finish them.

Repeat the process until all of your filling and masa have been used.

Step 6: Steam your chicken tamales

Fill a very large steamer pot with water. Then, bring it to a boil with the lid on the pot. Once steaming, add the tamales and cover the pot again.

Allow the tamales to steam for about 1-2 hours. Once it is completely cooked, remove it from the steamer and allow it to rest for 8-10 minutes. Finally, serve this chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe with additional salsa sauce on the side.

Expert Tips And Tricks

  • Folding tamales with banana leaves is quite easy. But, a visual aid will help you grasp the technique even better. This is the video we used to learn how to properly and effectively wrap tamales. You can use it as a guide.
  • You can secure your tamales with a piece of string or a thin stand of banana leaf. But, this is only needed if your banana leaves are hard or if you have overstuffed the pouch. This is why we always soften the leaves before assembling the tamales.
  • You can test when your chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe has finished cooking by checking what one looks like from the steamer. The dough should be firm and not wet, soggy, or sticky. It should also peel away from the leaves easily. The exact cooking time will differ from batch to batch. So, it’s important to test the doneness after 1 hour.

Preparations Times And Servings

Preparation Times Cooking Times Servings
40-60 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes 30-40

Wrapping Things Up – An Easy And Tasty Chicken Tamales In Banana Leaves Recipe

As you can see, this chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe are incredibly easy, despite taking a while to make. It is extremely flavorful with a ton of soft and juicy textures.

Let us know what you think about this recipe. And don’t forget to have a look at some other hearty recipes we have on our site.

Chicken Tamales In Banana Leaves Recipe In 6 Easy Steps!

Chicken Tamales In Banana Leaves Recipe In 6 Easy Steps!

aniasvibrantkitchen
Today, we will show you how to make this chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe from scratch. It is packed with sweet, spicy, and savory flavors. Unlike most cheat recipes out there today, this is an authentic Mexican chicken tamales recipe. It contains a savory rich chicken filling, homemade masa dough, and a spicy chili salsa sauce. Drool-worthy, right? So, read on to learn how you can make it at home as well.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 35

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Large pots
  • Wooden spoon
  • Forks
  • Whisk
  • Blender
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Ruler
  • Steaming pot

Ingredients
  

Ingredients for the chicken

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 pounds of chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into large chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 pound of banana leaves, fresh or frozen

Ingredients for the masa

  • 3 1/2 cups masa harina flour
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening, melted
  • 2 cups water, lukewarm

Ingredients for the salsa sauce

  • 6 ancho chilies
  • 8 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Make the shredded chicken filling
    This part takes the longest to make so start with it first. Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Saute the ingredients until they soften.
    Next, add the chicken pieces and allow them to brown in the pot. Once they are browned, add the bay leaves, chicken stock, and water.
    Reduce the heat and allow the chicken to cook covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
    Once the chicken is completely cooked, you can remove it from the liquid and allow it to cool slightly. Shred it until you are happy with the consistency, then leave it to cool completely.
    2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 large onion, finely diced, 6 large garlic cloves, minced, 4 pounds of chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into large chunks, 2 bay leaves, 4 cups chicken stock, 8 cups of water
  • Make the masa
    Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Then, slowly pour in the melted shortening while whisking continuously. Keep adding melted fat until the mixture forms small pea-sized crumbs.
    Scrape the dough off of the whisk and into the bowl. Then, add the lukewarm water while stirring the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Once a dough has formed, start kneading it with the palm of your hands for 2 minutes.
    Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover it with a towel. Then, allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
    3 1/2 cups masa harina flour, 1/3 cup cake flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon fine salt, 1/4 cup shortening, melted, 2 cups water, lukewarm
  • Make the salsa sauce
    Next, you can make the spicy salsa sauce for the chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe. First, boil the chilis, jalapenos, and tomatoes in a large pot filled with water. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes.
    Add the cooked ingredients to a blender and add the remaining salsa ingredients. Blend the mixture until it is uniform in texture. You can add more stock to adjust the consistency. We like ours relatively thick, but smooth. Set it aside.
    8 jalapeno peppers, 2 tomatoes, 2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken stock, 1/4 small onion, 4 garlic cloves, peeled, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, Salt, to taste, 6 ancho chilies
  • Prepare the banana leaves
    First, we will look at how to prepare banana leaves for tamales. If you are using frozen banana leaves, make sure they are completely thawed. If you are using fresh, ensure they are cleaned completely.
    Cut each banana leaf into a square that is 12-inches. Prepare about 40 squares. You will likely not use them all. But it's best to have more than need to make later.
    Then, fill a large pot with hot water. Bring it to a boil and blanch the banana leaf squares for 15-30 seconds. They should be soft. Then, remove them from the hot water and plunge them into a bowl with ice water.
    1 pound of banana leaves, fresh or frozen
  • Assemble your tamales
    Finally, once all your components are prepared, you can assemble the chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe.
    To start, lay a banana rectangle on a flat surface. Add about 3 heaped tablespoons of masa dough to the center of the leaf. Spread it flat into a rectangle. Then, top it with some shredded chicken filling. Finally, add some salsa sauce over the chicken.
    Take two sides of the banana leaf (that runs parallel to the longest side of the masa) and pull it upwards. Then, fold over the excess banana leaves so it encloses the filling tightly.
    Next, pinch the sides closed and fold them over. Set the tamale on a baking sheet as you finish them.
    Repeat the process until all of your filling and masa have been used.
  • Steam your chicken tamales
    Fill a very large steamer pot with water. Then, bring it to a boil with the lid on the pot. Once steaming, add the tamales and cover the pot again.
    Allow the tamales to steam for about 1-2 hours. Once it is completely cooked, remove it from the steamer and allow it to rest for 8-10 minutes. Finally, serve this chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe with additional salsa sauce on the side.

Notes

You can secure your tamales with a piece of string or a thin stand of banana leaf. But, this is only needed if your banana leaves are hard or if you have overstuffed the pouch. This is why we always soften the leaves before assembling the tamales.
You can test when your chicken tamales in banana leaves recipe has finished cooking by checking what one looks like from the steamer. The dough should be firm and not wet, soggy, or sticky. It should also peel away from the leaves easily. The exact cooking time will differ from batch to batch. So, it's important to test the doneness after 1 hour.
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