At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more

July 09th, 2014

Hallacas Venezuelan Tamales

Hallacas is the traditional dish of Venzuela, which more than any other foods, symbolizes Christmas.

  • Prep: 30 minutes
  • Cook: 3 hour 30 minutes
  • Total time: 4 hours
  • Recipe serves: 24 hallacas

Ingredients for the Meat Filling

  • 1lb top round beef, cut into 1/4-to 1/2 inch-dice
  • 1 lb lean pork, cut into 1/4-to 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 lb bacon, strips cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 1 medium leek, diced
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 tablespoon mustard relish, pickle, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1/4-to-1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Ingredients for the Masa Dough

  • 2/3 cup lard or 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon annatto seeds (achiote, optional for colour)
  • 2 cups masa harina flour (dehydrated, treated corn flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water

Ingredients for final preparations

  • 2 packs of banana leaves (16 ounces each) or 24 (9-inch sqaure) parement paper or tinfoil
  • 1lb shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blanched almond
  • 2 ounces pimientos, sliced
  • 5 ounces pimento stuffed olives, cut in half 
  • Tabasco sauce

Instructions for the Meat filling

  1. Put beef, pork, and bacon in a large pan.
  2. Puree the tomatoes with the peeled onion and garlic.
  3. Add mixture to the meat pan along with the salt, marjoram, and leek.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking until all meat is tender, about 2 hours.
  5. When meat is tender, add to the meat mixture the capers, mustard pickles, vinegar, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Raise the heat to high and cook the filling, stirring, until almost all liquid in the pan has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the raisins and set filling aside.

Instructions for the Masa Dough

  1. Over a low heat, melt 1/3 cup lard with the annatto seeds.
  2. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Whip remaining lard until fluffy.
  4. Beat in masa harina, salt, cayenne peper, and water.
  5. Finally, beat in melted, strained lard, discarding annatto seeds.
  6. Form dough into 24 balls.

Instructions for the final preparations

  1. Put a ball of Masa Dough in the center of each banana leaves.
  2. Flatten dough out to 1/8-inch thickness.
  3. Top each masa-coated husk with an equal distribution of the meat mixture, chicken, hard cooked eggs, almonds, pimentos, and olives.
  4. Sprinkle on Tabasco sauce to taste.
  5. Fold corn husks to completely encase the filling.
  6. Tie each hallaca with thin strips of corn husk or kitchen string.
  7. When tightly assembled, steam halacas for 1 hour.
  8. Serve piping hot.

NOTE: Hallacas are easily refrigerated or frozen. Reheat by steaming again until hot.

Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america


  • The pioneers in travel to Latin America since 1980
  • The UK's no.1 specialist – nobody knows it better


  • All our staff are in-depth Latin America specialists
  • Get the inside track with expert advice based on first-hand experience


  • Our love of Latin America runs through all we do
  • We take pride in providing a genuinely personal service


  • Unbeatable and secure financial protection
  • Book with confidence, knowing every penny is secure


  • The widest range of travel options to Central and South America
  • The journey you'll love, in a style to suit you


  • Award-winning holidays, endorsed by our clients and the press
  • Exclusively dedicated to 
    Latin America – it's all we do


Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/travel-inspiration/food-and-drink/Hallacas-Venezuelan-Tamales

Page ID: {4AD6F976-828E-4E27-96C9-A4D56843BB8B}

Page Name: Hallacas-Venezuelan-Tamales

Page Display Name: Hallacas Venezuelan Tamales

Page Template Name: T027-Recipe

Page Template ID: {E95BC9BC-C28D-478C-8A17-9189F2E4BDBA}

Parent ID: {7F1A77A3-15A4-459E-BFDE-E4C0A0C461A5}

Parent Name: food-and-drink

Parent Display Name: Food & Drink

Parent Template Name: T029-PapagaioCategoryListing

Parent Template ID: {4D163066-ED7E-48E6-AF31-34B6C47536CD}