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How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

Our full recipe guide on how to make Tamales the most popular dishes in Mexico and Latin America.

Making authentic tamales is a cherished tradition in many Latin American cultures, especially in Mexico, where they are often made during special events and holidays.

Making tamales involves steaming corn dough (masa) filled with various ingredients and wrapped in corn husks. Here’s a detailed guide to making traditional Mexican tamales.


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How to Make Tamales

Tamales Recipe Ingredients

How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

For the Dough (Masa):
2 cups masa (corn dough flour for tamales)
2 cups warm chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
2 cups cooked, shredded pork, beef, or chicken (can be seasoned with chili sauce or salsa for extra flavor)
Red or green salsa to taste

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Step By Step How to Make Tamales

How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

Step 1 – Prepare Corn Husks

Submerge dried corn husks in warm water for about an hour until they are soft and pliable. This makes them easier to fold and prevents tearing.

Step 2 – Make the Masa

In a large bowl, combine masa flour, baking powder and salt. Add the lard or shortening and mix with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually pour in warm broth, continuing to mix until the dough is homogenous and soft. The texture should be similar to soft cookie dough; if it’s too dry, add more broth.

How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

Step 3 – Prepare the Filling

Cook or Reheat Filling: Use pre-cooked meat. You can mix it with red or green salsa to keep it moist and flavorful.

Step 4 – Assemble Tamales

Take a corn husk, pat it dry, and spread about 2-3 tablespoons of masa evenly across the wider end, leaving some space at the edges. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of your filling into the center of the masa.

Fold one side of the husk to the center over the filling, then fold the other side over the first (like folding a letter), and finally fold up the bottom. You can tie the tamale with a strip of corn husk to secure it if you like.

How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

Step 5 – Cook the Tamales

Stand the tamales upright (open end up) in a steamer basket. Fill the bottom of the steamer with water, making sure it doesn’t touch the tamales. Cover the top with more corn husks, and then cover the steamer.

Steam for About 1 to 1.5 Hours: Check occasionally to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated. Add more water if necessary. Tamales are done when the masa separates easily from the husks.

Step 6 – Serving

Let the tamales rest a few minutes after steaming. Serve warm with additional salsa, guacamole or crema.

How to Make Tamales – Authentic Tamales (Recipe Guide)

Tips To Make Tamales

It’s crucial that the masa is the right consistency, neither too dry nor too sticky. It might take a few tries to get the amount of filling and masa just right in each tamale. Tamales are labor-intensive, so they are typically made in large batches and are perfect for freezing for later consumption.

How Many Calories Have Tamales

The masa for one tamale can contain about 150-200 calories. Pork Filling is about 150-200 calories and ingredients such as cheese, salsas, or other fillings will increase the calorie count.
A typical pork tamale would be 300 to 400 calories.

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