Mouthwatering Tamale Recipes You Can (and Should!) Make at Home

This much flavor is worth the wait.

October 25, 2022

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Photo by: Dave Lauridsen ©copyright dave lauridsen 2014

Dave Lauridsen, copyright dave lauridsen 2014

Sometimes a quick bite is a must — we're huge fans of 30-minute dinners. But when you have the time to put a lot of love and effort into a meal, it shines through in every bite. And that could not be more true than with tamales. The hearty Mexican dish includes a flavorful filling wrapped in masa, then steamed in corn husks. While they can be found year-round at restaurants across the United States, there’s no reason you can’t make them at home, especially with your loved ones. Once you unwrap a freshly made tamale at your own table and take a bite, you’ll know your effort was worth it.

These tamales (pictured above) start with a one-bowl dough that easily comes together in your stand mixer. Its mild flavor pairs perfectly with the filling, made with roasted poblano chile peppers, garlic, fresh corn, Mexican crema and shredded cheese. You’ll soften 16 corn husks in a large pot of boiling water, allow them to cool, then tear four of the husks into thin strips to tie your assembled tamales together. You won’t want to wait to dig in once these flavor-packed packages leave the steamer.

Marigold Tamales

Photo by: Jason David Page

Jason David Page

Chef Vianney Rodriguez says marigolds remind her of her abuelita, who was the matriarch when the family gathered to make tamales. This recipe encompasses Vianney’s love for her abuelita and honors her memory with a twist on chicken tamales. These are flavored with marigolds, considered the "flower of the dead" during the season of Dia de los Muertos, when they are placed on an altar for the souls of the departed to help them find their way home. “The dried flowers also add a fragrant, earthy taste to the poached chicken filling,” Vianney says.

Marcela Valladolid's tamales, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen, Season 2.

Marcela Valladolid's tamales, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen, Season 2.

Photo by: Emile Wamsteker ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Emile Wamsteker, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Fill these tamales with roasted poblano chiles and shredded Oaxaca cheese or a flavorful guajillo chicken mixture. Filling tamales is easier than you may think: Simply hold an open softened corn husk in one hand, spread about two tablespoons of dough on the husk, beginning an inch from the wider top and ending at least 1 1/2 inches from the narrower bottom (don't forget to leave a border on each side). Sprinkle about one tablespoon of filling on top of the dough, then fold the sides of the husk up and over the filling, tucking the ends under. Once you have the technique down, you’ll have no trouble rolling a dozen (or more) with the remaining dough, although enlisting your family to help will make the process go faster and bring you memories to last a lifetime.

Red Chili Pork Tamales

Red Chili Pork Tamales

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

While it's common to make tamales year-round, these delicious steamed corn husk-wrapped bundles are traditionally made and shared around the holidays in Mexico. Everyone has their favorite filling — chicken, beef and pork are all popular. In this version from Food Network Kitchen, the pork shoulder filling is cooked low and slow in a flavorful sauce of dried chiles, aromatics and spices, then wrapped in a fluffy, tender masa.

Photo by: Michael Moriatis

Michael Moriatis

Tamales don't have to be made with meat to be delicious. These veggie tamales are just as gratifying as the meaty version, thanks to sauteed squash, bell peppers, jalapenos, onions and fragrant spices. Using a pressure cooker will help you speed up the cooking process, and we’re sure no one will complain about eating tamales sooner rather than later!

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A good shortcut is always welcome in our kitchen. You might not believe you can make these tamales with only eight ingredients, but this recipe proves it’s possible. A rotisserie chicken, bottled salsa and self-rising masa flour are just a few of the timesaving ingredients necessary to make tamales in little over an hour.

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