Green Tamales with Chicken

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Learn how to make Green Tamales with Chicken, easily, without a mixer and without lard. Ideal for Christmas, Candlemas or any other occasion, try them.

green tamales with chicken

As you may have noticed from the photo, these tamales have a slightly different shape from traditional Mexican tamales which are longer and flatter.

The technique for making these more rotund tamales I learned from my Guatemalan friend, Hilda.

One of the things I don’t like about buying tamales is that they often have a lot of cornflour, or masa, but very little filling. Don’t you agree? Just one of the many advantages of making them at home is you can increase the amount of filling.

RELATED POST: Chile Verde Tamales

green tamales with chicken on a holiday plate

Tips for Saving Time

Making tamales isn’t difficult, and yes, they do take some time and effort, but they are well worth it. These are some tips to save time and energy.

  • Prepare the filling ahead of time. You can make it 1 to 2 days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator. Then, on the day you make the tamales you will only need to assemble and steam them.
  • To save time, buy a rotisserie chicken for the filling. (Just one point though, you’ll need to buy chicken broth, too.)
  • Ask members of the family to come help. Assembling the tamales is what takes the most time, but is part of the fun when doing it with those you love. Celebrate!
tomatillos, cilantro, onion and peppers

What Do I Serve Them With?

Most Mexican families eat tamales with atole and nothing more. But in case you want to create a menu, here are some ideas.

Serve these green tamales with chicken along with beans or a green salad with a vinaigrette. Guacamole goes well, too. And of course, green salsa goes well for those who want more heat in their tamales.

If you plan to serve them during the Christmas holidays, I recommend serving them with Mexican ponche (if you live in the United States and can’t find all the fresh fruit for the ponche, I invite you to check out this recipe in which I include easier to find alternatives).

During cooler or rainier months, try serving them with Mexican style hot chocolate or atole. Check out my Lime Atole recipe here and my Pumpkin Atole recipe here.

Lime atole - atole de limón

In the summer or warmer months (because tamales taste great no matter the time of year), try serving them with an agua fresca made from Lime, Jamaica, Watermelon, or Pineapple and Coconut.

watermelon agua fresca

Want more ideas for drinks and aguas frescas? Get them here.

Ok, now, we’re going to make some tasty tamales, ready? Let’s go!

If you make these Green Tamales with Chicken, 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 a chance to share it as well.

Green Tamales with Chicken

45 tamales

Ingredients

  • 50-60 tamal leaves (dried corn husks, you can find these in the hispanic food aisle of your grocery store, or at a Mexican market)

For the Filling

  • 3/4 kg (about 1 1/2 lbs) cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 kg (about 1 pound) tomatillos, peeled and washed
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 3/4 cup water
  • a large bunch of fresh cilantro, washed
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Masa

  • 8 cups tortilla flour (masa harina, for example, Maseca)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (about 4 oz or 115 gm)
  • 6 cups chicken broth, divided

Utensils

  • Tamalera ( or big steamer pot)
  • Large Pot
  • Medium saucepan
  • Collander
  • Large bowl (glass or aluminum)
  • Kitchen towel

Process

Separate tamal leaves and place them in a large pot. I generally use my tamalera, or a large pot without the rack. Cover with warm water and let them hydrate for at least an hour.

Tip: The leaves tend to float, so keep them submerged by placing another smaller pot with water in it on top of them.

Prepare the Filling

In a blender, blend the tomatillos, onion, serrano chiles, water, cilantro, oregano, and a tablespoon of salt.

chiles serranos, cilantro, sal and tomatillos in blender

In a medium-size pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the green salsa and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the salsa turns olive green in color.

Add the chicken, stir well to combine with the salsa and heat for 5 minutes. Set apart.

shredded chicken with green salsa

Prepare the Masa

Add the masa flour to a large bowl, add the salt, olive oil, melted butter, and 4 cups chicken broth.

Leave it be, don’t touch it or stir it, let it stand for 10 minutes. Little by little the liquid will hydrate the masa, by doing this you will be saving time and effort when it comes time to use it.

masa harina for tamales with olive oil

While you wait, drain and dry the tamal leaves with a kitchen towel. Set apart.

Now stir the masa until the masa has absorbed all the liquid, the consistency looks a little dry, at this point begin adding chicken broth a half cup at a time, until you get a moist and smooth consistency so that it spreads easily.

In most cases, you will use about 6 cups, but it’s best to add the broth little by little in case climatic conditions make the masa moist enough with less liquid.

tamales masa

Cover the masa with a moist cloth kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.

Assembling the Tamales

Prepare your work area. You’ll need enough space to have the filling, the masa and the leaves within reach.

Take two or three tamal leaves (choose the smallest) and with your fingers separate them to form thin strips to use as ties for the tamales. Set apart. (See 3 photos below)

Place one tamal leaf down in front of yourself and take a small ball of the masa about 2 inches (4cm) in diameter.

With your hands, press it into the shape of a thick tortilla. Place about two teaspoons of filling in the center.

filling up green tamales with chicken

Now close up the masa around the filling and place the small ball in the middle of the leaf at the widest part. Wrap it up and fold it so both ends are facing up.

Take one of the leaf strips you made to tie the two ends of the leaf together.

tying tamales

Repeat until you’ve used all of your masa and filling.

Next, add water to the bottom of your steaming pot and place the rack inside, making sure the water level stays below the rack. If you have extra husks, put half of them over the rack to protect the tamales from direct contact with the water.

Place the tamales inside the steamer, top with remaining leaves, cover with the lid. Place over high heat until the water begins to boil.

tamales in steamer or tamalera

Lower the temperature to medium-low, the important thing is that it continues to steam without steaming off all of the water from the bottom.

Continue to steam the tamales for about an hour or until they are cooked. You will know they are done when they separate from the leaves easily when you carefully open them up.

Something important to keep in mind. The steam will make the tamales feel a little wet and loose. This is normal. If the tamal comes off the leaf easily, they are done, even if they look a little wet still.

As they cool, they will get firmer.

green tamales with chicken

Serve with your favorite atole, guacamole, or salsa.

Buen provecho!

tamales with salsa verde
5 from 9 votes

Green Tamales with Chicken

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 45 tamales
Calories: 193kcal

Ingredients

  • 60 tamal leaves dried corn husks

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 lb cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 lb tomatillos, peeled and washed 1/2 kg
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 3/4 cup water
  • A large bunch of fresh cilantro washed
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Masa

  • 8 cups tortilla flour masa harina, for example, Maseca
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup melted butter about 4 oz or 115 gm
  • 6 cups chicken broth divided

Utensilios

  • Tamalera ( or big steamer pot)
  • Large Pot
  • Medium saucepan
  • Collander
  • Large bowl (glass or aluminum)
  • Kitchen towel

Instructions

  • Separate tamal leaves and place them in a large pot. I generally use my tamalera, or a large pot without the rack. Cover with warm water and let them hydrate for at least an hour.
  • Tip: The leaves tend to float, so keep them submerged by placing another smaller pot with water in it on top of them.

Prepare the Filling

  • In a blender, blend the tomatillos, onion, serrano chiles, water, cilantro, oregano, and a tablespoon of salt.
  • In a medium-size pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the green salsa and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the salsa turns olive green in color.
  • Add the chicken, stir well to combine with the salsa and heat for 5 minutes. Set apart.

Prepare the Masa

  • Add the masa flour to a large bowl, add the salt, olive oil, melted butter, and 4 cups chicken broth.
  • Leave it be, don’t touch it or stir it, let it stand for 10 minutes. Little by little the liquid will hydrate the masa, by doing this you will be saving time and effort when it comes time to use it.
  • While you wait, drain and dry the tamal leaves with a kitchen towel. Set apart.
  • Now stir the masa until the masa has absorbed all the liquid, the consistency looks a little dry, at this point begin adding chicken broth a half cup at a time, until you get a moist and smooth consistency so that it spreads easily.
  • In most cases, you will use about 6 cups, but it’s best to add the broth little by little in case climatic conditions make the masa moist enough with less liquid.
  • Cover the masa with a moist cloth kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.

Assembling the Tamales

  • Prepare your work area. You’ll need enough space to have the filling, the masa and the leaves within reach.
  • Take two or three tamal leaves (choose the smallest) and with your fingers separate them to form thin strips to use as ties for the tamales. Set apart. (See 3 photos below)
  • Place one tamal leaf down in front of yourself and take a small ball of the masa about 2 inches (4cm) in diameter.
  • With your hands, press it into the shape of a thick tortilla. Place about two teaspoons of filling in the center.
  • Now close up the masa around the filling and place the small ball in the middle of the leaf at the widest part. Wrap it up and and fold it so both ends are facing up.
  • Take one of the leaf strips you made to tie the two ends of the leaf together.
  • Repeat until you’ve used all of your masa and filling.
  • Next, add water to the bottom of your steaming pot and place the rack inside, making sure the water level stays below the rack. If you have extra husks, put half of them over the rack to protect the tamales from direct contact with the water.
  • Place the tamales inside the steamer, top with remaining leaves, cover with the lid. Place over high heat until the water begins to boil.
  • Lower the temperature to medium-low, the important thing is that it continues to steam without steaming off all of the water from the bottom.
  • Continue to steam the tamales for about an hour or until they are cooked. You will know they are done when they separate from the leaves easily when you carefully open them up.
  • Something important to keep in mind. The steam will make the tamales feel a little wet and loose. This is normal. If the tamal comes off the leaf easily, they are done, even if they look a little wet still.
  • As they cool, they will get firmer.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Green Tamales with Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 193 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 17mg6%
Sodium 351mg15%
Potassium 96mg3%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 83IU2%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 6mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Mexican Classics
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: green tamales with chicken, how to make tamales without lard
Author: Silvia

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Sofía

Te han quedado unos tamales verdes estupendos, como me gustaria teletrasportarme para probarlos

Noemi

Que ricos estos green tamales. En Venezuela tenemos algo parecido que se llaman bollitos pero son más sosos. 😅 estos son potentes. Gracias por la receta ❤️

Brenda Cisneros

I love green tamales and tomatillo flavor, yours look delicious Silvia! I can’t wait to eat some tamales with ponche!

Andrés

Comida mexicana para el alma, ¿que más se puede pedir?

Blanca D

I love this season because its made for tamales! I haven’t made green tamales, but good think you have the recipe so I can follow!

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