How to Make Tamales

Learn how to make this authentic Latin American treat.

Wrapped and steamed in leaves, tamales are a beautiful and delicious special occasion or holiday dish. In this video, you'll learn how to make tamales from scratch. Authentic tamales are essentially steamed cornmeal dumplings filled with flavorful fillings, like pork, beef, and chicken. Tamales arrive like a gift in a corn husk or banana leaf; maybe that's why they're a Christmas tradition. You'll learn all about traditional tamale fillings, like braised pork and beef, and get a glimpse of the endless variations, such as chicken, roasted vegetables, cheese, beans, or seafood. We'll show you all the tools you'll need to make them, including a Dutch oven, a large steamer, tongs, and spoons. Making tamales from scratch takes some time. To get started, you'll learn how to slow cook you're your meat with traditional seasonings and spices. You'll see how to prepare the husks to make them pliable, then you'll learn how to make the tamale masa, the cornmeal mixture that's essential to making tamales. You'll discover how to tell if your masa dough is moist enough. Then learn how to wrap up your tamales, combining the filling and the masa dough. Then see how to steam tamales in a steamer. Make a lot of tamales and freeze them; we'll show you how to wrap them up for storage.

Find the best tamale recipes, from pork tamales to chicken and beef tamales.




41 thoughts on “How to Make Tamales

  1. she says this is something cooked on special occasions so use real lard. one time shouldnt hurt and it makes tamales taste a whole lot better

  2. Here’s a little help if you want the traditional Mexican tamales : traditionally in my home we add the broth from the meat in the Masa mixture and if the little ball of dough doesn’t float in the water we add more lard. The more lard you use the more moist the tamale is going to be, but you just need enough lard until the dough ball floats in water because if you do add more than enough the dough will take even longer to cook or just wont cook at all. We usually use pork in the filling but since I don’t like pork my family makes three different types of tamales: pork, beef, and beans (all are equally delicious!) but we usually add this sauce that includes two types of peppers (chile) Chile Ancho and Chile Mulato. You let those soak in hot water for an hour until they are really soft and then add to a blender with spices (usually garlic, ground cumin, salt) and blend. Then you “fry” (about a tablespoon or two of oil) the sauce and its ready to add to your filling (just add to the meats, pork or beef). We like to add it to the beans as well. Just mash some cooked pinto beans, add a little bit of lard and water, once they start to boil a little add about a spoonful of the chile sauce and boil again until almost dry (cooking until dry helps to stop them from oozing out of the tamale during cooking). Just fill up your husks and steam for an 40-1 hour (keep checking because times may depend on where you live, some areas have more moisture in the air, while others are dry or in high places). To check just take out one tamale and see if the dough is cooked. do not over cook. this is hard because sometimes the dough may seem under cooked when taken out of the pot because it is still warm. The best way to eat them, in our opinion, is the day after on a comal. Or you can toast them on a skillet/pan, the outside husk looks burnt but the inside tastes delicious and crunchy. That’s what we call recalentado! Enjoy!

    1. YessiBubble exactly and they forgot the salsa! Tamales need salsa!! Omg haha such a waste. They should stick to burgers and hot dogs.

    2. If your family makes you bean tamales, your family dont love you. Beans are normally a side to a mexican dish.

  3. First: “Tamales” is the plural of “TAMAL”, not “tamale”.  Basic Spanish grammar teaches us to pluralize nouns ending in “L” such as Tamal, Frijol, Papel, adding “es”. “S” is added to nouns ending in a consonant or an stressed vowel. There are more exceptions but I will not dwell on them, this is not a Spanish grammar lesson.

    Your recipe and demonstration are excellent.  One more constructive criticism: Not all Mexican dishes require cumin.  This is a spice that overpowers all other making your dishes boring since the taste is the same.  Try eliminating it from all of them, except “Chili con Carne”, which is not Mexican creation but Tex-Mex.  Very few authentic Mexican recipes call for CUMIN.

    1. purple piano girl I don’t know I never had it before so I want to know how to fucking taste

  4. This is the american way of making tamales. Mexican tamales are way better and we make our own salsas and add flavor to it. Thats not how you wrap a tamale… wheres the flavor!!!! Omg dead

    1. Pavlo Montes ikr… why didn’t they sauce the chilies and simmer the meat with it? Why is the massa so stiff? These are gonna be dry. oh dear. lol

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