Green Chile and Chicken Tamales

tamales in a pan

Rusty Hill/Getty Images

Prep: 90 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 40 servings
Yield: 40 tamales
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
256 Calories
17g Fat
16g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 40
Amount per serving
Calories 256
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 492mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 7mg 33%
Calcium 115mg 9%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 195mg 4%
*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!


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken

  • 1 (3-ounce) can diced green chiles

  • 10 ounces green chile sauce

  • 1/2 cup sour cream, or crema

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

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

  • 40 corn husks

For the Masa Harina Tamale Dough:

  • 6 cups masa harina

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

  • 2 cups lard

  • 3 tablespoons onion powder

  • 2 tablespoons cumin

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons salt

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Boil or bake the chicken until it is cooked through.

  3. Let the chicken cool and then use forks or your fingers to pull it apart to shred it.

  4. Add the shredded chicken and the diced chiles to a large bowl and add in the green chile sauce, queso fresco, cumin, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

  5. Use a large spoon to smash the cream cheese into the mixture to begin mixing it.

  6. Once the filling is made, set it aside.

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

Preparing the Corn Husks

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Go through the corn husks removing any debris.

  3. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces. Save the smaller pieces for later.

  4. Go through the corn husks removing any debris.

  5. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces. Save the smaller pieces for later.

  6. Place the husks into a large bowl.

  7. Cover husks with warm water.

  8. Set a heavy item (like a heavy bowl or mug) on top of the husks to keep them submerged.

  9. Remove the husks from the water and pat dry.

  10. Place into a covered dish or a large plastic bag to prevent from drying out.

  11. Use only the larger and medium-sized husks for the tamales. The smaller ones can be used later for ties or patches. When looking at the husk, notice the shape. They have a narrow end, a broad end, and two long sides.

Making the Tamale Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth until combined.

  3. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften. Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms.

  4. After the Masa Harina is prepared, gradually add the salt, cumin and onion powder by sprinkling them over the dough as you mix it.

  5. In a separate bowl, whip lard or shortening about three minutes or until fluffy.

  6. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time while mixing until well combined.

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

Assembling the Tamales

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Lay a husk on a flat surface.

  3. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of dough onto the husk, depending on the size of the husk.

  4. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread the dough onto the husk.

  5. When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the other end.

  6. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 inch thick.

  7. Spread a couple of spoonfuls of filling down the center of the dough, leaving at least one inch of dough around the sides.

  8. Locate the long side with a 2-inch space with no masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other 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. Create strips of husk by cutting or tearing 1/4 inch lengths off of some of the smaller or unusable husks.

  10. Use these to tie across the middle of the tamale to hold the flaps down.

  11. Set tamales upright in a steamer. (You can buy large steamers made just for this purpose. You may have something else you can use to create the same effect.) The key is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a colander or mesh of some sort to keep the tamales away from the water.

  12. Steam for about 90 minutes and let them cool before serving.

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.