Learn how to make tamales with this recipe for delicious chicken tinga tamales with tomatoes and chipotles in adobo. You can also swap in turkey for the chicken in the filling (feel free to use leftover cooked turkey if you'd like--dark meat works best). Mexican grocery stores sell everything you need to make tamales, including corn husks and freshly ground corn masa, but you can also find the ingredients at most well-stocked grocery stores. The secret to a good tamale is mixing the dough thoroughly, until it's as airy as possible. If you have leftovers of the spicy chicken filling, use it to make nachos, serve it with scrambled eggs and tortillas, stuff it into tacos or serve it on tostadas. Source: EatingWell.com, October 2019

Lesley Téllez


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place the chicken (or turkey) in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Cut 1 onion half into 2 pieces; reserve the remaining half. Add 1 onion wedge and whole garlic clove to the pan; bring to a boil. Chop the other onion wedge and set aside.

  • Once water is boiling, reduce heat to very low, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate or bowl and let cool. Once cool, shred the meat with fingers or 2 forks.

  • Meanwhile, soak corn husks in a big pot or bowl of hot tap water. Weigh the husks down with something heavy, so they stay submerged.

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat; add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is warmed through, add the reserved chopped onion; cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add minced garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes; cook, stirring, until the tomatoes soften into a thick, chunky paste, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken, chipotles, adobo, oregano and pepper, along with 1/2 cup broth. Taste and add more chipotle or adobo if desired--the filling should be noticeably smoky and spicy. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  • If using fresh masa, put the masa in a deep mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup broth. Knead with your hands until a wet dough forms. (If using masa harina, add the flour to a mixing bowl and pour in 2 1/4 cups broth. Mix with your hands until evenly moist and soft.)

  • Pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups oil into the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment. (If you don't have one, an electric hand mixer works.) Add a few pingpong-ball-size bits of masa to the oil and mix on low speed. Continue to add masa a little bit at a time, mixing on low speed and then working up to medium once the dough comes together.

  • Stir in baking powder and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. (If using masa harina, which tends to dry out faster than regular masa, stir in 1/2 cup broth, and add an additional 1/4 cup if the dough still seems lumpy and stiff.) Mix on high speed for 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula, until the dough is smooth and fluffy. It should resemble a thick muffin batter.

  • To fill the tamales, assemble a workstation with the dough, filling and husks nearby. Remove a husk and wipe the water off with a dishcloth. Choose the largest, thickest husks that don't have any holes. Peel off and discard any dried corn silk.

  • Use a rubber spatula to spread about 1/2 cup of dough (or less: the amount will depend on the size of your husk) in a rectangular shape on the husk. Leave about 3 inches of space on the narrower end of the husk, where you'll fold it closed, and 2 inches of space from the top.

  • Using a slotted spoon, add about 1 tablespoon of filling in a line down the middle. To close, bring one end of the husk toward the other and press the dough together lightly to seal. (If the filling spills out, you've added too much, but you can spoon a little more masa on top of any leaks.) Tuck the edges of the husk under each other, to form a long tube shape. Hold the tube vertically and press firmly on the bottom edge of the tamale (the narrower end) to seal. Fold the husk back in the place where you've sealed it. Place the tamale on a baking sheet and repeat the process to make the remaining tamales.

  • Pour water into a steamer pot and add a layer of husks on the bottom of the steamer basket--this adds flavor and helps lock in the steam. Bring the water to a light boil. Add the tamales carefully in a vertical position. Steam, adding more water if necessary, until the husk just starts to pull away from the dough, 35 to 40 minutes. (The tamales will still feel rather soft.)

  • Remove the tamales with tongs to the baking sheet. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve the tamales in the husks, passing salsa, crema (or sour cream) and avocado at the table.


To make ahead: Refrigerate tamales for up to 3 days. Reheat in a steamer basket or in the microwave.

Learn more about how to make these tamales.

Nutrition Facts

567 calories; total fat 29.9g 46% DV; saturated fat 4.3g; cholesterol 25mg 8% DV; sodium 755mg 30% DV; potassium 384mg 11% DV; carbohydrates 61.7g 20% DV; fiber 5.4g 22% DV; sugar 3g; protein 14.7g 29% DV; exchange other carbs 4; vitamin a iu 428IU; vitamin c 5mg; folate 31mcg; calcium 151mg; iron 2mg; magnesium 81mg; thiaminmg.

Reviews (2)

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2 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 0
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
These are among the best tamales I have ever eaten. The dough is wonderfully fluffy and the spice on the filling is just right. They re-heat really well in a steamer pot or the microwave too. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Can the filling be cooked in an instant pot? Read More