Back to Chicken Tamales

Print Options


Card Sizes

Chicken Tamales Recipe

Chicken Tamales Recipe

I love making tamales. They’re fairly time-consuming but worth the effort. I usually make them for Christmas, but my family demands them more often, so I freeze a big batch. —Cindy Pruitt, Grove, Oklahoma
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 2-1/2 hours + soaking Cook: 50 min. YIELD:10 servings


  • 24 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 until softened, at least 2 hours.
  • 2. Place chicken, water, onion, salt and garlic in a 6-qt. stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, 45-60 minutes. Remove chicken from broth; cool slightly. Remove bones and skin; shred chicken. Strain and skim fat from stock; reserve 6 cups stock for dough and filling.
  • 3. For dough, in a large bowl, beat shortening until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. In small amounts, beat in masa harina alternately with 2 cups stock. 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 it becomes light enough to float.
  • 4. In a Dutch oven, heat oil; stir in flour until blended. Cook and stir over medium heat until lightly browned, 7-9 minutes. Stir in seasonings, chicken and 4 cups stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 5. Drain corn husks; tear four of the husks to make 20 strips for tying tamales. On the wide end of each remaining husk, spread 3 tablespoons dough to within 1/2 in. of side edges; top each with 2 tablespoons chicken mixture and 2 teaspoons olives. Fold long sides of husk over filling, overlapping slightly. Fold over narrow end of husk; tie with a strip of husk to secure.
  • 6. Place a large steamer basket in a 6-qt. stockpot over 1 in. of water; place tamales upright in steamer. Bring to a boil; steam, covered, until dough peels away from husk, about 45 minutes, adding additional hot water to pot as needed. Yield: 20 tamales.

Recipe Note

Test Kitchen Tips

  • Step-by-Step: How to Make Tamales»
  • If you’re looking for a beef filling, we like the brisket from this burrito recipe. It's prepared in a slow cooker and there may be some beef left over for another meal.
  • Look for dried corn husks and masa harina in the international foods aisle.
  • 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

    Sort By :

    Average Rating
    Reviewed Dec. 17, 2017

    "I got brave enough to try this recipe because the directions in Taste of Home Magazine were easy to follow. I adjusted the spices to my taste. With easy to follow directions you can add to your family traditions."

    Reviewed Oct. 12, 2017

    "For char3bc : You do not eat the husk. Use the husk to wrap the tamale in so the tamale will stay together. You can buy dried corn husks at the market or Online. You merely soak them so they are pliable, then prepare by smearing the corn husk with a layer of masa then put in a filling and wrap, and steam.

    Traditionally, we use pork roast, pull the pork and add cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Make sure you use some of the gravy from the roast otherwise your tamales will be dry. Put a lot of filling in for the best tamales."

    Reviewed May. 9, 2017

    "Use ALL the 3/4 cup chili powder for flavor. It's not a typo. I followed the advice of a few and put in only 1/4 cup. Next time, I'll do it right"

    Reviewed Apr. 12, 2017

    "I only used 1/4 cup chili powder and it was perfect. I also made a batch with shredded beef and everyone loved them."

    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 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 Edited Apr. 3, 2017

    "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."

    Loading Image