Mini Tamales

These mini Mexican tamales make perfect appetizers! Stuff with pork filling for a pork tamale, or cheese for vegetarian tamales. Mix and match fillings for tamales to fit everyone's taste!

Mini Tamales
Photo: Blaine Moats
Prep Time:
45 mins
Cook Time:
45 mins
Stand Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
24 tamales


  • 24 dried cornhusks

  • ¾ cup chicken broth

  • 1 ¼ cup masa harina (corn tortilla flour)

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ cup lard or shortening

  • 1 recipe Cheese Filling, Pork Filling, Chicken Filling, or Shrimp Filling

Cheese Filling

  • ¾ cup shredded Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese (3 ounces)

  • ¼ cup crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack cheese (1 ounce)

  • 1 small fresh jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped*

  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh cilantro

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Pork Filling

  • 1 cup shredded refrigerated cooked pork roast au jus

  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion

  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded lime peel

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper or 1 teaspoon chili powder

Chicken Filling

  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken

  • ¼ cup canned chopped green chile peppers

  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander

  • Salt and pepper

Shrimp Filling

  • 8 ounce peeled and deveined fresh or frozen shrimp

  • cup chopped, seeded fresh poblano chile pepper*

  • ¼ chopped onion

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil


  1. In a shallow baking dish soak cornhusks in hot water about 30 minutes or until soft.

  2. Meanwhile, for dough, in a small saucepan heat broth just until simmering. Remove from heat; set aside. In a small bowl combine masa harina, salt, and baking powder; set aside. In a medium bowl beat lard with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Alternately add masa harina mixture and warm broth to lard, continuing to beat until dough resembles a thick, creamy paste.

  3. Drain cornhusks well; pat dry with paper towels. For each tamale, starting about 1 inch from a narrow edge of a cornhusk, pat about 1 tablespoon of the dough into a 4x2-1/2-inch rectangle with a long side of the rectangle running along a long edge of the husk. Spoon a scant tablespoon of the Cheese Filling, Pork Filling, or Chicken Filling or about a tablespoon of the Shrimp Filling down the center of the dough rectangle. Fold the long edge of the cornhusk so it slightly overlaps the filling; roll the husk around the outside of the filled dough rectangle. Tie the ends securely with strips of cornhusk or pieces of 100-percent-cotton kitchen string. If desired, cut off the extra husk at ends. Repeat with remaining cornhusks, dough, and filling.

  4. Arrange tamales in a single layer in a steamer basket. (Do not pack tightly.) Pour about 1-1/2 inches of water into a Dutch oven. Add steamer basket (bottom of basket should be above the water); bring to boiling. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Steam for 45 to 60 minutes or until tamales easily pull away from the husks and are spongy and cooked through (add additional boiling water if necessary during cooking).

Cheese Filling

  1. In a small bowl combine cheese, queso fresco, chile pepper, cilantro and garlic. Use in Mini Tamales. Makes 1 cup.

Pork Filling

  1. In a small bowl combine pork roast, onion, lime peel, lime juice, oregano, cumin, and chipotle pepper. Use in Mini Tamales. Makes 1 cup.

Chicken Filling

  1. In a small bowl combine chicken, chile peppers, and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Use in Mini Tamales. Makes 1 cup.

Shrimp Filling

  1. Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Chop shrimp; set aside. In a medium skillet cook poblano chile pepper, onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in shrimp and cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until shrimp is opaque. Remove from heat and cool slightly. In a small bowl combine chile pepper mixture and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Use in Mini Tamales. Makes 1-1/2 cups.


Fresh chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, so avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with fresh chile peppers, wear disposable plastic or rubber gloves. If your bare hands do touch the chiles, wash your hands and nails thoroughly with soap and hot water. If you get chile oil in your eyes, flush them with cool water.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

66 Calories
4g Fat
6g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Calories 66
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 115mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Protein 2g

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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