By December 15, 2016November 9th, 2020No Comments


One of the most important Costa Rican traditions over the holiday season is the making of Christmas Tamales. The dedication of time and commitment to making these little pockets of deliciousness make them a mouthwatering labor of love.

Similar to the American tradition making endless batches of Christmas cookies to hand out to family and friends, Ticos get together right before Christmas to cook hundreds of tamales at a time. The time spent together mixing, assembling, tying and everything else that goes into making a tamal is where the magic lies, reminiscing over childhood stories and favorite memories.

We love to carry on this tasty tradition here at Tierra Magnifica and want to spread the recipe to our family and friends near and far so they can join us in the making of Christmas Tamales. Below we’ve listed out the recipe and instructions for tamales so you can bring a little Pura Vida to your kitchen this holiday season. Buen provecho!

Magnifica’s Christmas Tamales


2 ¼ lbs banana leaves

3 lbs pork, chicken or beef roast

5 cups cooked rice

2 ¼ lbs potatoes

2 lbs instant corn masa mix

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground achiote

1 bag of raisins or dried plumbs




Salt & Black Pepper

Olive oil




1. Cut meat into medium chunks and brown it on the stove. Season with garlic, peppers, onion, salt, cumin and pepper. Pour water over contents and simmer in pan for 2 to 3 hours. Once meat is tender, separate it from the broth and shred. Separate the broth into a container for later.

2. Cook rice. Cut potato into thin slices and save for later.

3. Add a tbsp of salt, one tsp cumin and one tsp achiote to the dry masa and mix together. Slowly pour in the vegetable oil and broth to the dry mixture. Mix together with your hands to make a paste.

4. Cut each of the banana leaves into a square shape and clean with water. Dry thoroughly. Spread four tbsps of masa paste in the center and add raw potatoes slices, rice, meat, a few raisins, chickpeas, peas, and any other desired ingredients (listed or not listed in ingredients above).

5. Gently fold the banana leaves and secure by tying with a string.

6. Cook the tamales in boiling water for one hour.

7. Remove tamales from boiling water. After they have dried off and cool down, unwrap the tamales and enjoy!

The TM Crew and our Holiday guests hard at work!