Filipino Rice Tamales Recipe

If you’re already familiar with the history of Filipino cuisine, then you know that many dishes were influenced by many other cuisines. Let’s take a look at the Filipino rice tamales.

The tamale has Mesoamerican origins, and eventually made its way to the Philippines. But put the two side by side, and they will look more like distant cousins than siblings. Like any other adaptation, Filipinos used whatever was in their backyard to create their own version of the tamales. Instead of corn husks, they used banana leaves. Instead of corn masa (masa de maiz), they used rice flour (galapong). Depending on which province you visit, there will be different variations of the Filipino rice tamales.

Some provinces like to use pork, some chicken. Some with nuts, some without. Whichever way you like it, the Filipino rice tamales is a hearty delicacy wrapped in one convenient bundle.


Filipino Rice Tamales (About 8 servings)

  • 1.2 kg bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 liters of water
  • 4 tbsp of atsuete oil
  • 2 tbsp atsuete seeds
  • 50 grams chicken skin
  • 2 pieces of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 lemongrass stock
  • 2 birds eye chilies
  • 2 thumb-size pieces of ginger
  • 1 cup peanut oil Peanut butter
  • 2 cups of peanuts
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt


  • 1 red onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 medium chorizo
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups broken rice (cooked with about 8 cups of the chicken broth above)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 salted Eggs
  • 8 banana leaves



  1. For the rice dough, you can use rice flour or soak rice overnight and grind in a blender or food processor.
  2. For the atsuete oil, heat a pan and add atsuete seeds, chicken skin, garlic, onion, chili, lemongrass, and ginger. Cover with oil and stir. Remove from heat and let it sit for an hour. Strain the oil and set aside.
  3. In a pot of boiling water, add chicken and onion. Season with salt and simmer for an hour. Strain the broth and save it for later. Debone chicken and cut into small strips.
  4. In a separate pan, pour atsuete oil and cook red onions, shredded carrots, and chorizo. Cook for around 5 minutes and add chopped chicken. Season to taste.
  5. Grind peanuts in a food processor or blender until it turns into a paste. Add salt or sugar, depending on your preference.
  6. In a pot, submerge rice dough in the chicken broth. Constantly stir as it cooks to avoid lumps. Add atsuete oil and coconut milk. Keep stirring until it turns into a smooth paste.
  7. Place rice paste on a banana leaf and top with chicken mixture, salted egg, and peanut paste. Wrap and tie together tightly.
  8. Steam for 15 minutes. Optional: drizzle steamed tamale with remaining atsuete oil.
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