Chicken Tamales


  • 60 to 70 dried corn husks
  • Hot water
  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (1 pound) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (3 pound) broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening (at room temperature)
  • 3 cups Masa Harina
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups warm chicken stock or broth
  • Boiling water


  1. Place corn husks in large pot; add very hot water to cover. Top husks with plate and heavy jar to keep submerged. Let stand at least 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening in a deep skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion and sesame seeds; sauté until onion is soft and seeds are golden, about 4 minute. Stir in cinnamon and garlic; add tomatoes, chiles and 1/2 cup water. Add chicken to skillet; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Heat over high heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour. Remove chicken with tongs to plate; let stand until cool enough to handle.
  3. Skim and discard fat from tomato mixture; cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 3 cups, 8 to 10 minute. Transfer to blender container; process until smooth.
  4. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken; cut into 3/8- to 1/2-inch cubes. Drain corn husks; rinse and rub each husk under running water to remove any silk and debris. Drain well; pat dry. Wrap in towel to keep pliable.
  5. Beat 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes. Beat in Masa Harina, 1/4 cup at a time; beat until thoroughly blended. Beat in remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Gradually beat in stock, using just as much as is needed to form dough that just holds together.
  6. For each tamale, spread heaping tablespoon dough in center of 1 corn husk to form 3-inch square. Top with about 2 teaspoons tomato mixture and 4 to 6 chicken cubes. Fold right, then left edges of husk over filling. Fold wide end of husk over filled area; fold pointed end over and tuck into center of folded wide end. Turn tamale seam side down. Make 50 tamales in all.
  7. Line large steamer basket with remaining corn husks. Stack tamales in basket, seam sides down. Cover tamales with kitchen towel. Place steamer basket over 3 to 4 inches boiling water; cover with lid. Adjust heat to maintain gentle boil. Steam tamales about 40 minutes.
  8. Remove 1 tamale from center of basket and carefully unwrap; if dough pulls easily away from husk, it is done. If necessary, steam 5 or 10 minutes longer and test again.
  9. Serve tamales hot.

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