Welcome to the vibrant world of Costa Rican cuisine, where flavors dance and traditions come alive in every dish. Among the array of delightful culinary creations, the Tamal Asado stands as a beloved symbol of Costa Rican gastronomy, cherished for its rich heritage and mouthwatering taste.

Originating from indigenous cultures and influenced by Spanish colonial traditions, the Tamal Asado has evolved into a cherished staple in Costa Rican households and festive gatherings. Its preparation is a labor of love, bringing together friends and family to share in the joy of crafting this flavorful masterpiece.

In this recipe, we'll embark on a journey to recreate the authentic flavors of Costa Rica with our own homemade Tamal Asado. From the tender masa infused with savory fillings to the aromatic banana leaves that enrobe each parcel, every step is an homage to the culinary legacy of this beautiful country.

Prepare to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the tastes of Costa Rica as we delve into the art of making Tamal Asado. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a curious culinary explorer, this recipe promises to awaken your senses and transport you to the heart of Central America with each delectable bite.


  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken or pork
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Banana leaves, cut into large squares and softened over a flame or hot water
  • Butcher's twine or cooking string


1- In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, chicken or vegetable broth, lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder, salt, ground cumin, and ground black pepper. Mix until a smooth dough forms. If needed, add more broth to achieve a spreadable consistency.

2- In a separate bowl, mix together the cooked and shredded chicken or pork, black beans, diced potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, onions, and chopped cilantro.

3- To assemble the tamal asado, lay out a softened banana leaf square on a flat surface. Spoon a generous amount of the masa dough onto the center of the banana leaf and spread it out into a rectangle, leaving about an inch of space on all sides.

4- Spoon a portion of the meat and vegetable filling onto the center of the masa rectangle.

5- Fold the banana leaf over the filling to encase it completely, then fold in the sides and roll up the tamal tightly. Secure the tamal with butcher's twine or cooking string.

6- Repeat the process with the remaining masa dough and filling until all the tamales are assembled.

7- Preheat a grill or barbecue to medium heat. Place the assembled tamales directly onto the grill grates and cook for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until the banana leaves are charred and the masa is cooked through.

8- Remove the tamales from the grill and let them cool slightly before unwrapping and serving.

9- Serve the Costa Rican tamal asado hot, garnished with additional fresh cilantro if desired. Enjoy the smoky flavors and rich textures of this traditional Central American delicacy!

Nutritional Values:

here are approximate nutritional values for each ingredient per serving:

Masa harina (corn flour) - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 400
  • Carbohydrates: 88g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Fiber: 8g

benefits:Rich in carbohydrates and fiber, provides energy and aids in digestion.

Chicken or vegetable broth - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 15
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 0g

benefits:Low in calories and fat, provides hydration and adds flavor to dishes.

Lard or vegetable shortening - 1/2 cup:

  • Calories: 970
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 110g

benefits:Adds moisture and richness to the dish, enhances flavor and texture.

Baking powder - 1 teaspoon:

  • Calories: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

benefits:Helps the tamal asado rise and become light and fluffy.

Salt - 1 teaspoon:

  • Calories: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

benefits:Enhances flavor and helps to balance the taste of the dish.

Ground cumin - 1/2 teaspoon:

  • Calories: 4
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

benefits:Adds a warm, earthy flavor and may aid digestion and provide antioxidants.

Ground black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon:

  • Calories: 3
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

benefits:Adds heat and depth of flavor, may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cooked and shredded chicken or pork - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 231
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 43g
  • Fat: 6g

benefits:High in protein, provides essential amino acids for muscle repair and growth.

Cooked black beans - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 227
  • Carbohydrates: 40g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Fiber: 15g

benefits:Rich in protein and fiber, helps to regulate blood sugar levels and promote digestive health.

Diced potatoes - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 116
  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Fiber: 3g

benefits:Good source of carbohydrates and potassium, provides energy and supports nerve and muscle function.

Diced carrots - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 52
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Fiber: 4g

benefits:High in vitamin A and fiber, promotes eye health and aids in digestion.

Diced bell peppers - 1 cup:

  • Calories: 30
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Fiber: 3g

benefits:Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, supports immune function and may reduce inflammation.

Diced onions - 1/2 cup:

  • Calories: 30
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Fiber: 1g

benefits:Contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, may help to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar.

Chopped fresh cilantro - 1/4 cup:

  • Calories: 1
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

benefits:Adds freshness and flavor, may have antibacterial properties and aid in digestion.

Please note that these values are approximate and can vary based on factors such as brands used and specific cooking methods.


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