|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 14 to 16|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 14g||17%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 26g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||7%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Tamales can be labor intensive to prepare, but most of the work goes into the filling. These cheese tamales are great for beginners because the filling only requires salsa and grated cheese. All you have to make is the corn masa or dough—and that's surprisingly simple. With those two elements prepared, it's just a matter of assembling and steaming the tamales.
Tamales are perfect for breakfast or lunch, and they can be reheated quickly in the microwave. Once you learn how to make tamales, fill them with whatever strikes your fancy—barbecue pork, chicken salad, leftover roast chicken—anything at all. You can even make little appetizer-sized tamales.
Enjoy tamales with rice and beans for a meal or by themselves as a perfect grab-and-go snack.
"A great tamales recipe, by all means. The recipe is very straight-forward and easy to follow. The filling is rich and doesn’t need any cooking time. The dough is flavorful and fluffy. The recipe does take time but it actually worth every minute. I served mine with some homemade salsa and lime juice." —Tara Omidvar
1 (6-ounce) package banana leaves, or dried corn husks
6 tablespoons lard, or vegetable shortening
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup jarred or homemade chili con queso
4 cups masa harina
2 cups chicken stock, more as needed
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 1/2 cups salsa, such as black bean, corn, and roasted pepper
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Set the banana leaves out to thaw. If using corn husks, soak in very hot water to soften, about 1 hour.
Make the masa: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the lard, cream cheese, and chili con queso until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, mix the masa harina with 2 cups of chicken stock. Add half of the masa harina mixture to the lard mixture and beat well.
Add the remaining masa along with additional chicken stock as needed, beating well, until the mixture resembles a thick cake batter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
For the filling: Stir together the cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and the salsa.
Rinse and dry the banana leaves, or pat the corn husks dry. Cut them into 8 x 10-inch rectangles for medium tamales.
Lay a banana leaf rectangle or corn husk on a flat surface. Place about 1/4 cup of the masa in the middle and spread into a 2 x 4-inch rectangle leaving a generous border. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of the masa.
Fold the sides of the banana leaf (or corn husk) in over the filling, enclosing the masa over the cheese filling.
Fold the bottom half up over the filling, then fold the top half down to create a neat package.
Tie the tamale with a piece of kitchen twine or a strip of banana leaf to secure it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Bring 1 to 2 inches of water to boil in a large steamer pot or large pot fitted with a colander or steamer basket. Fill the basket with 1 layer of tamales (the tamales should not touch the water). Steam in batches if necessary. Cover the tamales with a kitchen towel. Place a cover on the pot and steam until the masa is tender, 30 to 40 minutes per batch, adding more water to the pot as necessary.
Remove the tamales and serve warm.
Tamales can be reheated on low the microwave.
How to Store and Freeze Tamales
- Tamales can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Tamales can also be frozen. They will keep in the freezer for up to four months. Reheat them from frozen by steaming for 15 to 20 minutes or heating them wrapped in foil in the oven.