Chicken Tamales Recipe
Chicken Tamales Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Chicken Tamales Recipe

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4.5 13 9
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“I love making tamales. They’re a little more time- consuming but worth the effort. I usually make them for Christmas, but my family demands them more often.” —Cindy Pruitt, Grove, Oklahoma
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 2-1/2 hours + soaking Cook: 45 min.
MAKES:10 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 2-1/2 hours + soaking Cook: 45 min.
MAKES: 10 servings


  • 20 dried corn husks
  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut up
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • DOUGH:
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained

Nutritional Facts

2 tamales: 564 calories, 35g fat (7g saturated fat), 44mg cholesterol, 835mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 7g fiber), 20g protein


  1. Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with cold water and soak for at least 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the chicken, water, onion, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until meat is tender. Remove chicken from broth; set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain broth; skim fat. Finely chop or shred chicken.
  3. For dough, in a large bowl, beat the shortening until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add small amounts of masa harina alternately with 2 cups reserved broth, beating until well blended.
  4. Drop a small amount of dough into a cup of cold water; dough should float to the top. If dough does not float, continue beating until dough is light enough to float.
  5. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; stir in flour until blended. Cook and stir for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in the spices, chicken and 4 cups reserved broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until filling is thickened, stirring occasionally.
  6. Drain corn husks and pat dry. Place a corn husk on a work surface with the small end pointing away from you. On large end, spread 3 tablespoons dough to within 1 in. of edges. Top with 2 tablespoons chicken mixture and 2 teaspoons olives. Fold long sides of husk over filling, overlapping slightly. Fold over ends of husk; tie with string to secure. Repeat.
  7. In a large steamer basket, position tamales upright. Place basket in a Dutch oven over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 45-50 minutes or until dough peels away from husk, adding additional hot water to pan as needed. Yield: 20 tamales.
Editor's Note: Look for dried corn husks and masa harina in the ethnic aisle.
How-To: How to Make Tamales»
Originally published as Chicken Tamales in Taste of Home December/January 2011, p51

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.

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Reviewed Feb. 22, 2014

"Hi, I had made this recipe with the chicken. It was really good!. Everyone loved them!:-). I just think that I took way to long in the kitchen trying to figure it out. I think that the time this recipe takes should be adjusted for more than it posted. But I really am grateful for this wonderful recipe. Thanks you for posting this. God bless you:-)oh by the way, the dough is the tricky part. Even though it floated, it was still not ready. So I am going to do this again soon. I will let you know how everything goes. Thanks"

Reviewed Dec. 27, 2013

"I add the broth from the chicken I cooked to the masa and add butter instead of lard this adds wonderful flavor! Also add a some cumin to your chicken para sabor delicioso. Another tip...I have a Ninja food processor...this is awesome for shredding your pork or chicken...use the dough blade!"

Reviewed Jun. 15, 2013

"These are absolutely wonderful and I will definitely be making them again. I did cut the chili powder back to just under 1/4 cup for us, and added a couple teaspoons salt to the dough. So good, can't wait to have them again. Thanks for sharing!"

Reviewed Apr. 20, 2013

"Let me start off by saying I did not make actual tamales. I just made the chicken filling. I did not get a broiler chicken; I just used 3 chicken breasts, and boiled it with the onion and garlic like the recipe indicated, and I probably used half the water. All the other reviews made me nervous to put in all the chili powder, so I only put in 1/4 cup. I thought it was a good amount of flavor. We put the chicken filling in homemade flour tortillas instead of making tamales. SO, this is 5 stars for the chicken filling. I will make this again."

Reviewed Feb. 5, 2013

"My tamales fell apart in the steamer! I am going back to my own recipe."

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