Pasteles en Hoja (Plantain and Beef Pockets)

Pasteles en Hoja Recipe (Plantain and Beef Pockets): Few dishes are as cherished to Dominicans as this. It is an essential component of the Christmas and New Year's Eve dinner.

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 Recipe (Plantain and Beef Pockets): Few dishes are as cherished to Dominicans as this. It is an essential component of the Christmas and New Year's Eve dinner.Pasteles en Hoja Recipe (Plantain and Beef Pockets): Few dishes are as cherished to Dominicans as this. It is an essential component of the Christmas and New Year's Eve dinner.

So what are Pasteles en Hoja?

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 Recipe (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 beef
  • 1 cubanela (cubanelle) pepper, diced into very small cubes
  • 1 small red onion, diced into very small cubes
  • ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
For the paste
  • 1 unripe plantain
  • ½ [0.23 kg] lb of yautía blanca (taro)
  • 1 lb [0.46 kg] auyama (West Indian 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. Mix the beef, cubanela pepper, onion, oregano, pepper and salt.
  2. In a shallow pan heat of oil over medium heat. Add the beef and brown, cook for 10 minutes adding water by the tablespoons as it becomes necessary. Add tomato sauce. Mix well and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Simmer over medium heat, adding a tablespoon water when it becomes necessary. Let all the liquid evaporate. 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.


  1. Chava Rosen

    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.

  2. paloma

    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?

    • 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.


    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?

  4. Johanna

    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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *