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Quick and Easy Homemade Tamales Recipe
Finding recipes for quick and easy Mexican food is hard enough but you’re going to love this recipe for tamales. These delicious Easy Homemade Tamales with chicken will make you the Queen (or King) of the kitchen.
Tamales are a traditional homemade holiday treat at Thanksgiving, but even more so at Christmas!
Everyone at the dinner table will love you when they enjoy these Easy Homemade Chicken Tamales. These are delicious Mexican chicken tamales for you to make homemade any time you want, not just for the holidays.
Now you can make your chicken tamales from scratch like a pro. This quick and easy homemade tamales recipe will save much of the time and hard work required by the old-fashioned tamales that our grandmothers made.
A good, easy homemade tamales recipe is a great way to enjoy traditional Mexican food the whole family will love.
Featured Image: Beautiful Memories Of Making Tamales by Valerie Hinojosa via Flickr
Making Homemade Tamales Was Hard Back Then
When I was a little girl, all my aunts, my mom and my maternal grandmother gathered in my grandmother’s kitchen to make tamales. It was an all day affair with the women working in teams. There was no easy homemade tamales recipe back then either. You learned by helping.
Some prepared the corn husk leaves by making stacks of them. The corn husks had been soaked overnight to make them soft and pliable for spreading.
The corn husks had to be thick enough to be spread with the masa and filled. They also had to be thin enough to be rolled and folded. They have to be strong enough to be steamed to cook the masa. So the corn husks have to be not-too-thin and not-too-thick. Almost sounds like science, doesn’t it?
Others cooked the chicken, boning it and simmering it in the richly aromatic spices that made us all hungry just passing by and getting a sniff.
Still others worked on preparing the masa. It had its own spices and had to be just the right consistency for spreading.
There were several HUGE pots ready to receive the tamales and steam them to perfection. The assembly line worked like busy bees – spreading, filling, folding and stacking. It took a LOT of tamales to fill those steamers. It took HOURS for them to be done!
Those are some of my most treasured memories of my aunts and grandmother…and my mother in their midst. They worked, they laughed and they talked from the wee hours of the morning till the youngest of us fell over in exhaustion at the end of the day, with our little tummies stuffed with fresh tamales.
As the years have gone by, making tamales to sell has become a cottage industry in Hispanic neighborhoods. I’ve been more than happy to pay some steep prices for these fresh hot tamales. Just because I never thought I could master the HUGE task of making homemade tamales.
- 6 cups corn masa mix
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup corn oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 bag corn husks
- 1-2 rotisserie chicken
- 2 small cans salsa of your choice, verde, tomatillo, etc.
- Soak the corn husks in warm water until soft. You'll have to sort them out and use the leaves that are wide enough to either roll or fold in half after they are filled with yummy stuff. You want the corn husks to be soft and pliable in your hands so they don't tear or break. After 30 minutes to an hour or so, pull one out and try to spread it with your masa. You'll see what I mean about pliable.
- Blend together your corn masa mix, the corn oil, salt to taste, baking powder and the chicken broth to obtain a consistent mixture. You want it to be spreadable like a thick peanut butter consistency.
- Shred the rotisserie chicken and simmer it in your chosen salsa or tomatillo sauce. Don't make it too "juicy" or it will run right out of your tamales. Just use enough salsa or sauce to flavor the chicken and keep it moist.
- Once your corn husks are soft enough, your masa is ready and the chicken is ready, spread the masa evenly over one or two corn husks and spread a spoonful of that marinated chicken on top of the masa. Use the smooth side of the corn husk, rather than the rougher textured side. The masa will stick to the smooth side and cook properly. You won't get good results if you use the rough side.
- Fold the sides of the corn husk to center over the masa so that they overlap to make a long package. Fold the empty part of the husk under so that it rest against the side of the tamale with a seam. Another way to do it is to roll the filled corn husk like a cigar and fold the "unspread" pointy tip part of the husk up to 'close' it. Two ways to do it there. I'm of the cigar rolling method school myself.
- Place your filled tamales in a steamer and cook them for 35-40 minutes. Check every 20 minutes. Since this recipe uses cooked rotisserie chicken, the only thing you're really looking to cook is the masa.
- Your tamales are ready when they separate easily from the corn husk. If the masa is not done yet, it will NOT separate from the husk.
Hard To Give Exact Amounts And Cooking Times
With these old traditional Mexican recipes, it’s always been very hard to give exact measurements for ingredients and cooking times. My mother would always just say “ay que tantear” how much of what ingredient to use or how long to cook something. Yep, that was frustrating when I was trying to learn to cook. LOL
Ay que tantear just means to use your judgment. Use enough spice to your taste. Cook it till it’s done to your taste. I bet you can imagine some of my earliest cooking disasters from there.
Today, more and more of us baby boomers want to keep and remember these treasured recipes that have been passed down by word of mouth and/or demonstration.
When you see measurements given in these traditional types of Mexican food recipes, stop and take a moment to think about how YOU like your food. Do your best to try the recipe as it’s written to check it out. But don’t be afraid to experiment and change things up a little if you want.
My best example is that Hispanic (Mexican American) though I may be, I don’t eat jalapenos, habaneros or pretty much anything hotter than pepper. I use Siracha sauce by the drop and I use the MILDEST picante sauces. I can assure you that my Chiles Rellenos are NOT very spicy and neither is my chicken mole.
You know best how you and your family like your food prepared, so ‘ay que tantear’ the ingredients and cook times you see in any traditional Mexican food recipes.
Preparing The Masa For Your Tamales
Don’t over work the masa. The consistency of your masa should be like really thick peanut butter. This quick little video shows about how thick the masa should be.
Enjoy Your Tamales, Made The Easy Way
So, yeah. Tamale making used to be really labor intensive, but made with love ~ they just seemed to taste all the better for it.
Today’s handy tamale spreader makes quick work of spreading the masa over the corn husk in one quick swipe. It used to be a fine art to spread the masa evenly with the back of a spoon!
Now we can enjoy tamales anytime we want them in less than half the time. I do hope that you’ll explore how to make them from scratch and try to make them that way too. It’s important to remember how things were done originally.
Thoughtful Gift Idea ~ Who Knew There Was A Kit?
Another Easy Homemade Tamales Recipe
Now that’s what I’m talking about! This video shows us how to make pork tamales. YUM!
Make Your Own Homemade Chicken Tamales Today
I do hope you enjoyed this easy shortcut to making delicious homemade chicken tamales for your family at any time of year. Obviously using the rotisserie chicken is a huge help. So is using an electric roaster instead of the old school steamer pot.
As you “practice” making your own tamales, you can incorporate some of the old ways for a more authentic experience.
The most important ingredients of all for your tamales are love and family. Include as many members of your family as possible in preparing the different components of this traditional dish. The memories you make will be as delicious as the tamales!