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Salvadoran Tamales

Salvadoran Tamales: A Delight from El Salvador

Salvadoran tamales are a culinary treasure, deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of El Salvador.

Bursting with flavors, these tamales showcase the unique blend of indigenous and Spanish influences that define Salvadoran cuisine.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this meal appeals to: Perfect for those seeking a taste of Salvadoran tradition, with a love for savory and aromatic delights.
  • Estimated duration: While the preparation demands time and care, the end result is a mouthwatering experience lasting around 3-4 hours.
  • Nutrition Facts: Salvadoran tamales offer a well-balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, dependent on the choice of fillings.

About this Recipe

Salvadoran tamales are distinct for their use of banana leaves, imparting a unique aroma to the dish. Filled with a variety of ingredients, these tamales offer a delightful harmony of textures and flavors.

Equipment Required

  1. Large Steaming Pot: Essential for achieving the perfect texture of the masa.
  2. Mixing Bowls: For preparing the masa and fillings.
  3. Banana Leaves: Traditional wrapping material for an authentic Salvadoran touch.


  • Masa: 3 cups, finely ground.
  • Pork or Chicken: 1 lb, cooked and shredded.
  • Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and Onions: 1 cup each, finely chopped for a flavorful filling.
  • Achiote Paste: 2 tablespoons, for color and flavor.
  • Chicken Broth: 2 cups, for seasoning the masa.
  • Banana Leaves: 12-15 pieces, for wrapping.


  1. Prepare the Masa: Mix masa with chicken broth and achiote paste until it forms a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  2. Prepare the Filling: Combine shredded meat with chopped vegetables in a bowl.
  3. Assemble the Tamales: Spread a thin layer of masa on a banana leaf, add a spoonful of the filling, and fold the tamale, securing the ends.
  4. Steam to Perfection: Arrange the tamales in a steaming pot and steam for 1.5 to 2 hours until the masa is cooked.

Side Dishes

Serve with Salvadoran curtido (pickled cabbage slaw) for a refreshing contrast.

Storage Options

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

Ingredient Substitutes

Experiment with different meats or add olives and raisins for a unique twist on the traditional filling.

Alternatives to this Meal

For a quicker option, consider making smaller tamales or trying different fillings for a personalized touch.

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


Salvadoran tamales encapsulate the rich culinary heritage of El Salvador, offering a savory journey into the heart of Central American flavors. Whether shared during festive occasions or enjoyed as a comforting family meal, these tamales are a celebration of tradition and the joy of good food.