How To Make Traditional Mexican Tamales: A Quick Guide

Mexican tamales are a beloved dish worldwide, known for their delicious flavors and unique textures. These savory treats are a staple in Mexican cuisine, traditionally made during special occasions or holidays.

However, making tamales can seem intimidating to those who have never attempted it. Will walk you through the step process of making traditional Mexican tamales. We will cover everything you need to know about how to make traditional Mexican Tamales at home.

We cover everything from sourcing the ingredients to assembling the dish for you. Now We will delve into the history behind tamales, the different types of masa, and the various fillings you can use. We will also provide tips and tricks for steaming the tamales perfectly, ensuring they cook to your liking.

How To Make Traditional Mexican Tamales

What Are Mexican Tamales?

Many people love the traditional dish of Mexican tamales. These delicious treats consist of masa (a dough made from corn) filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, or vegetables. The filling is then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed until cooked.

People often serve tamales with salsa or other condiments, making it a hearty and satisfying meal. Whether enjoyed on special occasions or as a comforting everyday dish, Mexican tamales are a true culinary delight that showcases Mexican cuisine’s rich flavors and traditions.

How To Make Traditional Mexican Tamales Easy Ways

How To Make Traditional Mexican Tamales Easy Ways

To make traditional Mexican tamales, gather all the necessary ingredients, including masa dough, dried corn husks, and a filling you choose. Soak the corn husks in warm water to soften them before using. Mix the masa dough with water or broth until it is smooth.

Making traditional Mexican tamales can seem daunting, but with a few easy tips and tricks, you can whip up these delicious treats in no time. Here’s how to make traditional Mexican Tamales at home the easy way:

1.Ingredients And Equipment Needed To Make Tamales

Making traditional Mexican tamales requires a few key ingredients and equipment. You will need masa harina, a special corn flour used to make the tamale dough. Other essential ingredients include lard or vegetable shortening, chicken or vegetable broth, and salt.

You will need corn husks for equipment, which you use to wrap the tamale dough before steaming. It is also helpful to have a large pot with a steamer basket or a tamale steamer specifically designed for cooking tamales.

A mixing bowl, a stand or hand mixer, and a sharp knife for spreading the dough onto the corn husks can make the process easier. These ingredients and equipment will prepare you well for your tamale-making adventure.

2.Preparing The Masa Dough

Preparing The Masa Dough

Preparing the masa dough is a crucial step in making traditional Mexican tamales. Masa dough is made from cornmeal soaked in an alkaline solution, such as lime water, to soften the kernels and make the dough more pliable.

To prepare the masa dough, start by soaking dried corn husks in warm water until they become soft and pliable. In a large bowl, combine masa harina (corn flour) with warm water or broth and mix until you achieve a thick paste-like consistency.

Add melted lard or vegetable shortening, salt, and any desired seasonings, such as chili powder or cumin, and continue to mix until well combined. The masa dough should have a smooth texture and be easy to spread onto the soaked corn husks. Once you prepare the masa dough, you can use it as the base for filling and wrapping the tamales.

3.Choosing The Right Filling For Your Tamales

Choosing the right filling is key to making delicious traditional Mexican tamales. There are endless options for fillings, ranging from savory to sweet, and each one brings its unique flavor to the tamale. Some popular savory fillings include shredded chicken or pork, cheese and jalapenos, or beans and cheese.

For those with a sweet tooth, fillings like cinnamon sugar, chocolate, or fruit preserves are sure to satisfy. When choosing your filling, consider the flavors you enjoy and consider how they pair with the masa dough. Whether you prefer a traditional filling or want to get creative with your twist, the choice is yours when making mouthwatering tamales.

4.Tips For Perfectly Cooked Tamales

Tips For Perfectly Cooked Tamales

Cooking tamales can be a labor of love, but with a few tips, you can ensure that your tamales turn out perfectly cooked every time. First, soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes before assembling the tamales.

This will make them pliable and easier to work with. When spreading the masa dough onto the corn husks, be sure to leave enough room around the edges so that you can fold and seal them properly.

Steaming the tamales for the right amount of time is also important. Generally, they need to steam for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the masa is firm and cooked. Lastly, let the tamales rest for a few minutes after steaming before unwrapping them.

This allows them to set and makes them easier to handle. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making delicious and perfectly cooked traditional Mexican tamales.

5.Serving And Enjoying Your Tamales

Once you cook and prepare your tamales, follow a few key steps to ensure you enjoy them fully.  First, make sure to remove the corn husks before eating. People use the husks during cooking to keep the tamale moist and impart flavor, but they should not eat them.

Next, consider serving tamales with traditional accompaniments such as salsa, guacamole, or sour cream. These condiments can add extra flavor and complement the savory filling of the tamale.

Finally, take the time to savor each bite and appreciate the labor of love that went into making these traditional Mexican treats. Enjoy tamales slowly and savor their flavors by taking your time and letting them unfold on your palate.


How to Make Traditional Mexican Tamales? Making traditional Mexican tamales is a labor of love, but the end result is well worth the effort. With this quick guide, you now have all the knowledge and tips you need to embark on your tamale-making adventure.

From preparing the masa to filling and steaming the tamales, each step is an opportunity to connect with the rich culinary traditions of Mexico. With practice, you can experiment with different flavours and techniques to create your own unique tamale recipes.

By sharing this traditional dish with your loved ones, you can also share a piece of Mexican culture and heritage. So gather your ingredients, invite some friends or family over, and get ready to enjoy a delicious meal that celebrates the flavors of Mexico.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.What Are Real Mexican Tamales Made Of?

Ans: People typically make real Mexican tamales using masa dough, a mixture of ground corn and water or broth.  They spread the dough onto corn husks and filled them with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, vegetables, or beans. They fold and steam the tamales until cooked through.

2.How Are Tamales Traditionally Cooked?

Ans: People traditionally cook tamales by steaming them. Stack the filled and folded corn husks in a steamer pot or tamalera and steam them for about 1-2 hours, or until the masa is firm and cooked. Steaming allows the tamales to cook evenly and retain moisture, resulting in a tender and flavorful final product.

3.What Are The Steps In Making Tamales?

Ans: Making tamales is a labor of love that requires a few key steps. First, you’ll need to prepare the masa dough by combining ground corn with water or broth until you achieve a smooth and pliable consistency. Then, spread the masa onto soaked corn husks and add your desired fillings, such as meat, cheese, or vegetables.

4.What’s The Difference Between Mexican And Cuban Tamales?

Ans: Mexican and Cuban tamales may share a similar name but differ in their preparation and flavors. While both are delicious and popular in their respective cultures, here are some key distinctions: Masa: Mexican tamales are typically made with masa dough, a mixture of ground corn and water or broth.

Fillings: Mexican tamales offer a wide variety of fillings, including meats like pork, beef, and chicken, as well as vegetarian options like cheese, vegetables, or beans.

5.What Ingredients Are Typically Used In Traditional Mexican Tamales?

Ans: People make traditional Mexican tamales with key ingredients that give them a distinct flavor. Here are some of the typical ingredients used in traditional Mexican tamales:

  •  Masa dough
  •  Meat
  • Vegetables

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