Tamales for Beginners Recipe

click to rate
1 vote | 15571 views

I love tamales, but they are very time-consuming.

This recipe is for you who would like to try making them. They aren't difficult, they just require some time from start to finish.

If you don't want to invest in a tamalera (tortilla cooking pot), you can rig one to fit a tall soup pot, or pasta pot by finding a stainless steel trivet or round rack that fits in your pot. Cover it with foil, then poke holes in the foil. It has to sit high enough above the tamales, so they get steamed, not water-logged.

Do what the Mexicans do and have a "Tamalada," which is to invite some people over, and set up an assembly line. Make some margaritas or mojitos. Aye, caramba!


corn husks
tamale dough
filling (s)
chicken stock
additions to masa dough
shredded cheese
tamalera (tamale cooker)
lard or Crisco

This recipe is for 32 tamales, which easily freeze.

Some easy tamale fillings:

black bean and corn salsa with cheese
sauteed chiles and cheese with onions
mixed sauteed bell peppers with cheese and spices
sauteed garlic shrimp with cheese

Take them to a party, and they may be the first thing to disappear.

I make dozens of these for customers between mid-November and Xmas Eve, at which time, I go into tamale withdrawal until Cinco de Mayo.

How to videos are on the net.

Best Re-Heat Method for frozen tamales: Put them in a crockpot for 2-3 hours on high, no water, and cover. Microwave is fine, if they are not frozen, but the crockpot or oven are best for frozen ones.



  • 1-2 recipes tamale fillings of choice (good way to use leftovers, too)
  • 1 lb. shredded cheese
  • masa:
  • 4 cups tamale masa - tortilla mix will not work
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
  • 4-6 chopped scallions
  • 1/2 tbs. cumin powder
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • optional: minced jalapenos
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ground pepper
  • other seasonings, such as Goya Sazon (I used 2 packets for the beautiful color and flavor - see pics), taco seasoning, chile powder, etc.
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 1/4 cups lard or Crisco


  1. Corn husks come in different sizes, so I take the largest ones and tear them in strips for tying rolled tamales. You will get very few ideal size husks in the package, so be creative.
  2. Soak about a third of a bag of husks in warm water for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare your filling (s) - (see links)
  4. masa:
  5. Pour masa mix into a bowl, mix with broth/water.
  6. Cut lard into small chunks, add to bowl, stir it in.
  7. Add other ingredients and mix well.
  8. If mixture is too wet, and doesn't stick fairly well to the husks when you spread it, add a bit more masa to the bowl
  9. Take a husk and spread 3-4 tbs. of dough in it and spread to the top and sides, or just in the middle, depending on the shape you want.
  10. Top the dough with the filling.
  11. Using both hands, roll the masa edges together with the husk from the sides and the top and bottom. Use your fingers to make sure filling is covered top, bottom, and in the middle seam.
  12. Use a second husk, if necessary.
  13. Tie up the tamale in the desired shape. Use scissors to trim ties and husks.
  14. When finished with all of them, put enough water in your cooker to almost touch the holes in the bottom of the pot.
  15. Place the tamales in the pot, keeping the ones with open tops standing up.
  16. Stack them so steam can readily move throughout the pot.
  17. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, turn down heat to medium low (simmer) and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Midway through, pour a cup of water down the inside of the pot, so there is enough water to keep the bottom from burning.
  18. Tamales are done when you unroll one and it is firm, and readily pulls away from the husk.
  19. If you have leftover husks when first making them, air dry them and put back in the package, or just freeze them.
  20. Serve with salsa, enchilada sauce, or red chile gravy.
  21. Tamales freeze well for weeks, and make wonderful pot luck and holiday items.


Add the recipe to which day?
« Today - Oct 10 »
Today - Oct 10
October 11 - 17
October 18 - 24
October 25 - 31
Please select a day
or Cancel
Loading... Adding to Planner


How good does this recipe look to you?
Click to rate it:

Link to Recipe

Embed Recipe 400px wide (preview)

Embed Recipe 300px wide (preview)


Leave a review or comment