Christmas Eve Tamales Tutorial

For more  years than I can remember we have had Mexican Food on Christmas Eve and most of the time the meal was centered around the Tamales. We will be having the Tamales on Christmas Eve this year and I wanted to share them with you. I really don't know how many times I have made the Tamales or who made them first in our family, it is just something that is passed along from one generation to another and each one puts his or her special little season to the Tamale.

Corn and Black Bean Tamale With Orange Cranberry Sauce

Basic Tamale Dough
Miz Helen's Kitchen
Makes 12 Tamale

2 cups Masa Harina
2 cups Boiling Water
11 tablespoons vegetable shortening or Lard chilled
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock, chilled
  • In a mixer with paddle attachment mix the Masa Harina, cumin, and Cayenne pepper
  • Add the boiling water in a steady stream to the mixing bowl while the mixer is on medium speed. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. Continue to mix  for five minutes.
  • Transfer the dough ball to a clean bowl and refrigerate the dough for one hour.
  • Returning the dough to the mixer, beat the dough on medium to high for five more minutes.
  • With the mixer running add the vegetable shortening 2 tablespoons at a time and mix well with each addition until the entire shortening amount has been added and the mixture is smooth.
  • Combine the salt baking powder and chilled Chicken stock, slowing adding the mixture to the dough while the mixer is running. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Mix Until It Forms A Ball

After The Ball has Chilled Mix Again

The Corn Husk
Miz Helen's Kitchen
  • Rinse the Corn Husk
  • Soak the Corn Husk in warm water about 30 minutes.
  • Take the Corn Husk from the water and place it on a towel then  pat the Husk dry.
  • Tear enough stripes of Husk to tie the Tamale
Soak The Corn Husk

Pat The Corn Husk Dry

Corn & Black Bean Tamale Filling
Miz Helen's Kitchen
Makes Filling for 12 Tamale
2 cups Shredded & chopped Pork cooked
1 cup Frozen Corn & Black Bean Vegetable Mix
1 1/2 cups of Chili Sauce( recipe follows)
  • In a skillet add the shredded and chopped pork and 1 cup of the Frozen Corn & Black Bean Vegetable Mix.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of Chili Sauce and mix well.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has been reduced.

Mix The Pork, Vegetables, and Chili Sauce
The Chili Sauce
Miz Helen's Kitchen
6 Cascabel/Guajillo Chili Pods ( These are the dried long red chili that you can find in most super markets)
4 cups warm water
  • Take the stem off and remove all the seeds
  • Soak the chili in warm water for about 15 minutes, then pour the chili and the water into the blender.
  • Blend until the sauce becomes thick.

Soak The Peppers

Blend The Pepper and Water

Blend Until The Sauce is Thick

The Cranberry Orange Sauce
Miz Helen's Kitchen
11/2 cups whole cranberry sauce
1 cup Mandarin Oranges chopped and drained
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pecans
4 tablespoons of the Cascabel/Guajillo Chili Sauce (recipe above)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Mix well and bring to a simmer. Serve warm

Mix and Simmer
Assemble The Tamale
Miz Helen's Kitchen
  • Spread the dry Corn Husk with a fairly thin layer of the masa dough
  • Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling down the center of the masa dough
  • Roll the Tamale
  • Tie the Tamale
Assemble The Tamale
Cooking the Tamale
Miz Helen's Kitchen
  • Steam the Tamale in a steamer for 1 hour. Make sure the lid to your steamer is tight. Some people like to wrap their Tamales in a towel to steam, but if your lid fits right you won't have to wrap them.
  • Remove the Tamale and let them dry on a  cookie sheet for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Steam The Tamale
I will be serving the Corn & Black Bean Tamale with The Cranberry Orange Sauce with a garnish of Cilantro.

I have other Tamale recipes that I will be sharing with you as we continue to blog together. I hope that your Christmas will be the best ever. You are very special to us here at the Country Cottage and we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Peace and Joy
Miz Helen

This Post is Linked To:
Fiesta Roundup at Gooseberry Patch
30 Day Holiday Linky Party
Christmas Menu
Countdown to 2011
Hunk of Meat Monday
Fat Camp Friday
Pot Luck Friday
Foodie Friday
Ultimate Recipe Swap Thursday
Recipe Swap Thursday
Real Food Wednesday
Whats Cooking Wednesday
Tuesday Twister
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Hearth and Soul Hop
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday

Miz Helen
Miz Helen

Cookbook Author, Recipe Developer, Organic Gardner.


  1. Miz Helen! This is sooooo awesome! I have long wanted to make tamales myself but didn't really know how and I like how you put all the photographs in to help with the tutorial! I wonder if you can make these with lard? I have some fresh rendered lard and I dont use vegetable shortening. Just wondering? I am going to share this on my hearth and soul hop recipe highlights at a moderate life on friday because I love when my bloggie friends teach us all how to do something new! Thanks for sharing with us on the hearth and soul hop and big hugs! Alex

  2. This is a gorgeous post.I am a big fan of mexican food.So nice of you to put up all the step makes thing simpler!Thanks so much

  3. Hi Miz Helen, what a wonderful tradition! You make tamale making look so easy, I can't wait to see the other recipes you have! Thanks.

  4. Oh, WOW, Miz Helen, this looks delicious! I will have to make this too. I can't believe how many amazing recipes everyone is posting this week. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting, I'm following now.


  5. Your tamales looks very interesting and delicious! Ever since I first saw a tamale recipe from At Home With Rebecka, I am very fascinated with this corn husk. Looking forward to your other tamale recipes! Thank you for this lovely tutorial!

  6. After all the pictures of sweets, I so enjoyed this and your briskett recipe. You make it seem so easy to make your recipes.

  7. I love this, Miz Helen! It's always the traditions that make lasting memories for the holidays. And I'm all for a tamale tradition, I swear that I could never have enough of them! Love that you use cascabel chiles, they're one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing your holiday tradition with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  8. These look delicious Miz Helen, and your tutorial for how to make them is excellent! Thank you for sharing your holiday tradition and the wonderful recipe for it!

  9. I'm embarrassed that I've only had tamales once before, but these look amazing! I think I could try them again with this recipe : )

  10. We always make tamales at Christmas with a dear friend who is of Mexican heritage and we look forward to it all year. This sunday we will make the pork tamales from scratch. We love them but I am going to try this recipe on my own. Maybe we'll start a new tradition.

  11. Thanks so much for stopping by Graceful Abandon...and for leading me to this awesome recipe!

  12. I have wanted to make tamales forever, but I don't have a special tamale steamer. Did you use one, or did you just use a regular veggie steamer?

  13. Elsa,
    I just use a regular veggie steamer. It is a large steamer as you can see in the picture. For years I just used the steamer rack in my Wok and I have used the Tupperware Steamer in the Micro Wave. Hope you try them, you will have fun!

  14. Is it possible to make these a day or so in advance and then reheat to eat? We have tons going on on Christmas Eve, but always buy tamales. I would like to make my own, but don't get home from family and church until 6 PM.

  15. Hi Deborah,
    The Tamales freeze really well for up to three months. Just bring them to room temperature and warm them in the steamer or Micro Wave. I never warm them in the oven, it dries them out to much. This allows you to have them on special days without being in the kitchen all day. Hope you enjoy your Tamales!

  16. My sister and her husband (who is from Mexico) make tamales every year for Christmas. It's a real production, but they make enough to last for several months. Your recipe looks fantastic - I'm going to forward the link!

  17. Wow - great tamale tutorial! I have never made them, they always seemed so I have a bit more courage after reading your great post! You make it look easy :-)

  18. Now this sounds absolutely delicious! Great recipe!

  19. welcome to tuesday night supper club! you came with guns a blaring, i see :) we love tamales around here, and your tutorial makes it look so easy! thank you for sharing with tuesday night supper club!

  20. Thanks for the information, I will give this a try.

  21. My mother learned how to make tamales from a good friend who was a native of Mexico when I was young and we have been making them ever since. We could ask for what we wanted on our birthdays and mine was tamales. I have never had mine with such a fancy sauce though. Everything sounds fabulous!

  22. They look delicious. It's lovely to have traditions.

  23. My ex SIL used to make these for Christmas every year, just with a different filling, and they were delicious! With your step by step instructions it doesn't look hard at all to make. I will have to try this soon, Thanks for sharing!

  24. How yummy! I just love the fact that you have lard in the recipe. My husband thinks anything cooked with lard in it is sent straight from heaven. Thanks for linking up again!

  25. Well, I have tried my hand twice at tamales and so far, I have not succeeded in making something edible. I am a good cook too but....not so much on the tamale. I am going to try again using your recipe. It may not be until later in the month but when I do, I will link back to you. One year, I decided to use some smoked pork left over from the day before. It had been smoked all night, as was our annual tradition (see my post called Ode to Smoked Brisket and Pork). We thought that sounded good, but they tasted horrible. The first year, I couldn't get the masa to cook right....and I cooked and cooked and cooked. I have no idea what that was all about but chalked it up to being my first time. I WILL conquer the tamale. Yours look divine....including the filling and sauce. Wish me luck.

  26. I've always wanted to make tamales and have just never done it. My husband would be so excited if I did. Yours look so good-- I may have to use your recipe:)

  27. Recipe converted! Hi, just wanted to thank you for your post and let you know
    I veggie-converted this recipe

    Thanks for all you do!
    Kristi @
    Veggie Converter

  28. I, like another commenter above, have always wanted to make tamales but just haven't had the gumption to do it. (Y'all know that word dontcha?) The dough sounds like it would be tasty all by itself! I have one question: I'm assuming that when you refer to Cheyenne peppers (twice) that you mean cayenne, am I correct? Or is there such a critter as a cheyenne pepper? I really don't know my peppers, as you can tell.

    Don't know if you'll see this since it's now January, but if you do I'd appreciate your reply because I want to try this recipe. I'm also assuming that chicken or beef would work here. We don't eat pork. And I'd probably use coconut oil in the place of lard or other oils. Thanks for this recipe!

  29. Hi Naomi,
    It is Cayenne. I am going to learn to ignore that Spell Check since it doesn't talk
    Thanks for coming by to have tamales with me and let me know how your tamales turn out and hope you enjoy them.


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Miz Helen