Puero Rican Guanimes

Guanimes are one of those dishes that remind us of family road trips around the island. Whether up in the mountains or driving somewhere along the coast, street-side guanime kiosks are always a great excuse for a quick break. Related to hallacas and tamales, the steamed cornmeal cakes can be traced back to the pre-Columbian era in Puerto Rico. The modern version of this masa is purely cornmeal wrapped in plantain leaves, but it’s believed that Taino Indians also mashed cassava, batata (a type of sweet potato) and squash into the masa.

Also, guanimes aren’t stuffed like similar versions. The cornmeal is cooked with coconut milk and chicken broth and tends to be on the sweeter side to contrast the savory stewed cod it’s traditionally served with.

For our recipe, because Nabol wanted to serve it with saucy short ribs instead of cod, we decided to use less sugar in the masa. We also added a little bit of butter, which is not traditional, and used Silk’s coconut milk instead of the canned counterpart to make it lighter.

If you’re wondering about a replacement for the plantain leaves the honest answer is there is none. The flavor plantain leaves infuse into the masa is irreplaceable. But the good news is, plantain leaves can be found easily in Asian, Hispanic and international markets. Wash them and cut them depending on the size you want to make the guanimes. We prefer to make them somewhat small.

Check out our recipe and video, and let us know if you have comments or questions. To get Nabol’s Short Rib recipe, click here.

Guanimes de Puerto Rico


  • Plantain leaves (Cut into 8x11 squares)
  • Cooking twine
  • 1 Cup of fine cornmeal (Check the Hispanic or Italian section of your grocery store)
  • 1 Cup of chicken broth
  • ¾-1 Cup of Silk’s Coconut Milk (Use more if the masa gets dry)
  • 3 Tsp organic sugar
  • 2-3 Tsp butter
  • 1 Cup of water
Takes , serves 4-6.


  1. Bring broth and coconut milk to a boil. Add butter and sugar.
  2. Mix in the cornmeal until smooth. Let it cool.
  3. Place a couple of tablespoons of the masa on the plantain leaves. Roll and tie on each end. Cut excess leaf so it fits in the steaming pot.
  4. Steam on medium heat with one cup of water for 35 minutes. Add more water if needed. Then, let the guanimes cool and serve with your favorite fish or meat stew.

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