Delicious Tamales Recipe for Your Next Mexican Fiesta!

Are you looking for a dish that will transport your taste buds to the bustling streets of Mexico? Look no further than my authentic homemade tamales recipe! Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with corn-based dough mixture filled with various meats, beans, and cheese, all wrapped in corn husks and steamed to perfection. This classic recipe can be traced back to ancient times in Mexico and has been enjoyed by families for generations.

My version of this iconic dish delivers all the bold and spicy flavors you crave. Whether you’re enjoying them for breakfast or dinner, as a sweet dessert or savory snack, tamales are the perfect dish to share with friends and family. They are even an excellent make-ahead option, so you can have them on hand for any occasion.

With my easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial, even beginners can create authentic homemade tamales like a pro. From the masa dough to the tamale filling and the red chile sauce, every step of this recipe is designed to be simple yet delicious.

So gather your ingredients and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure that will have your taste buds jumping with joy. With my tamales recipe, you’ll have an authentic taste of Mexico right in your own kitchen.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


Are you looking for a dish that is packed with flavor and textures? Look no further than these delicious homemade tamales! This recipe is the perfect combination of authentic Mexican flavors and traditional American ingredients, making it appealing to a variety of taste buds.

Tamales are a unique and fun addition to any mealtime. From breakfast to dessert, there is always a way to incorporate this versatile dish into your cooking repertoire. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat lover, there are endless filling options to suit your preferences.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it can be easily adapted to match your dietary restrictions. It’s easy to swap out meats for plant-based proteins like beans or cheese for a tasty vegetarian alternative. Plus, with its corn-based dough, it’s naturally gluten-free.

Not only will your taste buds be delighted by the bold flavors of this dish, but your friends and family will also love getting in on the fun of wrapping and filling the tamales themselves. This meal is perfect for bonding over in the kitchen and making memories with loved ones.

Incorporating traditional spices like pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, honey, and vinegar into the tamale filling ensures that each bite explodes with authentic Mexican flair. Plus, with additional options like pork tamales rojos or chicken tamales, there’s always room for experimentation in terms of spice level and flavor profiles.

Overall, whether served up on a lazy Sunday morning or during a lively dinner party, these homemade tamales offer something special for every palate. With its combination of sweet and savory ingredients, tender meats, and hearty masa dough holding it all together – you’ll find this dish to be an absolute crowd-pleaser every time!

Ingredient List

 Hot and juicy tamales for a perfect feast!
Hot and juicy tamales for a perfect feast!

Buenos Dias! Are you excited to start preparing delicious tamales? First things first, let’s gather the necessary ingredients for our homemade tamale recipe. You can customize this recipe according to your preferences, but here are the essential ingredients needed.

The Recipe How-To

 The ultimate comfort food that warms the soul!
The ultimate comfort food that warms the soul!

Now that you have gathered all the necessary ingredients and supplies, it’s time to make some tamales! It may seem daunting at first, but I promise it’s not as difficult as it seems. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Making the Tamale Filling

First, we need to prepare the tamale filling. For this recipe, I will be using pork shoulder as my meat of choice (but feel free to use any meat of your liking such as beef or chicken). Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a pot or pan, brown 1 pound of ground pork shoulder on medium heat.
  2. Add 2 garlic cloves , minced and 1 diced onion to the pot and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  3. Mix in 2 teaspoons of ground cumin , 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon , and salt to taste.
  4. Pour in a can of tomato puree, 1 tablespoon of honey , and 1 tablespoon of vinegar . Stir well, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  5. Let the mixture cook for about 30 minutes until everything is hot and bubbly.
  6. Once done, let the tamale filling cool before assembly.

Preparing the Masa Dough

Now that we have made the tamale filling, let’s move on to making the masa dough. This corn-based dough will serve as our wrapper for our delicious filling. Here are the steps:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 4 cups of masa harina, 2 teaspoons of baking powder , and 2 teaspoons of salt .
  2. In another mixing bowl or measuring cup, combine 6 cups of warm water with 1 cup of melted butter .
  3. Slowly add in the wet mixture into the dry mixture while continuously mixing until fully combined.
  4. The masa dough should be soft, yet hold its shape when formed into a ball.

Assembling the Tamales

Now that the tamale filling and masa dough are ready, it’s time to assemble the tamales. Follow these steps:

  1. Soak 20-30 dried corn husks in hot water for about an hour to make them pliable.
  2. Take a single husk and place it on a flat surface with the smooth side down.
  3. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the masa dough on the center of the husk and spread it thinly to create a rectangle shape.
  4. Add about 1 tablespoon of tamale filling and wrap the husk tightly around it.
  5. Fold the bottom upward and then fold both sides inwards.
  6. Tie with a small strip of corn husk or tear off strips from one of your soaking corn husks.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 until all of your masa dough and tamale filling are used

Substitutions and Variations

 Get ready to experience a burst of flavor in every bite!
Get ready to experience a burst of flavor in every bite!

What I love about tamales is how easy it is to switch up the filling to create an entirely new dish. Don’t have ground beef? Try using shredded chicken or pork shoulder instead. Want a vegetarian option? Fill your tamales with beans, cheese, or even diced vegetables like roasted bell peppers and zucchini.

For a spicy kick, try making tamales rojos by adding a spicy red chile sauce to the filling mixture. Or for a sweeter take, add a tablespoon of honey and cinnamon to the masa dough before filling.

If you’re looking for a traditional Mexican dish, stick to pork tamales filled with a mixture of ground pork, tomatoes, garlic clove, onion and raisins that are packed full of sweet and savory flavors.

For those who enjoy Tex-Mex cuisine, experiment with adding green chiles or jalapeños to the stuffing or use ground beef seasoned with chili powder and cumin.

Lastly, for dessert lovers try strawberry tamales made with masa dough flavored with fresh strawberries that are perfect for breakfast or as an after-dinner treat.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to making homemade tamales so feel free to get creative in the kitchen and find the perfect variation for you and your friends and family.

Serving and Pairing

 The perfect combination of savory and spicy, tamales are always a win!
The perfect combination of savory and spicy, tamales are always a win!

Now that you have prepared this wonderful dish made of corn-based dough mixture filled with various meats or beans and cheese, let me give you some tips on how to serve and pair your tamales to make it even more exciting!

Firstly, let’s talk about the classic way of serving tamales – it is usually enjoyed with a spoonful of spicy red chile pork or chile sauce on top. You can also sprinkle some fresh parsley or drizzle some honey on top for added flavor. This will take your tamales to the next level!

If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, try filling the masa dough with mashed black beans and cheese. Pair it with a fresh salad and guacamole on top, and you’re good to go!

For our spicy food lovers out there, pair your tamales with a side of pepper or ground cumin seasoned rice with a dash of vinegar. This will balance out the heat from the red chile pork while still keeping it spicy and flavorful.

Another great pairing is to serve your tamales with baked apple or tomato puree as a side dish. The sweetness of the apples or tomatoes complements the savory taste of the tamales for a well-rounded meal.

Lastly, if you’re feeling daring, why not try making a dessert tamale instead? Fill it with strawberry jam or any other sweet filling that you desire. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top, and voila! A dessert version of this authentic Mexican dish.

These are just some suggestions, feel free to experiment and find what works best for you! Whichever way you decide to serve your tamales, it’s always best enjoyed with friends and family for a festive gathering reminiscent of Mexican culture.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Wrapped up with love, these tamales will make you feel right at home!
Wrapped up with love, these tamales will make you feel right at home!

Entertaining guests can be quite hectic, especially when you have to make everything from scratch. Thankfully, tamales can be made ahead of time, stored properly, and reheated to perfection. Here are some tips to ensure that your tamales remain delicious and fresh:

– Make-Ahead: If you’re in a rush or want to plan ahead, tamales can be prepared a day or two in advance. Once the tamales are cooked and cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and refrigerate them for up to 5 days.

– Storing: If you made too much masa dough or tamale filling, you can store them separately in airtight containers and refrigerate them for up to 5 days. When ready to use, bring the ingredients back to room temperature before assembling.

– Reheating: When ready to serve the tamales, remove them from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. This will prevent them from being cold in the center. You can reheat tamales using any of the following methods:

– Steaming: Place the tamales upright in a steamer basket with the open end facing upwards. Steam over simmering water for 15-20 minutes.

– Microwave: Place tamales on a microwave-safe plate and heat on high for 1-2 minutes per tamale, or until heated through.

– Oven: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and place wrapped tamales on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Now that you’re familiarized with make-ahead storing and reheating techniques, feel free to prepare extra batches of delicious homemade tamales any time of the year!

Tips for Perfect Results

 With every bite of these delicious tamales, you'll be transported straight to Mexico!
With every bite of these delicious tamales, you’ll be transported straight to Mexico!

If you want to make the perfect homemade tamales, here are some tips that I’ve learned through years of experience:

Firstly, it is important to ensure that the masa dough is not too dry or too wet. The dough should have a consistency similar to that of cookie dough. You can keep adding warm water or masa harina by tablespoons until you reach the ideal consistency. This will help the masa to stick together and form perfectly-shaped tamales.

Another thing to remember is not to overfill the tamales with the tamale filling. This will prevent the masa from cooking properly and may cause splitting or bursting of your tamales while steaming. Fill your tamales generously, but not too much. Just remember: less is more!

Add some baking powder to your masa dough mixture for fluffy and light tamales. Baking powder helps the masa rise and expand a bit during steaming, making it fluffy and moist.

When preparing corn husks for wrapping, soak them in hot water until soft and pliable. Then rinse them with cool water and pat them dry. Rinsing removes any dirt or debris that may attach to the husks while soaking.

To prevent scorching while steaming, line the bottom of your pot with extra corn husks before adding your filled tamales. The husks will protect the bottom layer of your tamales from direct heat and create steam for even cooking.

Finally, do not add too much salt in your tamale filling as you can always add more seasoning during serving if needed. The salt content of masa harina may vary depending on the brand you use, so taste as you go along when preparing your tamale filling.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to impress your friends and family with perfect homemade tamales every time!


Now that we’ve covered all the basics of making these delicious tamales, it’s time to address some frequently asked questions that might arise during the cooking process. From choosing the right ingredients to reheating leftovers, these answers will guarantee a successful and enjoyable experience making this authentic Mexican dish at home. So, let’s dive right in!

What are real Mexican tamales made of?

Originating in Mexico, tamales are a popular and traditional dish made from a mixture of corn dough that is filled with an assortment of meats or beans and cheese. These flavorful bundles are wrapped and cooked in either corn husks or banana leaves, though the husks are removed before consuming. To enhance their taste, consider serving with a side of rice and guacamole along with a topping of pico de gallo.

What is the secret to moist tamales?

To make tamales that are juicy and full of taste, it’s important to not skimp on the fat. In Mexico, it’s common to use lard, but if that’s not your thing, you could use shortening or softened butter as a vegetarian substitute.

What is tamale filling made of?

Tamale fillings can vary depending on the region, but typically they are filled with pork, chicken, beef, or vegetables. These fillings are generously doused in chile, a flavorful sauce that includes garlic, cumin, and dried chili peppers. It’s customary for loved ones to congregate for a tamalada, or a tamale-making gathering, to assist in the assembly process.

How hard is it to make tamales?

Preparing a large batch of tamales can be quite a challenge as it involves several time-consuming steps. It would be best to keep a significant portion of your day free for this task as it requires patience and dedication. Various stages of the process will take time to complete.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, making tamales is all about the process, the love and authenticity behind it. With this recipe, you’re getting a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine, with the option to mix it up and try different fillings to suit your taste or dietary needs. Whether you prefer chicken, beef, pork or vegetarian fillings, there’s something for everyone in this recipe.

Tamales are a symbolic dish that has been enjoyed for centuries by various cultures around the world. It’s not just a meal but an experience that you can share with friends and family. Now that you have mastered the recipe for making authentic homemade tamales with step-by-step instructions, there’s no excuse not to make them at home.

So go ahead and gather your ingredients, put on some music and get ready to create something truly special. With its versatility and deliciously unique flavor profile, this recipe is bound to be a hit amongst all who try it. Don’t wait any longer; it’s time to explore the world of tamales and indulge in this ancient dish made fresh in your own kitchen.


Tamales Recipe

Made from scratch tamales, yummy
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 98.7 kcal


  • 3 cups tortilla flour, masa harina
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup butter, refridgerated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup apple, peeled cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, snipped
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


  • Mix together tortilla flour and water, cover and let stand 20 minutes.
  • In large bowl beat together butter and salt until fluffy.
  • Beat in flour mixture until well combined.
  • Using Corn husks or aluminum foil as a wrapper add 2 tablespoons dough onto each wrapper until dough is all used up.
  • Spread to 5"x3" rectangle on each one.
  • In skillet over medium heat saute onion and garlic until onions are clear.
  • Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
  • Drain fat.
  • Add remainder of ingredients, cover and cook for 20 - 25 minutes.
  • Add 1 tablespoon meat mixture to each tamale wrapper.
  • Roll up tamales and seal ends.
  • Place tamales on rack in steamer.
  • Add water to just below rack level.
  • Bring to a boil, cover and steam for 40 - 45 minutes or until tamale pulls away from wrapper. adding water as needed.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 52gCalories: 98.7kcalCarbohydrates: 2.7gProtein: 2.1gFat: 9.1gSaturated Fat: 5.2gCholesterol: 25.7mgSodium: 203mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1.7g
Keyword < 4 Hours, For Large Groups, Meat
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.