Go Back
Homemade Tamales

Tamales Recipe - How to Make Tamales

Tamales are Mesoamerican food made using masa (a nixtamalized corn dough) and some fillings. The dough is spread over banana leaves or corn husks and then topped with the filling after which it is wrapped and steamed. Various kinds of ingredients can be added to the filling such as vegetables, cheese, refried beans, as well as different kinds of meat such as beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, frog, etc. The first time I tasted this dish, I really loved it and I believe you will love it also.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mesoamerican
Keyword homemade tamale, how to make tamales, tamale, tamale recipe, tamales
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 10 pieces
Calories 286kcal
Author Razi Brown


Ingredients for making the dough

  • 3 cups masa flour - masa is a nixtamalized flour made from corn.
  • 1 tsp baking powder - it helps to make the tamale fluffy.
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup soft lard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cup pork broth

Ingredients for making tamale filling

  • 600 grams pork - any type of protein of choice can be used. Refried beans, cheese, rabbit meat, chicken, or beef can be used. Even frog can be used as well.
  • 1 cup chile sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 whole chopped onion
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cubes crushed beef bouillon - or 1 tsp of crushed bouillon cubes.
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 pieces bay leaves


Making the dough

  • In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup of soft lard and 2 tbsp of chicken broth. Whisk until it is fluffy and lighter.
  • Mix the dried ingredients together - masa flour, cumin, and salt. Stir to combine and then bring the masa flour mixture into the whipped lard mixture and whisk to combine using a hand mixer or a spatula.
  • Add 1½ cup of pork broth, a little at a time, and stir as you add until you have a well-combined dough that is soft, fluffy, and a little thick but not firm. Cover and keep aside.

Making the filling

  • Next start making the tamales filling; season and cook the pork with 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 medium chopped onion, ½ tsp of ground cumin, ½ tsp of dried oregano, 1 tsp of beef bouillon powder, ½ tsp of black pepper powder, 1 tsp of salt, and 2 bay leaves. Add water to cover the pork and cook it until it is soft, tender, and easy to shred. This should take about 45 to 1 hour. (You can cook the pork prior to making the masa dough so that you can use the broth from the cooked pork for making the masa dough).
  • Once the pork is cooked, shred it into tiny pieces and add 1 cup of chile sauce; stir to combine.
  • Spread the corn husk or banana leaves over a flat surface, scoop a tablespoon of masa dough over the wrapper, level the dough, and then scoop 1 or 2 tbsp of the filling over the leveled masa dough. Fold it into a conical shape and also fold the vertex and tie it with strips of the corn husks to prevent it from unfolding. Repeat until you are done with the dough.
  • Arrange the wrapped tamales in a steamer basket and place them over a pot of boiling water so that only the steam cooks the tamales.
  • Cook for 45 minutes and your easy homemade tamales recipe is ready.



The type of broth is determined by the type of meat used for the filling. When using beef, it is logical to use beef broth so as to have the same flavor of the meat as the broth. The broth can be gotten from cooking the meat used in making the filling. So you should make the filling before making the dough so that you can use the broth in the dough.