how to make tamales recipe

Mastering How to Make Tamales Recipe – Our Step-by-Step Guide

Are you ready to dive into the rich flavors and traditions of homemade tamales? Follow our step-by-step guide on how to make tamales recipe and unlock the secrets to mastering this beloved Mexican dish.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to gather the necessary ingredients and equipment for making tamales.
  • Discover the process of preparing the perfect masa dough for your tamales.
  • Master the art of soaking and preparing corn husks for wrapping your tamales.
  • Explore a variety of delicious fillings to customize your tamales.
  • Learn the folding technique to assemble and seal your tamales properly.

Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure? Join us as we delve into the world of tamales, uncovering the secrets behind creating the perfect homemade tamale recipe. Made with love and steeped in tradition, tamales are a staple of Mexican cuisine and a dish that brings people together.

At Foodie Advocate, we are passionate about sharing our knowledge and expertise in the kitchen. With our step-by-step guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to make mouthwatering tamales that will impress your family and friends.

We’ve scoured trusted sources to provide you with the most comprehensive and authentic tamale-making instructions. From gathering the right ingredients and equipment to preparing the masa dough, soaking the corn husks, and choosing the perfect fillings, we’ll guide you through each step of the process.

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, our guide is designed to be accessible and easy to follow. Along the way, you’ll discover tips and tricks that will elevate your tamale-making skills and ensure delicious results every time.

So, grab your apron and prepare to immerse yourself in the flavors and traditions of homemade tamales. Let’s get started on this culinary journey together!

Gathering the Ingredients and Equipment

To begin your journey to tamale perfection, it’s essential to gather all the ingredients and equipment required for traditional tamale making. Here, we’ll guide you through the process of collecting everything you need to create delicious and authentic tamales.


For homemade tamales, you’ll need a variety of ingredients to bring out those classic flavors. Start with corn husks, masa harina (corn flour), lard or shortening, and a selection of fillings such as seasoned meat, beans, or cheese. Don’t forget to have spices and seasonings on hand to enhance the taste.

If you’re wondering where to find these ingredients, check your local grocery store or specialty food markets. You can often find corn husks in the ethnic food aisle, and masa harina should be available in the baking section. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if needed; the staff will be more than happy to help you locate what you need.


Along with the ingredients, you’ll require specific tools to make the tamale-making process smoother. A large mixing bowl and a sturdy spoon or spatula are essential for preparing the masa dough. A steamer basket or pot will be needed for steaming the tamales. Additionally, you might find a kitchen scale useful for accurately measuring ingredients, and a sharp knife for trimming the corn husks to the desired size.

As a reference, here’s a table summarizing the ingredients needed for traditional tamale making:

IngredientsTools & Equipment
Corn husksLarge mixing bowl
Masa harina (corn flour)Sturdy spoon or spatula
Lard or shorteningSteamer basket or pot
Seasoned meat, beans, or cheeseKitchen scale (optional)
Spices and seasoningsSharp knife

Gathering the necessary ingredients and equipment is the first step towards mastering the art of tamale making. With everything in place, you’re ready to move on to the next exciting stages of creating delicious tamales.

Preparing the Masa Dough

The first step in making tamales is preparing the masa dough, which is a crucial component that gives tamales their unique taste and texture. Masa is a dough made from corn flour, salt, and fat, traditionally lard or shortening. It is the foundation of a delicious tamale.

To make the masa dough, start by combining the corn flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add warm water to the mixture while stirring, until a soft dough forms. In a separate bowl, beat the lard or shortening until creamy, then gradually add it to the masa mixture, blending until fully incorporated.

At this point, the masa dough should have a smooth and pliable texture. It should be slightly sticky but not wet. If the dough feels too dry, add a little more water. If it feels too wet, add a tablespoon of corn flour at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.

Corn flour2 cups
Salt1 teaspoon
Lard or shortening1 cup
Warm water1 1/2 cups

Once the masa dough is ready, cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld together and the dough to become more pliable. Now you’re ready to move on to the next step in our comprehensive tamale-making guide.

For more delicious recipes and cooking tips, visit Foodie Advocate.

Soaking and Preparing the Corn Husks

Before assembling your tamales, it’s important to soak and prepare the corn husks to create the perfect wrapping for your tamale filling. Properly preparing the corn husks ensures that they are pliable and ready for use.

To begin, gather a packet of corn husks and place them in a large bowl or sink. Fill the bowl or sink with warm water, completely submerging the husks. Allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes, or until they become soft and flexible.

While the husks are soaking, take a moment to remove any debris or corn silk that may be attached to them. Gently rinse each husk under running water, using your fingers to remove any unwanted particles. Once the husks are clean, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

Once the husks are cleaned and dried, it’s time to spread a thin layer of masa dough on each one. Using a spoon or a spatula, carefully spread a thin and even layer of masa on the smooth side of each husk, leaving a small border around the edges. This layer of masa serves as the base for your tamale filling, providing flavor and structure. When the masa is spread, you can proceed with adding your desired filling and folding the husks to enclose it.


  1. Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes to soften them.
  2. Remove any debris or corn silk by rinsing the husks under running water.
  3. Dry the husks with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
  4. Spread a thin layer of masa dough on each husk, leaving a small border around the edges.
  5. Add your chosen filling and proceed with folding the husks to enclose it.

Soaking and preparing the corn husks is an essential step in the tamale-making process. By following these simple instructions, you’ll ensure that your tamales not only taste delicious but also have the perfect texture and presentation. Now that your corn husks are ready, you can move on to choosing and preparing the filling for your tamales.

For more tips and recipes on making tamales, visit Foodie Advocate.

Choosing and Preparing the Filling

Now that you have your masa dough and corn husks ready, it’s time to focus on preparing the delicious filling that will go inside your tamales. The filling is where you can get creative and experiment with different flavors and ingredients. Traditional fillings include seasoned meat, beans, or cheese, but you can also try combinations like chicken and green chilies or sweet corn and cheese.

To prepare the filling, start by cooking your chosen protein, whether it’s beef, chicken, or pork. You can season it with spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic, and onion to enhance the flavor. Shred the cooked meat or chop it into small pieces to make it easier to distribute evenly inside the tamales.

If you prefer vegetarian tamales, you can sauté vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and zucchini, and combine them with cooked beans or cheese. The key is to ensure that the filling is well-seasoned and has a balance of flavors.

To assemble the tamales, place a spoonful of the filling down the center of each corn husk. Be careful not to overfill, as it can make it difficult to wrap the tamales properly. Once the filling is in place, fold the sides of the husk over the filling, then fold up the bottom end and secure it with a strip of corn husk or kitchen twine. Repeat this process until all the filling and husks are used.

Table: Common Tamale Fillings

Seasoned MeatBeef, chicken, or pork seasoned with spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic, and onion
Beans and CheeseCooked beans combined with melted cheese
Vegetable MedleySautéed bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and other vegetables

For a visual guide on choosing and preparing the filling, check out our step-by-step video tutorial on our website, Foodie Advocate. You’ll find more tips and inspiration for creating delicious tamales that will wow your family and friends.

Assembling the Tamales

With all the elements prepared, it’s time to assemble your tamales by expertly folding the corn husks to enclose the flavorful filling. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure your tamales are perfectly sealed and ready for steaming.

  1. Select a soaked corn husk and lay it flat on a clean surface.
  2. Place about 2 tablespoons of masa dough onto the center of the corn husk.
  3. Using the back of a spoon, spread the masa dough into a thin layer, leaving a border around the edges.
  4. Add your desired filling down the center of the masa dough. This can be seasoned meat, beans, or cheese.
  5. Fold the long sides of the corn husk towards the center, overlapping them to enclose the filling.
  6. Next, fold the narrow ends of the corn husk up towards the center, ensuring the filling is completely sealed.
  7. Secure the tamale by tying a thin strip of soaked corn husk around it, or simply place it seam-side down to keep it closed.
  8. Continue assembling the rest of the tamales until all the masa dough and filling are used.

Now that your tamales are assembled, they are ready to be steamed to perfection. But first, let’s recap the steps:

  1. Place about 2 tablespoons of masa dough onto a soaked corn husk.
  2. Spread the masa dough into a thin layer.
  3. Add your desired filling down the center.
  4. Fold and seal the tamales by folding the long sides towards the center, then fold the narrow ends up.
  5. Tie with a strip of soaked corn husk or place seam-side down.

Table 1: Ingredients for Assembling Tamales

Soaked corn husksAs needed
Masa dough2 tablespoons per tamale
Tamale fillingAs desired
Thin strips of soaked corn husk (optional)As needed

Now that your tamales are assembled, it’s time to move on to the next step: steaming them to perfection. We’ll guide you through the steaming process in the next section.

Steaming the Tamales

The final step in the tamale-making process is steaming your assembled tamales to achieve the perfect texture and fully cook the masa dough. Steaming is a traditional cooking method that ensures the flavors meld together and the tamales come out tender and moist.

To steam your tamales, you will need a steamer basket or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Place the folded tamales upright snugly in the steamer basket or pot, ensuring they are tightly packed to prevent them from unraveling during cooking.

Fill the pot with enough water to create steam, but make sure it does not touch the tamales. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid. Allow the tamales to steam for 60-90 minutes, or until the masa pulls away easily from the corn husk when gently peeled back.

Remember to check the water level periodically and add more if necessary, as the steam can evaporate over time. Once the tamales are fully cooked, remove them from the pot and let them cool slightly before serving.

Serving and Enjoying Your Tamales

Congratulations, you’ve successfully made a batch of mouthwatering tamales! Now, it’s time to serve and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Tamales are best served warm, and there are a variety of delicious accompaniments that will take your tamale experience to the next level. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Salsa: Serve your tamales with a side of homemade salsa for an extra burst of flavor. Whether you prefer a mild tomato salsa or a fiery salsa verde, the tangy and zesty flavors will complement the richness of the tamales.
  2. Crema: Crema, a Mexican-style sour cream, adds a creamy and tangy element to your tamales. Drizzle it over the top or serve it on the side for dipping.
  3. Cilantro: Sprinkle some fresh cilantro leaves over your tamales for a vibrant and herbaceous touch. The bright flavors of cilantro pair beautifully with the savory notes of the tamales.

To truly enjoy the flavors and textures of your tamales, it’s important to savor each bite. Take the time to appreciate the tender masa dough, the succulent filling, and the delicate aroma that wafts from each tamale. Share this traditional Mexican dish with your loved ones and create lasting memories around the dinner table.

Explore More Mexican Cuisine with The Foodie Advocate

If you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons and try more authentic Mexican recipes, visit The Foodie Advocate. This platform is a treasure trove of Mexican gastronomy, offering a wide range of recipes, cooking tips, and cultural insights. From street tacos to flavorful enchiladas, you’ll find plenty of inspiration to satisfy your cravings for Mexican cuisine. Embark on a culinary adventure and unlock the secrets of Mexican flavors with The Foodie Advocate.

Accompaniments for TamalesFlavor Profile
SalsaTangy and zesty
CremaCreamy and tangy
CilantroBright and herbaceous

Pork Tamales Recipe

For those craving a traditional taste of Mexico, here is our tantalizing pork tamales recipe that will transport your taste buds to culinary bliss. Made with tender shredded pork and flavorful seasonings, these tamales are a labor of love, but the end result is worth every minute spent in the kitchen. Follow our step-by-step instructions below to create mouthwatering pork tamales that will impress your family and friends.


  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups pork broth (reserved from cooking the pork)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 package dried corn husks


  1. In a large pot, combine the pork shoulder, chopped onion, minced garlic, vegetable oil, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the pork is tender and easily shreds with a fork.
  2. Remove the pork from the pot and let it cool slightly. Shred the meat using two forks, discarding any excess fat or bones.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the masa harina, pork broth, shortening, and baking powder. Mix well until a soft dough forms.
  4. Soak the dried corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes, or until they are pliable.
  5. To assemble the tamales, spread a thin layer of masa dough on each corn husk, leaving a border along the edges. Spoon a generous amount of the shredded pork onto the masa dough.
  6. Fold the long sides of the corn husk together, enclosing the filling, and fold the narrow ends up to seal the packets.
  7. In a large steamer pot, arrange the tamales upright and snugly. Steam the tamales for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the masa easily pulls away from the corn husks.
  8. Once cooked, remove the tamales from the steamer and let them cool slightly before serving. Serve warm with your favorite toppings, such as salsa, crema, and cilantro.

Enjoy the flavors of Mexico with our delectable pork tamales recipe. For more delicious recipes and culinary inspiration, visit Happy cooking!

Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Vegetarian food lovers rejoice! We have a delightful vegetarian tamale recipe that offers a burst of flavor and wholesome goodness. Made with a variety of fresh ingredients, this recipe is perfect for those seeking a meat-free alternative that doesn’t compromise on taste.

To start, gather the following ingredients:

Masa harina2 cups
Vegetable broth1 ½ cups
Vegetable oil½ cup
Salt1 teaspoon
Baking powder1 teaspoon
Black beans1 cup, cooked and drained
Corn kernels1 cup, fresh or frozen
Red bell pepper1, diced
Jalapeno pepper1, seeded and diced
Onion1, diced
Garlic cloves2, minced
Cumin1 teaspoon
Paprika1 teaspoon
Salt and pepperTo taste
Fresh cilantroFor garnish

Now that you have all your ingredients ready, follow these easy steps to prepare the vegetarian tamales:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, vegetable broth, vegetable oil, salt, and baking powder. Mix well until a smooth dough forms.
  2. In a separate pan, heat some oil and add the diced onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and minced garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are tender and fragrant.
  3. Add the black beans, corn kernels, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper to the pan. Stir well and cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. Take a corn husk and spread a thin layer of the masa dough on it. Spoon a portion of the vegetable filling down the center of the dough.
  5. Fold the corn husk lengthwise, enclosing the filling, and fold the narrow ends up to seal the packet. Repeat this step with the remaining husks, dough, and filling.
  6. Place the assembled tamales upright in a steamer basket or pot. Steam the tamales for about 60-90 minutes, or until the masa easily pulls away from the husk.
  7. Once the tamales are cooked, let them cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve warm with your favorite salsa or sauce for extra flavor.

These vegetarian tamales are a true delight, offering a harmonious combination of textures and flavors. Whether you’re a long-time vegetarian or simply looking to incorporate more meat-free meals into your diet, this recipe is sure to satisfy. Enjoy the deliciousness and indulge in the rich culinary traditions of Mexico with these homemade vegetarian tamales.

Discover More Delicious Recipes

Interested in exploring other mouthwatering recipes? Visit Foodie Advocate for a wide range of culinary delights and cooking tips. From traditional Mexican dishes to international favorites, our platform has something for every food lover. Join us on this gastronomic journey and elevate your cooking skills to new heights!


In conclusion, mastering the art of making tamales is within your reach, thanks to our detailed step-by-step guide and mouthwatering tamale recipes. Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure and enjoy the deliciousness of homemade Mexican tamales.

With our comprehensive guide, you will learn the essential techniques and tips for creating authentic tamales from scratch. From gathering the traditional ingredients and equipment to preparing the perfect masa dough and assembling the tamales, each step is carefully explained to ensure success.

Whether you prefer classic pork tamales or want to explore vegetarian options, our easy tamale recipes will satisfy your cravings and impress your loved ones. Serve your tamales warm with salsa, crema, and cilantro for an authentic Mexican dining experience.

So why wait? Start your tamale-making journey today and experience the joy of creating these delectable treats in your own kitchen. For more culinary inspiration and recipes, visit Foodie Advocate. Let us guide you through the wonderful world of Mexican cuisine and make your next meal truly memorable.


What are the traditional ingredients needed to make tamales?

Traditional ingredients for making tamales include masa dough, corn husks, meat (such as pork or chicken), seasonings, and sauce.

Where can I find the ingredients for making tamales?

You can find the necessary ingredients for making tamales at your local grocery store, Latin markets, or online specialty food stores that carry Mexican ingredients.

How do I make the masa dough for tamales?

To make the masa dough, you will need corn flour, salt, and either lard or shortening. Mix these ingredients together until a smooth dough forms.

How do I prepare the corn husks for wrapping the tamales?

Soak the corn husks in warm water until they become pliable. Remove any debris from the husks and spread a thin layer of masa dough onto each husk.

What can I use as fillings for my tamales?

Common fillings for tamales include seasoned meat (such as pork, chicken, or beef), cheese, beans, or a combination of these ingredients.

How do I assemble the tamales?

Place the filling down the center of each corn husk, then fold the long sides together to enclose the filling. Fold the narrow ends up to seal the packets.

What is the traditional cooking method for tamales?

Tamales are traditionally steamed. Place the folded tamales upright in a steamer basket or pot and steam them for 60-90 minutes, until the masa easily pulls away from the husk.

What are some suggestions for serving tamales?

Tamales are best served warm and can be accompanied by salsa, crema, cilantro, or other traditional Mexican condiments.

Do you have a recipe for pork tamales?

Yes, we have a delicious pork tamale recipe that includes detailed instructions on preparing the pork filling and assembling the tamales.

Can you provide a vegetarian tamale recipe?

Absolutely! We offer a flavorful vegetarian tamale recipe that substitutes the traditional meat filling with delicious vegetarian ingredients.

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