Master the Art of Making Delicious Tamales

If you’re craving an authentic and scrumptious Mexican dish, look no further than the art of making delicious tamales. This traditional dish is a true masterpiece, packed with rich flavors and delightful textures. Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast or just someone who enjoys a good meal, mastering the art of making tamales is undoubtedly a skill worth acquiring. So, grab your apron and get ready to embark on a gastronomic adventure that will not only satisfy your taste buds but also impress your friends and family. Get ready to unveil the secrets of making mouthwatering tamales that will transport you straight to the heart of Mexico!

Master the Art of Making Delicious Tamales | Bistro Le Crillon
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Preparing the Tamales

When it comes to mastering the art of making delicious tamales, preparation is key. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, following these essential steps will ensure that your tamales turn out perfect every time. From soaking the corn husks to creating the masa dough, let’s dive into the details of preparing these mouthwatering treats.

Soaking the Corn Husks

The first step in preparing tamales is to soak the corn husks. This crucial step not only softens the husks but also makes them pliable and easy to work with. To start, you’ll need a large bowl or basin filled with warm water. Place the corn husks in the water, ensuring they are fully submerged. Allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes, or until they have become soft and flexible.

An important tip to remember is to sort through the husks before soaking them. Remove any husks that are torn or too small, as they won’t provide the necessary structure for wrapping the tamales. Once the husks are soaked and ready to use, gently pat them dry with a clean towel.

Making the Masa Dough

The next step in preparing tamales is making the masa dough. Masa, which means “dough” in Spanish, is the base of these delectable treats. To make the masa dough, you’ll need masa harina, which is a type of corn flour specifically used for tamales, along with other ingredients like vegetable broth, baking powder, salt, and lard or oil.

Start by combining the masa harina, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add the vegetable broth, mixing it into the dry ingredients until a smooth dough forms. It’s important to achieve the right consistency, which should be soft and pliable. If the dough is too dry, add more vegetable broth a little at a time until you reach the desired texture.

As a note, some people prefer to add lard or oil to the masa dough for added flavor and richness. However, if you want to make a healthier version, you can omit this ingredient or substitute it with a plant-based oil of your choice.

Choosing the Filling

The final step in preparing tamales is choosing the filling. This is where your creativity can shine, as there is a wide variety of fillings to choose from. Traditional options include shredded meat, such as pork or chicken, combined with flavorful spices and sauces. Vegetarian fillings are also popular and can consist of ingredients like cheese, beans, or roasted vegetables.

It’s essential to ensure that your filling is already cooked and seasoned before filling the tamales. This will prevent any raw ingredients from resulting in an unevenly cooked tamale. Once you have your filling ready, it’s time to assemble the tamales.

Wrap Up

Mastering the art of making delicious tamales requires attention to detail and a few essential steps. By soaking the corn husks, making the masa dough, and choosing the perfect filling, you’ll be well on your way to creating mouthwatering tamales that everyone will love. So gather your ingredients, follow these tips, and get ready to embark on a culinary journey filled with savory delights!

Assembly and Wrapping

When it comes to making delicious tamales, mastering the art of assembly and wrapping is key. This technique is crucial in achieving the perfect consistency and shape that will make your tamales stand out. Here are some essential steps to follow:

Spreading the Masa Dough

The first step in assembling tamales is spreading the masa dough. Masa dough is made from cornmeal and has a smooth, slightly sticky texture. To achieve the perfect consistency, make sure your masa dough is well hydrated and pliable. This will make spreading it easier and ensure a delicious final result. You can add water or broth to the masa dough to achieve the right consistency, but be careful not to make it too watery.

Note: The masa dough should be spread evenly onto the corn husks, about 1/4 inch thick.

Now, take a corn husk and place it on a flat surface. Using a spoon or spatula, spread a thin, even layer of masa dough onto the husk. Leave about a 1-inch border on one edge, as this will be used for folding and sealing the tamale. Don’t spread the dough too thickly, as it may affect the cooking time and texture of the tamale. Take your time to spread the dough evenly on each corn husk.

Note: Spreading the masa dough evenly ensures a consistent taste and texture throughout each tamale.

Adding the Filling

After spreading the masa dough, it’s time to add the filling to your tamales. The filling can vary depending on your preference, but popular options include shredded chicken, pork, beef, cheese, or even vegetables. Make sure to evenly distribute the filling across the center of the masa dough, leaving some space on the sides to allow for folding and sealing. This will ensure that every bite of your tamale has a delicious burst of flavor.

Note: Make sure the filling is evenly distributed to avoid any overly dense or empty sections in your tamales.

Wrapping and Tying the Tamales

Once you have added the filling, it’s time to wrap and tie your tamales. Take one side of the corn husk with the masa dough and fold it over the filling, enclosing it completely. Then, fold the other side of the corn husk over the top, creating a nice package for your tamale. To keep it secure, tie the tamale with a thin strip of soaked corn husk or kitchen twine. This will ensure that the tamale stays intact during the cooking process.

Note: Properly sealed tamales prevent the filling from leaking and ensure a neat and visually appealing final product.

Repeat these steps until you have used up all the masa dough and filling, and have a batch of perfectly assembled tamales ready for cooking. Cooking tamales may vary depending on your preference, but steaming them is the most common method. Remember to arrange the tamales upright in a steamer and cook them for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the masa dough is firm and fully cooked.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of assembling and wrapping tamales, you can impress your friends and family with your delicious creations. Whether it’s for a special occasion or just a cozy homemade meal, tamales make for a flavorful and satisfying treat. Enjoy!

Steaming the Tamales

Master the art of steaming the tamales to ensure they are cooked to perfection and infused with flavor. Steaming is a traditional cooking method that allows the masa dough and filling to cook together, resulting in delicious and tender tamales. Here are the steps to follow:

Preparing the Steamer

Before you start steaming your tamales, it is important to set up your steamer properly. You will need a large pot with a steamer basket or a tamale steamer. Follow these steps to prepare your steamer:

  1. Fill the pot with a few inches of water. Make sure the water level is below the steamer basket or rack.
  2. Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. If using a tamale steamer, fill the bottom pot with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Cover the pot with a lid and let the water continue to simmer while you arrange the tamales.

Arranging the Tamales

Once your steamer is ready, it’s time to arrange the tamales for cooking. Follow these steps to ensure even and thorough cooking:

  1. Take a soaked corn husk and place it on a clean surface.
  2. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of masa dough onto the center of the corn husk.
  3. Spread the dough evenly, leaving about an inch border around the edges.
  4. Add your desired filling in the center of the dough. It can be anything from savory meats to cheese and vegetables.
  5. Fold the sides of the corn husk inward, enclosing the filling.
  6. Roll the corn husk from the bottom up, creating a neat cylinder shape.
  7. Place the tamale upright in the steamer, leaning them against the sides to prevent them from toppling over.
  8. Repeat the process with the remaining corn husks, dough, and filling.

Steaming and Testing for Doneness

Proper steaming time is crucial to achieve perfectly cooked tamales. Follow these steps to steam your tamales to perfection:

  1. Carefully place the filled steamer basket or rack in the pot, ensuring it is above the simmering water.
  2. Cover the pot with a lid to trap the steam inside.
  3. Steam the tamales over medium heat for about 1 to 1.5 hours. Check the water level occasionally and add more water if needed.
  4. To test for doneness, remove a tamale from the steamer and let it cool slightly. Unwrap the tamale and check if the masa is firm and cooked through.
  5. If the masa is still too wet or doughy, steam the tamales for an additional 10-15 minutes until fully cooked.

Once the tamales are done, remove them from the steamer and let them cool slightly before serving. Enjoy your homemade tamales and savor the flavors you have mastered!

Serving and Enjoying

When it comes to tamales, the possibilities are endless. From traditional toppings to innovative flavor combinations, there are countless ways to serve and enjoy these delicious treats. Whether you’re hosting a party or simply craving a tasty meal, here are some ideas to elevate your tamale experience.

Traditional Toppings and Sauces

One of the joys of eating tamales is the variety of toppings and sauces that can be paired with them. Traditional toppings like salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are always a hit. Their vibrant flavors and creamy textures perfectly complement the richness of the tamale itself.

For a spicier kick, you can try adding some pickled jalapeños or hot sauce. These fiery additions will give your tamales an extra zing and make them even more satisfying for spice enthusiasts. ️

If you’re looking for a milder option, consider topping your tamales with some shredded cheese. The gooey, melted cheese will add a comforting and indulgent touch to each bite.

Creative Twists on Tamales

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try experimenting with unique flavor combinations for your tamales? You can incorporate ingredients like roasted peppers, caramelized onions, or even pineapple for a surprising twist.

Another creative idea is to stuff your tamales with unconventional fillings, such as pulled pork, spinach and feta cheese, or even black beans and sweet potato. These unexpected combinations will take your taste buds on a culinary journey.

Additionally, you can play with the masa dough itself by adding spices like cumin, paprika, or even cocoa powder. These additions will infuse your tamales with unique flavors and take them to a whole new level. ️

Pairing Tamales with Sides and Beverages

While tamales are delicious on their own, they can be further enhanced by pairing them with the right sides and beverages. A classic choice is to serve tamales with a side of Mexican rice and refried beans. This combination provides a balanced and satisfying meal.

If you’re looking for a lighter option, consider serving your tamales with a fresh salad. The crispness of the greens will provide a refreshing contrast to the soft texture of the tamales.

When it comes to beverages, you can’t go wrong with a traditional Mexican drink like horchata or Jamaica agua fresca. These refreshing beverages will complement the flavors of your tamales and quench your thirst.

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic option, try pairing your tamales with a fruity iced tea or a sparkling lemonade. The sweetness of these drinks will balance out the savory flavors of the tamales.

As you can see, serving and enjoying tamales is an art that allows for creativity and personal preference. Whether you prefer traditional toppings or innovative flavor combinations, there are no limits to how you can elevate your tamale experience. So go ahead and let your taste buds explore the wonderful world of tamales!

Storage and Reheating

Discover the best practices for storing and reheating tamales to maintain their texture and taste.

Proper Storage Techniques

Knowing how to store tamales properly is essential to ensure they stay fresh and delicious. Here are some tips to help you master the art of storing tamales:

  1. Wrap it up: To keep your tamales fresh, individually wrap each tamale in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will prevent them from drying out and absorbing any unwanted flavors from the fridge.
  2. Choose the right container: Place the wrapped tamales in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. This will create a barrier against moisture and help maintain their texture.
  3. Label and date: To easily identify the tamales and keep track of their freshness, label the container or bag with the date when they were prepared.
  4. Refrigerate promptly: After cooking your tamales, refrigerate them within two hours to prevent bacterial growth. The colder temperature will help prolong their shelf life.
  5. Freeze for long-term storage: If you have a surplus of tamales, freezing them is a great way to make them last even longer. Wrap each tamale tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
  6. Use within three months: Frozen tamales are best consumed within three months for optimal taste and texture.

Reheating Methods

When it’s time to enjoy your stored or leftover tamales, reheating them properly will ensure they taste just as delicious as when they were freshly made. Here are some methods to reheat your tamales:

  1. Steam it right: Steaming is the preferred method for reheating tamales. Place a steamer basket or colander into a pot with a small amount of water. Arrange the tamales upright and cover the pot with a lid. Steam for about 15 minutes or until heated through.
  2. Microwave with caution: If you’re short on time, microwaving is an option. However, be careful not to overcook the tamales, as they may become dry. Wrap the tamale in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 1-2 minutes, checking for desired temperature.
  3. Oven baking: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Remove the tamales from their wrapping and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Preserving Leftover Tamales

If you have leftover tamales that you want to enjoy at a later time, it’s important to preserve them properly. Here are some tips to help you preserve your leftover tamales:

  • Separate servings: If you have a large batch of tamales, separate them into individual servings before storing. This will make it easier to thaw and reheat only the amount you need.
  • Freeze in small portions: To avoid refreezing, divide your tamales into smaller portions based on your future meal needs. This way, you don’t need to thaw the entire batch each time.
  • Packaging is key: Wrap each serving of tamales tightly in plastic wrap, foil, or place them in a freezer bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Date and label: Just like with freshly made tamales, it’s important to label and date your leftovers, so you can keep track of their shelf life.

Note: Be cautious of how long you refrigerate or freeze your tamales. While they can remain safe to eat, the texture and taste may deteriorate over time.

By following these storage and reheating methods, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious tamales any time, without compromising on taste or texture. Remember to store them properly, choose the appropriate reheating method, and preserve any leftovers correctly. Happy tamale cooking!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on how to cook tamales. We hope you found it helpful and feel inspired to give this traditional Mexican dish a try. Cooking tamales can be a fun and delicious way to bring friends and family together, and the taste is truly worth the effort. If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. And remember to check back later for more tasty recipes and cooking tips. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions people have about cooking tamales:

No. Questions Answers
1. How long do tamales need to steam? Tamales typically need to steam for about 1 to 1.5 hours. However, this can vary depending on the size and thickness of the tamales, so it’s always best to check for doneness by unwrapping one and ensuring that the masa is cooked through and not doughy.
2. Can I freeze tamales? Yes, tamales can be frozen for later consumption. Once they are cooked and cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat frozen tamales, steam them for about 20-30 minutes or until heated through.
3. Can I use a different filling for tamales? Absolutely! While traditional tamales are filled with savory ingredients like shredded chicken or pork, you can get creative with your fillings. Some delicious options include cheese and jalapenos, roasted vegetables, or even sweet fillings like chocolate and fruit. Experiment and find your favorite combination!
4. Can I make tamales in advance? Yes, tamales can be prepared in advance. You can make the filling and masa dough ahead of time and store them separately in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to cook the tamales, simply assemble and steam them as directed. This can be a time-saving option if you’re planning to serve tamales for a special occasion or holiday.
5. Can I use store-bought masa for tamales? Yes, you can use store-bought masa harina to make tamales. Follow the instructions on the package to prepare the masa dough, and then proceed with assembling and steaming the tamales. While homemade masa gives a more authentic flavor, store-bought masa can still yield delicious results.
6. Are tamales gluten-free? Tamales can be gluten-free if you use a masa harina that is specifically labeled as gluten-free. Regular masa harina is made from corn, which is naturally gluten-free. However, some brands may process their masa in facilities that also handle wheat, so it’s important to check the label to ensure it is gluten-free if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article has provided you with the guidance and inspiration you need to cook tamales in the comfort of your own kitchen. Share this delicious traditional dish with your loved ones and create lasting memories. Remember to stay patient and enjoy the process, as cooking tamales is as much about the experience as it is about the final result. Thank you once again for reading, and we look forward to seeing you back here soon for more exciting recipes and culinary adventures. ¡Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!)

Master the Art of Making Delicious Tamales | Bistro Le Crillon

Tamales Recipe

Learn how to cook delicious tamales with this step-by-step recipe. Perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 12 tamales
Calories 250 kcal


  • 2 cups masa harina corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups warm water or broth
  • ½ cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 12 dried corn husks
  • 1 ½ cups filling of your choice shredded chicken, pork, cheese, etc.


  • Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl of warm water and let them soak for about 30 minutes or until they're pliable.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the warm water or broth, mixing until a soft dough forms. In a separate bowl, beat the lard or vegetable shortening until fluffy, then gradually add it to the masa dough, beating until well combined.
  • Take one softened corn husk and pat it dry. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the masa dough onto the husk, leaving a border around the edges. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of your chosen filling onto the center of the masa dough. Fold the sides of the husk over the filling, then fold the bottom of the husk up. Secure the tamale by tying it with a small strip of soaked corn husk or kitchen twine.
  • Arrange the assembled tamales in a steamer basket, standing them upright with the folded ends down. Add water to the bottom of the steamer pot, making sure it doesn't touch the tamales. Cover the pot with a lid and steam the tamales over medium heat for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the masa is cooked through and no longer sticky.
Keyword tamales, Mexican cuisine, traditional recipe

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