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Tamales are traditionally made of a corn-based dough, it’s Nahuatl name is: tamale. Meaning wrapped corn. It is steamed in a leaf wrapper. The most common wrapping is a corn husk, a banana leave, avocado leaves, hoja santa, and other non-toxic leaves used in some regions of Mexico.
Course Chicken
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 30 - 36 Tamales
Calories 209kcal


  • 5 cups of dry masa harina for tamales
  • 13 ounces of lard 1 and 3/4 cups
  • You can use shortening and even vegetable oil
  • About 6 cups of chicken broth of more in case dough is too dry
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt to taste


  • 1 ½ pound of chicken breast to make about 4 cups of shredded chicken
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 thick slices of onion
  • water to cover


  • 1 ½ pound of tomatillos green tomatoes husk removed
  • 6 serrano peppers or 4 jalapenos
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled
  • Salt to taste
  • About 45 Corn husk for wrapping

Cooking the chicken:

  • Place the chicken onion, and garlic in a pot. Cover with water and over medium heat until meat is tender. Cool and shred the chicken.
  • Mix with the chicken with the sauce in a bowl and set aside.


The sauce:

  • Cook the tomatoes, peppers, and garlic in a pot with water. Until they are cooked and tender.
  • Place the tomatoes, peppers,
  • and garlic in the blender and puree until smooth.
  • Season with salt.

For the dough:

  • In a large bowl beat the lard until it changes to lighter color. This can be done with the help of your mixer or by hand. Add slowly the corn masa harina, baking powder, and chicken broth. Mix well and taste to season with salt. Beat until all ingredients are well combined and the dough is light and spongy.

The corn husk:

  • Remove the husks from their package and place the husks to soak in a warm bath of water for 40 minutes. This could be done in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. This step will help to soften the husks and easily be pliable while wrapping the corn dough.

Assembling the tamales:

  • Remove the husks from their warm bath, dry with the cloth or paper towels.
  • Place the corn husk on your work surface with the wide end facing towards you. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of dough in the center but closer to the bottom of the corn husk spreading evenly. Top with 2 tablespoons of the chicken-green sauce filling in the center of the husk. Fold one side of the husk to the center and fold the other side to the center, too. Fold the bottom towards the center. Repeat process with remaining husks and filling.
  • Line the tamales on a tray while you are finishing up with the rest of the assembly process. Getting your pot ready for steaming. Add 3 cups of hot water to the pot and place the steamer rack. Place a layer of corn husk on the steamer rack. (Note: you do not need to buy a tamal steamer pot if you don’t have it already. Just improvise with what you already have).
  • Place the tamales in a standing position.
  • Cover with a layer of the corn husks and a dish towel and the pot lid. Steam for about 60 minutes in a medium heat or after taking one tamal and checking if the husk easily separates from the dough. Check during the steaming time in case the steamer need more water. Be careful while removing the lid. Serve while still hot. When done wait for 10 minutes the dough will firm up after that.
  • To reheat a tamal I use the convenience of the microwave. It just needs 1 minute in high per tamal. You can also steam it again to warm it up and the other option is to place it on a hot griddle turning 2 or 3 times until warm.

Tamales keep well in your freezer for a couple of months.


    Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 260mg | Potassium: 212mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1.7mg