Mini Pibis


Mini Pibis

Mini Pibis

Tamales Colados de Pollo

Recipe Yield

14 to 16 tamales

Cooking time

2 hours

Rate this recipe

4.60 from 5 votes


  • 3 1/4 cups (about 1 pound) corn masa flour for tortillas or tamales (masa harina)
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth for masa, plus 1/2 cup for chicken filling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste, divided
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 3 tablespoons (or 2 ounces) achiote paste
  • 3/4 pound (about 3) ripe Roma tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup white onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • Banana leaves, fresh or thawed from frozen cut into 15 pieces, 10-inches in length, plus more for covering the steamer

To Prepare

To make the masa:

  • In a large bowl, combine the masa flour with 2 3/4 cups chicken broth using your hands, kneading the dough until thoroughly mixed and very smooth, not “grainy.”
  • Put 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a large casserole or pot and set over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and add the masa in batches, working it as you go with the wooden spatula to blend with the water, until it is all incorporated. Add the lard, and work it with the wooden spatula for about 3 to 4 minutes until it is all incorporated and the masa appears “cooked." The masa should smell like cooked corn tortillas and appear to be lightly browning and very thick. Remove from heat.

To make the filling:

  • In a blender, add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth, achiote paste, tomatoes, garlic cloves, white onion, oregano, allspice, remaining teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Puree until completely smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a pot or casserole over medium heat. Once hot, carefully add the puree (because it will splatter) and cook partially covered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it thickens and darkens. Add the shredded chicken, stir, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very moist but not wet – like a sloppy Joe - and most liquid has been absorbed. Set aside.

To make the tamales:

  • Turn a burner on to low heat. Using tongs, slowly pass each banana-leaf piece over the flame on both sides and set aside (so they will be resilient, malleable and not break).
  • One by one, set each leaf piece on your counter with the shiny, outer side down. Spoon about 1/4 cup of masa into the center and spread to form a rectangle of about 4”x 3”. With the spoon, make a shallow channel down the middle, creating a stripe in the masa. Spoon a couple tablespoons of the seasoned shredded chicken right down the middle. Gently close each tamal by folding the longer sides first and then the sides as if making a flat and tight package, but being careful not to press on the tamal too much.
  • Prepare your tamalera or steamer: Add just enough water to touch the bottom of steaming basket and a coin (it will jump and make noise to let you know if water runs out). Line the steaming basket with a few banana-leaf pieces to gently cover the base. One by one, add the tamales, stacking them as evenly as you can, staggered in the same position as when you made them: laying them flat, with opening side on the top. Once you are done, cover with a few more pieces of banana leaves.
  • Set the steamer uncovered over high heat, once there is a bit of steam coming out and the water starts boiling a few minutes later, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 50 minutes to an hour. The leaves will have changed to a much darker color and will have completely wilted to wrap themselves as a second skin over the tamales, and the tamales should feel firm. Turn off the heat.
  • Let the tamales sit covered for 10 to 15 minutes - so they firm up - or until ready to serve. The tamales can be made ahead of time, and reheated in steamer. They can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen in sealed plastic bags for 6 months, and reheated the same way.


62comments inMini Pibis

  1. Maria Solorio

    Nov 21

    Another delightful and successful hit! Made these as a preview for the holidays and my family loved them. Thank you so much Pati for your delicious dishes you so selflessly share with us all. Will definitely be making this dish for the holidays.
    Happy Holidays to you and your family Pati!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 21

      So happy you liked these ones Maria! Best wishes to you and yours for these Holidays 🙂

  2. Martha

    Dec 28

    Never made it with banana leaves. Only made twice using corn husks..

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 29

      Try with banana leaves for a tamales that are a bit moister Martha 🙂

  3. Reid D

    Nov 10

    Hi Pati – is this recipe and all others from the episode in a cookbook I can buy? Would love to make this meal and others form a collection.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 03

      The Mini Pibis are in my recent one Treasures of the Mexican Table 🙂

  4. Carlos Ayala

    Aug 28

    This is perhaps one of my favorite episodes in the show. I was not a tamales person growing up, but watching this got me really excited to try them since a friend of ours was hosting a Christmas party and they made tamales for us. Now, I enjoy eating and seeing different recipes and this one looks perfect for a first-time tamal apprentice like me. I’ll tell you how it goes when I finally have a chance to make them!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 18

      Thanks Carlos, I hope you decided to try the Mini Pibis, let me know how you liked them!

  5. Linda Garza

    May 23

    Pati queria decirte que varios familiares somos ferviente admiradores. El día de la mamás mi marido me cocinó las enchiladas brunch y los mini pibis de comida/cena. Fue algo exquisito. Lo acompañamos con las cebollitas curtidas que yo hice el día anterior. Lo más lindo de todo es que nos trajo juntos a la cocina y pasamos todo el día de los más lindo. Gracias por tus maravillosas recetas!

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 28

      Wow Linda, deben haber pasado un dia muy lindo! Gracias por incluir mis recetas en sus celebraciones, un abrazo para todos 😉

  6. Darla

    May 05

    I watched you make these on PTV. You made a lovely desert with sweetened condensed milk and coconut. I’ve been looking for that recipe but I can’t find it. Could you share that please?

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 11

      Of course Darla, it is called Crema de Coco and here is the recipe for you: Enjoy!

  7. Esther

    May 03

    Loved this recipe

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 03

      Thank you Esther!

  8. TSturchio

    Sep 14

    This is my wife’s new favorite. I followed the recipe except: I used Panca paste I got at a Peruvian market, instead of Achiote. I also used the insta pot and cooked the sauce and chicken together. I still sauteed the sauce first. In the masa, I used half vegetable shortening, 1/4 bacon grease, and 1/4 coconut oil in place of lard. Then I cleaned out the insta-pot after assembly and put them back in the insta pot under the poultry setting. I let it slow release. This was the same for the filling and the final steamed tamals. I have a.rack for the bottom of my insta pot. If you don’t you can always use aluminum foil. Make a long snake of foul about thumb size and coul it on the bottom. You only need a cup of water to get a good steam.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 24

      I’m so glad you made the recipe your own, T.

  9. Anonymous

    Mar 10

    Yum…Yum…and more Yum. A time commitment to make, but worth it. The technique will come with practice!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Mar 18

      So glad you loved it!

  10. Tcooks

    Mar 08

    Banana leaves are not stocked by local supermarkets in this small-town part of mid-Atlantic USA. On (2019) it’s about $22.00 USD for 2 lb of fresh banana leaves! Ouch that hurts when in the big picture I am trying to feed a small family. Adding $22.00 to a single meal is a cost very extreme for us.

    Are there any tips on how to obtain banana leaves (at a small cost!) in a small-town mid-Atlantic region of USA?

    1. Pati

      Mar 08

      I’m sorry to hear you are having trouble finding banana leaves. You can also use corn husks and follow the recipe as is when using them. The banana leaves do impart a bit of flavor, so the tamales will taste a bit different, but also super yum.

      1. Tcooks

        Mar 26

        After searching I have found frozen plantain leaves at a reasonable price for a family. Unless I can buy the banana leaves affordably I might not ever understand the difference in taste of banana leaves vs. plantain leaves. But I am guessing the plantain leaves might still be worth a try.

  11. Hannah

    Dec 19

    A question about the banana leaves: We don’t have a gas stove, just a glass top electric range. Is there another way to prep the banana leaves so that they are malleable? Thank you!

    1. Pati

      Dec 23

      Oh no problem, Hannah. You can pass them through the heated glass top too.

  12. Maira

    Nov 30

    Pati! Your recipes never ever fail. I love all the ones I’ve made. Question. How do you feel about letting the masa rest overnight in the fridge

    1. Pati

      Dec 17

      Go for it, Maira!

  13. K'lynn

    Oct 15

    At 38 years old I was diagnosed with 24 allergies which I had never had a problem with in the past. A serious reaction occurs so cheating is an option. I am unable to eat nearly all my favorite foods including dairy(born and raised in WI),vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and thyme. I have always been a foodie so this had a massive effect on my life and my happiness. I have experienced some deep lows(travel is difficult now and I can’t really eat in restaurants) and some unexpected discoveries. One of those discoveries has been several of your recipes! The sauces you make and some of the basics of Mexican cooking are safe for me to eat and very adaptable to other flavors. Your mini pibis are one of my favorites! A delicious treat not altered by the absence of cheese! Please come up with more dairy free recipes please!

    1. Pati

      Oct 16

      Oh I’m so glad you are found my recipes and are enjoying them, K’lynn. And don’t worry I”ll keep them coming 🙂

  14. Federika

    Oct 09

    Could you make this Tamal with corn husks? If so, would you use the masa recipe for green salsa and chicken tamales?

    1. Pati

      Oct 23

      Sure! The banana leaves do impart a bit of flavor…so they’ll taste a bit different, but also super yum 😉 And you can follow the recipe as is, Federika.

  15. Aubrey Buxton

    May 08

    Saw your show this past weekend in PBS in Dallas and I’m very interested in the tamale pie or tamales casserole you made afterwards. where can I find the recipe? Thank you so much.

    1. Pati

      May 09

      You can follow this recipe, but using the chicken and sauce from the mini pibis:

  16. K'lynn

    Mar 20

    These are so delicious! Thank you for the recipe! So good! I recommend making your own achiote paste as the store bought stuff is painfully salty. Also, I microwaved the banana leaves for 20 secs. If you have help you can micro 4 at a time!

    1. Pati

      Mar 21

      So glad you enjoyed them K’lynn!

  17. Pamela

    Dec 27

    I am hooked! I love these mini pibi packages of heaven! I couldn’t find banana leaves (I have since located them) so I used corn husks. They were great! Can’t wait to make them again!

    1. Pati

      Dec 27

      Love that you called them “packages of heaven.” That is so great…thank you Pamela!

  18. Lorena

    Oct 18

    Hi i made these and my kids loved them. I found them hard to make just by following the instructions can u make a step by step video please it would be very helpful. Thank you

    1. Pati

      Oct 20

      So glad your kids loved them! I will try to post a video soon.

      1. Ivette

        Dec 06

        I was looking for the video to make tamales for Christmas!!

  19. Fiona Smith

    Aug 26

    I could only find achiote seeds. I couldn’t pound it down in the morta & pestle or food processor. I gave up & used them as seeds. Is their any other way. Or do you know stockist in Sydney Australia to purchase achiote paste? Thank you

    1. Pati

      Sep 07

      The seeds are very different from the paste which includes many more spices ground up. You can read more about it here:
      I recommend looking online…

  20. Fiona Smith

    Aug 26

    I made them today after watching your show this week.
    They tasted great.
    Thank you

    1. Pati

      Sep 05

      Yay! So happy you liked them Fiona.

  21. Mike Holly

    May 02

    I am a great cook. But I don’t follow recipes but felt I needed to because I wanted the flavors as designed. So I made these today and screwed up the wrapping with the banana leaves and was rushed to serve the first few. Letting them sit to cool down definetly made the difference. Even though I felt like I messed them up, they were a hit! Flavor is definetly not what most expect! But we felt like we were back in the Yucatán. Love the recipes!

    1. Pati

      May 05

      So happy they were a hit Mike!

  22. Mayra González

    Mar 24

    Hola Pati!!! Te comento que nunca había probado el achiote un ingrediente muy interesante y lleno de sabores. Éste sabor hace con la hoja del platano un tamal delicioso. Gracias por compartir recetas fáciles y deliciosas. Saludos des de Minnesota USA.

    1. Pati

      Mar 27

      Gracias Mayra!

  23. Akiko

    Feb 14

    Hola, pati! I did it today! Two thumbs up!!! Riquicimo!!! My husband was watching your show drooling and was saying how much he wants to eat your tamales. He is Mexican and I’m Japanese. I’d never made tamales before till today. It was lots of work but it was SO worth it. I did it with coconut oil and came out real good! Deliciosos! We love your Mexican food because it’s very sophisticated. Thanks for doing what you do! I SO appreciate it!

    1. Pati

      Feb 16

      Hola Akiko! I am so happy you jumped in to making tamales! I am glad you guys enjoyed them and hope you make many more…

  24. Bob Young

    Jan 28

    Saw these on the show this morning, PBS – Boise, ID. I must try them.

    1. Pati

      Jan 30

      Yay! I hope you enjoy them Bob.

  25. Elle

    Jan 15

    I made these mini pibis tonight and they were DELICIOUS! The recipe is well written & leaves no room for error, even for a non-cook (yet) like myself. I love you, Pati! You are so elegant & very inspiring. Your show always makes me happy & hungry. I look forward to trying more of your recipes! God bless.

    1. Pati

      Jan 22

      Thank you, Elle! So happy you made them AND liked them!

    2. Pati

      Feb 08

      Thank you so much, Elle!

  26. Claudia

    Jan 07

    is the step of “cooking” the masa a necessary step? does it help decrease the amount of cooking time of the tamales in the steamer?

    if I substitute coconut oil for lard, would 1 cup of coconut oil be enough? have you tried it before?

  27. Claudia

    Jan 07

    is the step of “cooking” the masa a necessary step? does it help decrease the amount of cooking time of the tamales in the steamer?

    if I substitute coconut oil for lard, would 1 cup of coconut oil be enough? have you tried it before?

    1. Pati

      Jan 13

      Hi Claudia,
      The pre cooking the masa is definitely a necessary step for these kind of tamales and it doesn’t take long! You can substitute the lard for vegetable shortening or coconut oil, and it should be in equal amounts as the lard. Let me know how it works!

  28. eric mata

    Jan 06

    Could you replace the masa flour with masa from a mexican grocery store? if so, how would the recipe change?

  29. eric mata

    Jan 06

    Could you replace the masa flour with masa from a mexican grocery store? if so, how would the recipe change?

    1. Pati

      Jan 14

      Hola Eric, the masa flour is the same as the masa from a Mexican grocery. Sometimes it is called masa flour, sometimes corn masa flour and sometimes masa harina. Brand that works best for me is Maseca and it is pretty available everywhere.

  30. Susan Vega

    Oct 29

    Pati where do I find the Acote sauce for the Tamales I might of spelled it wrong I want to try to make them I have never made Tamales and I love your recipes Thank You Susan Vega

    1. Pati

      Nov 01

      Hola Susan! You can find the achiote paste this recipe calls for at your local latin market or at a specialty foods store. Here is more info on it:

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