How Long to Boil Frozen Pasteles to Get the Best Result?

cooking pasteles

If you’re a fan of Puerto Rican cuisine, you know that pasteles are a staple dish that is enjoyed during holidays and special occasions. While pasteles are typically made from scratch, sometimes it’s more convenient to purchase frozen ones from the grocery store. 

However, boiling frozen pasteles can be tricky, especially if you’re not sure how long to cook them for. Boil them for too long, and they can become mushy; boil them for too little time, and they may be undercooked. 

So, how long does it take to boil frozen pasteles to get the best result?

Boil them for 1 hour or an hour and 15 minutes. Make sure the pasteles are immersed in water while boiling and add more hot water if needed

In this article, we’ll explore how long to boil frozen pasteles to get the best result every time. So, let’s get started and learn how to make perfectly boiled frozen pasteles that are bursting with flavor!

What are Pasteles?

For those who are new to Puerto Rican cuisine, pasteles are similar to tamales. They are made with a mixture of grated root vegetables, such as yucca and plantains, along with meat, spices, and sometimes raisins or olives. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled or steamed until cooked through.

Pasteles are a popular dish during the holiday season in Puerto Rico, and families often gather to make them together. They are labor-intensive, but the effort is worth it when you taste the final product.

How Long to Boil Frozen Pasteles to Get the Best Result?

When it comes to cooking frozen pasteles, boiling is a popular method that many people use. However, it’s important to know the right amount of time to boil them to get the best results. The length of time you boil frozen pasteles can vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the pasteles, the type of ingredients used, and the altitude of your location. In general, the recommended boiling time for frozen pasteles is about 1 hour to 75 minutes.

It’s important to note that if the pasteles are not fully defrosted, you may need to boil them for an additional 15-20 minutes. This ensures that they are cooked all the way through and have a soft and tender texture. To defrost frozen pasteles, simply leave them in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before boiling.

How to Boil Frozen Pasteles

When boiling frozen pasteles, it’s essential to use a large pot that is deep enough to cover the pasteles with water. This ensures that the pasteles are cooked evenly and don’t stick together. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the pasteles, but not so much that it overflows. You can also add some salt and olive oil to the water to enhance the flavor of the pasteles.

As the water starts to boil, carefully place the frozen pasteles into the pot, making sure not to overcrowd them. So, how long should you allow the pasteles to cook?

You just put them for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are fully cooked. To check if the pasteles are done, insert a toothpick or fork into the center of one of the pasteles. If it comes out clean and the pasteles are soft and tender, they are ready to be removed from the pot.

Once the pasteles are cooked, remove them from the pot using tongs or a slotted spoon. Place them onto a plate and allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving. You can serve them with your favorite sauce, such as sofrito or hot sauce, and enjoy them hot or cold.

It’s worth noting that the boiling time for frozen pasteles may vary depending on the altitude of your location. If you live at a higher altitude, the boiling time may need to be adjusted. At higher altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature, which can affect the cooking time of the pasteles. To adjust the boiling time, you may need to add an additional 5-10 minutes to the recommended boiling time.

If you don’t have the time or energy to make pasteles from scratch, you can always buy them frozen from a grocery store or online. To get the best result when boiling frozen pasteles, follow these steps:

  1. Thaw the pasteles in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure the pot is big enough to hold all of the pasteles you want to cook.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the pasteles to the pot. Make sure they are completely submerged in the water.
  4. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid.
  5. Cook the pasteles for 50-60 minutes, depending on their size. If the pasteles are smaller, they will cook faster.
  6. Check the pasteles for doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, the pasteles are ready.
Reheating a Puerto Rican Pastel

How to Know Your Boil Frozen Pasteles Are Completed?

Boiling frozen pasteles can be a tricky process, as it is important to ensure that they are cooked through to the center without becoming too mushy or falling apart. One of the most reliable methods to determine if your boil frozen pasteles are done is to check their internal temperature with a meat thermometer. The ideal temperature for cooked pasteles is 165°F (74°C), so aim to reach this temperature in the center of the pasteles.

Another way to know if your frozen pasteles is done is by using the “fork test.” Simply insert a fork into the center of the pasteles and gently lift it up. If the pasteles are cooked through, the fork should come out clean and the pasteles should hold their shape without falling apart. If the pasteles are still raw in the center, the fork will come out with uncooked dough, and if they are overcooked, they will be mushy and fall apart.

You can also use your senses to determine if your boil frozen pasteles are done. Look for a change in color and texture as the pasteles cook. The dough will become firmer and the color will change from a darker to a lighter shade. You can also smell the pasteles to determine if they are fully cooked. A fully cooked pasteles will have a distinct aroma that is different from uncooked or undercooked pasteles.

Lastly, taste testing is also a reliable method to check if your boil frozen pasteles are done. Simply cut into the center of the pasteles and take a small bite. If it tastes doughy or raw, it needs more time to cook. If it tastes cooked and tender, your pasteles are ready to enjoy.

Tips for Getting the Best Result

While the cooking time for pasteles is important, there are other factors that can affect the final result. Here are some tips for getting the best result when cooking pasteles:

  • Use high-quality ingredients: The quality of the ingredients you use will affect the taste and texture of the pasteles. Use fresh vegetables and meat for the best flavor.
  • Don’t overfill the banana leaves: It’s tempting to fill the banana leaves with as much filling as possible, but this can lead to uneven cooking and soggy pasteles.
  • Use a food processor to grate the vegetables: Grating the vegetables by hand can be time-consuming and result in uneven pieces. A food processor will make quick work of grating the vegetables to a consistent texture.
  • Don’t boil the pasteles too vigorously: Boiling the pasteles too vigorously can cause them to burst open and lose their filling. Keep the heat on a low simmer to prevent this from happening.


Cooking pasteles is a labor of love, but the end result is a delicious and satisfying dish that is worth the effort. Whether you’re cooking fresh pasteles or thawing and boiling frozen ones, getting the cooking time right is crucial to achieving the best result. Follow the tips we’ve provided, and you’ll be enjoying perfect pasteles in no time.

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