Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish and one of my favorites! They usually have a variety of different fillings, but today's recipe is for chicken and vegetable tamales. Using shredded chicken and veggies like carrots and peas, these tamales de pollo and verduras are absolutely delicious. They can be served as party food and can be made mild or spicy.
Growing up, I was taught that NOTHING went to waste. If you had leftovers of some kinds, you should try to repurpose them and use them in a different recipe. When my mama had any leftover cooked turkey or chicken, she used to use those extra meats to make filling for some tamales.
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Tamales are very yummy and can have different fillings. How they look and taste will depend on your location because there are a bunch of different ways to prepare them.
My three favorite ways to make tamales are:
These are some classic ways I grew up eating them, but again, it just depends where you are from.
History Behind Tamales
Homemade tamales are small in the northern part of the States of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas while they serve large Mucbipollos at the Day of the Dead festivities in the Yucatan. Then, you will find them to be extra-large Zacahuil in the Huasteca region formed of the States of Veracruz, San Luis Potosi, and Hidalgo.
Size isn't the only thing that changes based on the region - the fillings are also different too!
You might come by a variety of fillings including:
Since they are so easy to customize, you might find almost anything stuffed inside a tamale.
Today's tamales have soft shredded chicken and colorful vegetables topped with a zesty red sauce. I'm very excited to show them to you!
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicken And Veggie Tamales
Before I share my tamale recipe, here are a few questions I've been asked about homemade chicken and vegetable tamales.
Why aren't my corn husks easy to fold?
Your corn husks are probably difficult to fold because they are too dry. Let them soak for a little bit longer in warm water and they should become easier to handle and fold.
How do I know when the tamales are done cooking?
To check for doneness, remove one of the tamales, and if the husk can easily be removed from the dough, they are ready. Just let sit them for a few minutes outside the pot. But, if the dough sticks to the husk, place it back into the pot and cooks for 15 more minutes.
Can I make this tamale recipe vegetarian?
Yes! You can easily leave out the chicken and add extra vegetables. My favorite vegetarian tamales are filled with cheese and roasted peppers! Both are really popular with people that eat a plant-based diet.
How do you fold tamales?
Folding tamales is easier than you might think. I shared step-by-step photos of the entire process when I shared my chicken tamales recipe.
The biggest mistake people make is overstuffing the tamale. You only need 2-3 tablespoons of filling! Then, you fold one side to the center and then fold the other side over to the center. Then, fold the bottom up to the center.
Now they are ready to be steamed!
Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Tamales
There are two parts to these tamales - the filling and the dough. Here's what I used in both.
- Shredded Chicken
- Green Peas
- Cooked Carrots
- Cooked Potatoes
- Salsa Roja
Homemade Tamale Dough
- Masa Harina for Tortillas
- Chicken Broth
- Baking Powder
- Large Corn Husks
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
How To Make Chicken Tamales With Vegetables: Step By Step Tutorial
To make things easier for you, I am going to break down the directions to this recipe into sections.
Prep The Corn Husks
- Place the corn husk in a large pot and cover with enough hot water to cover them.
- Place a metal lid or heatproof dish on top of husks to keep them submerged.
- Soak for about 45 minutes.
- Remove, drain and set aside.
Note: This step will soften the husks and make them pliable-easy to fold.
Make Tamale Filling
- In a large bowl, mix filling ingredients.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Set aside while preparing the masa harina dough.
Note: The mixture has to be cool when assembling the tamales.
Make Masa Harina Dough
- In a 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.
- Continue to beat until dough is well combined, light, and smooth.
Tip: To make sure your dough is light enough, place a small amount in a glass of water. It will float when it’s ready.
Prepare The Steamer
Usually, tamales are steamed in a large pot designed for this purpose. It's very handy to have since you can make a large batch all at once.
- If you have one of these, add boiling water up to the marked sign.
- If you do not have one of these pots, use a steamer basket, metal colander or a metal lid place it inside a pot.
- Cover with corn husks, and add boiling water (just enough to steam the tamales).
Assemble The Chicken and Veggie Tamales
- Place a 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 ½ tablespoon of the meat filling.
- Fold the sides of the husks.
- Bend bottom toward the center.
Cook The Tamales and Enjoy!
- Place the tamales standing up in your already prepared tamal steamer.
- Cover with a layer of corn husks and a dish towel and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Add more water to the steamer if needed during that step.
- Serve and enjoy!
What To Serve With Tamales
These are so filling that you don't need to serve much with them. I like to add some easy red rice on the side along with some fried pinto beans. You can also place some chips and salsa on the table for snacking!
Don't forget the salsas! My favorites for tamales are:
More Tamale Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for chicken and vegetable tamales, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- Authentic Pork Tamales
- How To Make Sweet Tamales
- Green Salsa Tamales With Chicken
- Sweet Corn Tamales
- Cheese and Roasted Peppers Tamales
I hope you make these Mexican tamales de verduras y pollo, and if this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
Chicken and vegetables tamales
For the filling:
- ½ pound cooked shredded chicken
- ⅓ cup green peas canned is ok
- ⅓ cup of already cooked carrots diced
- ½ cup of already cook potatoes diced
- 1 ½ cup of salsa roja recipe* HERE
- salt & pepper to taste
For the Dough:
- 3 cups of Masa Harina for Tortillas
- 1 ⅓ cup of Lard
- 2 ½ cups of the chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 16 Large Corn husk to wrap the tamales
- Place the corn husk in a large pot and cover with enough hot water to cover them. Place a metal lid or heatproof dish on top of husks to keep them submerged. Soak for about 45 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside. This step will soften the husks and make them pliable-easy to fold.
- In a large bowl mix filling ingredients, shredded chicken, carrots, peas, potatoes, salsa and garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper. Mixture has to be cool when assembling the tamales. Set aside while preparing the Masa Harina Dough.
- 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. 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.
- Preparing the steamer. Usually tamales are steamed in a large pot designed for this purpose, if you have one add boiling water up to the marking sign. If you do not have one of this pot, use a steamer basket, metal colander o a metal lid place it inside a pot, cover with corn husks and add boiling water, just enough to steam the tamales.
- To assemble the tamales. Place a 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 ½ tablespoon of the meat filling. Fold the sides of the husks. Bend 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 step.6.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 warm and enjoy.
- You can use Masa Harina for making tortillas or the special one for making tamales. If you live in an area where Fresh Masa is available, use about 3 ½ cups of fresh masa.
- For a detail explanation to form the tamales check HERE.