Simple Homemade Tamales Recipe

How I made about a “dozen” tamales, with a lot less prep and time!

I love Tamales! Especially fresh made tamales! There are a few good places around here to get them fresh but, some places make them a little too spicy and greasy for me. So, I decided to make some at home.

I have made some once before. It can be time consuming and a bit of a chore if you don’t have much experience with them. And, most recipes are for making a ton. But I used a simple Masa recipe I found here, where I halved it and got away with just making about a dozen (ok, maybe more like 15 to 20 😉). Took me just a few hrs instead of a couple of days!

Here is the Masa recipe and directions from above link, cut in half.

1st, you need some corn husks. They are usually available at most grocery stores around here, on the Mexican foods isle, in a plastic bag. Place corn husks, however many you plan to make, in a large bowl and cover with hot water and soak for about 30 minutes.

For the Masa

  • 2 cups MaSeCa Instant corn Masa Mix
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (no salt)
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn oil (I actually used vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth (I recommend getting the broth in a box, so you can refrigerate or freeze the rest).

Put the masa, salt, and garlic powder in a large bowl and combine the dry ingredients. Then add the corn oil and mix with your hands. Now add the chicken broth, about 1/4 cup or more, at a time.

Continue to mix with your hands and adding the broth until you get the consistency of cookie dough. You should have a consistency that you can spread with a knife or spreader.

If you add too much liquid you can always add a little more masa to thicken it up.

food chopper

For the Filling

I also cut most of the time in half by using some already smoked and cooked, uncured pulled beef, that I found near the bacon section at Walmart (Great Value brand). Comes in a 1lb package. They also have pulled pork and chicken! And, it’s pretty good stuff. Not like other already cooked meats I have had before, where it’s like rubber. And, it has really good flavor, just by itself.

I just heated it up in a skillet and seasoned it kind of like you would ground beef for tacos. I like to use some fajita seasoning, cumin, chili powder and season salt. Then add a little water (maybe 1/4 cup) and let it cook down. Then I put the meat in a food chopper to make it a little less stringy, so you don’t pull out the meat, when you bite into the tamale.

Spreading the masa and adding the filling.

When the corn husks are done soaking, take them out one at a time and pat them dry inside and out with a paper or cloth towel. Be careful not to pat too hard, they will split.

Then what I did was rolled up a ball of masa in my hands, long ways. Then I sort of mashed it into the corn husks, spreading it out across it. Then added more if I needed to. You don’t want it too thick though. Then I added a few table spoons of the meat filling in the middle. Then folded the masa up to the edges in the husk. Then rolled it up and folded the end up.

Steaming the Tamales

I used a vegetable steamer instead of one made for making tamales. I added some water in the bottom of the pot (about a 1/4 ways up) and then just put a corn husk in the bottom of the steam basket, just in case my water comes up too high while boiling at 1st. Then cross layered (one layer going one way and the other layer the other way and so on) the tamales in it, and then put a damp towel on top and the steamer lid on top of that.

I brought it to a boil and then turned it down to low and cooked them for about 1 and a 1/2 hrs, rotating them every 30 minutes. That really was the most time consuming part because I had to take them all out, switch them around, and then put them back in.

Note: Be sure and check the water in the bottom part of the pot once in a while. Don’t let it go dry. Add more if needed.

Anyway! After it was all said and done, they looked and tasted pretty good!

I liked them, my wife and kids liked them, and so did my wife’s boss!

We refrigerated the leftovers in a ziplock bag and had some for lunch the next day! You can store them in the fridge for about 5 days. Then to reheat them, wrap a few at a time in a damp paper towel, and put them in the microwave for about 30 or 40 seconds, to a minute. They will dry out if you reheat them too long.



About Robby 90 Articles
I am just your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Nerd ready to lend a keyboard to others who need IT help without the IT cost! I also love to cook, play golf and try to make people laugh!