How to Cook Tamales: A Guide for Beginners

Hey there, fellow foodies! Are you a fan of Mexican cuisine? If so, then you must have had tamales at least once in your life. Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that is made of masa dough and filled with various meats, vegetables or cheese. They are then wrapped in corn husks and steamed until cooked. Tamales are not only delicious, but they are also easy to make in your own kitchen. In this article, we’ll show you how to cook tamales step by step.


Before we start cooking, let’s gather all the ingredients we need first. Here’s what you’ll need: – 2 cups of masa flour – 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth – 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening – 1 teaspoon of baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon of salt – 2 cups of cooked shredded pork, beef, or chicken – 1 cup of salsa or diced tomatoes – Corn husks – 3 cups of water

Preparing the Corn Husks

The first step in cooking tamales is preparing the corn husks. Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least an hour or until they become pliable. Drain and set aside.

Preparing the Masa Dough

Next, let’s prepare the masa dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, beat the vegetable shortening with a mixer until it becomes light and fluffy. Gradually add the masa flour mixture, alternating with the chicken or vegetable broth. Mix until the dough becomes smooth and well combined.

Preparing the Filling

Now let’s prepare the filling. In a large skillet, cook the shredded meat over medium-high heat until it becomes browned and crispy. Add the salsa or diced tomatoes and continue cooking until the mixture becomes hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assembling the Tamales

It’s time to assemble the tamales. Take a soaked corn husk and spread a thin layer of masa dough onto it, leaving a border on the edges. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the meat filling onto the center of the masa dough. Fold the sides of the corn husk over the filling, then fold the bottom over the filling, and finally, fold the top over the filling. Tie each end with a thin strip of corn husk to secure it.

Cooking the Tamales

To cook the tamales, you’ll need a steamer. Add 3 cups of water to the steamer and bring it to a boil. Place the tamales in the steamer, standing them upright with the open end facing up. Cover the steamer with a lid and steam the tamales for about 1 hour or until the masa dough becomes firm and cooked through.

Serving the Tamales

Once the tamales are cooked, remove them from the steamer and let them cool for a few minutes. Remove the corn husks and serve the tamales warm with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, guacamole, or salsa.

Tips for Cooking Perfect Tamales

– Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least an hour before using them. – Steam the tamales standing upright with the open end facing up, so the filling stays inside. – Don’t overfill the tamales, as this may cause them to break open while cooking. – Use a mixture of chicken or vegetable broth and vegetable shortening to make the masa dough more flavorful and tender.

In Conclusion

Cooking tamales at home is easy and fun. With this step-by-step guide, you can now make delicious tamales in your own kitchen. Remember to soak the corn husks, prepare the masa dough and filling, assemble the tamales, and steam them until cooked. We hope these tips help you cook perfect tamales every time. Enjoy! Until next time, happy cooking!