This authentic Mexican recipe for homemade tamales is straight from Mexico. Tamales are stuffed with a spicy tomatillo sauce with poblano chiles and cheese - delicious! In Mexico, Chihuahua or Oaxaca cheese is used, but those cheeses are hard to find here, so you can substitute with Monterey Jack. [Originally submitted to]


Recipe Summary

1 hr
1 hr 43 mins
15 mins
2 hrs 58 mins
24 tamales


Original recipe yields 24 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place corn husks in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain, place on a work surface, and cover with a clean, damp towel.

  • Line a heavy cast iron grill pan or griddle with aluminum foil and place over high heat. Arrange poblano peppers in a single layer on top. Grill until chiles are blackened, turning as necessary, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer into a resealable plastic bag and let them steam, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel off skin, seed, and cut them into strips.

  • Place tomatillos in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and cook until they change color, about 5 minutes. Drain and place in a blender. Blend until smooth.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon lard in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add blended tomatillos and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors are well combined, about 5 minutes. Add poblano peppers and cilantro and boil for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, about 10 minutes.

  • Beat remaining lard in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add salt and continue beating for a few minutes. Add masa harina and baking powder and beat well until combined. Add chicken broth, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough has a smooth and workable consistency that is not too wet, similar to cookie dough. Test if the masa is ready by dropping a small ball of masa into a glass of cold water; if it floats, it's ready, if not, keep working the dough a little longer.

  • Select 1 wide corn husk or 2 small ones. Spread about 2 tablespoons masa mixture onto the corn husk, filling it up to 2 inches from the bottom and 1/4 inch from the top. Add 1 tablespoon of the tomatillo sauce and a piece of Monterey Jack cheese in the center of the masa mixture. Fold sides of husk together, one over the other. Fold the bottom of the husk over the seam of the 2 folded sides. Repeat with remaining husks.

  • Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add tamales with the open side up and cook until filling is heated through and separates from the husk, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let tamales rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes:

In Mexico, people use Chihuahua cheese or Oaxaca cheese for these tamales. If you can find them, use them!

When boiling the tomatillos make sure that they don't break open, otherwise they get very bitter.

You can also cook tamales in a pressure cooker. Then the cooking time will only be 30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

252 calories; protein 5.4g; carbohydrates 19g; fat 17.5g; cholesterol 23.1mg; sodium 198.2mg. Full Nutrition

Reviews (6)

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Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
As a Chef it's very well put together but you need a about 2 tbs of the sauce don't skimp show some Love feed the people hearty it's tomatillos,cheese and Pablanos Read More
6 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 5
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
As a Chef it's very well put together but you need a about 2 tbs of the sauce don't skimp show some Love feed the people hearty it's tomatillos,cheese and Pablanos Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Just a pinch more salt. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
We LOVED this recipe! It took some time, but the end result was fantastic. This was our first time making tamales and we wanted to make them vegetarian. We substituted shortening for lard and vegie broth for chicken. The only stumbling block I came across was cooking the peppers. I followed the instructions, but kept thinking the peppers weren't hot enough from the grill pan. After letting them sit in the plastic bag, they still weren't done. So I repeated the process, except I put the pan in the oven at 450 for about 15 minutes, then put them in the bag. We ended up with extra green sauce, which we pureed and used at the table. I also added some of the puree to rice, which completed our meal. My daughter is already talking about making more and freezing them. Thanks so much for this recipe! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Perfect recipe! The prep took a long time but it was worth it for mouthwatering tamales. I made this with banana leaves instead of corn husks and with pasilla peppers. The only change I would make would be to use more than two teaspoons for the masa mix since they were fairly small. This is delicious with some tapatio! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I made these and they were delicious! I made more so I just tripled the ingredient portions. In addition I added extra salt. I also added two japenos and two serrano peppers to the salsa as well as a little oregano. What was left I made pork with and mixed the pork with the salsa and made pork tamales as well. Thank you so much for the recipe!!!! I have been married to a mexican for 20 years and these were very authentic! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I tasted the dough while making it for salt content. I thought i had a sufficient amount but after cooking obviously i was wrong. The recipe states to salt to taste so we can't blame the recipe LOL! I myself thought it kind of bland in taste ( and I added Mexican chili powder to the masa and shredded chicken) and also noticed that those who raved also threw in lots more flavor. My suggestion is if you like lots of flavor you need to add the spices you love. I think it's a great starter recipe. I'll make it again but will certainly add a great deal more than I initially did. A tamale should be able to stand on its own in flavor without having to douse it in hot sauce or other condiments. Read More