Masa is the beginning of most projects in my kitchen. This recipe is for masa for tamales, which is corn masa with added lard and salt. You can also use this masa for making gorditas, but know that corn masa for making tortillas does not usually contain lard.
If you have never worked with masa (corn dough) before, just know that it is not a finicky as wheat dough. Masa is gluten-free and has a personality of it’s own.
Freshly made masa made at an old fashioned tortilla shop is becoming difficult to find, so you may need to ask around in your community. I can buy freshly ground masa at my grocery store, as I live on the Mexican border, and during the holidays, fresh masa is in huge demand. You can call your local Mexican food restaurants and ask if they sell masa for tamales. If they don’t make fresh masa, perhaps they can tell you who does.
Dried masa can be found in the flour and baking aisle in most super markets these days. The difference between dry and fresh masa is the amount of liquid you need to add in order for it to become a usable dough. Obviously, dried masa needs more liquid, but it is needed and mixed with a bit more lard, and the same amount of salt needed for making tamalesPrint
Masa for Tamales
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 12 doz tamales 1x
- Category: Dough
- Cuisine: Mexican
When using dry masa:
4.4 lb bag of instant corn tortilla mix (2kg)
1 ½ lbs pork lard or vegetable shortening (680gr)
2 tbls. sea salt (24gr)
1 gallon plus one quart of pork stock, slightly warmed (4lt.-5lt.)
When using freshly ground masa:
10 lbs. freshly ground masa (4.5kg)
1 lb. pork lard (500gr)
2 tbls sea salt (24gr)
3–4 cups of pork stock, slightly warmed (720ml-1lt.)
In a large bowl or pan (I usually use a turkey roaster or a clean dish pan) add the dry or freshly ground masa. Knead in the pork lard (or shortening) and salt. Add pork broth one cup at a time. Continue to knead and add broth until the masa is cohesive, and is smooth to the touch. Taste for salt, and add more if necessary. Once the masa is smooth and free of lumps, and ceases to stick to your hands, it is ready for use.
Makes 17 lbs of masa, enough for 12 doz. tamales
Tip: You can make vegetarian tamales by using vegetable shortening and water in place of pork lard and stock. Use cheese or a chopped vegetable guisado for the filling
Keywords: tamales, tamal, masa, dough
I am amazed no cumin, paprika, or chili powder is used in these recipes. I USE IT IN MY RED SAUCE AND MASA..
I LOVE MY MASA SPREADER TOO!
Hi! My recipes are pretty basic, and I stay away from powdered spices. Not because I don’t like them, but I am trying to be regionally authentic. Cumin is from the Middle East, and as far as paprika and chili powder, I just use dried chiles that I find locally. I am always interested in how other people make tamales, so glad you sent me a note! MG
I was wondering if you have an opinion on freezing tamales? A co-worker freezes her’s before cooking. I know other people who freeze them after cooking.
Hello! Yes, I know lots of people that freeze tamales before they are steamed, but most people freeze after they are steamed. It’s really a personal preference. I don’t think it affects the flavor at all either way. If you run out of time to steam them, you don’t have to freeze them immediately after making them. Holding them overnight in the fridge is ok, and then you steam them the next day.
My family gets lazy, and we microwave frozen tamales when we want a quick meal. So those types of folks should cook them before freezing them.
I wouldn’t make gifts of tamales that are un-steamed. I have received those in the past, and it was a mess.
Hope you have a great holiday! Provecho!
Awesome! Can’t wait to try it!!
Suerte! Let me know how it turns out!