Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets)

Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets)

Whenever I want to explain Pasteles en Hoja (Roots and Beef Pockets) to somebody who has never seen them I usually say “they are a little bit like tamales, with different ingredients and wrapped in plantain leaves instead of corn husks”.

I know it’s a roundabout way of explaining it, but it gets the message across. If the person knows what a tamal is to start with.

Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets)Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets)

Pasteles en hoja are made with many ingredients that, although common in the Dominican Republic, might be hard to come across in your own country.

Plan this recipe ahead to give yourself time to hunt down all the necessary ingredients – it will be worth it. If you find it impossible to get the banana tree leaves, don’t despair; you can use parchment paper as a substitute.

Buen provecho!

Aunt Clara
Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets) are an essential part of Dominicans Christmas and New Year's Eve dinner. Recipe with step by step photos makes your life so much easier.
Serves: 8 pasteles
  • For the filing
  • ½ lb [0.23 kg] of ground meat
  • 1 small red onion, diced into very small cubes
  • 1 cubanela (cubanelle) pepper, diced into very small cubes
  • ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
For the paste
  • 1 unripe plantain
  • ½ [0.23 kg] lb of yautía blanca (taro)
  • 1 lb [0.46 kg] auyama (West Indies pumpkin)
  • ½ [0.23 kg] lb of ñame (yam)
  • 1 teaspoon of seasoning powder
  • 1 quarter cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
For wrapping
  • 3 banana tree leaves and/or parchment paper
  • String (the kind used for tying ham while cooking)
For garnishing
  • ½ cup of ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce
Making the filling
  1. Cut the green pepper and get rid of the seeds.
  2. Mix the beef, cubanela pepper, onion, oregano, pepper and salt.
  3. In a shallow pan heat of oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the beef and brown, cook for 10 minutes adding water by the tablespoons as it becomes necessary.
  5. Add tomato sauce. Mix well and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Simmer over medium heat, adding a tablespoon water when it becomes necessary.
  7. Let all the liquid evaporate.
  8. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Making the paste
  1. Peel and grate the plantain, taro, pumpkin and yam.
  2. In a deep bowl mix the plantain, taro, pumpkin, yam, milk, seasoning powder and salt.

  1. Cut the plantain leaves into 6 - 5"x5" [13 x 13 cm] squares.
  2. Put 3 tablespoons of the plantain and root mixture on the center of one of these squares.

  3. Put 2 tablespoon of filling in the center, cover with 3 more tablespoons of the root mixture to cover the filling.

  4. Fold the leaf square in the shape of an envelope.

  5. Wrap again in parchment paper and tie tightly.

  6. When all are done, bring half a gallon of water to boil in a deep pot.
  7. When the water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  8. Put all the pockets in the boiling water and boil over medium heat for 30 minutes.
  1. Unwrap before serving.
  2. Serve garnished with hot sauce and ketchup.
For wrapping I prefer to use both plantain leaves and parchment paper, it is more waterproof that way and the plantain leaves retain a nicer color. If you cannot find plantain leaves, then use parchment paper only.

Please be aware that "yam" does not refer to sweet potatoes, but to a different vegetable.
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{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Chava Rosen December 29, 2014, 3:54 PM

    Aunt Clara– I gave these a try yesterday and they turned out great. Thanks! I do not have any Dominican or Puerto Rican bodegas in my area but was lucky to find everything in a Mexican grocery store. These brought back memories. My abuela, may she rest in peace, used to make these when I was little back in Santiago. She made the dough with chicken stock because we kept kosher. I tried it with soy milk when I made these and you could not tell it was in there. This recipe is a keeper. Now I can make and have kosher pasteles at home. Super awesome! I am now working on making all my favorite recipes from this site kosher.

    • Aunt Clara December 29, 2014, 10:59 PM

      I loved to hear about your adaptations, and I am glad it worked.

  • paloma December 20, 2014, 12:17 PM

    Im feeling resourceful and im gonna give the “patele” a try for Christmas.
    The only time I saw the process of making the pasteles I saw oil or butter added to the paste (masa). Will it have the same consistency without?

    • Aunt Clara December 20, 2014, 1:35 PM

      There are more or less 9.5 million different recipes for pasteles en hoja (one for each Dominican). Of course, each person will swear by his/her version. This is where you can get creative and start doing different things. I love mine, but I have tried many other wonderful versions, so it’s hard to go wrong on this.

  • JOHANNA December 17, 2014, 12:43 PM

    Puedo usar leche de almendra?
    O usar caldo de pollo preparado por mí misma (agua, pollo y verduras)? En vez del sazón y la leche?

  • Johanna December 17, 2014, 12:31 PM

    Can I substitute the dairy milk? I need to use almond milk.
    Can I substitute “sopitas”, and prepare it myself with chicken, water and vegetables? Thanks!

  • Perla November 29, 2014, 1:05 PM

    Can i puree the platains,yautia,auyama and name?

  • Anny August 16, 2014, 8:39 PM

    Hi, I am confused about the pumpkin milk, how do you make it?

  • Edelweiss G. Diaz February 8, 2014, 5:23 PM

    My husband just got out of the hospital and he hasn’t been able to eat much…but he wanted soap de pollo dominicana…I made that for him, thanks to finding the recipe…NOW…he’s craving pasteles…I’ll have to go find the ingredients! Thanks Tia Clara!

  • Catherine November 29, 2013, 8:17 PM

    Well, I’m going to hunt down every supermarket here until I find all the ingredients, because there’s no way I’m going to pass this xmas without eating our beloved Pasteles en hoja.

  • franklin uribe November 18, 2013, 9:21 PM

    que debo hacer para preservar masa de pasteles en hojas sobrante sin que se fermente y no se aruine hasta el dia siguiente, y poder hacer mas pasteles al siguiente dia, gracias tia Clara. franklin

    • Aunt Clara November 18, 2013, 9:37 PM

      Franklin, lo mejor es que congeles los pasteles ya envueltos.

  • Patrice May 17, 2013, 7:40 PM

    What is malanga?

  • Loren A. December 9, 2012, 12:54 PM

    Tia Clara would you use potatoes as a substitute for malangas? or another root vegetable?

  • Asha January 15, 2012, 1:15 PM

    Would you say that pasteles en hojas is a healthy dish?

    • Aunt Ilana January 18, 2012, 4:23 AM

      Hi Asha, it's quite healthy in that it's not fried, and can be low fat depending on which filling you choose. It contains plenty of nutrients.

  • Blanca December 16, 2011, 5:30 AM

    I love the new look and all of the new recipies. Rock On Tia Clara!

  • Judith August 10, 2011, 1:21 PM

    I'm confused about the mixture. The plantains, malanga and yam are grated and then you add seasoning powder,salt and pepper. What does the seasoning powder consist of? My other question is does the mixture get cooked at all before placing it on to the banana tree leaves?

    Thank you for the recipe I have been wanting to do this myself but had not come across the recipe before.

    • alice September 27, 2011, 10:57 AM

      you grate the plantains,malanga and yams then u take some mixture place it in the banana leave then some of the meat mixture the a lil more plantain mixture fold then tie it. Now its ready to boil.

  • Wendy March 1, 2011, 9:36 AM

    Okay how do i prepare the mixture… Do i cut the malanga, yam, plantain in cubes and cook it down…??? please let me know ASAP i will like to prepare this dish

    • Aunt Clara March 1, 2011, 10:02 AM

      Before starting to cook Grate the plantains, malanga and yams.