Crispy Fried Tamales (Tamales Fritos)

Fried Tamales - Tamales Fritos

The Spruce / Marian Blazes

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
645 Calories
34g Fat
69g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 645
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 43%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 75mg 25%
Sodium 1380mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 69g 25%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 25mg 123%
Calcium 166mg 13%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 365mg 8%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

It takes a certain amount of time and effort to make tamales, so most people make a large batch at once—and since tamales freeze well, this is a good idea.

 If you find yourself with leftover tamales, they are quite delicious when breaded and fried. They get nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

You can fry them whole or mix several tamales together and shape the masa into smaller pieces to make bite-sized fried tamales. Serve fried tamales with aji amarillo or aji picante sauce.


  • 4 leftover tamales

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup masa harina cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley, or cilantro

  • 1 quart vegetable oil

  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Remove the tamales from their wrappers, typically cornhusks or banana leaves.

  3. Leave them as is or mix the tamales all together to shape them into smaller appetizer-size tamales for frying. Shaping the leftover tamales into balls works best when they are very cold. Shape the mixed tamales into bite-sized balls about the size of a golf ball.

  4. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a teaspoon of water until well-mixed.

  5. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, masa harina, cumin, garlic salt, pepper, and parsley or cilantro.

  6. Dip each tamale or bite-sized ball into the egg mixture, letting the excess drain off, and then into the flour mixture. Repeat with remaining tamales or tamale balls.

  7. Heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy pot with tall sides over medium-high heat to 360 F.

  8. Fry the tamales or tamale balls, in batches if necessary, until they are deep golden brown.

  9. Place them on a plate covered with paper towels to cool and sprinkle them with flaky sea salt.

  10. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.

  11. Enjoy.


  • Fried tamales can stand alone as a tasty lunch or snack or as an appetizer. But you can also serve them for dinner with complementary sides. Such as Spanish rice, Spicy black beans and rice, and white rice with diced tomatoes and chiles.
  • Tamales, fried or not, go especially well with beer. Any kind will do, but the best pairings are Vienna lagers, pale ales, amber ales, or stouts. And of course, you can't go wrong with margaritas, mojitos, or that great South American classic drink, a pisco sour.