Filipino Christmas tamale recipe

Dec 16, 2011 at 6:22 p.m. ET

This recipe is a Filipino version of Mexican tamales. Instead of using corn husks and masa, the Filipino tamale recipe is rice-based, made with coconut milk and steamed in banana leaves.

Filipino Christmas tamale

They're commonly served during big festivals or family parties. If you grew up eating tamales, it will surely bring back many wonderful Christmas memories. The mixture is amazingly sweet and savory and a tasty alternative to the Mexican version.

You can add in many different fillings, so be creative and experiment with your tamale recipe. Feel free to include chorizo sausage or cubed pork loin, and for vegetarian tamales, use some vegetables like garlic, onions and bell peppers.

Filipino Christmas tamale recipe

Yields 12-16


  • 12-16 banana leaves blanched in hot water or aluminum foil, 10 x 12-inch pieces
  • 3-1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 6 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 boneless and skinless cooked chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • Sriracha sauce for optional garnish


  1. In a large pot, mix together rice, coconut milk, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
  2. Cook mixture on low heat for 25 minutes, stirring constantly so the rice doesn't stick to the pot.
  3. Mix in the peanuts and cook for another eight to 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. On a banana leaf, place about a quarter cup of the rice mixture forming a 3-inch square shape and top with chicken, shrimp, ham and sliced eggs. Then top with another quarter cup of rice mixture and wrap the banana leaf in the form of a square and tie securely with kitchen string. Continue this step to fill the rest of your banana leaves.
  5. Place tamales in a deep steamer. Cover and cook for up to two hours. If you don't have a steamer, arrange tamales in a deep pot and cover with water. Boil for about 30 minutes. Serve with sriracha sauce (optional).

More tamale recipes

Beef tamale pie
Tamale skillet meal
Southwest tamale tart