Green Chile and Chicken Tamales

tamales in a pan

Rusty Hill/Getty Images

Prep: 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook: 100 mins
Soaking/resting: 50 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Servings: 15 to 20 servings
Yield: 40 to 55 tamales
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
513 Calories
33g Fat
32g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 15 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 513
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 43%
Saturated Fat 13g 66%
Cholesterol 81mg 27%
Sodium 1070mg 47%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 14mg 68%
Calcium 239mg 18%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 391mg 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.)

Green chiles and succulent shredded chicken make these tamales to die for. The preparation and cook time are a little time consuming but the end product is more than worth it. The recipe is detailed and very easy to follow. You'll love these tangy green chile and chicken tamales!

Making tamales is easy once you get the hang of it. It may take you a little longer to make the first few, but after you learn the ropes, you'll have a whole batch ready in no time. You can buy a large steamer made just for the purpose of steaming tamales, or you can use a large pot fitted with a strainer insert.

You can make the filling the day before and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Green Chile and Chicken Tamales/Tester Image

"Tamales certainly take time to make, but it's fun to do in a group. A generous amount of queso fresco and sour cream enrich these tamales and a heap of spices add savory flavor to the masa. Add more diced green chiles if you really want that flavor to come through."—Danielle Centoni

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Filling:

  • 2 pounds cooked boneless, skinless chicken

  • 1 (3-ounce) can diced green chiles

  • 10 ounces green chile sauce

  • 16 ounces queso fresco, or jack cheese, shredded or crumbled

  • 1/2 cup sour cream, or crema

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

  • 40 to 55 corn husks

For the Masa Harina Tamale Dough:

  • 6 cups masa harina

  • 5 cups warm water, or low-sodium chicken broth

  • 3 tablespoons onion powder

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 cups lard, or shortening

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Let the chicken cool and then use forks or your fingers to shred it.

  3. Add the shredded chicken and the diced chiles to a large bowl. Add the green chile sauce, queso fresco, sour cream, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Preparing the Corn Husks

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Remove any debris or corn silk from the corn husks.

  3. Separate the larger whole husks from the smaller bits and pieces. Use the larger husks for wrapping and save the smaller ones for tying.

  4. Place the husks in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Put a plate, bowl, or heavy skillet on top of the husks to keep them submerged. Let soak until flexible and softened, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  5. Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Place in a covered dish or a large plastic bag to prevent them from drying out.

Making the Tamale Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the masa harina and warm water until combined.

  3. Let the mixture sit to let the masa soften, about 20 minutes. Mix on low speed, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until a dough forms.

  4. Gradually sprinkle in the onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and salt as you continue to mix.

  5. In a medium bowl, stir the lard until soft and light, about 3 minutes.

  6. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time while continuing to mix on low until well combined.

  7. The mixture should be the consistency of peanut butter. If not, add more masa harina, water or broth as necessary.

Assembling the Tamales

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Use the larger husks for the tamales. Use the smaller or broken husks to create ties by cutting or tearing them into 1/4 inch-wide strips.

  3. When looking at the husks for wrapping, notice the shape. They have a narrow end, a broad end, and two long sides. Lay the husk on a flat surface with the narrow end at the bottom.

  4. Depending on the size of the husk, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of dough on the husk placing it toward the top. Do not overfill.

  5. Use the back of a spoon to spread the dough onto the husk, leaving a border of about 4-inches from the narrow end and about 2- inches from the top.

  6. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides, leaving a 2-inch border on the opposite long side. Try to keep the dough about 1/4-inch thick.

  7. Spread a couple of spoonfuls of filling down the center of the dough, leaving at least a 1-inch border of dough around all sides.

  8. Make a package by fold the long empty side (the side with no masa) over, slightly overlapping the opposite side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back. Then fold the broad end over the top and then the longer narrow end over the broad end.

  9. Use the narrow strips to tie across the middle of the tamale to hold the flaps down.

  10. Set tamales upright in a tamale steamer, a large pot fitted with a strainer insert, or something similar. The key is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a strainer of some sort to keep the tamales from touching the water.

  11. Cover the pot and steam for about 90 minutes, or until the masa feels firm, looks smooth, and comes away from the husk cleanly (you can take one tamale out to test). Check the water level in the pot occasionally and replenish the water if needed. Let the tamales cool for 1 hour before taking them out of the steamer to allow the masa to firm up before serving.