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Tamales

How to Make an Authentic Mexican Tamal (Tamale)

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Beef and red chile tamale
Brian Yarvin/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
If you are new to the art of making tamales, this is a great place to start. First you need to make sure you have all of the ingredients and tools and then you can learn how to wrap and steam them. They are delicious any time of year, but since we tend to make them in huge batches, they are primarily made during the winter holidays. Making a batch of tamales is a great excuse to gather in the kitchen with friends and family for a day of cooking.

  • How long does it take to make Tamales?
    Making tamales is not difficult, but it is a very time consuming process. It can take a whole day to prepare a large batch of tamales. To save time you can prepare the dough and fillings on one day and wrap and steam them on the next.

  • Prepare the Ingredients
    It is important to make sure you have, or can get, all of the ingredients you will need to make tamales. First, read through the recipe dough for tamales and make a list of what you will need to get. Then, choose a filling and add those ingredients to your list along with corn husks to steam them in. You will also need a large steamer in which to cook the tamales. This can be a special tamale steamer, or an extra-large pot with a steaming basket in the bottom. Once you have the the steamer and the ingredients ready you can begin making the tamales.

  • Assemble and Steam your Tamales
    Start by preparing the dough. Next, prepare the desired fillings that you are going to use. Then, prepare the corn husks and wrap the tamales. Steam them in a large steamer for 90 minutes.

  • Leftover Tamales
    They will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days or you can freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

  • How to serve Tamales
    Traditionally a tamal is served plain, as is. Just pull off the corn husk and enjoy. Or you can place them on a plate and top them with a sauce. For example, green chile sauce for pork or chicken, or a red chile sauce for beef. Sometimes tamales are served in the corn husks, and sometimes they are opened and removed for you.

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