Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal

Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal

Tamales de Pollo con Salsa Verde
18 tamales
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken, masa, pati's mexican table, salsa verde, Tamales
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 5 “Tamaliza!”


For the tamal dough or masa:

  • 3/4 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or seasoned oil, (see note at end of recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound (about 3 1/4 cups) instant corn masa flour , (masa harina) for tortillas or tamales
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth, add more if needed

For the filling:

  • 1 batch salsa verde
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, from homemade chicken broth

To assemble the tamales:

  • 25 dried corn husks, soaking in hot water

To Prepare

To make the tamal dough or masa:
  • Place lard, vegetable shortening or seasoned oil in an electric mixer and beat until very light, about 1 minute. Add salt and 1 teaspoon of cold water and continue beating until it is white and spongy, a couple more minutes. Add the baking powder and then alternate adding the instant corn masa and the chicken broth a little at a time. Continue beating until dough is homogeneous and as fluffy as can get. You know the tamal masa is ready when you can drop 1/2 teaspoon of the masa in a cup of cold water and it floats.
To make the filling:
  • Combine the salsa verde with the cooked shredded chicken.
To assemble the tamales:
  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of masa into about a 2 to 3-inch square, the layer should be about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2-inch on the sides. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold the folded sides to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
  • Assemble all the tamales and place them as vertically as you can in a container.
To prepare the tamalera or steamer:
  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer (so that water is under the steamer) and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.
To cook the tamales:
  • When you have all tamales ready, place them, again as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 50 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks, you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • Note: To make seasoned oil, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup vegetable oil over medium heat, add a thick slice of onion and 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 15 minutes until completely browned. Remove onion and garlic before using the oil.

42 comments on “Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal

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  1. Hey Pati!

    If I don’t have instant corn masa for tamales, can I just use regular masa harina? I remember hearing you saying something about the instant stuff having extra baking powder in it. Can I just add more baking powder to accomplish the same thing, or does plain old masa harina work fine in this recipe? Muchas gracias!

    1. Hey Farmer Kyle! By all means use regular masa harina, no problem, and yes, add a pinch of baking powder for fluffiness 🙂

  2. Hi Pati- I recently tried your recipe but I could not get the Masa to float in ice water. I followed the instructions exactly, but I am not sure why it wouldn’t float, no matter how long I whipped the masa. Any thoughts?

    1. Oh don’t worry if it doesn’t float, Jon. Masa is capricious and sometimes it just won’t float no matter how much it is whipped.

  3. Hi Pati.
    Thanks for your wonderfull show and all your recipes.
    I tried the tamales recipe and after more than 3 hours of steaming they never cooked. I used a big 25 quart tamalera pot and put husks on the empty part so that the tamales were upright. It steamed really good however the tamales did not cook i used Maseca. Does the brand of the flour or the size of the pot has anything to do with it ???
    Also could i have the recipe for CHILEATOLE that people make and sell in Puebla after it rains. Thank you

  4. Pati!

    Amo todas tus recetas debo decir jaja
    Puedo adaptar esta receta a tamales de frijoles con queso? 🙂


    1. Thank you Sandra! For the tamales, I recommend the seasoned vegetable oil as a substitute for lard, but you are welcome to try them with butter.

      1. I use olive oil and my tamales turn out fine (in my opinion!) The masa doesn’t get really fluffy, but I like a dense masa anyway. I love your generous attitude, Pati.

    1. Oh you need to beat the mixture some more… but don’t worry if it doesn’t float, maybe you are testing the floating tip with too much masa 😉

    1. You can do either! Wrap them well and keep them in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.

  5. Wow My tamales were a success, we just ate them for dinner with some delicious chocolate caliente! Thanks for your amazingly delicious recipes Pati, Merry Christmas!! ( I wish I was able to post the picture I took)

  6. Dear Pati,
    How would you use fresh masa from the local tortilleria instead of the dry masa? Just leave out the chicken stock?
    My family and I love your show and every recipe we’ve tried from it has become a favorite!
    Thank you for making our lives more delicious!

    1. Thank you so much Manda! You can use the fresh masa and then follow the recipe adding the lard/vegetable shortening/seasoned oil, the chicken broth (or other broth), and the salt, and beat the mixture for a long time until it becomes puffy and floats.

  7. Hi Pati, I just made your tamales and I am sooooo happy. They taste great. However I do have a question – When I have finished steaming are they still suppose to be a little mushy? Do they harden up as they sit? I have steamed them 70 mins.
    My only other try with making tamales was about 30 years ago and we had to throw them out for the horses. Guess what the horses wouldn’t even eat them they kicked the tamales around for sport. hee hee

    1. That is so funny! Yes: tamales firm up as they set. So you can just let them sit in the pot for another hour, as long as they are covered…. they will stay super warm!

  8. Once you season the oil can you then use it right away or does it need to solidify again before you can beat it in a mixer

    1. Great question Carmen! The oil doesn’t need to be solid…just watch out when you whip it with the rest of the ingredients. Start on a slow speed….

  9. I absolutely adore your cooking and your show. Is it possible for you to post a note about the alternative method you mentioned when you demonstrated this recipe on your show: Tamale Casserole? The main layers are clear – masa, filling, masa. But you mentioned something about finishing the top with Salsa Verde, cream? and cheese? And for how long would you bake it? Thank you kindly!

    1. First you bake the casserole with just the masa, filling, and masa, and covered with foil for 50 minutes. Then you add 1 cup of the salsa and top it with cream and grated cheese and bake it for another 10 minutes uncovered.

  10. I made these for my family today…My dad loved them- he was skeptical when I told him that I was making them by hand, by myself. Very impressive to bring over for a holiday! Thank you for your show and your recipes- your excitement for the food and ingredients makes me so very happy when I watch!

  11. Dear Pati,
    We had a blast making your tamales this weekend. My wife is a vegetarian so we made one batch of the chicken with salsa Verde and the other we made roasted poblano peppers and zucchini in Salsa Verde. Amazing! Thank you for teaching me this fluffy temal recipe