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Yucatecan Tamales

Yucatecan Tamales: Mayan Flavors

Yucatecan Tamales, rooted in the rich cultural tapestry of the Yucatán Peninsula, offer a gastronomic symphony that echoes the flavors of Mayan cuisine.

These tamales, filled with a blend of local ingredients and spices, take you on a journey through the vibrant culinary heritage of Yucatán.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this meal appeals to: Perfect for those seeking an authentic taste of the Yucatán, appreciating the unique blend of flavors in traditional Mayan cuisine.
  • Estimated duration: The preparation demands time and care, providing a delightful culinary experience lasting around 3-4 hours.
  • Nutrition Facts: Yucatecan Tamales provide a satisfying mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, influenced by the choice of local fillings.

About this Recipe

Yucatecan Tamales are known for their distinctive masa, often seasoned with achiote, and filled with a variety of ingredients like meats, peppers, and spices. Wrapped in banana leaves, these tamales capture the essence of Yucatecan culinary traditions.

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 Yucatecan touch.


  • Masa: 3 cups, a mixture of corn masa seasoned with achiote.
  • Achiote Paste: 2 tablespoons, for color and flavor.
  • Pork or Chicken: 1 lb, cooked and shredded.
  • Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and Onions: 1 cup each, finely chopped for a flavorful filling.
  • Chiles Habaneros: 2-3 pieces, finely chopped for a spicy kick.
  • Banana Leaves: 12-15 pieces, for wrapping.


  1. Prepare the Masa: Mix corn masa with achiote paste until it forms a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  2. Prepare the Filling: Combine shredded meat with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and chiles habaneros 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 a side of Yucatecan black beans and pickled red onions for an authentic Yucatecan meal.

Storage Options

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

Ingredient Substitutes

Experiment with different meats or add roasted pumpkin seeds for a unique Yucatecan twist.


For a vegetarian option, consider making tamales filled with a medley of Yucatecan vegetables and beans.

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


Yucatecan Tamales offer a culinary journey into the heart of the Yucatán, providing a flavorful experience that celebrates the unique blend of ingredients and spices that define Mayan cuisine. Whether shared during festive occasions or enjoyed as a comforting family meal, these tamales are a testament to the rich and vibrant culinary tapestry of the Yucatán Peninsula.