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Great Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Last updated on October 9th, 2023 at 03:31 am

Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

I want to share with you the incredible Guatemalan Tamales Recipe that I recently discovered during my trip. These tamales are a traditional dish from Guatemala, and they are simply delicious!

The flavors of the Guatemalan Tamales are a delightful combination of corn masa, which is a dough made from cornmeal, and a variety of fillings. These fillings can include savory ingredients such as chicken, pork, or vegetables, along with fragrant spices and seasonings like garlic, cumin, and oregano. The tamales are then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed to perfection, creating a moist and flavorful treat.


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What makes a Guatemalan Tamales Recipe truly special is their versatility. They can be enjoyed as a main dish, a snack, or even as a breakfast option. The tamales can be customized according to personal preferences and dietary restrictions, making them suitable for a wide range of tastes.


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In addition to their delightful flavors and versatility, Guatemalan Tamales also offer potential health benefits. The dish incorporates ingredients like corn, which is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The fillings can provide a good amount of protein and essential nutrients, depending on the chosen ingredients. However, it’s important to note that the overall nutritional content may vary based on the specific recipe and individual preparation methods.

Overall, the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe is a delightful culinary treasure. Its flavorful combination of corn masa and various fillings, along with its versatility and potential health benefits, make it a wonderful addition to any mealtime. Whether you enjoy it as a main course or a snack, these tamales are sure to please your taste buds and introduce you to the vibrant culinary traditions of Guatemala.

Guatemala Recipes PIN

How To Make Our the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Ingredients (8 Servings)

4 cups masa harina (corn flour)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 pounds of your choice of filling (such as chicken, pork, or vegetables)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon achiote paste (optional)
16 large dried corn husks

Instructions

1. Soak the corn husks:

a. Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl.
b. Fill the bowl with warm water until the husks are fully submerged.
c. Allow the husks to soak for 1-2 hours until they become pliable.
d. Ensure the water covers the husks throughout the soaking process.
e. Gently stir the husks occasionally to ensure even soaking.
f. Drain the husks and pat them dry before use.
g. Keep the husks covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.

2. Prepare the masa dough:

a. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of masa harina, a type of corn flour.
b. Gradually pour in 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.
c. Add 1 cup of melted lard or vegetable shortening to the mixture.
d. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
e. Mix all the ingredients together until a soft dough forms.
f. Ensure there are no lumps in the masa dough.
g. Adjust the consistency by adding more broth if needed.

3. Prepare the filling:

a. Choose your preferred filling, such as cooked and shredded chicken, pork, or vegetables.
b. Mix the filling with 1 cup of tomato sauce for added flavor.
c. Consider adding 1 tablespoon of achiote paste for a vibrant color (optional).
d. Make sure the filling is well-coated with the sauce.
e. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences.
f. Ensure the filling is at room temperature before assembly.
g. Keep the filling covered to maintain its freshness.

4. Assemble the tamales:

a. Take a soaked corn husk and pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel.
b. Spread a thin layer of masa dough onto the wider end of the husk.
c. Leave a border around the edges to facilitate folding.
d. Spoon a portion of the filling onto the center of the masa dough.
e. Fold the sides of the corn husk inward to cover the filling.
f. Fold the bottom end of the husk up to enclose the tamale.
g. Press gently to ensure the tamale is securely wrapped.

5. Steam the tamales:

a. Fill a large pot with water, ensuring it doesn’t touch the tamales.
b. Place a steamer rack or basket inside the pot.
c. Arrange the wrapped tamales on the rack or in the basket.
d. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil.
e. Reduce the heat to low and let the tamales steam.
f. Steam the tamales for 2.5 to 3 hours until they are firm.
g. Check the water level periodically and replenish if necessary.

6. Let the tamales rest:

a. Once cooked, remove the tamales from the steamer.
b. Allow the tamales to cool for a few minutes.
c. This step helps them set and makes them easier to handle.
d. Be cautious as they can be hot right out of the steamer.
e. Resting also allows the flavors to meld together.
f. Use this time to prepare any desired toppings or sauces.
g. Serve the tamales warm or at room temperature.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cooking Time: 3 to 3.5 hours

Making Guatemalan Tamales By Hand

Pots, Pan and Cooking Equipment Needed for the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Large bowl: Used for soaking corn husks and mixing the masa dough.
Steamer pot or large pot with a steamer rack: Used for steaming the tamales.
Kitchen towel: Used for patting dry the soaked corn husks.
Clean kitchen towel or damp cloth: Used for covering soaked corn husks.
Lid for the pot: Used to cover the pot while steaming.
Serving platter:Used for presenting and serving the tamales.

Best Way to Store Leftovers From the the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Airtight container: Store leftover tamales in an airtight container.
b. Refrigerator: Place the container in the refrigerator to keep the tamales fresh.
c. Consume within 3-4 days: Tamales are best when consumed within a few days.

Tips and Tricks For Easier Creation

Soak corn husks in warm water for easier handling.
Keep masa dough covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
Use a spoon or spatula to spread the masa dough onto the husks evenly.
Fold the husks tightly around the filling to prevent unraveling.
Arrange tamales seam-side down in the steamer for even cooking.
Check the water level in the pot periodically to ensure it doesn’t run dry.
Let the tamales rest before serving to allow flavors to develop.

Side Dishes and Desserts For the the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Guatemalan tomato salsa: A zesty tomato-based salsa with onions and cilantro.
Curtido: A tangy cabbage slaw flavored with vinegar and spices.
Fried plantains: Sweet and caramelized plantains make a tasty accompaniment.
Black beans: Simmered black beans seasoned with garlic, onions, and spices.
Avocado salad: Fresh avocado slices tossed with lime juice and chopped herbs.
Guacamole: Creamy avocado dip with lime, tomatoes, onions, and spices.
Fresh fruit salad: A refreshing medley of seasonal fruits.

How To Serve the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Place a tamale on a serving plate.
b. Garnish with desired toppings or sauces.
c. Serve the tamales warm or at room temperature.
d. Accompany with side dishes of your choice.
e. Enjoy the tamales by unwrapping the husks and savoring each bite.
f. Provide extra sauces or condiments on the side, if desired.
g. Serve with a side of rice or a salad for a complete meal.

Substitutions For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Vegan Option: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
b. Replace lard or vegetable shortening with plant-based oil.
c. Choose vegetable fillings such as mixed vegetables or tofu.
d. Omit animal-based ingredients like chicken or pork.
e. Use plant-based sauces or seasonings for added flavor.
f. Opt for a vegan-friendly tomato sauce.
g. Ensure all ingredients used are free from animal products.

Gluten-Free Option:

a. Use certified gluten-free masa harina.
b. Check that the chicken or vegetable broth is gluten-free.
c. Verify that the chosen fillings are gluten-free.
d. Choose gluten-free tomato sauce without any added gluten-containing ingredients.
e. Use gluten-free spices and seasonings.
f. Confirm that the achiote paste, if used, is gluten-free.
g. Ensure all ingredients used are free from gluten and cross-contamination.

Vegetarian Option: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
b. Opt for vegetarian fillings such as mixed vegetables, beans, or cheese.
c. Omit animal-based ingredients like chicken or pork.
d. Choose vegetarian-friendly tomato sauce.
e. Use plant-based seasonings and spices.
f. Add extra vegetables for added variety and flavor.
g. Ensure all ingredients used are suitable for a vegetarian diet.

Mediterranean Diet Options: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use olive oil instead of lard or vegetable shortening.
b. Include Mediterranean-inspired fillings like grilled vegetables or olives.
c. Enhance the flavors with Mediterranean herbs such as oregano and thyme.
d. Add sun-dried tomatoes for a burst of tangy flavor.
e. Serve with a side of Greek yogurt or tzatziki sauce.
f. Accompany with a Greek salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with the principles of the Mediterranean diet.

Keto Diet Options:

a. Use coconut flour or almond flour instead of masa harina.
b. Replace the tomato sauce with a low-carb alternative.
c. Opt for high-fat fillings such as avocado, bacon, or fatty cuts of meat.
d. Use keto-friendly oils or butter for the masa dough.
e. Incorporate low-carb seasonings and spices.
f. Serve with a side of keto-friendly guacamole or sour cream.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with the principles of the keto diet.

Heart Healthy Diet Options: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use a reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
b. Choose lean protein options like skinless chicken breast or lean cuts of pork.
c. Include heart-healthy fillings such as steamed vegetables or legumes.
d. Use heart-healthy oils like olive oil or avocado oil.
e. Incorporate herbs and spices for flavor instead of excessive salt.
f. Serve with a side of fresh salad or steamed greens.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with the principles of a heart-healthy diet.

Paleo Options: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use almond flour or coconut flour instead of masa harina.
b. Opt for paleo-approved fillings such as grass-fed beef or free-range poultry.
c. Choose paleo-friendly sauces or seasonings without added sugars or artificial ingredients.
d. Use paleo-friendly fats like coconut oil or ghee.
e. Enhance the flavors with paleo-approved herbs and spices.
f. Serve with a side of paleo-friendly dips or sauces like guacamole or salsa.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with the principles of the paleo diet.

Low Carb Options: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use almond flour or coconut flour instead of masa harina.
b. Select low-carb fillings such as grilled vegetables or lean protein.
c. Use low-carb tomato sauce or make a homemade version without added sugars.
d. Incorporate low-carb seasonings and spices for flavor.
e. Serve with a side of low-carb dips or sauces like ranch dressing or salsa.
f. Accompany with a side of fresh salad or steamed vegetables.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with a low-carb diet plan.

Whole 30 Options: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use compliant broth, such as homemade or approved store-bought options.
b. Opt for whole foods-based fillings such as roasted chicken or roasted vegetables.
c. Use homemade tomato sauce without added sugars or artificial ingredients.
d. Incorporate Whole30-compliant fats like ghee or avocado oil.
e. Enhance the flavors with Whole30-approved herbs and spices.
f. Serve with a side of fresh fruit or compliant salad.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with the principles of the Whole30 program.

Weight Watchers Options:

a. Use reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
b. Choose lean protein options like skinless chicken breast or lean cuts of pork.
c. Opt for low-point fillings such as steamed vegetables or legumes.
d. Use reduced-fat or fat-free tomato sauce.
e. Incorporate herbs and spices for flavor instead of excessive fats or oils.
f. Serve with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with the principles of the Weight Watchers program.

Low Fat Options: For the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

a. Use reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
b. Choose lean protein options like skinless chicken breast or lean cuts of pork.
c. Opt for low-fat or fat-free fillings such as steamed vegetables or legumes.
d. Use low-fat or fat-free tomato sauce.
e. Incorporate herbs and spices for flavor instead of excessive fats or oils.
f. Serve with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables.
g. Ensure all ingredients align with a low-fat diet plan.

Vegetable Variations:

a. Include roasted bell peppers or poblano peppers in the filling.
b. Try grilled zucchini or eggplant as a vegetable filling.
c. Add sautéed mushrooms for an earthy flavor.
d. Incorporate caramelized onions for added sweetness.
e. Include cooked spinach or Swiss chard for a nutritious green addition.
f. Opt for pickled jalapenos or other pickled vegetables for tanginess.
g. Experiment with different vegetable combinations for variety and flavor.

Making Guatemalan Tamales By Hand

FAQ About the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

What is the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe?
The Guatemalan Tamales Recipe is a traditional dish consisting of corn masa dough filled with various ingredients such as chicken, pork, or vegetables, wrapped in corn husks, and steamed to perfection.

How long does it take to make the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe?
The estimated prep time for the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe is approximately 1 hour, and the estimated cooking time is around 3 to 3.5 hours.

Can I make the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe vegan-friendly?
Yes, you can make the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe vegan-friendly by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth, using plant-based fillings like mixed vegetables or tofu, and replacing lard or vegetable shortening with plant-based oil.

Are there any gluten-free options for the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe?
Absolutely! For a gluten-free version of the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe, you can use certified gluten-free masa harina, ensure the broth and fillings are gluten-free, and choose gluten-free seasonings and spices.

What are some popular side dishes to serve with the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe?
Some popular side dishes to accompany the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe include Guatemalan tomato salsa, curtido (a tangy cabbage slaw), fried plantains, black beans, avocado salad, guacamole, and fresh fruit salad. These side dishes add variety and complement the flavors of the tamales.

Final Thoughts

The Guatemalan Tamales Recipe is a traditional dish made with corn masa dough filled with ingredients like chicken, pork, or vegetables. Wrapped in corn husks and steamed, these tamales offer a delicious blend of flavors and textures. The recipe allows for versatility, with options for vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian variations. This dish can be enjoyed as a main course, accompanied by side dishes like salsa, curtido, or fried plantains.

While individual nutritional values may vary based on ingredients used, tamales can provide a good source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. Incorporating the Guatemalan Tamales Recipe into your culinary repertoire adds a taste of cultural heritage and a satisfying meal option.

Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Guatemalan Tamales are a delightful combination of corn masa, which is a dough made from cornmeal, and a variety of fillings. These fillings can include savory ingredients such as chicken, pork, or vegetables, along with fragrant spices and seasonings like garlic, cumin, and oregano.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Guatemalan
Keyword: Guatemalan Tamales Recipe
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 437 kcal
Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Equipment

  • Large bowl: Used for soaking corn husks and mixing the masa dough.
  • Steamer pot or large pot with a steamer rack: Used for steaming the tamales.
  • Kitchen towel: Used for patting dry the soaked corn husks.
  • Clean kitchen towel or damp cloth: Used for covering soaked corn husks.
  • Lid for the pot: Used to cover the pot while steaming.
  • Serving platter:Used for presenting and serving the tamales.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups masa harina corn flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste optional
  • 16 corn husks

Instructions

Soak the corn husks:

  • a. Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl.
  • b. Fill the bowl with warm water until the husks are fully submerged.
  • c. Allow the husks to soak for 1-2 hours until they become pliable.
  • d. Ensure the water covers the husks throughout the soaking process.
  • e. Gently stir the husks occasionally to ensure even soaking.
  • f. Drain the husks and pat them dry before use.
  • g. Keep the husks covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.

Prepare the masa dough:

  • a. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of masa harina, a type of corn flour.
  • b. Gradually pour in 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.
  • c. Add 1 cup of melted lard or vegetable shortening to the mixture.
  • d. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
  • e. Mix all the ingredients together until a soft dough forms.
  • f. Ensure there are no lumps in the masa dough.
  • g. Adjust the consistency by adding more broth if needed.

Prepare the filling:

  • a. Choose your preferred filling, such as cooked and shredded chicken, pork, or vegetables.
  • b. Mix the filling with 1 cup of tomato sauce for added flavor.
  • c. Consider adding 1 tablespoon of achiote paste for a vibrant color (optional).
  • d. Make sure the filling is well-coated with the sauce.
  • e. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences.
  • f. Ensure the filling is at room temperature before assembly.
  • g. Keep the filling covered to maintain its freshness.

Assemble the tamales:

  • a. Take a soaked corn husk and pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  • b. Spread a thin layer of masa dough onto the wider end of the husk.
  • c. Leave a border around the edges to facilitate folding.
  • d. Spoon a portion of the filling onto the center of the masa dough.
  • e. Fold the sides of the corn husk inward to cover the filling.
  • f. Fold the bottom end of the husk up to enclose the tamale.
  • g. Press gently to ensure the tamale is securely wrapped.

Steam the tamales:

  • a. Fill a large pot with water, ensuring it doesn't touch the tamales.
  • b. Place a steamer rack or basket inside the pot.
  • c. Arrange the wrapped tamales on the rack or in the basket.
  • d. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil.
  • e. Reduce the heat to low and let the tamales steam.
  • f. Steam the tamales for 2.5 to 3 hours until they are firm.
  • g. Check the water level periodically and replenish if necessary.

Let the tamales rest:

  • a. Once cooked, remove the tamales from the steamer.
  • b. Allow the tamales to cool for a few minutes.
  • c. This step helps them set and makes them easier to handle.
  • d. Be cautious as they can be hot right out of the steamer.
  • e. Resting also allows the flavors to meld together.
  • f. Use this time to prepare any desired toppings or sauces.
  • g. Serve the tamales warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Soak corn husks in warm water for easier handling.
Keep masa dough covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
Use a spoon or spatula to spread the masa dough onto the husks evenly.
Fold the husks tightly around the filling to prevent unraveling.
Arrange tamales seam-side down in the steamer for even cooking.
Check the water level in the pot periodically to ensure it doesn't run dry.
Let the tamales rest before serving to allow flavors to develop.

Nutrition

Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 820mg | Potassium: 491mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 482IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 169mg | Iron: 6mg
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