The Flavor of Honduran Christmas: Nacatamales

Learn how to replicate one of NPH Honduras's most treasured holiday traditions.
December 12, 2019 - Honduras

Mirna, our veteran cook, shows Jessyka (right) and Ivonne (left) how to make nacatamales.

If you find yourself in Honduras on December 25, expect to celebrate with a nice steamy nacatamal on your plate! Filled with meat, vegetables, potatoes, rice, and sometimes sweet raisins, nacatamales are a delicious and wholesome meal that’ll keep you full and satisfied.

Usually featured as the main dish during special celebrations, nacatamales are eaten only a few times a year. At NPH Honduras, our kids get to enjoy nacatamales once a year, on Christmas Day, making them all the more memorable.

To bring a bit of NPH Honduras Christmas spirit to your kitchen, here’s a recipe perfect for a family of four.

Recipe for Honduran Nacatamales

For the dough

6 cups corn flour (L16.60)

1 cup lard or shortening (L19.35)

3 cups water (L6.00)

1 tablespoon salt (L6.55)

Total L48.50

For the filling

9 cups cooked pork, cubed (L140.25)

Maggi brand chicken-flavored bouillon cubes, to taste (L140.25)

3 cups cooked white rice (L7.50)

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed (L28.20)

1 cup white onion, sliced (L7.70)

5 cloves garlic, minced (L18.44)

2 cups bell pepper, 1/4-inch slices (L25.00)

2 cups tomatoes, 1/4-inch slices (L12.40)

1 bunch cilantro, minced (L3.66)

1 bunch mint, minced (L22.50)

½ cup raisins (L94.95)

Total L500.85

For the wrap

12 pieces banana leaves hard spine removed and cut into 10x10-inch rectangles or 12 pieces aluminum foil cut into 10x10-inch rectangles

Total L40.00


To make the dough, place corn flour in a large bowl. Add water and lard, then mix well. Place cut vegetables in a blender and chop. Add vegetable mixture to dough and mix. Add seasonings to taste. Cook dough on high heat while stirring mixture occasionally for one hour. Once done, the texture should be a little firmer than mashed potatoes. Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Place banana leaves in a pot of boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes. Then dry leaves with a towel. Place two leaves side by side with a one-inch overlap. Add a large spoonful of dough to the center. Push a few pieces of meat into the center of the dough. Add a spoonful of rice and potatoes on top. Then sprinkle a few raisins on top. Fold banana leaves over the filling as you would to make an envelope. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or the filling will squeeze out. Flip the package over so the seam is on the bottom.

Line a large cooking pot with leftover banana leaves. Gently place nacatamales in the pot. Fill pot with enough water to cover the nacatamales. Add extra banana leaves on top. Boil on high heat for one hour.

Costs for a typical family

Fitting for the occasion, the unfolding of a nacatamal is like unwrapping a Christmas gift; however, at a cost of about 590 Honduran lempiras or US$25, this is a gift that goes beyond what many Honduran families can afford. According to The World Bank 52.6% of Hondurans live in poverty and make an average of US$5.50 a day.

At NPH Honduras, despite the relatively high cost, Christmas dinner is a special tradition that cannot be broken. More than a delicious meal, it’s a time to reflect on the tenets of our Christian faith and share quality time together.

Consider providing a special Christmas dinner for our home by contacting your local NPH fundraising office today.

L is the symbol for the lempira, the national currency of Honduras.

Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Arielle Augustin   
Communications Officer




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