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Nicaraguan Nacatamales

Nicaraguan Nacatamales

A culinary treasure from Nicaragua, Nicaraguan Nacatamales bring strong flavors of Central America to the table.

These large, savory tamales, wrapped in banana leaves, are a testament to the rich and diverse culinary traditions of Nicaragua.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this meal appeals to: Ideal for those seeking an authentic taste of Nicaragua, appreciating the robust and savory flavors in traditional Central American cuisine.
  • Estimated duration: The preparation demands time and care, offering a delightful culinary experience lasting around 4-6 hours.
  • Nutrition Facts: Nicaraguan Nacatamales provide a hearty mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, enriched by the variety of ingredients.

About this Recipe

Nacatamales are known for their large size, filled with a flavorful mixture of masa, meats, vegetables, and spices. The banana leaf wrapping imparts a unique aroma and contributes to the distinctive taste of these Nicaraguan delights.

Equipment Required

  1. Large Steaming Pot: Essential for cooking the nacatamales to perfection.
  2. Mixing Bowls: For preparing the masa and fillings.
  3. Banana Leaves: Traditional wrapping material for an authentic Nicaraguan touch.


For the Masa:

  • Masa Harina: 4 cups, mixed with water and achiote for color.
  • Lard: 1 cup, for richness and flavor.
  • Chicken Broth: 2 cups, for seasoning the masa.
  • Baking Powder: 1 tablespoon, for leavening.

For the Filling:

  • Pork or Chicken: 2 lbs, cooked and shredded.
  • Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and Onions: 2 cups, finely chopped for a flavorful filling.
  • Olives and Capers: 1/2 cup each, for a tangy twist.
  • Raisins: 1/2 cup, for a touch of sweetness.
  • Garlic and Cilantro: 1/2 cup each, finely chopped for added flavor.

For Assembly:

  • Banana Leaves: 10-12 large pieces, for wrapping.


  1. Prepare the Masa: Mix masa harina with water, achiote-infused lard, chicken broth, and baking powder until it forms a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  2. Prepare the Filling: Combine shredded meat with chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, olives, capers, raisins, garlic, and cilantro in a bowl.
  3. Assemble the Nacatamales: Spread a layer of masa on a banana leaf, add a generous portion of the filling, and fold the nacatamal, securing the ends with banana leaf ties.
  4. Steam to Perfection: Arrange the nacatamales in a steaming pot and steam for 3-4 hours until the masa is fully cooked.


Serve the Nicaraguan Nacatamales warm, unwrapping the banana leaves to reveal the savory delights within.

Storage Options

Store any leftover nacatamales in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to three days.

Ingredient Substitutes

Experiment with different meats or add nuts for a unique twist on the traditional filling.


For futher reading check out this comprehensive article on Regional Tamales. For similar tamales check out: Costa Rican Tamales and Guatemalan Tamales.


Nicaraguan Nacatamales offer a taste of the rich and diverse culinary traditions of Nicaragua, providing a flavorful experience that celebrates the unique blend of ingredients and spices that define Central American cuisine.

Whether shared during festive occasions or enjoyed as a comforting family meal, these nacatamales are a true culinary treasure.