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How to Make Easy Hot Tamales using corn flour/Comó Hacer Tamales con harina de maíz

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Happy New Year, Best wishes to you all!
Oh, the Holidays! So much to do, and so little time to enjoy. And while cooking this month, a series of emails messages were exchanged to help a fellow blogger in her pursuit of preparing the traditional tamales during this time of the year. The subject of the emails was about the dough for making the tamales. People familiar with making tamales outside México will use the corn flour made specially for Tamales, the one sold by “Maseca” in a 5-pound paper package. This corn flour is a good substitute if fresh corn dough (masa) is not available. But, what happens if you can’t find that type of flour and the only one available is the one sold for regular tortillas? The regular maseca for tortillas is also a good alternative for making tamales, but you will need to take good care to mix the right amount of ingredients to achieve the consistency needed to cook tamales.

This recipe has a pork filling with a sauce made with dry red peppers, very similar to the ones made in the Mexican Northern States of Coahuila and Nuevo León. A lady from Monclova, Coahuila gave me her recipe years ago. Her name is Yolanda and she sells these tamales to her neighbors and friends. When I asked for the recipe, she invited me over to her house to learn how she made them. That day we made 100 tamales!! They are small and very tasty, almost addictive.

Ingredients for 16 Tamales

For the Dough:

  • 3 cups of Masa Harina for Tortillas
  • 1 1/3 cup of Lard
  • 2 1/2 cups of the broth where you cooked the meat.
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

For the Meat:

  • 3/4 pound of pork shoulder cut in cubes.
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Ancho Peppers cleaned, deveined and seeded.
  • 3 Guajillo Peppers cleaned, deveined and seeded.
  • 2 small garlic cloves,
  • 1/3 teaspoon of fresh ground cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • Salt and black pepper to season
  • 16 Large Corn Husks plus more for the steaming pot

Instructions for the filling:
1. In a medium size pot, combine the pork meat, garlic, onion, Bay Leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer partly covered, occasionally skimming and discarding fat from surface, about 1 hour or until meat is tender enough to shred.  Remove onion, garlic, Bay leaf and discard. Skim the broth and when the meat is cool enough to handle shred into bite-size pieces and set aside.
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2. While the meat is cooking. Soak the dry peppers in a medium size pot with warm water for about 20 minutes. Drain and place in the blender with the garlic cloves, cumin and 1/3 cup of soaking water. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium size skillet over medium heat, add the dry peppers sauce, 1 cup of the meat broth and cook for 8 minutes. Add shredded pork and season with salt and ground black pepper. Add more broth if needed. Simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes.

3. Place corn husks into a large bowl or pot. Pour enough boiling water over the husks to cover. Place a metal lid or heatproof dish on the husks to keep them submerged. Soak for about 45 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside.
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4. In large bowl, beat the lard by hand or with an electric mixer until it is light. Add salt and the masa harina and gradually the stock  until dough is very light. If your dough looks dry add more broth or water.
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Continue to beat until dough is well combined, light and smooth. To make sure your dough is light enough place a small amount in a glass with water. It will float when it’s ready.
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5. Now comes the fun part. Assembling the Tamales. Place small amount of the dough in the center of a corn husk. Using the back of a spoon spread the dough and top it with 1 1/2 tablespoon of the meat filling. Fold the sides of the husks. Fold bottom toward the center.  And place tamales standing up in your already prepared tamal steamer cover with a layer of corn husks and a dish towel,  cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add more water to the steamer if needed during that time. For more pictures and instructions to assemble  and cooking the tamales check this post “Chicken in green sauce Tamales”
Tamales masa harina
To check for doneness remove one of the tamales and if the husk can easily be removed from the dough they are ready.
But if the dough stick to the husk place back into the pot and cook for 15 more minutes.
Serve with a warm cup of Atole.


I hope you make them, If this recipe was of any help for you, please come back to let me know your experience. I will really appreciate your feedback.


  1. you know these are my favorite - Happy New Year

  2. Mmmm...your tamales look so darn good right now! I can almost taste that glorious pork filling. And I love small tamales...they're my favorite :D Happy New Year, Mely!

  3. These look delicious! Happy New Year, Mely!

  4. wow...they look absolutely delicious......wishing u n ur family a very happy new year :-)

  5. These tamales look great and you gave some excellent pointers. I never knew about the floating in water trick, nice tip.

    Made my first ones last year with smoked pulled pork and was surprised how easy it was, once I tried it.

  6. Que ricos tamales!
    Graciasor tu ayuda ,esta receta me la guardo.
    Feliz ano nuevo!

  7. Those look so yummy! I think I'll take the last of the tamales out of the freezer, so they'll be ready for tomorrow.

  8. These look great... I love tamales but never make mine with masa-harina. However, your recipe looks so good and you explain the steps very well that anyone without access to fresh masa could follow this and have awesome tamales in no time. Boy, you are such a great cook!
    Happy New Year!

    1. How do you make your masa with corn chips ?

    2. Hello Anonymous,

      Do you mean how to make corn chips using masa? If that is the question. First make tortillas with the masa, then you make the tortillas into chips.

      Happy cooking!

  9. Que buena receta, de hecho tengo un sobre de harina PAN que hasta la fecha no sabía como utilizar, se me hace que queda servir también para hacer tamalitos.

    Un sabroso año nuevo querida Mely!

  10. Hello Flavio, Prieta, Dora and Maria:

    I love to read your kind comments. My wish for you this new year is that you create happy memories with your family around the kitchen table.



  11. happy new year Mely these look amazing as always hugs

  12. Mely se ven riquisimos gracias por la receta, que este nuevo año este lleno de momentos lindos y cosas positivas para ti y los tuyos, un abrazo.

  13. Thank you for these great instructions and recipe. I can't wait to try making these. :O)

  14. @-- Hello Rebecca
    Have a nice year and come back soon.

    @ Norma
    Igualemente, lo mejor para ti y tu familia en este nuevo año.

    @ La Takahashi

    Please let me know if you try the recipe.

    Happy 2012!


  15. I can think of one time in my life that I had the opportunity to enjoy authentic Mexican tamales....Wow, it was like finding religion. It was amazing. Thanks for reminding me that tamales can be made in my kitchen too.

    Happy New Year to you.

  16. Estos son los tamalitos que como con mi suegra en Piedras Negras... chiquititos, te puedes comer 10!! ya tngo entonces de dónde sacar la receta.
    Saludos querida Mely, te deseo un año lleno de bendiciones que el Señor ya tiene para ustedes!!
    un beso

  17. Thank you for this. These are something I really want to learn to make!

  18. Mely, vengo a felicitarte por el año nuevo, por el día de Reyes. Oye, ese relleno de los tamalitos se ve buenísimo, se me antojo. Pero ya no quiero comer nada y todavía falta la rosca y unos panes de yema que tengo en el horno, estoy rodando de tanto que he comido, ufff. Te mando un beso

  19. What a wonderful blog! I hope to learn more on how to prepare Mexican cuisine from you; it is a family favorite that we always eat out for. Thank you for visiting my blog today too! Felize Anno Nuevo!

  20. I remember my mom getting corn shucks from a friend in Houston because they were nowhere to be found in rural North Louisiana when I was growing up. Once she had the corn shucks, she made wonderful tamales. How she made them I will never know since she seems to have lost the recipe and hasn't made them for decades. Thank you for sharing this post, Mely. I really enjoyed it. Happy New Year, my friend!

  21. Que ricos tamalitos! apenas pasó la rosca y ya me antojaste con estos tamales jaja...lo voy a dejar para el 2 de febrero jaja
    Que tengas un excelente año 2012, lleno de alegrias

  22. Hola Gaby,

    A empezar la dieta amiga, de aqui hasta el dia 2 de Febrero.

    Un abrazo,


  23. Así mismo los hacanen Cuba pero más grandotes.
    ¡Feliz 2012!

  24. Hola Mely!!!!!!!!

    No podían faltar los tamales y tú tan lejos así que no importa que sean con harina de maíz, el caso es disfrutar de unos tamalitos para la temporada.

    Yo no me animo pues tienen mucho trabajo, la que se animó fue mi mamá para mi baby shower.... mmm qué rico.

    Salu2 y Dios te colme de bendiciones en este año!

  25. Mely, Un placer leer tus palabras! Que post mas delicioso, a mi los tamales me encantan! Y si parece que en las fiestas uno no se cansa de cocinar y comer :) Te han quedado fantasticos.

    Abrazotes <3

  26. OH my! necesito hacerlos! Tienes alguna idea donde se puede conseguir (en USA) la manteca? solo encuentro la que venden en el super pero esta hidrogenada y tiene la consistencia de crisco.

  27. OMG I just found your blog and I'm so excited to find a fellow mexican that cooks authentic food in the USA! do you have any idea where I can get the Lard? I've only been able to find the one at walmart but it's partially hydrogenated so it has the consistency of crisco, and does not work well for tamales.

    1. Hello Paul F,

      You can make you our lard at home but if you prefer to buy it and there is not Latin Grocery Stores around your area try the local Grass Fed groups. They usually carry lard. To find your local grass fed group go to the Weston Price Foundation website.

      Here is a link where you can find your local chapter:

      Happy cooking and comeback soon,


  28. would love to try one of those.....

  29. que delicia. si tan solo pudiera conseguir la masa....

  30. Hello, I really enjoy your blog. Reading through it and seeing your pictures and love of food from your culture is what really inspired me to try out this recipe. My tamales turned out great (at least I think so). I went to buy the stuff to make my own masa harina from a local Hispanic grocery store and when I was buying the stuff, the lady asked if I was making tamales and I said yes. She then said I was getting the wrong stuff, and that if I would like they make their own masa every morning and she would sell me some. I was just wondering if there is a difference in types of doughs used, or is your other masa recipe that you have that you grind is normally used? Thanks!

    1. Hello Liz,

      Thanks for the nice comments. This recipe uses corn flour, the one commonly used for making tortillas. That type of flour is the only one available for some people living in other countries, and that is way I posted this recipe. But you can have the best tamales using fresh masa is that is available in your area. Check my other recipes for tamales under the recipes section. There you will find the instructions using fresh corn masa.



  31. I was glad to see the way you make them, it brings back memories of my parents. I live abroad and can not get the corn husks :-(
    Feliz all.

  32. I have 2 types of flour a very yellow corn meal and the one from maseca whats better and can i make my own fresh masa with corn meal ?

    1. Hello Labradoodles42,

      Maseca is the best choice for the tamales than corn meal. Corn meal doesn't have the same process than masa harina, and it will be hard to get to work with it.

      Happy Cooking!

  33. Do you have a substitute for using lard?

    1. Hello PixyStrdust,

      Yes, you can use vegetable oil instead. I had used it sometimes and it works great.


  34. It's that time,,, the family will be getting together and making tamales this weekend. :-)


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