Making tamales is a holiday custom for many families of Mexican heritage. Our test kitchen experts show you how to join in the fun.

Tamales are a celebratory food served during the Christmas season and other special occasions. While they're a treat to eat, the art of preparing them is just as special. Friends and family come together for tamaladas, a party-like gathering centered around preparing and feasting on these savory stuffed delicacies cooked in corn husks.

Tamale fillings vary—fillings can include roasted peppers, shredded pork, chicken, vegetables, cheese and more. No matter how you fill them, tamales make a festive addition to any celebration.



Step 1

Whip dough (masa) until light and fluffy. It should be very thick and well combined.


Step 2

Properly beaten dough will float when dropped into cold water.


Step 3

Pat dough to within 1-in. of edges of each corn husk. Top with chicken mixture and olives.


Step 4

Roll corn husk around the filling. Fold top and bottom edges under; tie with kitchen string.


Step 5

Arrange tied tamales in an upright position in a steamer basket.



Did You Know?


Masa harina, Spanish for "dough flour," is the traditional flour used to make tortillas, tamales and other Mexican dishes. Although it is made from ground corn, masa harina is not like cornmeal. You cannot substitute one for the other in recipes.

Note: Look for dried corn husks and masa harina in the ethnic aisle.






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I love making tamales. They're a little more time-consuming, but worth the effort. I usually make these Chicken Tamales for Christmas, but my family demands them more often.
—Cindy Pruitt, Grove, Oklahoma





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