Here's an easy tamales recipe to keep in mind for weeknight dinners. Using leftovers for the tamale filling really simplifies the process -- we're using leftover bean dip in this batch! mexicanplease.com
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4.6 from 27 votes

Easy Tamales Recipe

This is an easy tamales recipe to keep in mind for weeknight dinners. Using leftovers for the tamale filling really simplifies the process -- we're using leftover bean dip in this batch!  
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Servings: 4 (10-12 tamales)
Calories: 832kcal
Author: Mexican Please

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 cup stock (plus more to combine dough)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons lard
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 20 dried corn husks

Tamale filling (feel free to customize to your liking):

  • 2 cups bean dip
  • 1 cup cheese

Instructions

  • Start by adding the corn husks to a large bowl and soaking them in the hottest tap water you've got.  You can use a bowl or plate to keep them submerged if they float to the surface. 
  • To make the dough, add 1.5 cups masa harina to a mixing bowl along with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.  Combine well and then add 1 cup of stock, roughly combining into a shaggy dough.
  • Add 6 tablespoons of lard and 3 tablespoons of butter to a mixing bowl and let it come to room temp.  Use a hand mixer on medium-high to whip the fat to a lighter consistency, approx. 2 minutes.  
  • Add half of the masa dough to the fat and combine using the hand mixer on medium speed.  Add the other half and combine into a cohesive dough.  Along the way you might need to add additional stock to get it to combine.  I usually end up using my hands to give it a final mix.
  • Drain the corn husks and pat dry a few of them.  We'll use the husks that are widest and intact. 
  • Spread 2-3 tablespoons of masa dough on the lower left portion of the husk's wide side.  I like these tamales best when the dough layer is super thin and I find that using my hands is the easiest way to get a thin, even layer of dough on the corn husk.  You could also use the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread the dough. 
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling to each tamale.  I used bean dip and cheese for this batch.
  • Fold the tamale onto itself and seal the edges so that you have a cocoon of tamale dough surrounding the filling.  Roll the remaining husk around the tamale and fold the bottom portion of the husk upwards. 
  • Place a vegetable steamer inside a large pot and fill the pot with enough water to barely reach the level of the steamer.  I used a large stock pot with approximately 1" of water in it. 
  • Bring the water to a boil and then lower heat to mediumish.    My stove setting for this batch was between medium and medium-high. 
  • Stand the tamales up vertically in the steamer, with the open side up and the folded side facing the side of the pot, this will keep them closed as they steam.  Cover the tamales with the remaining corn husks to prevent water from dripping into the open ends.  Steam for 60-75 minutes.  Keep an eye on the pot to ensure that there is always water to steam; if it runs low you can add more.  When the husk pulls away readily from the tamale then they are done.  Ideally the tamale has a light, moist consistency. 
  • Serve immediately with your choice of Salsa and sides. 

Notes

Whipping the fat using a hand mixer will incorporate some air into the fat and result in lighter, fluffier tamales.
 
To simplify the process, I usually make these tamales using leftover fillings, but feel free to make any filling that sounds appealing to you. 
 
I usually start checking on the tamales after they've been steaming for an hour.  If the husk pulls away readily from the tamale then they are done.   Ideally, the dough has reached a light, moist consistency. 
 
I used homemade, unsalted stock for this batch.  If you're using store-bought stock high in sodium then you won't need to add as much salt as I did. 
 
Keep an eye on the pot during the steam to ensure that it always has water in it.   If it runs low simply add more water to the pot.  I used a larger pot for this batch so I didn't have to add any additional water during the steam. 
 
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 832kcal