Costa Rican Tamale Recipe Print e-mail this info
Tamales are a traditional Tico Christmas specialty, but many tipico restaurants serve them year round for the tourists, and if you're a really good boy sometimes Christmas comes in July. We met Emilse and Joya at their home in Pital, and in the course of the small talk about what we liked about their country it came out that my favorite Tico dish was the tamales I'd had on a previous Christmas trip. I was surprised on a subsequent visit in mid-July with the best batch of tamales I've ever tasted. Now I'm sure to make it clear that tamales are my favorite whenever anyone asks.

Thanks go out to Roiner for taking the time to get us this recipe from the ladies who make them for the holiday festivities in La Fortuna de Bagaces (where I first tasted them).

Costa Rican Tamale Recipe

2 lbs instant corn masa mix
3 lbs (1.4 kg) pork shoulder roast -or- beef roast -or-
boneless chicken

¼ lb (110 gr) pork lard (or vegetable shortening)
1 cup (240 ml) corn oil
1 batch (~5 cups cooked Tico style rice, see ingredient list and recipe below)
2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) potatoes
8 cloves of garlic
½ lb (225 gr) sweet or hot peppers to taste
1 large onion (optional)
2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) banana leaves (corn husks can be substituted, or if desperate aluminum foil)
coriander leaves (cilantro), salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano, achiote (annato)

If you are adventurous and demand complete authenticity, you must start from raw corn ground for tamales (3 lbs, 1.4 kg MaĆ­z cascado, malido crudo). Soak the flour in water then rinse it well, cook with a tablespoon of achiote, and a little of the garlic and peppers in salted water to just cover until tender then stand overnight. The next day, knead it into dough. You should probably have a demonstration first if you're going to try this method. For first timers we'd suggest the Masa version described below.

Chop the meat into large (2", 5 cm) chunks then brown on high heat in the ½ cup lard or vegetable oil. Add the chopped garlic, peppers, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, 1teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt for the last minute or two of browning, then cover with water and simmer until very tender (2-3 hours). Remove the meat from the broth and reserve the broth. When the meat is cool shred it finely. While the meat is simmering prepare the potatoes and rice.

Peel the potatoes and boil with salt, cilantro, and oregano to taste until soft. Cool and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.

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Rice Tico Style
Wrap the Tamales and Steam

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