Cole Cooks: Homemade Tamale Dough

Tamale Dough


Making your own tamales at home can be a fun family project.  Of course, the first step is making the masa dough.  This is our recipe for the tamale dough we use in our Instant Pot Tamale Project.

Go To Recipe 

This dough is easy to make.  That being said, making tamales is a time-consuming process.  You not only need to make the tamale dough, but you also need to make fillings.  We like to make several types of fillings, so this becomes a big project.

The good news is you can freeze both the dough and fillings for later use.  If you plan ahead it can be fairly easy to whip up a batch of homemade tamales.

Being in Southern California, most grocery stores carry the masa specifically used for tamales.  If not you can always order it in bulk from Amazon.

Tamale Dough


Most people will note that homemade tamale dough is pretty heavy on lard.  Tamales are not exactly a low-fat dish.  For those afraid of lard, I think you can substitute vegetable shortening, but we have never tried this option.

Tamale Dough
Yes, lard is a key ingredient

We have had problems with our stand mixer (it keeps breaking) so this dough was mixed by hand.  It is messy but really not that much work.

Tamale Dough

Each batch of dough will make about 30 to 36 tamales.  You can make this dough ahead of time and freeze it for later use.

Tamale Dough

Make sure and see our full guide to making tamales. 

Potential Toppings include Beef Barbacoa, Chicken Tinga, Carnitas, and our Vegetarian Tamales with corn, cheese and peppers.

Homemade Tamale Dough

This is a dough recipe for making tamales at home.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 30 tamales
Author Dad Cole


  • 6 cups corn masa flour for tamales
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups lard or vegetable shortening


  1. In a bowl mix masa, baking powder and salt.
  2. Add chicken broth or water and with your hands mix into a moist dough.
  3. In another bowl mix lard or shortening until light and fluffy. Add masa and beat until the batter is smooth and slightly sticky.



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