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Chicken Tamales Recipe

Chicken Tamales Recipe

“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. YIELD: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


  • 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.

Nutritional Facts

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

Reviews for Chicken Tamales

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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."

Reviewed Jan. 11, 2011

"My family absolutely love these. It was my first attempt at making them. The recipe was so easy to follow. I only had a 1/4 cup of chili powder and added taco seasoning to it. If I do that again I will omit all salt in the recipe. Other than that I would definitely recommend this recipe to others. Talked to a friend after I made them, and she wants the recipe, too."

Reviewed Jan. 7, 2011

"Where could a person get corn husks in the off season?  Do you actually eat the corn husk?  I love mexican foods, but this is somthing I have never seen or tasted before."

Reviewed Jan. 7, 2011

"These were really good. I added 1/4 c. chili powder instead of the 3/4 c. suggested and they turned out perfectly. I'd shudder to think what 3/4 c. would taste like."

daisy designer
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2011

"I love this recipe! I made these for New Years Day and they were a hit. It was the first time I had made tamales...I thought it would be dificult and it was so simple that we were even able to finish in the dark after the power went out! I'm definately making these again."

Reviewed Jan. 1, 2011

"This are a lot of work ,but are so good. You do need some salt in the dough.maybe 1 t,"

Reviewed Dec. 21, 2010

"has anyone made this with 3/4 c. chili powder? i'm making these for Christmas eve and i'm thinking this must be incorrect!"

Reviewed Nov. 27, 2010

"I tried making these-not had too much luck in the past with tamales. These are awesome! My husband doesn't usually like tamales but he was singing his praises with these! I only difference I did was only put in 1/4 c. of chili powder - I wondered if the amount was correct like the person posted before me. I think it was just enough chili powder. I am hooked and will be making these for the rest of my relatives!"

Reviewed Nov. 23, 2010

"3/4 cup of chili powder?"

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Wine Pairings

Full-Bodied White Wine

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