Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made of masa (a type of corn dough) which is wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed. Tamales can be filled with various meats, cheeses, vegetables, or even fruits, and are often served with salsa or mole sauce.


  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10-12 corn husks or banana leaves, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the masa harina, water, and salt until well combined.
  2. Add the lard or vegetable shortening and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. gradually add the chicken broth, mixing until the dough is soft and pliable.
  3. Stir in the baking powder.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the shredded chicken, salsa, onion, bell peppers, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper.
  5. To assemble the tamales, spread about 1/4 cup of the masa dough evenly over the center of a corn husk or banana leaf. Spread 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling down the center of the dough. Roll up the tamale, folding the bottom up to enclose the filling, then tie the tamale closed with a strip of the husk or leaf.
  6. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  7. Place the tamales in a steamer basket, making sure they are not touching each other, and steam for 1-2 hours, until the dough is cooked through.
  8. Remove the tamales from the steamer and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Potential changes & improvements

There are many possible variations on the fillings and seasonings for tamales. Try different combinations of meats, cheeses, vegetables, and spices to find your favorite!

What other food it works well with

Tamales are typically served with salsa or mole sauce. Try serving them with refried beans, rice, and a salad for a complete meal.

Common Mistakes

Be sure to soak the corn husks or banana leaves in warm water for at least 30 minutes before using, or they will dry out and tear when you try to roll them.

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1 tamale
Calories: 210
Fat: 10 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 36 mg
Sodium: 443 mg
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 3 g
Protein: 7 g


Corn, chicken, onion, bell pepper

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