Tamales Oaxaqueños [Oaxacan-Style Tamales] Recipe

Stuffed with chicken and mole, these tamales Oaxaqueños or Oaxacan-Style Tamales, come from the State of Oaxaca in Mexico. They are simple to make and absolutely delicious. Learn how to make them step-by-step.

Oaxacan style tamales on a banana leaf

In partnership with Maseca

There are several types of Oaxacan-style tamales. The most common are stuffed with chicken and mole; however, whatever they are stuffed with, they all have one thing in common, they are wrapped in a banana leaf.

Tamales are versatile and scrumptious and a Mexican favorite. Consequently, you can find them year-round in all Mexican cities and towns, in big stores and small stores, open markets and street corners, even often in the parking lots of large grocery stores where families sell their own homemade tamales.

Most people know about savory tamales, but did know you can make sweet tamales, too?  

apple cinnamon tamal

Sweet tamales come in a variety of flavors- strawberry, pineapple, coconut and raisin, vanilla, etc. We usually eat them with a sweet, hot, corn-based beverage called atole, lime atole is my favorite.

Try some of our tamales recipes:

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2 Oaxacan-Style Tamales in banana leaf with colorful ribbons

Where to Buy Banana Leaves

As I mentioned, Oaxacan tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and it is important that you prepare them before you start.

If you live in Mexico, you probably can find banana leaves at any market or supermarket.

If you live in the United States, look for them in the produce department in the supermarket where they are usually sold in rolls in plastic bags. If you can’t find them, ask the manager, sometimes they are sold frozen.

Another option is to look for them in markets that sell Asian foods, where you usually find them in frozen packages.

Tip: Banana leaves break easily, treat them carefully when cutting and cleaning them. To make them more resistant you need to heat them. Details on how to do that below.

fresh banana leaves

RELATED POST: Pumpkin Atole

Where to Buy Mexican Mole

The traditional mole for making these tamales is the black mole or Oaxacan mole, although you can use the mole of your choice.

If you live in Mexico getting mole is very easy, you can find it in any supermarket or mercado, in paste, powder, or already prepared in liquid form.

chicken with mole in a glass bowl

If you live in the United States, I recommend looking for it in Mexican markets. If you don’t have any nearby, look for the mole already prepared in supermarkets. The most popular is the Mole Doña María.

You can also search for mole on Amazon.

If you make your own Tamales Oaxaqueños, be sure to snap a photo and share it with us on social media using the #mamalatinatips hashtag. I’d love to see it and have the chance to share it as well. 

Recipe updated on December 05, 2021

Oaxacan-Style Tamales Recipe (Tamales Oaxaqueños)

15 tamales

Ingredients

  • 16-18 banana leaves cut into 6×5 inches (15×13 cm) rectangles*
  • 1 lb (450 gr) cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 cup (250 gr) ready to use mole**
  • 1/3 cup (60 gr) lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups (500 gr) Maseca corn flour (for tortillas)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups chicken broth

* Banana leaves break easily, treat them carefully when cutting them.

**  Look for mole in Mexican groceries, or in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store, one famous brand is Doña María.  In Mexican markets you may find mole in a paste, you just need to add chicken broth until you get the desired consistency.

Utensils

  • Measuring cups or kitchen scale
  • Measuring spoons
  • Scissors
  • Kitchen towels
  • Comal or skillet
  • Large bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Mixer
  • Large steamer or tamalera

Process

Prepare the Banana Leaves

Once cut to the desired size, place them under running water to wash them well. Remember that they break easily, be careful.

Once washed, let them drain and finally dry them with a kitchen towel. When you dry them, do it from side to side following the lines of the leaves to avoid breaking them.

Next, heat a comal or a pan over medium-high heat and warm up the banana leaves. You will see that as they heat up they change to a lighter green color. They will become shiny, flexible, and more resistant to breaking. Put them aside.

banana leaf heating on top of a comal

Prepare the Filling

Now, mix the cooked and shredded chicken with the mole until well integrated. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the Masa for Oaxacan Style Tamales

Beat the lard or shortening until creamy, pour the olive oil and keep stirring until well integrated. This process can be done by hand, but if you prefer you can also do it with a blender.

Add the Maseca flour, salt, and baking powder and stir. Pour half of the chicken broth and mix. Add more chicken broth as needed until you get a dough that feels moist but not runny and it peels off your hand easily.

Assemble the Tamales

I recommend dividing the dough into 15-16 equal balls so that all the tamales are more or less the same size. Take a 1/3 measuring cup, fill it with the dough, take it out and form a ball of approx 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Repeat.

balls of corn masa for tamales

Take one of the banana leaves and place it on a surface with the paler green side up (this is the side where the filling goes) and with the lines horizontally.

Take one of the masa balls and place it in the center of the leaf. Spread it with your fingers or your hand to the desired thickness.

Place 1-2 teaspoons of the chicken mole in the center of the masa. Fold the top sheet so that it covers half of the filling, repeat folding the bottom.

You will have a tamal that will look like this:

Oaxacan style tamal on a banana leaf before cooking

Wrapping Them Up

Now, wrap the tamal in the banana leaf, and fold the two ends down. If you wish, you can tie the tamales with kitchen twine.

Next, pour 3-4 cups of water into the bottom of a steamer or tamalera. Place a rack and cover it with some of the banana leaves that were leftover.

Put the tamales horizontally in the steamer and cover with the rest of the banana leaves, cover with the lid and wait until the water starts to boil.

Lastly, when it comes to a boil, lower the heat to keep the water simmering. Steam the tamales for an hour.

After steaming, turn off the heat and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. The tamales are ready when they come off the banana leaf easily.

Enjoy with your atole of choice.

Print the Oaxacan Style Tamales Recipe

tamal oaxaqueño on a banana leaf
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Tamales Oaxaqueños (Oaxacan-Style Tamales)

Stuffed with chicken and mole, these tamales Oaxaqueños (Oaxacan-Style Tamales), which come from the Oaxaca State in Mexico, are simple to make and absolutely delicious
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 15

Ingredients

  • 16-18 banana leaves cut into 6×5 inches 15×13 cm rectangles*
  • 1 lb cooked, shredded chicken (450 gr)
  • 1 cup ready to use mole** (250 gr )
  • 1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening (60 gr)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups Maseca corn flour (for tortillas) (500 gr)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups chicken broth

Utensilios

  • Measuring cups or kitchen scale
  • * Measuring spoons
  • Scissors
  • Kitchen towels
  • Comal or skillet
  • Large bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Mixer
  • Large steamer or tamalera

Instructions

Prepare the Banana Leaves

  • Once cut to the desired size, place them under running water to wash them well. Remember that they break easily, be careful.
  • Once washed, let them drain and finally dry them with a kitchen towel. When you dry them, do it from side to side following the lines of the leaves to avoid breaking them.
  • Heat a comal or a pan over medium-high heat and warm up the banana leaves. You will see that as they heat up they change to a lighter green color. They will become shiny, flexible and more resistant. Put them aside.

Prepare the Filling

  • Mix the cooked and shredded chicken with the mole until well integrated. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the Masa for Oaxacan Tamales

  • Beat the lard or shortening until creamy, pour the olive oil and keep stirring until well integrated. This process can be done by hand, but if you prefer you can also do it with a blender.
  • Add the Maseca flour, salt, and baking powder and stir. Pour half of the chicken broth and mix. Add more chicken broth as needed until you get a dough that feels moist but not runny and it peels off your hand easily.

Assemble the Tamales

  • I recommend dividing the dough into 15-16 equal balls so that all the tamales are more or less the same size. Take a 1/3 measuring cup, fill it with the dough, take it out and form a ball of approx 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Repeat.
  • Take one of the banana leaves and place it on a surface with the paler green side up (this is the side where the filling goes) and with the lines horizontally.
  • Take one of the masa balls and place it in the center of the leaf. Spread it with your fingers or your hand to the desired thickness.
  • Place 1-2 teaspoons of the chicken mole in the center of the masa. Fold the top sheet so that it covers half of the filling, repeat folding the bottom.
  • Now wrap the tamal in the banana leaf, and fold the two ends down. If you wish, you can tie the tamales with kitchen twine.
  • Pour 3-4 cups of water into the bottom of a steamer or tamalera. Place a rack and cover it with some of the banana leaves that were leftover.
  • Put the tamales horizontally in the steamer and cover with the rest of the banana leaves, cover with the lid and wait until the water starts to boil.
  • When it comes to a boil, lower the heat to keep the water simmering. Steam the tamales for an hour.
  • Turn off the heat and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. The tamales are ready when they come off the sheet easily.
  • Put the tamales horizontally in a tamalera or steamer, cover them with a layer of banana leaves.
  • Cover the steamer and let them cook for approximately an hour or until the tamales open cleanly without the masa sticking to the leaves.
Course: Mexican Classics
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: how to make tamales oaxaqueños, how to make tamales with less sugar

Notes

* Banana leaves break easily, treat them carefully when cutting them.
** Look for mole in Mexican groceries, or in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store, one famous brand is Doña María. In Mexican markets you may find mole in a paste, you just need to add chicken broth until you get the desired consistency.

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Catalina

I’ve eaten the tamales Oxaqueaño and loved them, but I’ve never made them before. I’ll have to try it out later this week!

rachel

I never had a sweet tamale. That sound amazing!

Mayito Castillo

Hola Silvia. Muy tipico de las costumbres de Colombia hacer tamales para el 24 de ciciembre. Ya he provado los tambien Mexicanos y me parecen deliciosos.
Gracias por compartir la receta.

Comiendo en LA

En Colombia. tabien es tradicion comer tamal, pero el de nosotros es diferente y envuelto en hoja de platano. Me encantan los tamales mexicanos!

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