How to Make Tamales Step by Step

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Do you want to learn how to cook an authentic Mexican tamales recipe? Learn how to make Black Bean & Green Chile tamales step by step for dinner!

Two homemade black bean tamales topped with sour cream, salsa verde and cilantro

For many years, I was intimidated by the idea of making homemade tamales. It just sounded like such a complex process that I didn’t want to mess it up.

Then my kids asked me to make homemade tamales. I couldn’t tell their sweet little faces no, so I gave it a try. And guess what? They turned out pretty great.

I’ve made them several times now, and each time I do I am surprised by how much better our tamales are than even the ones we get at Mexican restaurants. And it’s super easy to swap out fillings.

We’ve been trying to cut back on meat consumption a few days a week so I decided this time to make meatless tamales. We really like black beans with my taco seasoning added, so I used those.

While I used canned beans in our tamale recipe because they’re a convenient and quick cooking option, you can also use beans that have been soaked and cooked.

Ready to learn how to make the best tamales from scratch? Follow our easy recipe for your next family dinner.

Close up of homemade tamales on a small white dinner plate

Black Bean and Green Chili Tamales Recipe

Learn how to make black bean and green chili tamales for Meatless Monday.
5 from 2 votes
Print Recipe
Prep Time: 5 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Recipe Servings: 24 Tamales


Tamale Dough

  • 24-30 dried corn husks - it’s best to have extras on hand in case the split
  • 1 ⅓ cups lard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons  sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 ½ cups masa harina - mixed with 2 cups warm filtered water
  • 1 1/2  cups chicken stock

Tamale Filling

  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 hatch chile - roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper - roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion - diced
  • extra virgin olive oil - for cooking
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning

Topping Ideas


  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric hand mixer
  • Steamer
  • Pan


Corn Husks

  • Start by soaking your dried corn husks in water. You want to make sure they are completely submerged under the water. Allow them to soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (Note: This image is after I strained some of the water after soaking. They should be fully submerged while soaking.)
    Soaking corn husks in water to soften them

Tamale Dough

  • Mix the water and masa harina together in a mixing bowl.
    Water and masa being mixed together in a yellow mixing bowl
  • While that is hydrating, add your lard to a large mixing bowl, and mix on high with a hand mixer for 8-10 minutes, or until it’s light and fluffy.
    Lard being whipped in a metal mixing bowl
  • Add 1/3 of the masa harina and water mixture to the bowl with the whipped lard, and mix until combined. Repeat with 1/2 of the remaining masa mixture, then finally repeat with the remaining masa mixture. Add the chicken stock to the bowl, and mix to combine. The mixture should be wet. Set aside to give it time to fully hydrate.
    Whipped lard being whipped with masa mixture

Tamale Filling

  • Start by roasting, peeling and chopping your hatch chile and poblano pepper. You can substitute other peppers and chiles if you have a different preference. If you've never roasted chiles before, I have a post on how to roast hatch chiles that will walk you through the process.
    Roasted hatch chiles on a cutting board
  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the diced onion and saute until translucent.
    Chopped onions being sauteed with butter in a pan
  • Add the black beans, roasted hatch chile and poblano pepper and taco seasoning to the pan. Stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
    Black beans and hatch chiles added to pan of sauteed onions

Tamale Assembly and Cooking

  • Now you’re ready to assemble your tamales. Start by spreading about 1/4 cup of the tamale dough out onto a soaked corn husk, leaving plenty of space around the edges.
    Masa mixture spread onto a soaked corn husk
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of the black bean and green chile mixture on top of the dough.
    Black bean chili mixture spread over masa on the corn husk
  • Fold the corn husk in half, trying your best to seal the black bean and green chile filling inside of the tamale dough. Wrap the edges of the corn husk around the tamale, then fold the bottom flap up. Tie a thin piece of corn husk around the bottom flap to keep it secure.
    Corn husk wrapped up with tamale mixture inside
  • Place the finished tamale into a steamer pan with the open side facing up.
    Tamales placed open side up in steamer pan
  • Depending upon the size of your tamales, you should get 18-24 tamales when you’re finished.
    Tamales arranged into a steamer pan ready to be cooked
  • Cook covered on the stove top for 45-60 minutes, or until the tamales have firmed up. These should still be nice and moist when they're finished cooking. You may have to add more water to the bottom of your steamer pan during cooking – keep an eye on that so you don't burn the bottom of your pan. Once they're done cooking, remove the corn husks (only on those you'll be eating that day).
    Finished tamales on a white plate
  • Serve topped with your favorite items, such as cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa verde and/or cilantro.
    Overhead view of two tamales on a white plate


Nutrition information does not include toppings.

How to Reheat Tamales

To reheat tamales, simply re-steam them. I don’t recommend any other way to reheat them as it tends to dry them out.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 182mg | Potassium: 174mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 2mg

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