Paleo Tamales

OK, let it be known that I have been jonesing for a tamale for well over a year now!

Well, yesterday, I happened to catch the tail end of a twitter conversation between Emily Deans and Winni Carter about what to do with plantain. I believe Emily was looking for some great recipes and Winni suggested ‘Tamale’ along with a quick down and dirty recipe.

Let me tell you that my heart skipped a beat and then started racing as this revelation seeped into my brain. I was going to make me some Paleo Tamales!!


  1. 4 Green Plantain
  2. 1 cup Lard/Butter/Ghee/Bacon Fat
  3. 1 tbsp Baking Soda
  4. 1 tsp Salt
  5. Bone Broth
  6. Banana Leaves or Parchment Paper


You can use whatever ‘Mexican’ filling you like from pulled pork, stewed brisket, spicy chicken to fish/seafood. In these particular Paleo Tamales I used the grilled Kingfish I had leftover in the fridge from last nights dinner. I fried up some garlic and onions, added in some tomatoes and broth as well as some chipotle peppers I had lying around. I shredded the fish and mixed it all together.


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Wash the plantain thoroughly, cut into sections with skin on and then place in the boiling water for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Peel and place the plantain into a food processor.
  • Add the fat, baking powder and salt and begin grinding it into a dough.
  • You will need to add in some broth to thin out the dough a little bit as it is blending.
  • The finish dough should be between the constancy of peanut butter and cookie dough.
  • Spread about 3 tbsp of dough thinly on a 4 or 5 inch square of banana leaf or parchment paper.
  • Add the filling.
  • Roll the dough over the filling using the BL or PP and then fold up the bottom leaving the top open.
  • Steam the tamales standing up if you can for 1 hour, checking frequently to see that there is water still left to boil.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. winni says:

    Baking powder! Yes light bulb moment, I hadn’t thought of that. Can’t wait to try your recipe, a total WIN!

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      I thought the texture was going to be a little to ‘doughy’ so added in the baking powder. It worked really well. Thanks again for the idea of using plantain.

  2. Robin says:

    I attempted tamales about 3 months ago. They turned out okay but I didn’t like them well enough to put on my blog. I’ve recently discovered plantains so I’m really eager to try this recipe! I think it will be great! Thanks so much for posting and I’ll let you know how they turn out for me.

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      I can’t wait to here how you do with the recipe.

  3. Tasha says:

    There will be tamales for Christmas Eve after all! Heck, yes. Now all things are right in the world. Thanks for sharing! How were they by the way?

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      They where awesome Tasha. I hope your Christmas shines.

  4. Matt says:

    Looks like I will be able to use the corn husks I’ve had sitting around since my pre-paleo days! I’m not all that opposed to corn myself, but keeping paleo “kosher” with plantains is awesome all the same.

  5. AP says:

    Interesting Idea. Where they on the sweet side?

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      Nope, they tasted almost exactly like regular tamales.

  6. sharon says:

    I can’t wait to try these!!!!!!!!!! I have some shredded beef left over from the weekend that would make a perfect filling! Thanks for the recipe

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      Thanks Sharon,

      I hope you enjoy it. Let me know how it turns out 🙂

  7. Katie H says:

    “Roll the dough over the filling using the BL of PP ?”  What does that mean?

    1. Typo… Should read BL or PP (banana leaf or parchment paper)

  8. Laelle Martin says:

    So the ingredients say “baking soda” but the comments and instructions both refer to “baking powder”. Which is it??  Making right now, so hope I guess right!

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      baking soda… Sorry for any confusion 🙂

    2. Ken Row says:

      For it to activate (fizz), it’d have to be baking powder. Baking soda only activates if combined with something acidic like vinegar or buttermilk, but baking powder has the acid built in. Baking powder activates with water alone.

  9. Verow75 says:

    How many tamales does this recipe make?

    1. My Paleo Life says:

      The recipe makes about 8 tamales

  10. Buttoni says:

    These sound delicious! I’d love to try them. I have trouble getting plantains, but see them in Austin groceries when we drive down.

  11. Theresa says:

    Love it! As a Puerto Rican, it’s so funny that you just ‘invented’ a Puerto Rican staple, “pasteles”, which have always been made with green plantains. So yummy!

  12. Winter says:

    Well, I just ruined a batch of these tamales because the recipe says Baking SODA and I used that instead of Baking POWDER. Could you maybe update/correct the recipe? Thanks!

  13. Becky says:

    I made a double batch today for Christmas Eve. They were delicious!! My family loved them. I grew up making and eating tamales every Christmas and missed them since changing my diet to paleo. Thank you!!

    I used lard, ghee and Kerry gold plus a little bit of salt and almond meal for texture.

    Thanks 🙂

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