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Leftover Turkey Tamales


"These tamales take some time, but are well worth the effort. They are a great way to use up leftover holiday turkey. These are also healthier than many traditional tamale recipes which are made with lard. These freeze well and can later be either microwaved or re-steamed. Serve with lime wedges as garnish."
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2 h 50 m servings 442 cals
Original recipe yields 10 servings (10 serving)

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  1. Soak corn husks in a bowl of warm water until softened, about 1 hour; drain.
  2. Mix masa, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon chili powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a bowl. Stir corn oil into masa mixture. Measure 1/2 cup turkey broth and set aside. Add remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, to masa mixture until dough is smooth and the consistency of thick peanut butter.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; saute onion and garlic until softened and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add turkey, 1 teaspoon paprika, oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir reserved 1/2 cup turkey broth into filling until moistened.
  4. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon dough in the center of each corn husk. Top filling with 1 heaping tablespoon filling. Roll husk around dough and filling, tucking bottom of husk into tamale. Tie a corn husk strip or string around each tamale to secure.
  5. Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Stand tamales upright in steamer, cover, and steam until cooked through, about 1 hour. Add more water as needed.


  • Tip
  • Aluminum foil helps keep food moist, ensures it cooks evenly, keeps leftovers fresh, and makes clean-up easy.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 442 calories; 27.6 g fat; 30.8 g carbohydrates; 19.3 g protein; 37 mg cholesterol; 656 mg sodium. Powered by the ESHA Research Database © 2018, ESHA Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Read all reviews 11
  1. 11 Ratings

Most helpful positive review

Delicious way to use leftover thanksgiving turkey. I used chicken broth instead of turkey broth and the taste was still great. One of the best tamal recipes I have tried.

Most helpful critical review

I made this recipe with my leftover turkey. I was very disappointed. I didn't like the spices used in the masa. The chili powder was overwhelming and there was no heat.

Most helpful
Most positive
Least positive

Delicious way to use leftover thanksgiving turkey. I used chicken broth instead of turkey broth and the taste was still great. One of the best tamal recipes I have tried.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! The masa is wonderfully flavored and it was such a great way to use up leftover turkey. We had smoked our Thanksgiving turkey so it was extra flavorful. I think I'...

I had a ton of turkey left over so I thought I would give this a try, to my surprise it was great. My finicky family even loved it they all agreed it was the best use of leftover turkey. The dou...

These were delicious! I didn't have corn oil so I used vegetable oil, and they were moist and the flavor was great! Definitely a great way to use up all that leftover turkey.

I wanted to try this recipe because of all the seasoning in the masa. I made the masa with the spices but used coconut oil instead of corn oil. Very good! My son asked me to make them more often...

We ran out of corn husks. My wife suggested aluminum foil which worked well.

Turned out great!!! It was time consuming, but easy to make. I used vegetable oil and chicken broth as I didn't have corn oil or turkey broth. I doubled it, I had a lot of turkey.

our first attempt at tamales and this recipe was yummy and easy

I used pork, i couldn't use all 1 quart chicken broth, i used 3 cup for dough, 1/2 cup for pork. It was so good. Thank you so much