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Authentic Tamale Recipes for Homestyle Cooking

tamale recipes authentic

Hello, fellow food enthusiasts! Are you ready to embark on a culinary journey to discover the secret to homemade tamale perfection? Look no further, because I have a treasure trove of authentic tamale recipes that will transport you straight to the heart of Mexico.

There’s something truly special about the flavors and aromas of homemade tamales. Whether it’s the tender masa dough, the flavorful fillings, or the lovingly crafted technique, each bite brings warmth and comfort to your taste buds. So why settle for store-bought when you can create your own delicious, homestyle tamales right in your own kitchen?

My collection of traditional tamale recipes showcases the best of Mexican cuisine. From classic pork tamales that are slow-cooked to perfection, to spicy variations that will ignite your palate, to vegetarian options bursting with flavor, there’s a tamale recipe for every preference and occasion.

Join me on this culinary adventure, as I guide you through the art of tamale making. Discover the secrets to creating a fluffy, flavorful masa dough, learn the proper techniques for assembling and steaming tamales, and explore a variety of mouthwatering filling options.

Get ready to impress your family and friends with your newfound tamale-making skills! From festive gatherings to cozy family dinners, these authentic tamale recipes will make any occasion extra special.

So put on your apron, grab your masa harina, and let’s get cooking! Your taste buds will thank you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Authentic tamale recipes bring the warmth of homemade cooking to any occasion.
  • Creating homemade tamales allows you to explore the flavors of Mexican cuisine.
  • Learn the art of making tamales from scratch, from preparing the masa dough to assembling and steaming.
  • Classic pork tamales, spicy variations, and vegetarian options cater to various taste preferences.
  • Impress your loved ones with your tamale-making skills for memorable gatherings.

The Art of Making Tamales

Delve into the art of making tamales from scratch with this step-by-step guide. Experience the joy of creating homemade tamales that boast the authentic taste and texture you crave. From preparing the masa dough to selecting the perfect fillings, this section will equip you with all the knowledge and techniques you need to master this traditional tamale recipe.

Let’s start with the heart of every tamale – the masa dough. Masa, made from corn that has been cooked and ground, forms the foundation of these delightful treats. Here’s a simple recipe to help you create the perfect masa:

  1. Combine masa harina, a type of corn flour, with warm water in a mixing bowl. The ratio should be about 2:1, two cups of masa harina for every one cup of water.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and mix thoroughly until the dough comes together. The consistency should be smooth and slightly sticky.
  3. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for about 30 minutes. This step allows the flavors to meld and the dough to become more pliable.

Now that your masa dough is ready, it’s time to choose your fillings. Traditionally, tamales feature savory fillings such as shredded chicken, beef, or pork, paired with a delicious sauce or salsa. However, you can get creative and experiment with vegetarian options or even sweet fillings like chocolate or fruit.

Once you have your fillings prepared, it’s time to assemble the tamales. Follow these steps for proper tamale assembly:

  1. Take a corn husk and spread a thin layer of masa dough evenly across the center.
  2. Place a spoonful of your chosen filling in the center of the masa dough.
  3. Fold the sides of the corn husk over the filling, enclosing it completely.
  4. Roll the tamale gently, ensuring it is tightly wrapped.
  5. Tie the ends of the husk with a thin strip of husk or kitchen twine to secure the tamale.

Now that your tamales are assembled, it’s time to cook them to perfection. Steaming is the traditional method used to cook tamales, ensuring they are moist and flavorful. Follow these steps for steaming:

  1. Fill a large pot with a few inches of water and place a steamer basket or colander inside.
  2. Arrange the tamales upright in the steamer basket, making sure they are not tightly packed.
  3. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam the tamales for around 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the masa is fully cooked and firm.

Once cooked, allow the tamales to cool slightly before unwrapping and enjoying their delicious flavors. Serve them with your favorite sauces, toppings, or side dishes for a complete meal.

The art of making tamales requires patience and love, but the rewards are undeniably worth it. With these detailed instructions and tips, you’ll be able to create homemade tamales that rival those found in the heart of Mexico. Get ready to savor the authentic taste of traditional tamale recipes in the comfort of your own kitchen!

Classic Pork Tamales

Get ready to indulge in the rich and savory flavors of classic pork tamales. In this section, I’ll share an authentic pork tamale recipe that features tender, slow-cooked pork seasoned with traditional spices. These tamales are a beloved staple in Mexican cuisine and will be a hit at any gathering.


  • 2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • Corn husks, soaked in water


  1. In a large pot, add the pork shoulder, chopped onion, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the pork is tender and easily shredded.
  2. Remove the pork from the pot, reserving the cooking liquid. Shred the pork using two forks and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, chicken broth, and lard or vegetable shortening. Mix until well combined and a soft dough forms.
  4. Prepare the corn husks by soaking them in warm water for about 30 minutes, or until they are pliable.
  5. Take a soaked corn husk and spread a thin layer of masa dough on one side, leaving about 1 inch at the top and bottom of the husk.
  6. Place a spoonful of the shredded pork in the center of the dough. Fold the sides of the husk towards the center, enclosing the filling. Fold the top and bottom of the husk to seal the tamale.
  7. Repeat the process with the remaining corn husks, masa dough, and shredded pork.
  8. Place the tamales in a steamer basket, cover, and steam for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the masa dough is firm and cooked through.
  9. Remove the tamales from the steamer and let them cool slightly before serving.

Serve these classic pork tamales with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream for a delicious and authentic Mexican meal. The combination of tender pork, flavorful spices, and masa dough will transport your taste buds to the streets of Mexico.

Spicy Tamales with a Kick

Spice up your tamale game with my recipe for spicy tamales. In this section, I’ll show you how to incorporate chili peppers and other fiery ingredients to add a kick of heat to your tamales. Whether you prefer a mild heat or an extra spicy punch, these tamales will satisfy your craving for bold flavors.

When it comes to authentic tamale recipes, the options are endless. Adding spice elevates the tamale experience and gives it an irresistible zing that will leave your taste buds dancing. From jalapenos to habaneros, there are various chili peppers you can infuse into your masa dough and fillings.

One way to make your tamales spicy is by incorporating a homemade salsa or hot sauce into the masa dough. This will infuse every bite with a burst of flavor and heat. You can also experiment with adding dried chili powder, cayenne pepper, or even chipotle peppers for a smoky kick.

To complement the spicy filling, consider using pepper jack cheese or adding roasted vegetables with a spicy marinade. This combination will create a perfect balance of heat and flavor, making each bite an explosion of deliciousness.

If you prefer a milder heat, you can opt for incorporating diced green chilies or mild chili powders. This will give your tamales a subtle kick without overpowering the other flavors.

Recipe Highlight: Spicy Tex-Mex Tamales

One standout recipe that showcases the perfect blend of spice and flavor is my Spicy Tex-Mex Tamale. With a combination of diced jalapenos, cumin, and chili powder, these tamales pack a punch of heat that perfectly complements the savory masa dough.

“These Spicy Tex-Mex Tamales are a family favorite! The flavors are bold and vibrant, making each bite an exhilarating experience. The combination of spices and fillings creates a mouth-watering dish that is sure to impress.”

– Chef Maria Rodriguez

Whether you’re a spice enthusiast or simply looking to add some heat to your tamale recipe, these spicy tamales are sure to satisfy your cravings. With a perfect balance of authentic flavors and fiery ingredients, they’ll bring a new level of excitement to your homemade tamale experience.

Spicy Tamales with a Kick

Ingredients Quantity
Masa Harina 2 cups
Chicken or Vegetable Broth 1 ½ cups
Vegetable Shortening ½ cup
Chili Powder 1 tablespoon
Cumin 1 teaspoon
Jalapenos, diced 2
Cheese, shredded 1 cup
Pulled Chicken or Roasted Vegetables 2 cups
Hot Sauce or Salsa to taste
Large Corn Husks as needed

Vegetarian Tamales with a Twist

Looking for a meat-free option? Look no further! In this section, I’ll share with you my mouthwatering vegetarian tamale recipe. Get ready to experience a burst of flavors as we combine a variety of fresh vegetables, beans, and spices to create these delectable tamales. Who says you need meat for an authentic tamale experience?

vegetarian tamales recipe

Delicious and Flavorful Vegetarian Fillings

When it comes to vegetarian tamales, the filling options are endless. From roasted peppers and melted cheese to sautéed mushrooms and savory black beans, the combinations are as diverse as your taste buds. Embrace your creativity and let your favorite vegetables shine in these delightful tamales.

Creating the Perfect Vegetarian Tamale

To begin, we’ll prepare a flavorful masa dough with a touch of spice, using top-quality ingredients. Then, we’ll spread a generous amount of the dough onto corn husks and add our delectable vegetable filling. Rolling them up with care, we’ll steam the tamales to perfection, allowing the flavors to meld together and the aromas to fill your kitchen.

An Unforgettable Tamale Experience

One bite of these vegetarian tamales, and you’ll be transported to the streets of Mexico. The combination of tender masa, vibrant vegetables, and aromatic spices is truly a match made in culinary heaven. Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply want to try something different, these tamales will satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.

So, let’s dive into this vegetarian tamale recipe and delight in the incredible flavors that await. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite tamale that will become a staple on your dining table.

Easy Tamale Recipe for Beginners

If you’re new to making tamales, don’t worry! I’ll provide you with an easy tamale recipe that is perfect for beginners. With simple steps and helpful tips and tricks, you’ll be able to confidently tackle the art of tamale making.

Gather Your Ingredients

Before getting started, make sure you have the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 cup of warm water or broth
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Filling of your choice (such as shredded chicken, cheese, or beans)
  • Corn husks for wrapping

Prepare the Masa Dough

To prepare the masa dough:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the masa harina, baking powder, and salt together.
  2. In a separate bowl, blend the warm water or broth with the vegetable shortening or lard until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing until well combined.

Assemble and Cook the Tamales

Now it’s time to assemble and cook the tamales:

  1. Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes until they are pliable.
  2. Take a soaked corn husk and spread a generous amount of masa dough on it, leaving space for the filling.
  3. Add a spoonful of your chosen filling in the center of the masa dough.
  4. Fold the sides of the corn husk inward to enclose the filling and dough, forming a tamale.
  5. Place the assembled tamales in a steamer basket, arranging them upright.
  6. Steam the tamales for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the dough is cooked and firm.

Enjoy Your Homemade Tamales

Once the tamales are cooked, carefully remove them from the steamer and let them cool slightly before unwrapping. Serve them warm with your favorite salsa or sauce for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Now that you have an easy tamale recipe, you can confidently embark on your tamale-making journey. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fillings and flavors to create your own signature tamales.

Finding the Best Tamale Recipe for Your Taste

With so many tamale recipes out there, it can be challenging to find the best one for your taste buds. When it comes to homemade tamales, the right recipe can make all the difference, taking your culinary adventure to a new level. In this section, I’ll guide you through the process of finding the perfect tamale recipe that suits your preferences.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a tamale recipe, several factors come into play, ensuring a delightful experience from start to finish. Here are some key considerations:

  • Flavor Profiles: Tamales come in a variety of flavors, from classic savory options to sweet and spicy combinations. Consider your personal taste preferences and explore recipes that align with your desired flavor profile.
  • Filling Options: Tamales offer endless possibilities when it comes to fillings. Whether you prefer traditional ingredients like pork or chicken, or you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan options, there’s a tamale recipe out there for you.
  • Cooking Techniques: The cooking technique used can greatly influence the texture and taste of the tamales. Some recipes call for steaming the tamales, while others utilize baking or grilling methods. Think about the cooking technique that appeals to you and matches your skill level.

By considering these factors, you can narrow down your search and find a tamale recipe that perfectly suits your taste buds.

My Recommendations

As a tamale enthusiast myself, I’ve tried numerous recipes and have found a few favorites that I highly recommend. Here are my top picks:

  1. Classic Pork Tamales: These traditional tamales feature tender, slow-cooked pork seasoned with authentic Mexican spices. The combination of succulent meat and flavorful masa is a true delight.
  2. Spicy Chicken Tamales: For those who crave some heat, these tamales are sure to please. The spicy chicken filling adds a kick of flavor that will satisfy even the most adventurous taste buds.
  3. Sweet Corn Tamales: If you have a sweet tooth, these tamales are a must-try. Made with fresh corn kernels and a touch of sugar, they offer a delightful balance of sweetness and savory masa.

Remember, these are just a few recommendations, and the best tamale recipe for you might be different. Explore various recipes, experiment with flavors, and embrace the joy of homemade tamales.

Visualize yourself enjoying a plate of delicious homemade tamales, while the aroma of authentic Mexican flavors fills the air. With the right tamale recipe, you can create culinary masterpieces that will impress your friends and family. So, don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen and embark on a tamale-making adventure like no other!


In conclusion, I hope this article has inspired you to embark on a culinary adventure with authentic tamale recipes. The beauty of homemade tamales lies in their versatility and ability to bring people together. Whether you’re planning a family gathering or a festive occasion, these tamale recipes are bound to impress and satisfy your loved ones.

From the classic pork tamales with their rich and savory flavors to the spicy variations that add a kick of heat, there’s a tamale recipe to suit every taste bud. And for those who prefer a meat-free option, the vegetarian tamale recipe offers a delicious twist with its variety of vegetables and spices.

Don’t be intimidated if you’re a beginner in the art of tamale making. With the easy tamale recipe provided, you’ll be able to confidently create your own homemade tamales. Just follow the simple steps and tips shared in this article, and soon you’ll be savoring the authentic taste and texture of these Mexican delights.

So, whether you choose to stick to the classics or experiment with different flavors, I encourage you to explore the world of tamale recipes and embrace the joy of homestyle cooking. With the right ingredients, techniques, and a touch of love, you can create mouthwatering tamales that will leave lasting memories for years to come.


What makes a tamale recipe authentic?

An authentic tamale recipe typically includes traditional ingredients and techniques that have been passed down through generations. It often involves making the masa dough from scratch using cornmeal or masa harina, filling it with savory ingredients, and steaming the tamales to perfection.

Are homemade tamales difficult to make?

While making tamales requires some time and effort, it is a manageable process that anyone can learn. With the right recipe and guidance, even beginners can create delicious homemade tamales.

Can I make vegetarian tamales?

Absolutely! There are many delicious vegetarian tamale recipes available that utilize a variety of vegetables, beans, and spices as fillings. You can get creative and customize the flavors to suit your preferences.

How long does it take to make tamales?

The time it takes to make tamales can vary depending on the recipe and your experience level. Generally, it can take a few hours from start to finish, including preparation, cooking, and assembly. It’s a perfect activity for a leisurely weekend cooking session or for gathering family and friends in the kitchen.

Can I freeze tamales?

Yes, you can freeze tamales! They freeze beautifully and can be enjoyed later. After cooking and cooling the tamales, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer bag, making sure to remove any excess air. When you’re ready to eat them, simply steam or microwave them until heated through.

What are some variations of tamales I can try?

Tamales are incredibly versatile, and you can experiment with a wide range of fillings and flavors. Some popular variations include chicken tamales, beef tamales, cheese and jalapeno tamales, and sweet tamales filled with fruit or chocolate.

Can I make tamales ahead of time?

Yes, tamales can be made ahead of time and reheated when you’re ready to enjoy them. They can be prepared a day or two in advance and stored in the refrigerator until needed. Alternatively, you can freeze them for longer storage.

Are there any gluten-free tamale recipes?

Yes, there are gluten-free tamale recipes available. Instead of using regular all-purpose flour, these recipes use alternative flours such as masa harina or gluten-free flour blends to make the masa dough. Check the recipe or look for specifically labeled gluten-free tamale recipes to ensure they meet your dietary needs.

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Written by lyndas

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