|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 36g||47%|
|Saturated Fat 14g||68%|
|Total Carbohydrate 44g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*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.|
In some areas of the United States, you can get ready-made dough for tamales, either fresh from a tortilla factory or in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. If you don’t live in such a place—or just want to make your tamales completely from scratch—use this basic recipe. It calls for masa harina, a commercial corn flour product that is used to make tortillas, tamales, and many other Mexican and Central American foods. Some brands include Maseca and Bob's Red Mill, which are easy to find in most supermarkets.
The number of tamales that you will be able to make with this recipe will depend upon the size of the tamales and the quantity of filling used in each one.
Note: Masa harina (which translates as “dough flour”) is the dry product; masa is “dough” and is what you have after rehydrating the flour. Sometimes you may see masa harina labeled as "instant," which is to indicate that it comes together instantly when you add water. Making masa for tamales is as simple as that.
6 cups masa harina
5 cups warm water (or low-sodium chicken broth)
2 cups pork lard
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons onion powder, optional
3 tablespoons chili powder, optional
2 tablespoons ground cumin, optional
Gather the ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the masa harina with the warm water or broth. Allow the mixture to sit for about 20 minutes to soften somewhat, then beat with an electric mixer on low speed until a dough forms (you now have masa).
Sprinkle the salt, onion powder, chili powder, and cumin over the dough, if using, and mix again until well combined.
In a separate bowl, whip the lard with an electric mixer for about three minutes or until fluffy.
Add the lard to the dough, beating in a little at a time, until well combined.
Your masa should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If it’s too dry, mix in a little more water or broth; if your dough is too loose, add more masa harina until you get the desired texture.
Use your masa immediately or cover and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Your tamale dough is ready when you're ready to make tamales.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs and spices in your dough, varying them according to your personal preferences or complimenting the flavors in the filling(s) that you intend to use.
- Try, for example, a couple of tablespoons of dried epazote (either in place of or in addition to the spices mentioned in the recipe) for a rustic and very Mexican note. Or replace the spices mentioned with powdered cinnamon and cloves to complement a pork filling or for sweet (dessert) tamales.
- Once you’ve become comfortable making the basic recipe, you will begin to think of your own favorite add-in seasonings.
How to Use
There's no limit to what you can put inside a tamale, but here are few ways you can use this recipe:
- Homemade pork tamales are loaded with pork, seasonings such as cumin and chili powder, along with pepper, tomato, and onions.
- Green chile and chicken tamales are packed with shredded chicken, green chiles, loads of seasonings, cheese, and sour cream.
- Vegetarian tamales with corn, cheese, cilantro, tomato, and green onions are a garden-fresh experience.
Are Cornmeal and Masa Harina the Same?
Both cornmeal and masa harina are made from hominy (dried corn), but they are treated and ground differently and are used in different types of recipes. Cornmeal is coarsely ground hominy often used as a breading, in cornbread, and more. Masa harina is made from hominy that is treated with a lye solution and ground very fine, more like flour. It is used to make tortillas and tamale dough.
What Is the Difference Between Masa for Tamales and Masa for Tortillas?
The masa dough for tamales tends to have more fat (such as lard added) and is whipped until fluffy. Masa for tortillas can be made with just water and masa harina or with a small amount of fat added.