Skip to Content

How to Make Authentic Mexican Tamales

Most posts contain affiliate links. These are provided for your convenience, and the price isn’t increased at all.

Inside: When you finish reading this post, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

BONUS: If you are looking for Sweet Tamales, Click here!

Para Leer en Español, Haz Click Aqui.

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

When you finish reading this post, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

If you are a fan of authentic Mexican food, this tamales recipe is definitely for you. Tamales are delicious and are a bit of an art form to get right.

“A falta de pan, tortilla”

A popular saying in Mexico is “a falta de pan, tortilla.” Translated into English, this means “if you don’t have bread, use a tortilla.” The meaning is that if you don’t have something that you need, you can always replace it with something else. This is very relevant to those of us that are living in a different country than where we grew up because it can be pretty hard to find certain things that are found everywhere back home. One of those things is tamales.

What are tamales?

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish consisting of prepared corn masa that is filled with delicious fillings and wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves before being steamed. They can be found in many different sizes and flavors, including the following:

  • Sweet
  • Cheese and Peppers
  • Pork Meat
  • Corn
  • Chicken

Today, I am going to teach you how to make chicken tamales, but the mode of preparation is similar regardless of the flavor.

When you finish reading this post, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

When you finish reading this post, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

What kind of Masa should you use for Tamales?

The masa, or dough, that you use for tamales is very important. The traditional method of preparing masa for tamales goes back a very long time, and it usually takes some time to do. I remember that my abuelita used to wake up so early in the morning to start cutting the corn husks or banana leaves from the farm that she cultivated on her own.

After getting the leaves she would start making the meat and the masa. My abuelita always used to make her own masa by using freshly ground nixtamal. She added pork lard to give it some extra flavor and then got to work on the delicious guajillo salsa, which I loved! She always used to assign me to “help”, but that almost always just mean that I got to lick the spoons and bowls that were left after she was done wrapping the tamales. That was definitely my favorite part!

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

Depending on where you live, it may not be practical to use freshly ground corn for your tamale masa. For example, now that I am far away from Mexico, I have had to make do with ingredients that I have available. Fortunately, there are some easily accessible ingredients, like masa flour that is specifically made for tamales, that you can use and prepare to get those same delicious flavors that I remember from my youth.

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

Once you have made the filling and the have the masa ready, the process for making tamales is pretty straightforward. You will want to take two corn husks or banana leaves, and place them one on top of the other, overlapping slightly. Next, you will add the masa and flatten it out slightly. Next, you will add the filling and wrap the tamale up like a present.

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

Once the tamales are ready, you just add them to the steamer, as shown in the image below, and let them cook for about 1 – 1.5 hours.

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

If you love this recipe, make sure you let me know in the comments below!

Other Delicious Mexican Recipes

When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 
Save Recipe Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate this Recipe
4.24 from 26 votes

Mexican Tamales

Learn how to make authentic Mexican Tamales that everyone will love. 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: mexican food, tamales
Servings: 15 Tamales
Calories: 276kcal

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 Russet Potato Diced
  • 2 Carrots Diced
  • 2 Chicken Breasts Cooked and Shredded
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 Onion julienned
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Masa

  • 2.5 cups Masa for Tamales
  • 1.25 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 8 oz pork lard
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

Guajillo Salsa

  • 6 Guajillo Peppers deveined, deseeded, boiled, and cleaned
  • 2 Pasilla Peppers deveined, deseeded, boiled, and cleaned
  • 1/4 Onion roasted
  • 3 cloves Garlic roasted
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Start by soaking the corn husks in lukewarm water so that they get softer. Once soft, strain the water and set the husks aside.
  • Fill the bottom part of the steamer with water and a little bit of salt, making sure that it doesn't reach the space where the tamales will be placed. 

Masa

  • Add all of the dry ingredients, including the lard, to a large bowl and mix well.
    When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 
  • Start adding the chicken broth a little at a time while stirring until a soft, malleable dough is formed
    When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

Filling

  • Sautee the onion and chicken with the spices and olive oil, set aside. 
    When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 
  • Add the carrots to boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and let everything boil together for an additional 10 minutes. The potatoes and carrots should still be pretty firm. 
  • Transfer the carrots and potatoes to a frying pan and cook with salt and pepper over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Set aside, 
    When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

Guajillo Salsa

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend well. If it is still a little bit thick, strain the mixture and only use the strained liquid. 

Making and cooking the Tamales

  • Take two of the corn husks and overlap one on top of the other, leaving the end separated (see image)
    When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 
  • Add 1/4 cup of the maza on top of the husks, then top with the chicken filling, the vegetables, and guajillo salsa. 
  • Fold over like a gift, putting the seam down. 
  • Add to the steamer, and cook for 1 - 1.5 hours. 
    When you finish reading this article, you will know how to make the most delicious, authentic Mexican Tamales, which will make you very popular. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1tamal | Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 906mg | Potassium: 405mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2115IU | Vitamin C: 4.3mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2.2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @mylatinatable or tag #mylatinatable!
Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kicia Coldspring

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

What do you recommend as a lard substitute in this dish? My family neither eats pork nor beef. Thank you.

Cat

Friday 19th of March 2021

Where is the lost of ingredients, the explanation on how to prepare the masa and the salsa? I cannot see these in the recipe....am i reading it wrong?

Charbel Barker

Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Hi Cat, I'm not sure what the issue could be. I just opened the post and the instructions and ingredients are in the recipe at the bottom of the post. Can you try from a different browser maybe?

Anjani joshipura

Sunday 7th of February 2021

I am a Indian who loves Mexican dishes.your recipes have given me authentic info .

Kim

Sunday 6th of September 2020

Is there any other type of salsa you can suggest? In Vermont i'm lucky to find any "ethnic" food; the only spicy peppers in the store are Jalapenos and sometimes habaneros. Could a tomatillo salsa work?

Kimberly DeLuca

Sunday 6th of September 2020

Is there any other type of salsa you can suggest? In Vermont i'm lucky to find any "ethnic" food; the only spicy peppers in the store are Jalapenos and sometimes habaneros. Could a tomatillo salsa work?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.