Chicken Tamales

These chicken tamales, moist and stuffed with flavorful chicken and tomatillo salsa, have everything you want in your tamales. Learn to make them with this step-by-step recipe.

wrapped tamales

If you would like green tamales with chicken that do not include lard, follow this recipe here, for chile verde tamales with pork check this recipe out.

This is the recipe I made with Tiffany from Tiff & Case. You can see the video of that day here. We had so much fun!

Chicken Tamales

Servings: approx 35 tamales (4 inches long)

Ingredients

40-50 corn husks

For the filling

  • 2.5 pounds chicken breast
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 3 1/2 tsp salt (divided)
  • 1 white onion (divided in half)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, peeled and washed
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp olive oil
chicken broth, lard and corn flower in a metallic bowl

For the Masa

  • 265 grams lard (1 1/4 cup)
  • 500 grams corn flour for making tortillas (~4 cups)
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Process

Cook the Chicken

Place chicken, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, half an onion in a pot, cover with approximately 4 cups of water, and place over high heat.

raw chicken, garlic, onions and bay leaves in a pot

When the water starts to boil lower the temperature and simmer for 35-40 minutes until chicken is tender. Set aside.

Soak the Corn Husks

Place the corn husks in a large bowl or pot and cover with boiling water until soft, approximately 30-40 minutes. The husks tend to float in water, so place another pot filled with water on top of them to hold them underwater.

corn husks soaking in a bowl with a pot on top of them

Make the Chicken Filling

Next, put tomatillos, 1/2 onion, 2 serrano peppers, 2 teaspoons salt, oregano, cilantro, 2 cooked garlic cloves from the chicken broth and 1/4 cup chicken broth in a blender, and mix until smooth.

tomatillos, onion, oregano in a pitcher blender. Cilantro in the background

Pour 1 tsp olive oil into a medium-size pot and add the salsa from the blender. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the salsa changes color from bright green to olive green.

Shred the cooked chicken, add to the pot with the salsa and mix with a spoon. Set aside.

Make the Masa

Place lard in a mixer bowl and beat until very soft and creamy, approximately 5-7 minutes.

soften lard in a glass bowl

In a separate bowl mix together corn flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the softened lard and keep beating at low speed until well integrated. (If you don’t have a mixer, you can mix by hand). Add the remaining dry ingredients and continue beating until integrated. The mixture will look like coarse sand.

Start by adding 1 cup of the chicken broth until well integrated. Add a second cup until well integrated. At this point, turn off the mixer, remove the bowl, and add another 1/2 cup of chicken broth and mix with your hands or a spoon but the hands are better.

masa dough for tamales in a glass bowl

Continue adding more liquid until you get a soft and spreadable creamy peanut butter-like consistency masa. Cover with a kitchen towel.

Assembling the Tamales

Remove corn husks from the water and squeeze them to remove excess water, then dry them with a kitchen towel.

Next, take 2 or 3 of the husks, depending on their sizes, and separate them into strips 1/4 inch thick to use as ties for securing the tamales (See photos or video).

Now take a whole corn husk and spread 1-2 tablespoons of masa on half the corn husk, starting 1/2 inch from the top of the wider end and leaving 1 inch of the husk clear of masa to one side.

open corn husk with masa and chicken in green sauce

Add a teaspoon of the chicken filling in the middle of the masa. Fold both sides to cover the filling, the side with no masa will be on top. Then fold the tamal in half and tie. Continue until you’ve used all the masa.

Steaming the Tamales

Fill your tamalera or steamer with water, but make sure that the water does not touch the tamales when they are placed in it. Cover the bottom of the tamalera colander with a few corn husks and place your tamales inside vertically, with the open side up.

wrapped tamales

Place some corn husks on top of the tamales, then with a wet kitchen towel. Cover and, over high heat, steam for 1 hour. Always carefully open your tamalera or steamer to avoid steam injury.

Make sure to check on the water level of the steamer a couple of times so it doesn’t run dry. After 1 hour, turn off the heat and let them rest for 10 minutes. Remove tamales with tongs.

Enjoy!

wrapped tamales
5 from 10 votes

Chicken Tamales

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 35
Calories: 168kcal

Ingredients

  • 40-50 corn husks

For the filling

  • 2.5 pounds chicken breast
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 3 1/2 tsp salt divided
  • 1 white onion divided in half
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos peeled and washed
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp olive oil

For the Masa

  • 265 grams lard 1 1/4 cup
  • 500 grams corn flour for making tortillas ~4 cups
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

Cook the Chicken

  • Place chicken, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, half an onion in a pot, cover with approximately 4 cups of water, and place over high heat.
  • When the water starts to boil lower the temperature and simmer for 35-40 minutes until chicken is tender. Set aside.

Soak the Corn Husks

  • Place the corn husks in a large bowl or pot and cover with boiling water until soft, approximately 30-40 minutes. The husks tend to float in water, so place another pot filled with water on top of them to hold them underwater.

Make the Chicken Filling

  • Next, put tomatillos, 1/2 onion, 2 serrano peppers, 2 teaspoons salt, oregano, cilantro, 2 cooked garlic cloves from the chicken broth and 1/4 cup chicken broth in a blender, and mix until smooth.
  • Pour 1 tsp olive oil into a medium-size pot and add the salsa from the blender. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the salsa changes color from bright green to olive green.
  • Shred the cooked chicken, add to the pot with the salsa and mix with a spoon. Set aside.

Make the Masa

  • Place lard in a mixer bowl and beat until very soft and creamy, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl mix together corn flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients to the softened lard and keep beating at low speed until well integrated. (If you don’t have a mixer, you can mix by hand). Add the remaining dry ingredients and continue beating until integrated. The mixture will look like coarse sand.
  • Start by adding 1 cup of the chicken broth until well integrated. Add a second cup until well integrated. At this point, turn off the mixer, remove the bowl, and add another 1/2 cup of chicken broth and mix with your hands or a spoon but the hands are better.
  • Continue adding more liquid until you get a soft and spreadable creamy peanut butter-like consistency masa. Cover with a kitchen towel.

Assembling the Tamales

  • Remove corn husks from the water and squeeze them to remove excess water, then dry them with a kitchen towel.
  • Next, take 2 or 3 of the husks, depending on their sizes, and separate them into strips 1/4 inch thick to use as ties for securing the tamales (See photos or video).
  • Now take a whole corn husk and spread 1-2 tablespoons of masa on half the corn husk, starting 1/2 inch from the top of the wider end and leaving 1 inch of the husk clear of masa to one side.
  • Add a teaspoon of the chicken filling in the middle of the masa. Fold both sides to cover the filling, the side with no masa will be on top. Then fold the tamal in half and tie. Continue until you’ve used all the masa.

Steaming the Tamales

  • Fill your tamalera or steamer with water, but make sure that the water does not touch the tamales when they are placed in it. Cover the bottom of the tamalera colander with a few corn husks and place your tamales inside vertically, with the open side up.
  • Place some corn husks on top of the tamales, then with a wet kitchen towel. Cover and, over high heat, steam for 1 hour. Always carefully open your tamalera or steamer to avoid steam injury.
  • Make sure to check on the water level of the steamer a couple of times so it doesn’t run dry. After 1 hour, turn off the heat and let them rest for 10 minutes. Remove tamales with tongs.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Tamales
Amount Per Serving
Calories 168 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 26mg9%
Sodium 425mg18%
Potassium 234mg7%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 38IU1%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Mexican Classics
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: chicken tamales, how to make green tamales, how to make mexican tamales
Author: Silvia

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Cathleen

I love tamales, but have never made them myself!! I love your step by step instructions, it makes it so easy to follow!!

Jacqueline Debono

I’ve never had tamales but have always wanted to. I’ve been cautious because I thought they were really difficult to make. But this recipe sounds quite doable, so definitely want to give it a go!

Kayla DiMaggio

These chicken tamales are so delicious! I loved how fun they were to make!

Tammy

I’ve never made my own tamales but I am excited to make these! I LOVE tamales..thank you for this delicious recipe to try!

adriana

Just in time for La Candelaria! I love chicken tamales, especially with tomatillo sauce. Now I am hungry,

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