Homemade tamales

Hey friends hey 🙂 Happy Sunday! Hope you’re having a glorious morning.

What types of food do you enjoy to celebrate the New Year?

At our house, there’s always tamales, Mexican doughnuts (soft buttery doughnuts that will cover your soul in a blanket of happiness), pan de huevo (a sweeter bread, covered with a crunchy egg, sugary topping), tamales, chorizo and menudo.


I used to really love the menudo, especially with lime juice and cilantro. When I was 8, that immediately stopped when I found out what was in it….

Now, I just eat extra tamales to make up for lost menudo consumption 😉



Makes 1 dozen


-Husks (hojas)- you can find these in the ethnic section of most grocery stores

-bag of frozen organic corn, defrosted (you can also use fresh)

-masa harina (if you can’t find this, use cornmeal and toss it in the Vitamix or a coffee grinder to finely grind)

-2 cans of green chilies

-cheese of choice (I’m rolling with Daiya), ground flax, butter of choice (I’ll use organic butter, but Earth Balance is lovely too), a lime, onion, cumin, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper (not pictured)


1. Soak the hojas in water, either in a large bowl or in the sink


2. While the hojas are soaking, add the following to the Vitamix or food processor –if you’re going the food processor route, combine the corn, onion, all of the spices, then transfer to a bowl and add the masa and water

-one bag of frozen organic corn

-3 C water

-juice of 1/2 lime

-1 t sea salt

-1/4 t pepper

-1/4 t cumin


-1 T ground flax

-1/4 onion

-2 T melted butter


garlic (I used Garlic Gold) and a pinch of Stevia

-3 C masa harina


3. Mix well, until everything is chopped and combined, but make sure that the mixture still has some texture


4. Next, rinse and dry the hojas.

5. Put 1/3-1/2 C tamale mixture into the center

hojas (2)

6. Now, the fun part: adding the fillings! Get creative here- you can use roasted red peppers, black beans, chili sauce, olives, shredded rotisserie chicken, spinach, cheese of choice- go crazy 🙂

I rolled with canned green chilies (you can also roast your own), with Daiya (*for the record, Daiya melts BEAUTIFULY in tamales)tamale

Top with more masa,

tamale (2)

Fold each side over, and tie with a piece of hoja that you’ve ripped from the side

tamales (2)

7. In a large pot with about 3 in of boiling water, add the steamer basket,


reduce heat to med-high, add the tamales, cover and steam for 30-40 minutes, until mixture is firm.


(Check every 10 min or so and add water as needed)

8. When the tamales are done, put on a cool face and try to hide your excitement, even though you can see the melted cheese peeking out at you.

tamale (3)

9. Foodgasm.

tamale (4)


I’m off to get started on the day’s to-dos 🙂

Have a Happy Sunday and I’ll see ya later today!


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  1. Lisa on January 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Wow! Looks fabulous. I’ve always wanted to make those, but wasn’t sure where to start—thanks for the step-by-step guide!

  2. Priyanka on January 2, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I love tamales but honestly never knew how to make’em. Thanks for this tutorial! I am working on my vision board, hope to give you a link by tonight 🙂

  3. kt on January 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Oooooh, those look heavenly. What a helpful post, one I’m sure my husband will thoroughly enjoy!

  4. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine on January 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Yummmm. I love that these look all goey and comforting, but are still healthy. Mexican is one of the best ethnic cuisines- love me some spice!! Happy Sunday 🙂

  5. Moni'sMeals on January 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

    THANK YOU! Seriously. We order tamales out on Friday night and I said “How do you actually put these together?” to my friend and Well here I go! Brilliant. I love the twist to yours too.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Lili on January 2, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I’ve never had a tamales! Ahh. haha. i need to change that. yes?

    Today, i bought mesquite. And thought of you girl! Happy hippy new year!

  7. Felicia (A taste of Health with Balance) on January 2, 2011 at 11:58 am

    never had tamales before! great looking recipe and tutorial 🙂 i’ll know where to go when i want to make them!

  8. Katie on January 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    these look awesome! total foodgasm! Mmmmmmmmm just need some chips and salsa on the side !!!!!!!!!!!!!


  9. Molly on January 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    yum. Just curious, why vegan cheese but regular butter? Convenience/taste?

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      real butter retains its molecular structure at high heat (unlike the oils found in butter subs), which makes it easier to digest and metabolize- and it tastes good! daiya is easier on my stomach than regular cow dairy, which gives me a stomach ache and makes my face break out.

  10. Lea @ healthy coconut on January 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Good job on the tamales. I always think they are so hard to make but I love eating them and should learn to make them at home. I just hope they freeze well because I would like to make a batch.

    As for our food during New Years, we have a few tradition including noodle dishes because it means long life.

    We also have a ton of round fruits around. Having 13 different kinds of round fruits during New Year’s Eve is said to bring good luck and prosperity to the family for the coming year.

    Why 13 round fruits, you ask? 13 is a lucky number to the Chinese, and the fruits’ round shape resembles coins. They say it means wealth, abundance and prosperity.

  11. Maryann on January 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks so much for putting this up! Ive always wanted to make tamales but they seem so intimidating..Have a great day!

  12. Katherine: Unemployed on January 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I wish I could find a good frozen/pre-prepared tamale. you make them look so good but there is no way I can buy all the ingredients to make just one for me and stash them all in my kitchen. do you know any good brands or ATL restaurants??

    • Bridget on January 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Do you live near a Trader Joe’s? I like their Green Chili Cheese tamales found in the frozen section!

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      trader joes!

  13. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on January 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Gahhhh I NEED to try these!

  14. Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) on January 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Holy yum G!! I saved a shorcut to this page. I am DEF going to *try* and make my own tamales. …a new years reso ?? ;P You made it seem easy enough… I’m hoping mine turn out as good as yours !!

  15. Allison @ Food For Healing on January 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    looks very interesting! i’ll just come try these at your familys place k, it will be easier lol

  16. Madeleine @ Stepping to the Bright Side on January 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    These look delicious! Our old southern new years tradition was always hoppin’ johns but now that i live a life sans meat, that dish is out of the picture. My mexican bf will surely appreciate THIS tradition, however 🙂

  17. Julie (Food & Other Things) on January 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for the how-to…I’ve always wanted to make these!

  18. Stefanie on January 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Oh boy, I don’t blame you for passing on the menudo! Eek!

    Thanks so much for the tamale how-to! I can’t wait to try them out! 🙂

  19. Katie on January 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Ok, totally stupid question from someone who’s never had a tamale…you’re not supposed to eat the husk, right?

    Those look AMAZING. Thanks for posting so many great new recipes to try! Happy New Year!

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      the husk is just to hold the mixture in– i wouldn’t eat it
      happy new year to you too!

  20. Camille @ La Bella Vita on January 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Thank-you for this post. This is a recipe that I have been debating about attempting for a while and your step by step photos will make it that much easier!

  21. Debbie on January 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Could these be done in an electric steamer? Do they need space to breathe? Is the prep process long? Thanks for the great post!

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      yep, a little space is good
      nope- it took me about 20 minutes, start to steamer

  22. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on January 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Omg Gina, thank you for this post!!!! I honestly had no idea how to make tamales. NONE! And I’m sure that somehow I could have figured this out, but you did all the work for me…and everyone else…thank you 🙂

    Love the step by step. I know that can be time consuming to set camera down, and deal with that every 30 secs, so thank you!

    Have a beautiful Sunday..and enjoy a tamale for me 🙂

  23. Ari on January 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I Love Love Love green chili and cheese tamales. I always wanted to know how to make them, but I was always too scared! You did a great job explaining step by step! Can’t wait to try these out =] Thanks for sharing!

  24. michelle whitney on January 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    what is the flax for and can you omit it?

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      i put it in for nutrition purposes, but you can definitely omit it

  25. Kat on January 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Gina those look so yummy and pretty easy too! Do you tie both ends of the hojas to keep the filling from falling out? or is it basically just to keep the hojas from unwrapping?

    After looking at what’s in menudo….I don’t see myself eating it the future either lol maybe a vegan version will make it’s way in your life this year 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      you tie it and put the tied side down- you can tie both ends if you want to though!!

  26. Allison @ PickyEatingRD on January 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I am so glad you posted this “how to” I am always looking for new recipes to give to my clients and you have done it again!!

  27. Kath on January 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Tamales are on my meal plan soon!!

  28. Joanna@drizzle of sunshine on January 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Wow! These look yummy, healthy, and easy!! I’m definitely going to try these out! I can’t wait to experiment with new fillings too! The possibilities are ENDLESS! Thanks Gina!

  29. Namaste Gurl on January 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Yummy and sounds SUPER authentico!

  30. gigi on January 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    great post!!

  31. mi-an dela cruz on January 2, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    yummm!!! i love tamales and def going to try these out! btw, i just made those relleno egg thingies you posted the other day and they are soo good!!! i put daiya cheese instead of goat cheese bc i didn’t have any. also drizzled some spicy red sauce on top…thanks for that recipe! ill be making that again!

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      yummmmm.. so glad you liked it!

  32. Christine (The Raw Project) on January 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Yum, the tamales look great!

  33. Carrie on January 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    My first tamale came with my Guatemalan exchange student in high school. She brought a bunch of Guate comida with her, including tamales. I look back on it now and wonder how she got it here safely cooled since they were already made and in a tupperware. We didn’t get sick, so I guess it worked out. 🙂

    Do you ever make rellenitos de platanos?

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      no, but that sounds AMAZING

  34. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on January 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve always wondered what is in tamales every time you’ve mentioned them on the blog! Now that I know, I can see why you love them so much! 😀

  35. Christin@purplebirdblog on January 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Holeeeeee crap, I need a Daiya tamale STAT!!!!!

  36. Em on January 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Omg those tamales, OMG! I need to get Daiya cheese ASAP. And I’m jealous you have an awesome farmers market near you, I’m hoping when my H gets a new duty station they’ll have a better market and more healthy food stores. We don’t even have a Traders Joes or Whole Foods here 🙁

  37. Ann on January 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    You make them look so easy to make! I can’t wait to try making them myself. I just recently got hooked on tamales. That and soft, chewy churros yummm

  38. Tamara on January 3, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Oh G’izzle.

    I attempt *almost* every recipe you post!! THIS one …. I seriously messed up. lol

    • Fitnessista on January 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

      oh no! what happened?!

  39. Emily on January 3, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Thank you!! My last attempt at these was a time consuming disaster, so will try this way (I was initially over ambitious, by starting with a Bobby Flay version, with not too much instruction!).
    & happy new year to you! I am still making me a vision board, but will share as & when 🙂

  40. paula on January 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    gina, your tamales are awesome…. as for the menudo. I made some this weekend and love, love it with lime and cilantro. I served myself a huge bowl full but picked out the tripe. Love the flavors but don’t care for the texture of the tripe. It was muy delicioso… love your blog.

  41. Christina on January 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    OMG I was totally craving tamales last night but I had no clue how to make them! Thanks for the awesome post (and pics!)!

  42. Dee on January 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Mmm tamales! These look delicious!

  43. Amy on January 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Made these tonight and they were really good! Getting the tamales all tied up was trickier than I thought it would be though!

  44. Haley @ Fit, Young, and Fabulous on January 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    OHHH yum!! I have never ever had a tamale!! But they look FABULOUS. I want to eat one NOW! (:

  45. Kate on June 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Just got these out of the steamer and had to break one open. They were awesome! I followed your recipe but left out the corn (forgot to pick it up at the grocery store), then added refried beans, hot green chilies, and pepper jack cheese for fillings. This was my first time making tamales, and I’m so pleased with your recipe and how they turned out!

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