Corn tamales

Corn tamales

Tamales de elote

My Abuelo's Mexican Feast

For the filling


Quantity Ingredient
625ml water
500g chicken, shin beef or pork leg, cut into 5 cm cubes
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 pink peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 whole green chillies, (such as jalapenos)
1/4 bunch coriander
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

For the tamale dough

Quantity Ingredient
10 corn cobs
or 750g corn kernels
300g lard
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
20g masa harina for tamales, (see note)

For the tamale wrapping

Quantity Ingredient
24-30 dried corn husks
Green sauce
or Red sauce
cooking twine
or strips of corn husk


  1. For the filling, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan or stockpot. Bring to the boil over a high heat, and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 1½ hours if using beef or pork, or 30 minutes if using chicken.
  2. Once tender, remove the meat from the stock and set aside.
  3. To prepare the tamale dough, if you are using corn cobs, remove the kernels using a sharp knife.
  4. Place the kernels in a bowl with the lard, sugar and salt. Process with a hand-held blender until almost completely puréed.
  5. Add the masa harina and mix well using a wooden spoon. The mixture should be the consistency of toothpaste. Set aside.
  6. To assemble the tamales, take 2 or 3 corn husks and shape them together like the hull of a canoe. Spread a large tablespoon of the corn mixture into the corn husk ‘canoe‘, then top with a tablespoon of the cooked meat. Spread a teaspoon of salsa over the meat, and then add an additional tablespoon of the corn mixture on top. You should have twice the amount of corn mixture to meat in each tamale.
  7. Wrap the corn husks to form a parcel, adding extra leaves if necessary (the mixture should be completely enclosed). Secure with cooking twine or husk strips.
  8. Place the tamales in a bamboo steamer and steam them for around 40 minutes or until firm. Serve still encased in the corn husks, but remove the husks before eating.


  • Masa harina is a special flour made from corn, available at specialty delicatessens. If ‘tamale‘ masa harina is not available, just use regular masa harina.
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