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It is an authentic recipe for tamales, starting out with real masa harina.

You can find masa harina in your local grocery store or ethnic store or buy it online.

This recipe for tamales comes from an amazing cookbook called The Texas Cowboy Kitchen by Grady Spears, a renowned Texas chef.

This is a very traditional Mexican recipe, which uses lard. Don’t be too afraid of the lard. People around the world have used pure lard for years in their cooking. Many will argue that is has tremendous health benefits. The other ingredients are quite healthy for you.

How to Make Tamales


An authentic chef's recipe for tamales, starting out with real masa harina.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main or Side
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 38 Servings
Calories 75 kcal


  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 3 cups chicken stock, warmed
  • 2 cups lard
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 4 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups corn kernels, fresh
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 50 corn husks soaked in warm water
  • 6 corn husks soaked in warm water or butcher twine


  • Put the masa harina in a large bowl and reconstitute by adding warm chicken stock. Beat with a wooden spoon until the dough is stiff, but smooth. Add a little more stock if necessary, but be sure to keep the mixture firm.
  • In another large bowl, beat the lard with a mixer fitted with a paddle until it is very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Continue to beat at medium speed and add the masa a little at a time until well combined. The texture should be light and fluffy. To see if the mixture is blended well enough, drop a teaspoon of the dough into a glass of water. If it floats, it's mixed well. If not, keep beating. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat and cook the bell peppers, jalapenos and onion for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture begins to soften. Add the corn and cilantro, season with salt and remove the pan from the heat. Gently fold the mixture into the prepared masa until well combined, being careful not to overwork. Choose several softened corn husks and tear into 72 thin strips. These will be used to tie the tamales.
  • On a clean, dry surface, spread out 42 softened corn husks and spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of the prepared masa into the middle of each husk. Roll each tamale lengthwise, tightly, then twist at both ends, much like the wrapper of a Tootsie Roll. Securely tie each end with a strip of the corn husk or butcher twine. Set aside.
  • Prepare a steamer or a pot with a steaming rack, cover and steam the prepared tamales for approximately 1 hour, or until they is firm to the touch. Remove and serve warm with your favourite filling, or let cool, wrapped well in place and freeze for future use.
  • Makes 36.


Calories: 75kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 47mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 359IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 24mgIron: 1mg
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Tamales are just one of Grady’s amazing Texas recipes. Find his buttermilk pie here.

If you like this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you share it on social media. Thanks.

How to Make Tamales

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