Tamales: A Delicious and Nutritious Traditional Mexican Dish

Tamales are a beloved traditional Mexican dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. This flavorful and nutritious dish can be cooked by filling corn masa with various ingredients like meats, vegetables, and spices before steaming it in corn husks. In this blog, we’ll explore the origins of tamales, their history, and everything you need to know about preparing this delicious dish.

Origin of Tamales

Tamales originated in Mesoamerica and were a staple food for the Aztecs, Mayans, and other indigenous people. Preparation for special occasions like religious festivals, weddings, and births. They were also used as portable food for warriors and travelers because they were easy to carry and had a long shelf life.

Tamales History

Tamales have a long and fascinating history that dates back to pre-Columbian times in Mesoamerica. The exact origin of tamales is not known, but it is believed that they were first made by the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations.

Tamales were a staple food in Mesoamerica and were often made for special occasions and religious ceremonies. The ancient people believed that the gods gave them tamales as a gift, and they were often used as offerings to the gods.

Tamales were made with a variety of fillings, including meats, vegetables, and fruits, and were often wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks. The fillings and the way the tamales were prepared varied by region and by culture.

When the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica in the 16th century, they brought with them new ingredients, such as pork and beef, which were added to the traditional tamale fillings. The Spanish also introduced new cooking techniques, such as baking and frying, which were used to make tamales in addition to steaming.

More Info

Today, tamales are a beloved dish in many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. They are often made for special occasions, such as Christmas and Dia de los Muertos, and are still used as offerings to the gods in some cultures.

In addition to their cultural significance, tamales also played an important role in the diets of the ancient Mesoamerican people. Tamales were portable and nutritious food that could be easily transported and stored. They were often eaten by soldiers and travelers who needed a quick and filling meal.

Overall, the history of this dish is rich and complex, and the dish has played an important role in the cultures and cuisines of Latin America for centuries. Whether enjoyed as a traditional food or as a modern twist on a classic recipe, tamales continue to be a beloved and delicious dish.

Everything to Know About Tamales

They are made from corn masa, a dough made from ground corn and water, and are traditionally filled with meats, vegetables, and spices. The filling can vary depending on the region and personal preferences, with popular options including pork, chicken, beef, cheese, and vegetables.

The masa and filling are wrapped in a corn husk and steamed for about an hour until the masa is cooked through and the filling is hot and tender. Varieties of toppings like salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are one of the ways of serving this dish.

How to Prepare Tamales

Preparing this dish can be a labor-intensive process, but the results are worth it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare it:

  1. Soak the corn husks: Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes to soften them before use.
  2. Make the masa: In a large bowl, mix the masa harina with water, lard, and salt until you have a smooth dough.
  3. Prepare the filling: Cook the meat or vegetables and season with spices like chili powder, cumin, and oregano.
  4. Assemble the tamales: Spread a thin layer of masa on each corn husk, leaving room at the top and bottom for folding. Add a spoonful of filling in the center of the masa.
  5. Fold and steam: Roll the tamale and fold the ends of the corn husk to seal it. Steaming by cooking through for about an hour.

How to Eat Tamales

Eating this dish can be a bit of a challenge for those who are unfamiliar with the dish. The traditional way to eat it is to unwrap the corn husk and use a fork or your hands to pull away the masa, revealing the filling inside. It’s best to eat while they’re still hot and fresh out of the steamer.

Tamales Recipe Easy

If you’re short on time or new to making this dish, one easy recipe is for cheese and green chili tamales. To make this recipe, you will need:


  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 8 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 (4 ounces) can of diced green chilies, drained
  • 12-14 corn husks, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the vegetable shortening and mix until well combined.
  3. Slowly add the warm water and mix until a smooth dough forms.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the shredded cheese and diced green chilies.
  5. Spread a thin layer of masa on each corn husk, leaving room at the top and bottom for folding.
  6. Add a spoonful of the cheese and green chili mixture in the center of the masa.
  7. Roll the tamale and fold the ends of the corn husk to seal it.
  8. Through cooking by steaming it for about an hour.

Tamales Recipe Beef

Beef is another popular filling option for tamales. To prepare beef filling for tamales, dice beef chuck and cook with onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Add beef broth to keep the filling moist and flavorful.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Values

It is a nutritious dish that can be part of a healthy diet. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, and can be with a variety of vegetables for added nutrients. However, they are also high in calories and fat, so it’s important to enjoy them in moderation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are tamales gluten-free?

Yes, they are naturally gluten-free as they are made from corn masa and do not contain wheat flour.

  1. Can tamales be frozen?

Yes, freezing for up to six months is possible. To reheat, simply steam for about 20 minutes until hot.

  1. What is the difference between Mexican tamales and other Latin American tamales?

Mexican tamales are typically made with corn masa and filled with meat, while other Latin American tamales may be made with other types of dough and filled with vegetables or seafood.


They are a delicious and nutritious traditional Mexican dish that has been for centuries. Whether you prefer pork, beef, or vegetarian filling, they are versatile and satisfying meals that can be for any occasion. With a little bit of practice and patience, anyone can learn how to make it at home and impress their friends and family with this delicious dish. So why not give it a try and experience the taste of Mexico in your own kitchen?

See Also: https://infoblog4all.com/queso-fundido/

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