Mexican Tamales at Home

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with a corn-based dough mixture that is filled with various meats or beans and cheese.  They're easy to customize (chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian and even seafood) and make a wonderful make-ahead meal that is sure to leave you wanting more.  Traditionally made with a banana leaf or a corn husk, this recipe takes the latter and uses it to create perfection out of your very own kitchen.

Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 60 Minutes
Yield: 8 Servings
Difficulty: Medium


For the Masa Dough:

  • 4 Cup Masa Harina (Masa Flour)
  • 3 Cups broth (beef, chicken or vegetable depending on your filling)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/3 Cup lard
  • 8 oz. package dried corn husks

Our Favorite Filling:

  • 2 Cup cooked, shredded chicken seasoned with Hoja Santa (or a light-spiced chili powder)
  • 1 Cup fresh, whole corn kernels
  • 1 Cup finely diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup red Ranchera Sauce


Soak the corn husks in a bowl of very hot water for 30 minutes or until softened.

Cooking the Filling:

  1. In a Swiss Diamond Sauté Pan, mix all the filling ingredients together and simmer on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Prepare the Dough:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the lard and 2 Tbsp of broth until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Combine the Masa flour, baking powder, salt and cumin in a separate bowl. Once combined, stir into the lard mixture and beat well with an electric mixer.
  3. A little at a time, add the broth, to form a very soft dough. Once all the broth is incorporated, beat on high speed for several minutes. The dough should spread like peanut butter and be slightly sticky. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel to keep the dough from drying out.

Assemble the Tamale:

  1. Lay a corn husk, glossy side up, and scoop about ¼ cup of dough onto the top, center of the corn husk. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and use your hands to press and spread the Masa into a ¼" thin layer. Keep the dough spread along the top half of the corn husk to allow plenty of room to fold up the bottom.
  2. Place 1 - 2 Tbsp of desired filling in a line down the center of the dough. Too much filling will result in an overstuffed tamale that won’t form correctly.
  3. Fold in one long side of the husk over the filling. Fold in the other long side, overlapping the first (like folding a brochure). Fold up the bottom of the husk.
  4. This step is optional, but tying the tamales with butchers string will help them hold together during cooking.
  5. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of a Swiss Diamond Stock Pot and place a steaming rack inside the pot. (don’t let the water rise above the steam rack).
  6. Place tamales standing upright with their open end up just tightly enough to keep them standing. Lay a few soaked corn husks or a wet towel over the top of the tamales before putting the lid on the pot to ensure the moisture stays in the pot as much as possible.
  7. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour or longer. Check them after 45 minutes.
  8. To test if the tamales are done, remove one and try to pull the husk off. If the husk pulls away cleanly from the tamale they're done. If the dough is still sticky or wet looking, cook them for 5-10 minutes longer and try again.
  9. Store leftover tamales in the refrigerator for 5 - 7 days.


Freeze them for later: Allow the cooked tamales to cool, then place them in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, wrap leftover or frozen tamales in a few dampened paper towels and microwave until warmed through. The wet paper towels will help them "steam" as they are reheated. Be careful when unfolding them; they will be hot!