My First Attempt–Tamale Masa

I love tamales. It is one of my favorite times of the year when the whole family gets together for Christmas Eve and we make tamales like… well… like it is Christmas Eve.

Earlier this year, I ran out of tamales and decided to make some on my own for the first time. Well, the first time, cheated and went to the store and bought some pre-mixed masa, then added some chili powder to get the flavor that I wanted.

This time, I decided to go for it and make my own. After I put my leaves in the sink to soak, I gathered my ingredients and went to work.


  • 3 3/4 lbs. of Masa
  • 3 Tablespoons paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds (grind them up or you can replace with powder)
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder  (Gebhardts is the preferred)
  • 3 Tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups corn oil
  • Water – about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts or so (I replaced part of it with chicken broth, however, if you are making pork tamales, you can use pork broth from when you cooked your pork. In this case, I made chicken tamales)


  1. Mix the dry (meaning, not the oil or the water) spices above into the Masa until it is completely mixed.
  2. Add your oil and a few cups of broth or water to get your mixture. Work the mixture with your hands to make dough. Add water (or broth) a cup at a time and continue working the mixture until you get the right consistency.

Note: Consistency of the mixture is vital to make sure it spreads well. It can’t been too thin or too thick. The rule that I keep hearing is that it should be like thick thick peanut butter.

At first, I was a little worried about the mixture being too hot, but it worked out almost perfectly. Next time, I think I will add some diced green chilies to the mixture.

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One Response to My First Attempt–Tamale Masa

  1. Pingback: Tamale Recipe: Lots of Stuff That is BAD for You Goes In! | Russ Kaufmann

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