A Simple step-by-step recipe and instructions for making authentic Tamales! Fill them with pork, chicken or beans and cheese and cooked on the stovetop or in the instant pot.  

If you’ve been following TBFS then you know that I fell in love with authentic Mexican food while living in Mexico with my husband several years ago.  If you love it too, be sure to check out my Authentic Mexican Rice, Cheese Enchiladas, Horchata, and Tres Leches Cake!

Two tamales on a plate with pico de gallo and chopped avocado.

I learned to make homemade tamales many years ago from a sweet elderly woman in Puebla, Mexico. My husband and I were living in Puebla for a few months and became friends with this woman and her family. Her daughter was the secretary at the office building where we worked.

This sweet grandmother made incredible tamales! I expressed my desire to learn the ins and outs of authentic Mexican cooking, so the Grandma invited me over for a “tamalada” or Tamale making party. She made her masa dough completely from scratch, using dried white corn kernels and “cal” , which has been difficult for me to find in the U.S..

A latina Grandmother and Lauren Allen making tamales together.

What is a tamale?

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with a corn based dough mixture that is filled with various meats or beans and cheese.  Tamales are wrapped and cooked in corn husks or banana leaves, but they are removed from the husks before eating. Try them served with pico de gallo on top and a side of guacamole and rice.

While making tamales is a process (made very fun with multiple people to help stuff and wrap them!), it’s really simple, so don’t be intimidated! There are just two main elements; the dough, and the filling.

  • The dough, called “masa” is spread on the corn husk. The corn husks do not get eaten, they are just used to envelope the dough and filling of the tamale which gets cooked inside.
  • The filling. You can fill the tamales with meat or beans and cheese. Find my favorite filling options below!

Ingredients:

Masa harina: I like the Maseca brand which is a common brand found in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store.

Broth: Beef, chicken or vegetable will work. If using my red chili pork tamale filling, use the leftover broth from the cooked pork.

Baking powder

Salt

Cumin

Lard: lard is used in truly authentic Mexican tamales (and it has less saturated fat then butter)! You can find it in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store, or online. Shortening would work as a substitute.

Dried corn husks: 8 ounce package

Ingredients for tamales including masa harina, corn husks, lard, broth, baking powder and spices.

How to Make Tamales, Step-by-step:

1. Soak the corn husks.  Place corn husks in a bowl of very hot water for 30 minutes or until softened.

2. Prepare desired filling. You’ll need about 3 ½-4 cups of filling for one batch of tamale dough. Some filling options include:

  • Salsa verde chicken: 3 ½ cups cooked, shredded chicken mixed with 16 ounce can salsa verde (I like herdez brand)
  • Bean and cheese: 15 oz can refried beans and 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Red chili pork: 1 recipe red chili pork

3. Make the masa dough: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the lard and 2 tablespoons of broth until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Combine the masa flour, baking powder, salt, and cumin in a medium bowl; stir into the lard mixture and beat well with an electric mixer. Add the broth, little by little to form a very soft dough. Beat on high speed for several minutes. The dough should spread like creamy peanut butter and be slightly sticky. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel, to keep the dough from drying out.

Tamale masa in a bowl, a ball of masa on a corn husk, spread out and then pork filling placed on top.

4. Assemble the tamales: Lay a corn husk, glossy side up, on the counter with the wide end at the top. Scoop about ¼ cup of dough onto the top, center of the corn husk. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and use your hands to press and spread the masa into a thin layer, about ¼ inch thick. Keep the dough spread along the top half of the corn husk to allow plenty of room to fold the bottom husk up, when it’s time.

Place 1-2 tablespoons of desired filling in a line down the center of the dough. (You don’t want too much filling).

Fold-in one long side of the husk over the filling. Fold in the other long side, overlapping the first (like folding a brochure). Fold the bottom of the husk up. Optional: Tear a long strip from an edge of one of the soaked corn husks and use it to tie the tamale, to hold it together.

Three process photos for folding a tamale inside a corn husk.

5. Tie the tamales (optional): Tying the tamales can help you differentiate them if making more than one filling. However, you don’t have to tie a corn husk string around them to secure them, as they will hold together without it, stacked upright, side-by-side in the pot.

Tamales wrapped in corn husks and tied, lined up on a plate.

6. Cook on the stove-top or Instant Pot:

Add water to the bottom of your stove-top steamer or Instant Pot pressure cooker. (About 1 cup for IP and a few cups for a steamer pot—don’t fill above the steamer rack.) Lay a few extra corn husks on the bottom rack to keep the tamales from falling through and any boiling water from directly touching them.

Place tamales standing upright, with the open end up, just tightly enough to keep them standing. If using a steamer, lay a few soaked corn husks or a wet towel over the top of the tamales before closing the lid.

Steamer: Bring water to a boil and once boiling, reduce to a simmer and steam for 1 to 2 hours (or even longer, depending on how many you’re making). Check them after 1 hour. (In Mexico they would often place a coin at the bottom of the steamer and when the coin started to tap in the pot you know the water was low and you needed to add more.)

Instant Pot: Cook on Manual/High Pressure for 25 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, and then quick release.

Pork tamales stacked in a pot.

Freezing and Reheating Instructions:

To freeze tamales: I love making a big batch of tamales to keep in the freezer for busy nights. To freeze them, allow the cooked tamales to cool completely, then stick them in a freezer ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat tamales: Wrap leftover or frozen tamales in a few dampened paper towels and microwave until warmed through.  The wet paper towels will help them “steam” as they are reheated. Be careful when unfolding them–they will be hot!

Tamale with pork filling, pico de gallo on top and a fork taken a bite out of it.

Serve tamales with:

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Recipe

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins

Ingredients
 
 

For the Dough:

  • 4 cups Masa Harina (Maseca brand if available)
  • 3 cups broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable broth)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/3 cups lard
  • 8 ounce package dried corn husks

Filling ideas:

Instructions
 

  • Soak the corn husks in a bowl of very hot water for 30 minutes or until softened.
  • Prepare desired fillings*.
  • Make the tamal dough: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the lard and 2 tablespoons of broth until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Combine the masa flour, baking powder, salt, and cumin in a separate bowl; stir into the lard mixture and beat well with an electric mixer. 
  • Add the broth, little by little to form a very soft dough. Beat on high speed for several minutes. The dough should spread like creamy peanut butter and be slightly sticky.* Cover the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel, to keep the dough from drying out.
  • Assemble the tamales: Lay a corn husk, glossy side up, on the counter with the wide end at the top. Scoop about ¼ cup of dough onto the top, center of the corn husk. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and use your hands to press and spread the masa into a thin layer, about ¼ inch thick. Keep the dough spread along the top half of the corn husk to allow plenty of room to fold the bottom husk up, when it’s time.
  • Place 1-2 tablespoons of desired filling in a line down the center of the dough. (You
    don’t want too much filling).
  • Fold in one long side of the husk over the filling. Fold in the other long side, overlapping the first (like folding a brochure). Fold the bottom of the husk up. 
  • Tying tamales (optional): You don’t have to tie a corn husk string around the tamales--it does take more time and they will hold together without it. However, if you’re making multiple fillings, tying ones of a certain kind can help to identify them.
  • Cook on the stove-top or Instant Pot: Add water to the bottom of your steamer or instant pot. (About 1 cup for IP and a few cups for a steamer pot—don’t fill above the steamer rack.) Lay a few extra corn husks on the bottom rack to keep the tamales from falling through and any boiling water from directly touching them.
  • Place tamales standing upright, with their open end up, just tightly enough to keep them standing. If using a steamer pot, lay a few soaked corn husks or a wet towel over the top of the tamales before closing the lid.
  • Steamer: Bring water to a boil (in Mexico they would often place a coin at the bottom of thesteamer and when the coin started to tap in the pot you know the water was boiling.) Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or longer. Check them after 45 minutes.
    Instant Pot: Cook on Manual/High Pressure for 25 minutes. Allow pressure to naturallyrelease for 10 minutes, and then quick release.
  • To test if the tamales are done: Remove one and try to pull the husk off. If the husk pulls away cleanly from the tamale they're done. If the dough is still sticky or wet looking, cook them for 5-10 minutes longer and try again.
  • Store leftover tamales in the refrigerator for 5-7 days depending on the freshness of your ingredients.

Notes

Tamale Filling Suggestions: You’ll need about 3 ½-4 cups of filling for one batch of tamale dough.
  • Salsa verde chicken: 3 ½ cups cooked, shredded chicken mixed with 16 ounce can salsa verde (I like Herdez brand)
  • Bean and cheese: 15 oz can refried beans and 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Red chili pork: 1 recipe red chili pork
Freezing Instructions: Allow the cooked tamales to cool, then place them in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheating: Wrap leftover or frozen tamales in a few dampened paper towels and microwave until warmed through.  The wet paper towels will help them "steam" as they are reheated. Be careful when unfolding them--they will be hot!

Nutrition

Calories: 72kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 216mgPotassium: 89mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 204IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 2mg

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I originally shared this recipe October 2017. Updated February 2020 with new process photos and clearer instructions.

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I don’t normally use recipes, but I needed one for the masa. These were FANTASTIC. I live in Alaska now, but these took me back to my Arizona roots.

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely PERFECT! Just like the ones my friend made in Denver….My Daughter and I spent an entire day making these and it was sooooo worth it! 5 STAR SALUTE A++++++

  3. 5 stars
    Recipes for all components are excellent, ended up using a mix of schmaltz (sans onions) and bacon fat instead of store bought lard and the masa was perfect. Doing this solo gave me PTSD though even though I prepped the pork and red sauce a day in advance, I am never making tamales alone again as long as I live.

  4. 5 stars
    This is just a great recipe. Our tamales were light and better than we get from the local tamale maker. I love the addition of the cumin to the masa. The ratio of lard to masa flour is spot on. The suggestion of 2 TBS of filling to 1\3 rd of masa is perfect. It’s just enough to get a relatively thiner layer of masa to cover the filling. So the final tamale is not too small and not too bulky. For the filling, I cheated and bought some refrigerated pork carnitas which I fried up with some onions until it was crispy and the fat was rendered. They were awesome, thank you!

  5. 4 stars
    Perfection in a recipe! I’ve made tamales several times and this dough re I’ve is the only one I’ll ever use now. only tweaks were using Clover brand shortening (instead of lard) from the mercado and steamed 50 minutes. Made chipotle poblano, jackfruit asada, and potato kale ones. This recipe made ~22 tamales. i made 2 batches – be forewarned my guests ate 5/piece!

  6. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing!!! My first time at making tamales and I had to use duck fat because England shops didn’t sell pork lard but the taste is still just perfect. Sooo happy I found this easy simple not six hours recipe. Thank you sooo much!

    1. Trying to wrap my mind around the phrase “had to use duck fat”. 😀

      Sounds like a gloat to me!

  7. Hi Lauren — I keep seeing references to a float test with a ball of the masa mixture, but I’ve read through the recipe 4 times and can’t find where that is mentioned. Could you please clarify what that is, and why it is needed?

  8. 5 stars
    These are the best tamales I’ve ever had and/or made. They were easy to make and very delicious. Unfortunately, the lard causes stomach issues for me. Can I use something else in place of the lard and get similar results?

  9. These were so good. My only problem was with the masa dough, I’m not sure what I did wrong because I continued to beat the dough and added a small amount of broth when after dropping a small ball into water it dropped to the bottom. I then beat the dough more up to half an hour while checking the dough. After 45 minutes of beating I gave up. Does it take quite awhile or did I do something wrong? It also took about 1 1/2 hours to steam.

  10. This was my first time making tamales and they turned out great! Thank you for the great instructions. I will make this a. yearly event with my family from now on.

  11. 5 stars
    You put the float test on here 😊 that is awesome!! It’s the most important part of the masa ♥️ I love tamales, tis the season!! Merry Holidays 💖 Thank you for sharing these yummy!!

  12. 5 stars
    Thank you for this simple recipe. I was able to make it with my 25 3rd grade students – each was able to make their own tamale and we enjoyed it for lunch as we learned about the tradition of making tamales for Christmas! Perfect!

  13. 5 stars
    Absolutely the best tutorial on making delicious tamales. We have used these recipes four times now and we have made minor changes each time to make them to our individual tastes. It’s fun to start with such a solid recipe, thanks!

  14. You suggest 1-2T filling per tamale. For 24 tamales that’s 24-48T total. A cup is 16T so that’d be 1.5 to 3 cups filling. You suggest 3.5-4 cups filling, so the math doesn’t work out.

    Which part is right, the 1-2 T part, so we only need 1.5-3 c filling? Or is the 3.5-4 c part right, and we actually need 2 T + 1 tsp to 2T + 2 tsp filling?

    1. There’s no “exact” math needed to make tamales. You can make them bigger or smaller–some people like them more full than others. I say 1-2 tablespoons as a guideline. Also, each different type of filling (meat or beans) wont measure the exact same.

  15. Truly an outstanding, authentic tamale! For filling, I used the shredded pork with red chili sauce that turned out great. I followed the recipe with only one addition to the meat – at the end, I added at least a cup or more of pepper jack cheese cut into small pieces. It gives a wonderfully smooth consistency and extra flavor to the filling. I used 3 dried pasilla-ancho chili pods instead of 4 California pods. Flavor was excellent – mild yet yummy. I grew up in So. CA eating authentic Mexican food. This is the real deal. Crock pot the pork overnight. Do the rest the next day. Labor intensive, but truly worth it.

  16. 5 stars
    These tamales were so yummy. I mainly used the masa recipe. I had my own pork filling made from a crockpot roast. It turned out perfect! I printed the recipe out to use again. Thank you for the ball of masa in water test. It came out floating the first try.

  17. Came here strictly for the dough recipe as I lost mine when we moved. Made pork tamales. The dough turned out great however I typically use the fat from the meat and then add manteca (lard) and use the juices from your meat too. It adds an extra little kick of flavoring to the dough. I ended up having to double the recipe as there wasn’t enough for my tamales. Great explanation on filing and folding to husks! Wish this recipe was around when I learned so many years ago.

  18. This looks like an amazing and easy to follow recipe. I’ll be making these this week! One question, if using a steamer, do you have to line them up in one layer or can you them stand up a second layer of them on top of the first layer if using a tall pot with a a steamer separator on the bottom?

    1. You can stack them! The woman who taught be did that and placed one thin layer of corn husks in between so they didn’t fall into each other. Enjoy!

  19. 5 stars
    I had tamales once when my grandma made them. She didn’t know any better and made us eat the corn husk. Needless to say, that was a terrible experience and I never had them again. My family had been asking for them so I made your recipe. They were delicious, the recipe was perfect (except it took me twice as long to make them!) thank you for giving us a new family recipe.
    PS. I knew as an adult that you aren’t supposed to eat the husk, but I just couldn’t bring myself to try them.

  20. Tried these for the first time. My masa would not come together and I have no idea what went wrong. Did it step for step and ended up using nearly 5 cups of liquid for the masa instead of the 3 before it actually started floating. Do you have any idea why?
    It seemed really thin at that point as well.
    Assembled and they are in the instant pot now. We shall see.

    1. Not sure if altitude has something to do with not working properly to mold together while cooking however; the filling was excellent

  21. How big of a steamer does it need to be? Do they need to be upright in steamer or can they lay flat?

  22. 5 stars
    They are good been trying to get someone to show me how to make them no one would so i looked on the internet and this recipe popped up . They cane out so good .even better then the peoples tamales I was asking to help me make them

  23. 5 stars
    WOW! They taste amazing! I cooked mine for about 1h-1h15 ans they turned out perfect. Thank you for sharing that recipe with us.

  24. Awesome taste and made a lot of tamales – I had enough barbacoa to freeze for my second batch which are steaming now! The family loved them. I had never made tamales, but loved them from trips to Mexico and Texas. The instructions were clear, but there were a few learning curves.
    Things I learned:
    1) All corn husks are not the same – I bought 2 packages, just grabbed them off the shelf. The first package was really dry, took a long time to soften up enough to fold, and they broke a lot, very frustrating. The second package (same brand bought on the same day) had bigger husks and they were much easier to use. I will feel up the packages in the future to get the more pliable ones😉.
    2) Mixing up the masa takes longer than I thought, the first batch I was worried about getting the little ball to float, took forever adding all the broth in little bits. This time I was bolder and mixed the lard while getting the dry stuff ready, once the stock was incorporated I turned the mixer up and let it rip! Fluffy lard in no time. Stir mode for adding the dry stuff, add about half the water (still in stir mode or you’ll have a mess!) mixed that in then added most of the rest of the water (I kept out maybe 1/4 cup) stirred it in then turned the mixer up to 5 and let it go for a couple minutes. checked consistency – didn’t float so stirred in a bit more liquid, then turned it up for a couple of minutes again. Floated perfectly! Masa is ready! P.S. My mixer goes to 10 on speed, adjust accordingly.
    3) Use wet fingers to spread the masa and don’t bee too concerned that the masa is perfect before filling.
    4) My first batch steamed for about 90 minutes before they were done – I assume the ones I made today will have to steam for about 2 hours, they are a little bit larger.
    They are great with some salsa verde! I used barbacoa beef and sautéed onions and peppers as my filling. I look forward to other flavors now that I feel like I know what I am doing.

    1. First off I think you can get great results with half the lard.

      Second off, rather than that lard-mixing trick I just melt the lard in the microwave. We save lard from cooking (bacon, guanciale, etc.) so that gives extra flavor depth.

      Third off, you can just follow the recipe and you’ll be fine. You don’t need to bother with that floating ball trick.

      Fourth off, I’ve mentioned elsewhere but I don’t even think the floating ball thing really works right. broth is the same density as water, so adding broth to something that sinks won’t make it float. The only thing that makes it float is whether your little ball happens to have more lard (oil floats on water) rather than less. So I see this as a test for something you don’t even need to test.

      1. The purpose for testing it this way would be to make sure you have enough air incorporated into your batter. Even though you are adding baking powder it would not add enough leavening to keep the batter from being dense when cooking. If the batter does not float it would still taste the same you would just have a denser tamale.

      2. You’re forgetting about what gets it to emulsify? What are we incorporating. Air. The right moisture and fat are important.

  25. 5 stars
    Just terrific! This was my first attempt ever in making tamales and probably one of the recipes that I did not change a thing in. I made the first batch using Crisco, since that’s what I had on hand and the second using lard. I preferred using Crisco since fresh lard was not available. I steamed mine in my slow cooker and they were great.
    I did follow the pork recipe and they were delicious. That will be my go to recipe from now on. Yum yum!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and the history on how you came to acquire it. It has now become a family favorite and once a month we declare Tamale Tuesday.

  26. Wonderful recipe! Just the right amounts… I always like to make my own…haven’t tasted a comm one yet that was ok. Fill with anything you like as long as it’s not too wet. Love the parchment using parchment, works for me! Easier!

  27. 5 stars
    Really good! And so tasty. Will definitely add this dish to our regular meal plan.
    I made the tamales because I can’t find the ingredients for the Chilean version of tamales (humitas) as I live abroad. Was very happy with results and surpassed my expectations.

  28. 5 stars
    Good job! This is about spot on with how I learned to make them in Mexico. I thought I’d give a few tips; sometimes all that lard can upset one’s stomach a bit, so you can use half lard half Criscu (any short.) and it works just as well. (Keep it half lard though because that’s flavor.) And really spice up your broth mixture for your dough. The spices, especially the salt, will dissipate during the steaming process. Using MSG (yes, it IS safe-look it up) helps a lot as it can cut back your salt by up to 40% and help keep all that flavor you worked hard to get, in there. I never tie, that would take ages, since if you make 1 tamale you may as well make 100. If you can’t get them to hold just stick a toothpick in during cooking. You won’t cook your chicken with your pork (or whatever) anyway so you should know which are which. This is a good, solid recipe posted here and it really walks you through very well!

    1. Thanks! We’re making these right now, and your extra tips are really helpful. Also, just the confirmation that this recipe is on point. Can’t wait to taste the final results!

  29. 5 stars
    Great results, I used butter instead of lard and they came out moist and light. I made from scratch enchilada sauce and refried beans. Delicious !

  30. Thank you so much for your recipe. Made the Red Chili sauce and Pork, absolutely delicious. Also made chicken with verde sauce, also awesome. Once again thank you.

  31. My favorite filling is sweetened creamed corn ( from scratch not a can!) down the middle (not mixed into the dough as some do) eaten as is.
    Best topping that is traditional in my family is red chile sauce over the meat or bean tamale ( the same sauce you make for enchiladas. We prefer this sauce because it adds pop and moisture to tamales. I think tamales can sometimes be too dry, so enchilada sauce is perfect..😋

  32. 4 stars
    This is a really a pretty good recipe. However, I use tomato paste and left over pork broth from the pork I boil for tamales. Good luck!

  33. can these be assembled the day before and then steamed the day of serving? or what is the best method for that? im doing them for my daughters birthday and would like to make the day of the party easy.

  34. Hello! I just made these with your red Chile pork… they’re currently steaming for another 40 minutes or so. How many calories is each tamale if I used a 1/4 cup of dough and 2 tablespoons of pork for each tamale? I also used the shortening and veggie broth. I’m so excited, thank you!

  35. 5 stars
    This recipe is awesome. My Mexican Mom always says the secret to moist flavorful tamales is the lard. The broth is also a plus. Outstanding recipe.

  36. 5 stars
    This is maybe 3rd time at trying tamales. First for this recipe. I never beat everything so much and I still had to beat more and more and more. I finally added maybe 1 1/2 tbls duck fat from the jar. Still never got it to float in water. I am incredibly particular about tamales. These were absolutely delicious. Took an hour to steam. I used the 1/4 cup for each husk but I did not spread it out thin. I like thick masa tamales and this turned out just as I love. I used 1/3 of batter for sweet tamales, adding a bit of butter, cinnamon and sugar with rum-soaked raisins. Mmm. Thank you.

  37. 5 stars
    OMG DELICIOUS!!! This recipe was so easy to follow. My sister and I mate chicken and pork tamales. We prepared ourselves the day before we get a little prep job so preparing to meet one day and then the next day we did the Masa and wrapped all of our tamales. They were a hit so much so that I had to make two more batches chicken and pork that following week so I can have some LOL EXCELLENT RECIPE! Yummy Thank you.

  38. My family breakfast tradition is fried tamales and scrambled eggs for breakfast on Christmas Day. We pre-warm the tamale in the microwave and in a frying pan add butter or vegetable oil and fry until desire crispy. I’ve been posting for five years on Facebook and a lot of people have taken off and said they loved it. Over 50 years tradition.

      1. Thank you. This was my first time making tamales. This recipe was easy to follow and they came out delicious 😋

  39. I made this recipe today, and ended up with 25 tamales. I used my own recipe for chicken filling, which is basically chicken breasts and a jar of my favorite salsa in the slow cooker. I also had trouble finding lard, so I used ⅔ crisco shortening and ⅓ bacon grease (I save it in a cup in my fridge). I made my own chicken broth by boiling a couple of chicken legs and straining the broth.

    The tamales are wonderful. They cooked up just like the ones in the pictures. I didn’t tie off but a few, just to see how hard it was, and they all stayed closed turned out terrific.

    I would definitely recommend this recipe to friends!
    Thank you, Deanna

  40. 5 stars
    These turned out great! Exactly like what I used to eat for holiday breakfasts when I was a kid! 😍 Next time I’ll make more masa because I had quite a bit of husks and meat left when the masa was gone.

    1. This is the very 1st receipe that was, full authentic (Mexican).
      You instructed proper side to lay filling on!

      Making them tomorrow! Extra to freeze.
      Merry Christmas!!

  41. This recipe and method are actually spot on seeing as I learned how to make tamales from my Grandmother who lived in Oaxaca Mexico. I was looking for a recipe because I wanted to make sure my ratios were spot on. I just have one question, what is the yield for this recipe because I need to make over 100 tamales. Is this about a dozen?

    1. 5 stars
      Very helpful recipe–I appreciate the way the measurements change on the printable version. I only had 7 cups of masa, which got calculated exactly: 42 tamales!

  42. 5 stars
    I substituted vegetable shortening for lard and it was just as wonderful! They are so fluffy and light and especially great right out of the pot (I used my instant pot). Just a wonderful recipe!!

  43. Hello! I made this recipe today but wanted to clarify – in the picture, the Maseca bag is the premade tamale flour, so you wouldn’t add in baking powder, correct? I bought the “plain” Maseca instant yellow corn flour rather than the tamale specific one. I followed the recipe as directed and they came out great. Thanks!

  44. 5 stars
    This recipes is absolutely perfect and the method worked great too! It was my first time ever making tamales and they are delicious! The whole family loved them! This will be my go to recipe from now on! Thank so much!

  45. I attempted tamales for the first time in my life (37 year old hispanic) lol and did a lot of research online to find what I feel would be an authentic recipe. My biggest issue was that I stopped eating meat in July of 2020 and I needed to find alternatives for the broth and shortening. I used this recipe to a TEE but used vegetable broth and vegetable shortening and WOW!!! They were great! Very tasteful and moist! My son who is my biggest critic loved them…and he always gives me constructive criticism! I believe that your recipe ingredients for the masa just give it the perfect flare and taste. I made 2 dozen (I know, confident right!). half were filled with green chilies, corn, and Mexican style cheese blend and the other half was filled with just Mexican style cheese blend. I used the instant pot version and it turned out great. Appreciate your recipe…will be a holiday tradition for me from here on out!!

  46. 5 stars
    Well I made this recipe and used the red chili pork which btw is a very great and tasty recipe! It was soooo good unfortunately I did something wrong because after 1 hour, my tamales didn’t seemed cooked. The masa was still raw & mooshy. I left them steaming for another 45 minutes and nada. Still raw. I know these would’ve have been the best tamales but not sure what happened to the masa. I am going to make them again because like I said the red chili pork was on point. I just don’t understand where I went wrong, maybe too much lard, too much broth; who knows? Thank you for the recipe.

    1. 5 stars
      The first time I made these i packed my steamer pot too full! Took almost 5 hours for my tamales to cook. 🙁 But she has a vides so you can see the masa consistency. Hope this helps because this is an amazing tamale recipe !

    2. Hey Debra! I help my mom make tamales every year.. From experience, the dough will always seem a bit soft when they’re fresh.. once you let them cool down, the masa will get more firm!:) I made my own for the first time & forgot that detail so I called my mom & she reminded me to wait & let them cool down!

  47. 5 stars
    I substituted the lard with butter and the recipe turned out wonderful! I made chicken and black bean with cheese tamales. This is my second batch; however, I could not get my dough to float in the past, but it did with this recipe. Yayy!

  48. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe and it was laid out perfectly, I put pork just the way you have it in your recipe, the first time I made them, they fell apart, that was a big waste, then about one month later I made them again, they turned out much better, I have made them about 6 times and now I have it down perfectly. Practice makes perfect. Thank you so much. 👍

  49. You should read through the recipe thoroughly! In the step by step section of the recipe in #2 it states cooked chicken and also has a link for a COOKED pork recipe!
    An apology might be in order!

  50. Step 2 does say “cooked chicken.” You shouldn’t make rude comments without gathering all your facts correctly first.

    1. 5 stars
      This was delicious. The only thing i regretted was putting the little bit of broth with the lard at the beginning. It’s like the devil and holy water. They just don’t mix and the liquid splatters everywhere. Not necessary. I pulled in a bit of flour to absorb it and continued interchanging the flour and broth until it was all absorbed. For me it took more than 3 cups of broth to absorb the 4 cups of flour. It took about 3.5 cups i would say and it was still on the thick side. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe. The kids loved it!

  51. First of all we went out and bought all the ingredients to make fresh tamales. And of course were relying on your great reviews to make them. Following your instructions how do you not express to the public as to if the filling should be cooked first or added raw. I’m really pissed off now because this is the weekend and now I have to find another recipe. I would hope you will edit this information because I am leaving a one star review and have to find another recipe now because yours is not detailed. Please do not leave recipes online unless you detail exactly how to make them. Thank you

    1. Lol are you that dense? Even without reading, have you ever cooked before? If you’ve cooked anything in your life you would know to cook the protein first.

      This is an amazing recipe and my go-to!

    2. You should be “pissed” at yourself, cause first of all you missed the words prepared… and cooked.. my suggestion to you would be to read and reread (out loud) the instructions before you leave a rant!

    3. There’s literally a video and images of her putting cooked protein into the tamale. Also recipes to make the filling. The cooked filling. Use those eyeballs and that noggin, Phil! The only person you should be pissed at is yourself!

  52. 5 stars
    These turned out really well with vegetable shortening instead of lard and another tsp. salt (I used a bit less broth, too, maybe 2 1/2 cups). The dough is fluffy and tasty, and it’s a great suggestion to lay a few husks over the top of the steamer basket when cooking (that saved me this time, as last time I made tamales I packed them too tightly and didn’t cover with husks and they ended up taking forever to cook). Thanks for a great recipe! I’ll be using it again.

    1. Holley, need a little help with the following-“ The dough is fluffy and tasty, and it’s a great suggestion to lay a few husks over the top of the steamer basket when cooking (that saved me this time, as last time I made tamales I packed them too tightly and didn’t cover with husks and they ended up taking forever to cook). “
      I have never used a steamer basket before. Are these baskets the bamboo type that stack one on top of the other? Also, could you explain a little more on the usage and on laying a few husk on top of the baskets.

      Thank you so much for your time.

      1. I don’t know about steamer baskets but I made tamales for the first time ever yesterday at a tamale party at my good friends home. She got one of the steamer pots (like 20$ at a local store) and then we laid husks down and instead of stacking the Tamales in rows we stacked them like criss cross so there was lots of area for the steam to get in and around the tamales. We packed the steamer that way about half full, covered with a wet towel/lid and then steamed for 90 min or so till the masa was done. Hope that helps!

  53. 5 stars
    easy to understand recipe and instructions. I love the print option to choose amount and the recipe adjust accordingly!! Thank you for that such a time saver!!

  54. 5 stars
    I made these today and they are fantastic! These have the most authentic taste of any recipe I’ve tried. The red chili recipe sauce made more sauce than I needed for the filling, but I let it sit while I made the masa and the meat soaked up the excess. The filling wasn’t runny at all. I cooked these in my Instant Pot and they are perfect. I’ll be freezing these and definitely making more.

  55. 5 stars
    I never comment but these were so good I had to! We made the red Chile pork filling in the tamales with your Mexican rice recipe and it was fabulous! Thank you for sharing this great recipe that I can’t wait to make again. SO GOOD!

  56. So I tried really hard to make this and for the most part it went really well but a few adjustments for anyone!!

    I would cook the meat less than 8 hours I found it kinda dry and I was out running around to 5 different stores looking for dried corn husks. This leads to my second point I COULDNT FIND THEM! All the stores that said they had them didn’t! Order online or find LOCAL stores! I literally made my own and it failed!!!

    The red chili sauce was way more liquid than thick like I saw the picture. I’m not sure if I did something wrong but I definitely thought i would be a thicker sauce but it made it a bit wet and didn’t coat the pork as well as I thought it would! I also didn’t find it too spicy so you can add more peppers than it says!!

    Lastly I have no idea what i did wrong but the corn part/ the outside did not work for me I have no idea what I did wrong!! It almost tasted like I was eating into wet mostly solid flour. Little disappointed in myself but I had fun and the spices were pretty good! Will attempt making these again because I know I can do it!!

  57. You’re missing key steps and the actual soul of the tamales. You just made white girl tamales.

    1. 5 stars
      Haters going to hate.

      Thank you for posting this baller tamale recipe! Keep cooking gal!

      Thanks again!

    2. “Missing key steps” implies that you know something about the soul of a tamale. If you’re going to criticize please offer what it would take to make these even better. Sounds like this recipe comes from a “sweet elderly woman in Puebla, Mexico” so you could’ve left out ethnic implications. As tasty as any from the tamaleria!

  58. Delicious. I bought them before and can no longer obtain.
    So was happy when they turned out very good. I put couple tablespoons chili ontop mine.

  59. 5 stars
    This recipe is a keeper. Th e tamale dough was awesome. I only put in three cups of water broth (they passed the float test) but will put in more next time as they were just a little dry. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  60. 5 stars
    This was my first time making tamales. I used the Red Chili Pork recipe with it. I’m blown away with how perfect they came out. I used the Instapot directions…..outstanding. My husband who doesn’t like tamales, loves these. Thank you.

  61. 5 stars
    We are a Kosher household so I used 1/2 a cup butter for (flavor), and the rest of the lard measurement as vegetable shortening and it worked perfectly!

    I ended up not having enough chicken so I used cheese in the rest. Like she says in the post you can fill them with almost anything! So many options.

    At first after making this I was very worried it was WAY too much food. I couldn’t ever justify making this much food regularly. BUT when all was said and done no one could stop eating them. They lasted for lunch the next day but that was it!!! Gone, eaten, delicious. Thank you!

  62. Hey, this all looks amazing. I want to make enough to stock up the freezer, but I don’t have a microwave like you suggest to reheat them. Any other suggestions for ways to reheat without drying them out? Maybe a re-steam on the stove?

  63. 5 stars
    These were a huge hit at Christmas this year! They tasted better than any restaurant ones I’ve ever had. The first couple of batches looked rough but after adjusting the amount of masa to filling ratio and improving my husk folding skills I have to say I’m going to be making this recipe from now on. I didn’t follow the filling recipe exactly but I think most home cooks like to put their own personal stamp on recipes. Also, for my spicy loving husband I added a generous spoonful of jalapeno powder to the masa dough.

    1. 5 stars
      I am so excited to try this recipe with my kids. Thank you for taking the time to tell us your recipe.!

  64. Can the lard be substituted with something else? I don’t know why but the thought of using lard… I don’t know if I can do it. Maybe butter? I can’t wait to try the recipe.

    1. Shortening is the closest substitute, but it will lack in flavor compared to lard–(also, butter has even more saturated fat than lard :-))

  65. I have tried to make tamales a few times and many recipes I make them alone 😂. Use to make them as a child made them with mom dad and sisters so many memories but this the best recipe I’ve found 💯 percent awesome job thank u so much I will follow yours for sure God bless 😇

    1. Olga, I used to work with a Olga Perez in Webster,Tx.
      I have been looking for a good tamale recipe.
      Can’t wait to try theze! Thank – You for Sharing..

  66. Just finished these-steaming them now-this is an ALL DAY experience as I am making them by myself-will definitely get daughters to help next time!!! The truth will be when they are cooked and we taste them! I have wanted to make tamales for a long time. This recipe was somewhat hard to follow the steps and I had to keep going back and forth to make sure I was doing things correctly. But-all in all love the recipe. I feel the most difficult part was spreading the dough on the husk thinly enough and probably made mine too thick. But for my first tie I feel I did pretty good!

  67. Lard has less saturated fat than butter so it’s healthier. It is also much better for one than shortening which is made with hydrogenated fats like palm oil. It’s terrible for one’s health and because of the palm oil, it’s terrible for the environment. I just tried to eat a tamale that was made with something other than lard and they were dry and tasted awful. Lard is a good thing and makes a tamale taste good.

  68. Do you happen to know how long you cook the pork in the instant pot if you want to use the instant pot instead of the slow cooker?

  69. This is a good recipe and very authentic, I enjoy them anytime, I have made them myself, easy but time-consuming better when done as we did and most Mexican Families where the whole family helps we laugh enjoy it and time go by and so much fun.
    Thanks for this great post.
    Chef Ernest

  70. I’m planning on making this for thanksgiving. My question is how long do you cook in Instant Pot? On steam or pressure cook? Thank you

  71. 5 stars
    Easy+ delicious! Both red & green chile tamales are yummy. I plan to make 3 dozen for Christmas. This recipe deserves 5 stars, thank you for sharing!

  72. I used the steam function on my IP instead of manual pressure since the pot was full to the brim as in your pictures. My owner’s manual stated it should not be that full. It boiled dry twice and the “burn” sign appeared twice So is it really safe to use manual pressure function when the pot is completely full?

    1. I don’t go past the “fill line” in my instant pot. I would go by your instant pot manual. You may need to make the tamales smaller.

  73. 5 stars
    I’m going to try this recipe around the holidays, probably make some for ourselves first though.

    I was reading the recipe and I’m wondering what the 1/4 of the chili sauce for the pork being reserved is for? I couldn’t find what it would be added to.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Just reserved so that too much liquid isn’t added at once. You can add it if needed, to get a good consistency for stuffing the tamales.

  74. 5 stars
    Just wanted to thank you for this great recipe! I just got an Instant Pot not too long ago and have been looking for some good recipes. We’re big fans of authentic Mexican food and the last time I tried to make Tamales they turned out hard as a rock! I made your Instant Pot Tamales today – yummy, yummy, yummy!!!!!
    I made them with chicken, green chili salsa and mozzarella cheese recipe and they turned out fantastic!!!! I’m going to try making them again with oaxaca cheese. Then I want to try them with poblano chilies and oaxaca cheese (I,m hoping they taste similar to chili rellenos!) After that it’s meatloaf and potatoes….
    Thanks so much, they are delicious!

  75. 5 stars
    Call is calcium hydroxide. It can be brought online or in hardware stores in the paint or solvent section. It’s used to swell the corn in to masa aka hominy. It is caustic and should be washed out before grinding the kernels.

  76. The “cal” your friend’s mother used in making up her masa is not rare. It Calcium Hydroxide (Pickling Lime), and it’s available all over the US, anywhere people make preserves or can food.

  77. I purchased Tamales at the Mexican Market. I believe they are not cooked, and I do not have a steamer pot. Can they be cooked in the Microwave? Do they need to stand on end?

    1. Hi Catherine, I would read the packaging and try to figure out if they are cooked or not first. If they’re cooked then reheat them in the microwave inside wet paper towels. If they are raw than you’ll really need to cook them properly in a steamer pot or instant pot pressure cooker.

  78. Thank you LA !!!I have struggled for years with my masa.Your recipe cured that !!? I made four dozen on X- mas Eveand by the 26 there wasn’t even one left to give away!THANK YOU AND THE GRANDMA FROM MEXICO!!!!

    1. Thank you so much Maria for the very important information. I didn’t have any idea. Again, I really appreciate it and thank you for taking the time and caring enough to share.

    1. Hi Wendy,
      The red sauce is a little spicy. The green sauce just uses a store bough salsa verde so you could use a mild version!

    2. Hi Wendi,
      I’m in the same boat. Growing up, my grandmother would make 3 kinds of tamales, including just cheese for the kids. As we got older, more of us grand kids would eat the hotter tamales, except for me, the second oldest, and the little one. Like Lauren, she made the masa by scratch, adding creamed corn to the masa; it kept the tamales moist and it made for a stronger corn flavor. The cheese was always longhorn cheese and it was cubed, not shredded. I can’t wait to try Lauren’s recipe and tweak it to add the creamed corn and longhorn cheese. Good luck!

    1. 5 stars
      Masa with a reddish color comes from using the broth from the pork roast, which traditionally has chili added to it for cooking. You can also add some chili powder to your masa while mixing it.

  79. Hi. I don’t know if some already made the clarification but “masa” is “dough” in spanish, is not that the dough is actually called “masa”. Now, I’m from Costa Rica and we made our tamales with a dough season with a heavy seasoned pork broth, and filled with vegetables, rice and pork, poached in a banana leaf, traditionally for christmas, but we also have a smaller, simpler version called “tallullo”, made with corn dough too but filled with sweetened bean paste.

  80. 5 stars
    Your page does not allow me to print the Sauce recipes because it opens only the first page of you recipe. Looks really authentic but I need the recipe for reference. Thanks, Carol

  81. 5 stars
    I live in San Diego CA and I know first hand that there are as many masa recipes as there are families who make traditional tamales every Christmas. So if you ever plan on doing “sweet” tamales (usually made of sugar, pineapple, raisins etc.) you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice etc. to give your maza a slightly different flavor that is always a favorite during the Holidays.

  82. 5 stars
    they came out great thank you for sharing. My sister and I had a great time making this tamale recipe.

    1. A great recipe to make with a friend, especially a sister 🙂 So happy you enjoyed them! Thanks for your comment

  83. The chemical lime in the form of Calcium Hydroxide (aka Edible Lime, Hydrated Lime, CaH2O2) is used in some food processing, and has been for millennia. Lime (in the form of Calcium Hydroxide) is used in Mexico, Central America and South America in processing corn. Corn is soaked in water to which Calcium Hydroxide has been added.

  84. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipes. I have been wanting this recipe ever since I ate some some tamales sold at the flea market made by a Mexican woman. They are so delicious, 100 times better than any I have eaten, She sells hers for a $1.00 a piece. and they are not small. I’ve eaten at lots of Mexican restaurants and none of their tamales tasted as good. I thought tamales were good until I ate her real Mexican tamales. I had been trying to find the recipe. I can’t wait to make these. The thick lard dough is so delicious.

  85. Hi Debbie! I’ve always wanted to try making homemade tamales! Can you tell me how many tamales the pork recipe makes? I was curious so i knew what to expect and how many corn husks to get! Thanks so much for the recipe! Also, do you have to slow cook the pork or do you know how to cook it in the instapot for a faster result??

    1. Hi Jackie,
      This recipe will make about 20 tamales! I haven’t tested it in the instant pot, I hope to do that soon. I know it will work but I can’t tell you exact directions at this point. I hope you enjoy them.

  86. 5 stars
    I made the bean and cheese and chicken and green sauce tamales. I also made your rice recipe. My husband is Cuban and he said I knocked it out of the ball park. Now that I’m confident in making them I’m making the pork version this weekend. They were so much easier than I ever imagined. The only thing different I did was I wrapped them in corn husks as you show and then each in a tight foil packet. I boiled them for about an hour and a half. That’s how his mom used to do it. They turned out perfectly.

    1. Thanks for sharing Michelle! I’m so happy they got you and your husbands stamp of approval! Hope you love the pork version!

  87. Thanks for sharing! Tamales have always been a favorite of mine. I’ve always wanted to try making them. You have given me some motivation with your recipe. Is it possible to substitute Crisco for the lard? Also can you usually find the corn husks in the grocery store?

    1. Thanks Debbie! You can substitute vegetable shortening for lard. The depth of flavor and texture may be sacrificed a bit, but it should work fine. For the corn husks, it really depends on your location. When I lived in the midwest they didn’t have them at my local grocery store, but I searched for Mexican supermarkets near me, found several and they all carried them. Now that I live in Arizona I can find them at my local grocery store (not surprising since we are so much closer to the border). I know you can buy them on Amazon as well. Good luck! Hope get a chance to make these!

  88. Are you supposed to add water to the instant pot before steaming? I almost burned the bottom of my pot before I realized I was burning it!

  89. Do you happen to still have the recipes for the chicken and green sauce, and the bean and cheese tamales you made in Puebla?

  90. Cal is lime. It’s actually made from ashes and it functions to remove the tough outer layer of the corn when you are preparing the masa from scratch. You must wash the corn repeatedly and make sure you remove all traces of cal. It is not to be consumed. My Mexican friends here in Texas all use the method you describe. Way easier.