How to Make Hot Tamales

Three Methods:Preparing the meatsPreparing your MasaPreparing and cooking your tamales

For a treat or a snack nothing takes the place of the traditional Mexican favorite Hot Tamales. These delicious treats may seem incredibly difficult to make, but with a little bit of preparation, you'll stack up tamales like a pro!


  • 6-8 lb meat or tofu
  • 5 lb fillet fish or soy crumbs
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground comino (or cumin)
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Corn masa (Around 4 lbs.)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Corn Husks(True corn husks, as they deliver a better flavor than artificial husks.
  • Corn oil

Method 1
Preparing the meats

If using tofu and soy crumbs next steps do not apply. Go to next section.

  1. 1
    Cut a pork roast into small chunks.
  2. 2
    Place them in a pan. Splash water inside as well, just enough to cover the chunks.
  3. 3
    Boil the pork for about 2 1/2 hours, or until tender.
  4. 4
    Take the pork out of the broth to cool. Don't dispose of the broth, as it will be needed later on. After a while, test the pieces of meat to see if they can be handled, by lightly touching with your finger tip.
  5. 5
    Using your fingers, begin to shred the tender pork. If you've properly and thoroughly cooked the pork, it should shred easily.
  6. 6
    Remove and dispose of the excess fat in the pork. You do not need much fat in the tamales, so try to remove as much as possible. Once you have finished preparing the pork, grab your chicken and get ready to prepare your chicken!
  7. 7
    Completely cover the whole chicken with water in a large pot.
  8. 8
    Boil for approximately 2 hours, or until the chicken is done and tender.
  9. 9
    Take the chicken out and allow to cool.
  10. 10
    Remove the skin and take the chicken meat off the bones and shred it into small pieces. Discard any large amounts of fat. Once both meats have been properly prepared and shredded, it is time to combine both meats.
  11. 11
    Set both meats inside a large pot.
  12. 12
    Mix on a time range of 4-6 minutes. Make sure the 2 meats are thoroughly mixed into 1, as this is a major requirement for a successful tamale.

Method 2
Preparing your Masa

  1. 1
    Before you start on your masa, get your seasoning ready. Adding seasoning is quite simplistic, and requires little time. Mix the following in a small pan, and warm on the stove:
    • 1/2 cup corn oil
    • 6 Tablespoons of chili powder
    • 3 Tablespoons of garlic powder
    • 3 Tablespoons of ground cumin
    • 1 Tablespoon black pepper (or less).
    • 2 Tablespoons of salt. Keep these within reach, as some will be needed later.
  2. Image titled 197532484_87b4ab5768_605
    Once you've successfully prepared the meat and seasoning, it's time to start on the masa! On average, bags of masa consist of 4 pounds (Such as the bag in the picture). Use only half the masa for your tamales. (2 pounds), and place it in a bowl.
  3. 3
    Time to season the masa! In the bowl, add 3 table spoons of paprika, 3 tablespoons of salt, 3 tablespoons of garlic powder, 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds. Mix them thoroughly, until they are combined into one substance of seasonings and your masa.
  4. 4
    Add 2 cups of corn oil into the seasoned masa. While doing so, begin to work your hands against the mixture, to create dough out of the seasoned masa, and corn oil.
  5. Image titled 299174149_7fd4b10588_455
    Remove any fat from the broth you saved from both the pork and chicken, dispose of it, and warm up your broths.
  6. 6
    After the broths have finished boiling, add them into the dough, one cup at a time. You need to add 2 quarts (or 8 cups).

Method 3
Preparing and cooking your tamales

  1. 1
    In a sink with warm water, allow the husks to soak for approximately 2 hours. As the husk become ductile, you will have to separate them from each other, so you'll have to stay put.
  2. 2
    Take a few corn husk out of the water at a time and shake the water off well. Lay them on a towel (or any clean, absorbent cloth).
  3. 3
    spreading the masa
    In the palm of your hand, place 1 corn husk with the shorter end facing towards your fingers.
    Take a small amount of masa, and cover about 75% of the husk. (3/4). Continue with the remaining corn husk.
  4. Image titled 318336303_bf41ee56c7_283
    Once you've finished with the masa dough, you can add the meat. Take about 1 tablespoon of the meat, and spread it about 1 inch (2.5 cm) away from the edge of the husk. You can also place the meat on top of the masa, to make the tamale flatter.
  5. 5
    Depending on whether you decide for your tamales to be round or flat, you will have to either roll (round) or fold (flat) your them. Now that you've constructed the tamales, it's time to cook them.
  6. 6
    Place all tamales (facing upward) in a steamer of large capacity.
  7. 7
    Once you've made sure you have all tamales in the steamer, let them steam for 90 minutes. Every once in a while if you see that the water is running low in the steamer, replace it with new water. This should be done frequently. Do not steam the tamales dry!
  8. 8
    Now, just to be safe, it's time to check the tamales to see if the masa and meat are properly cooked. Using tongs, remove 1 tamale from the steamer.
  9. 9
    Let the tamale sit on a towel for about 5 minutes to cool, then unwrap it. Is the meat and masa cooked? Is the tamale firm? If so, then you have made a successful batch of tamales!
  10. 10
    Store the tamales in large Ziploc bags (or any plastic zip-like bags), until you are ready to serve them. Congratulations!


  • If you plan on preparing a large amount of tamales, it is suggested that you make this a 2 day process.
  • Be sure not to discard any of the pork or chicken broth while preparing the meat, as this is where much of the flavor comes from. It can be substituted with chicken broth, but you'll save money if you save the broth.
  • Make sure you have at least one extra tamale, to test to see if you've properly cooked the tamales.
  • While making the masa, you want it to feel somewhat dense. If it feels too thick, add more broth, or warm water to it, or if it is too thin, you can add more masa. Try to head for a thick peanut butter sensation.
  • Preparing pork and preparing chicken do not have to be in any specific order.
  • Never overlook the part in which you are supposed to remove the excess fats, too much fats can literally destroy the smooth and savory taste of the tamales.


  • Make sure you allow the meats to sit after preparing them, as they will be hot for a while.
  • This could be your hand!
    Only test the meats with your finger tip! If you grab the entire roast or chicken, you'll risk burning yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • A large capacity steamer
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Tongs
  • A sieve spoon
  • A small spatula

Article Info

Categories: Central and South American Cuisine