• Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Total Time: 2 days
  • Serves: 20-40

Note: I developed this recipe before I developed my current cooking skills. I remember it tasting delicious, but I’m certainly going to go back and adjust it later. If I end up changing it, I’ll leave a note here with a link to the current version.


Pork Al Pastor

  • 6 pounds Pork (butt, loin, or shoulder. I used 2 3-pound pork loins.)
  • 1 tablespoon All-Purpose Seasoning (I used Goya Adobo Lemon Pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons Achiote Molido (Ground Annato)
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 3 Dried Chilis (Optional)
  • 1 can Green Chilis (Or Jalapeños)
  • 1 Large Onion (Yellow or White)
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 2 cans Pineapple (Chunks or Slices)
  • 500 milliliters Sprite or 7-up (or Coke)
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil


  • 4.4 pounds masa harina (i.e., Maseca For Tamales)
  • 40 Banana/Plantain Leaves (30 large or 60 small - Find them in the frozen section of a Latin grocery store)
  • 1 Large tomato (Chopped)
  • 1 Green bell pepper (Chopped)
  • 1 cup Cilantro (Chopped, optional)
  • ¼ cup Ground Cumin
  • 2 Bouillon cubes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 can Tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 4 cups Vegetable oil (or shortening)
  • 2 cups White rice (Cooked to your liking)
  • 1 pound Peas (Frozen or Canned)
  • Kitchen twine (and/or tin foil)
  • 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Seasoning (I used Goya Adobo Lemon Pepper)


36-48 hours before eating

Marinade the meat! Combine all the meat spices, oil, soda, and juice in a large bowl (save the pineapple pieces for later). Cut the pork into pieces roughly the size of your thumb. Make sure all the pork is covered, and refrigerate overnight.

24 hours before eating

Pour the whole bowl of marinating goodness into a slow cooker with large slices of pepper and onion and the pineapple bits. Cook on low for 12-ish hours, stirring at the 2 and 6 hour marks. The meat should be almost falling apart when you’re done, and your kitchen will smell so good.

12 hours before eating

Remove the pork from the marinade and vegetables (which you could probably use for something, but I haven’t figured out what yet). Split the pork into one portion per serving. If desired, you can do this in advance and refrigerate the pork.

6 hours before eating

Pour the whole 4.4-pound bag of corn meal into a very large pot. Gradually add warm water and mix (by hand is easiest) until the batter is consistent and is about as runny as pancake batter.

Add the bell pepper, tomato, onion, cumin, bouillon, cilantro (optional), and all-purpose seasoning in a blender. Add about a teaspoon of salt (to your liking) and blend until it’s smooth. Add the oil (or shortening) to the masa. Pour this into the pot of batter and mix until even.

Pour about 5-6 cups of the masa into a smaller pot and add the can of tomato paste. Stir until well-combined.

Bring both pots to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Wash and cut the banana leaves. You’ll want the leaves to be at smallest the size of a legal piece of paper (about 9 by 15 inches). If the leaves are stiff, they’ll need to be soaked for a while in warm water.

Put about 4 parts regular masa and 1 part red masa onto each leaf (you’ll be rolling and folding these – use your best judgment on how much). Add a piece of pork, rice, peas, garbanzos, corn, raisins, or any other filling your heart desires to each one.

Filling Tamales

Roll the leaf tightly to form a long tube. Then, fold each end onto the middle to seal the tamal. If there are any holes in the banana leaf, you’ll want to seal it in tin foil after this. See the picture in the next step if you need more help.

Filling Tamales

Once folded, you’ll want to tie them with some kitchen twine, like you’d tie a bow on a gift.

Filling Tamales

Add about an inch of water to several large pots, a croc-pot on high, or an instant pot on “slow cook”, then fill with wrapped tamales. Cover the pots with banana leaves, then the lid (unless it’s an instant pot. Don’t cover that with leaves). Cook for about 1-2 hours, or until the tamales feel pretty firm.

Our Thoughts

I spent a few years in Honduras, and some of my favorite food there was tamales. If you’ve had Mexican tamales, they’re very similar. Honduran tamales are generally less spicy, have more filling, and are wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks.

I was surprised and happy to find banana leaves for sale in the freezer of a local Hispanic grocery store. They took 3 days to make, but these tamales were worth the wait. They’re delicious, filling, and great to share with friends and family.