Embark on a culinary journey to the heart of Belize with our Pibil Tamales recipe, a delightful dish deeply rooted in Central American tradition. This authentic recipe pays homage to the rich culinary tapestry of Belize, where the ancient Maya influence blends seamlessly with contemporary flavors. The art of making Pibil Tamales involves a symphony of spices, slow-cooked meats, and the earthy aroma of banana leaves. These savory parcels are a celebration of community, family, and the vibrant cultural heritage that defines Belizean cuisine. Join us in unraveling the secrets of crafting these delectable Pibil Tamales, and savor the taste of Belize in every delicious bite.


For the Filling:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or pork shoulder), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup achiote paste
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Masa (Dough):

  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (warm)
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For Assembly:

  • Banana leaves, cleaned and cut into 8x8-inch squares
  • Cooking twine


Prepare the Filling:In a large bowl, combine the chicken (or pork) with chopped onion, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice, white vinegar, oregano, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper. Mix well and let it marinate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Cook the Filling:In a large skillet, heat a bit of oil over medium heat. Add the marinated meat mixture and cook until the meat is browned and cooked through. Set aside.

Prepare the Masa:In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, warm chicken or vegetable broth, lard or shortening, baking powder, and salt. Mix until a soft, pliable dough forms. If needed, add more broth to achieve the right consistency.

Assemble the Tamales:

1-Lay out a banana leaf square and spread a thin layer of masa over it, leaving space around the edges. Place a spoonful of the cooked meat mixture in the center of the masa.

2-Fold the sides of the banana leaf over the filling, then fold the top and bottom to encase the filling completely. Secure the tamale with cooking twine.

Steam the Tamales:Arrange the tamales in a steamer basket, making sure they are standing upright. Steam over medium-high heat for 1.5 to 2 hours or until the masa is cooked through.

Serve:Allow the tamales to cool slightly before unwrapping. Serve the Belize Pibil Tamales warm, garnished with your favorite salsa or a squeeze of lime.

Enjoy the flavors of Belize with these delicious Pibil Tamales, a dish that captures the essence of Central American cuisine.

Nutritional Values:

It's challenging to provide exact nutritional values without specific brands and quantities of each ingredient, but I can offer general information for some of the key components:

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (or Pork Shoulder):

Chicken thighs (per pound):

  • Approximately 1,100 calories
  • 120g protein
  • 70g fat

benefits: Rich in protein for muscle development and repair, along with essential vitamins and minerals.

Pork shoulder (per pound):

  • Approximately 1,400 calories
  • 130g protein
  • 90g fat.

Red Onion (1 large):

  • Approximately 60 calories
  • 1g protein
  • 14g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, may support heart health and boost the immune system.

Garlic (4 cloves):

  • Approximately 20 calories
  • 1g protein
  • 5g carbohydrates
  • negligible fat.

benefits: Known for its immune-boosting properties and potential to reduce blood pressure and combat sickness.

Tomatoes (2 medium):

  • Approximately 50 calories
  • 2g protein
  • 12g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: High in antioxidants, particularly lycopene, which is linked to various health benefits, including heart health.

Achiote Paste (1/4 cup):

  • Approximately 100 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 20g carbohydrates
  • 6g fat.

Orange Juice (1/4 cup):

  • Approximately 30 calories
  • 1g protein
  • 7g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Packed with vitamin C, supporting the immune system and promoting skin health.

Lime Juice (1/4 cup):

  • Approximately 15 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 5g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Provides vitamin C and antioxidants, contributing to immune health and skin vitality.

White Vinegar (2 tablespoons):

  • Approximately 5 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 0g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Adds acidity to enhance flavors; may have potential health benefits, including blood sugar contro

Dried Oregano (2 teaspoons):

  • Approximately 10 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 2g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Contains antioxidants and has antimicrobial properties; may have anti-inflammatory effects.

Ground Cumin (2 teaspoons): -

  • Approximately 15 calories
  • 1g protein
  • 2g carbohydrates
  • 1g fat.

benefits: A source of iron and antioxidants; may aid digestion and promote better digestion.

Ground Allspice (1 teaspoon):

  • Approximately 5 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 1g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Contains antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits.

Masa Harina (3 cups):

  • Approximately 900 calories
  • 15g protein
  • 180g carbohydrates
  • 9g fat.

benefits: Made from corn, providing complex carbohydrates, fiber, and some essential nutrients.

Chicken or Vegetable Broth (2 cups):

  • Approximately 20 calories
  • 2g protein
  • 2g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Adds flavor and moisture; may contribute to hydration and provide some essential nutrients.

Lard or Vegetable Shortening (1 cup):

  • Approximately 1,900 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 0g carbohydrates
  • 216g fat.

benefits: Adds richness and moisture to the masa; moderation is key due to high fat content.

Baking Powder (1 teaspoon): -

  • Approximately 2 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 1g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Helps the masa dough rise and become light and fluffy.

Salt (1 teaspoon):

  • Approximately 0 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 0g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat.

benefits: Enhances flavor; necessary for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body.

Banana Leaves (for wrapping):

  • Negligible caloric content.

benefits: Used for wrapping tamales, imparts a subtle flavor and aroma during the steaming process.

Cooking Twine:

  • Negligible caloric content.

benefits: Essential for securing the tamales during the cooking process.

Remember, these are rough estimates and can vary based on specific brands and preparation methods. If you need precise nutritional information, it's recommended to use a nutrition calculator or consult with a nutritionist.


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