How to Make Authentic Mexican Tamales with a Spicy Mole Sauce?

When we think of Mexican cuisine, there are a few dishes that immediately spring to mind. One of them is undoubtedly Tamales, a traditional centerpiece at Mexican festivities, known for its distinct flavor and texture.

Making Mexican tamales may seem intimidating at first glance, but in reality, with the right ingredients and a little bit of patience, you can easily create this culinary delight at home. This article will guide you through the steps to make authentic Mexican tamales enveloped in a savoury mole sauce.

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Gathering Your Ingredients

Before diving into the intricate steps of making tamales, it’s crucial to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients. Traditional Mexican tamales primarily consist of three components: the masa (dough), the filling, and the husk.

For the masa, you will need:

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  • 2 cups of masa harina
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of lard or vegetable shortening
  • Salt to taste

For the filling, we will use a classic combination of chicken and pork, simmered in a spicy mole sauce. You will need:

  • 1 pound of chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 pound of pork shoulder
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of mole paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the corn husks, you will need:

  • 20-25 dried corn husks

Preparing the Masa

The first step in making tamales is to prepare the masa. The masa is the foundation of the tamale and serves as a bed for the filling. While making masa may seem daunting, it's quite straightforward.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add in the chicken broth, mixing continuously until the dough comes together.

In a separate bowl, whip the lard or vegetable shortening until it becomes fluffy. Gradually add the whipped lard into the masa dough, kneading until the dough becomes smooth and slightly sticky. If the dough is too dry, add more chicken broth, a little bit at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Set the dough aside, allowing it to rest while you prepare your filling.

Making the Chicken and Pork Filling

The filling is what gives the tamales their unique, hearty flavor. For our recipe, we are using a combination of chicken and pork, simmered in a rich mole sauce.

In a large pot, add the chicken, pork, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a simmer. Cook the meat for about an hour, or until it is tender and can be easily shredded with a fork. Once the meat is cooked, shred it into bite-sized pieces.

In a separate pot, heat the mole paste over medium heat, gradually adding chicken broth until it forms a thick sauce. Add the shredded meat to the sauce, stirring well to ensure the meat is thoroughly coated. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Preparing the Corn Husks

While your filling is cooking, it's time to prepare the corn husks. Corn husks are what give tamales their distinctive shape and also keep the filling in place while they cook.

Start by soaking your husks in a large bowl of warm water. This will make them pliable and easier to fold. Once they have softened, drain and pat them dry.

Now take a husk and spread a thin layer of masa over it, leaving a small margin around the edges. Add a spoonful of the chicken and pork filling in the center of the masa. Fold the husk over, enclosing the filling, and secure it with a strip of husk.

Cooking the Tamales

Finally, we've reached the last step: cooking the tamales. This process requires some time, but the result is well worth the wait.

Place the wrapped tamales in a steamer basket, standing them upright. Add enough water to the pot to just reach the bottom of the steamer, then cover. Cook the tamales for about an hour, checking the water level frequently and adding more as necessary.

Your tamales are ready when the masa is firm and easily pulls away from the husk. Allow them to cool slightly before unwrapping and serving. Enjoy your homemade, authentic Mexican tamales with extra mole sauce on the side!

Serving Your Tamales

After you've gone through the process of making tamales, it's time to enjoy them. Tamales are typically served as a main course and can be accompanied by various sides. Traditional accompaniments include Mexican rice, refried beans, and a salad. Drizzle some extra mole sauce on top of your tamales for added flavour.

If you're wondering how to store your leftover tamales, they can be easily refrigerated or frozen. To refrigerate, place the tamales in an airtight container and they will last for about a week. If you wish to freeze your tamales, wrap each tamale individually in plastic wrap before placing them in a freezer bag. They can be frozen for up to 6 months. To reheat, steam them until they are hot throughout.

You can also experiment with the fillings in the future. Consider substituting the chicken and pork for other meats, such as beef or lamb, or even vegetables for a vegetarian version. You can also try other sauces, like red chile sauce, to give your tamales a different twist. Remember, the key to making good tamales is to have fun and not be afraid to try new things.


In conclusion, making tamales may seem like a time-consuming task, but the process is part of the fun. By following these steps, you can make your own delicious and authentic chicken mole and pork tamales at home. Remember, the key is to gather all your ingredients, prepare the masa, make the filling, prepare the corn husks, and finally, cook the tamales.

This tamales recipe is perfect for any festive occasion or family gathering. It's also a great way to immerse yourself in the rich culinary tradition of Mexico. So, don your apron, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to make tamales! Remember, the joy of cooking comes from the journey as much as the destination. Enjoy the process and savour your very own homemade Mexican tamales.