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Tamales Made Easy Recipe

Tamales Made Easy Recipe

A favorite across Latin America and the American Southwest, tamales often pair corn dough with a spicy meat filling. Our version is based on an Ecuadorian recipe and uses hominy, corn with its hull and germ removed. The hominy makes a lighter, fluffier dough than does masa harina, the main ingredient in most Tex-Mex versions.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each paprika, cumin, and salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes and pepper
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth


  • 2 (15-ounce) cans hominy, drained
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack, shredded
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon each yellow mustard, baking powder, and hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 10 (10- by 12-inch) sheets parchment paper and 10 (30-inch) lengths kitchen twine


Tamales Made Easy step 1

First, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato and continue cooking until a sauce has formed, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add the beef to the mixture and cook, breaking it into smaller pieces, until the meat loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove the filling from the heat and let it cool.

Tamales Made Easy step 2

Make the dough. Put the hominy in a food processor and pulse it until it's smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary, about 1-1/2 minutes. Add the cheese and butter and pulse until well blended, about 30 seconds more. Add the eggs and the yolk and pulse again. Add the mustard, baking powder, salt, and hot sauce and process until a light, fluffy dough has formed. Transfer the dough to a cake pan, spread it over the bottom, and divide it into 10 portions.

Tamales Made Easy step 3

To assemble each tamale, place half a portion of dough in the center of a sheet of parchment paper. Flatten the dough into a 3- by 5-inch rectangle, then spread 1/4 cup of filling onto the center of the rectangle. Cover the filling with the other half of the dough and pat it down. Tightly fold the parchment paper around the tamale and secure it with twine.

Tamales Made Easy step 4

Fit each of two large pots with a steaming basket or colander. Add water to each pot, filling it to just below the bottom of the basket. Remove the baskets and bring the pots of water to a boil.

Tamales Made Easy step 5

Loosely arrange five tamales in each basket, leaving space for steam to circulate as the tamales cook. When the water is boiling in each pot, set a basket inside and cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel. Top the towel with a tightly fitting lid and steam the tamales, replacing water as needed (see our "Coin Trick" below), until they are firm to the touch, about 30 to 40 minutes. Use tongs to remove the tamales from the baskets (a parent's job). Let the tamales cool slightly before serving with your favorite salsa. Makes 10 tamales.

Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 tamale): Calories 253 ● Total Fat 17 g (27% DV) ● Saturated Fat 9 g (44% DV) ● Cholesterol 100 mg (33% DV) ● Sodium 745 mg (31% DV) ● Total Carbohydrate 17 g (6% DV) ● Fiber 3 g (13% DV) ● Sugars 3 g ● Protein 8 g (16% DV) ● Vitamin A (20% DV) ● Vitamin C (21% DV)

Percent daily values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Coin Trick: Here's a simple way to know when to add water as the tamales steam. When you put the pots of water on to boil, place a clean coin in each. As the water boils, you'll hear the coins clinking and clanking against the pots. The sound will stop when most of the water is gone, alerting you that it's time to add more.