Jalisco-Style Chicken Tamales


Jalisco-Style Chicken Tamales

Jalisco-Style Chicken Tamales

Tamales Tapatíos

Recipe Yield

16 tamales

Cooking time

1 hour

Rate this recipe

4.25 from 8 votes


Tamal dough:

  • cups (326g) masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (184g) lard or vegetable shortening
  • cups (738g) chicken broth


  • 3 poblano chiles
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes or one 14.5-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (71g) chopped white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 whole cloves stemmed and crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (70g) chopped manzanilla olives stuffed with pimentos
  • 1/4 cup (46g) coarsely chopped capers
  • 1/4 cup diced pickled jalapeños
  • 3 cups (330g) shredded cooked chicken

For assembly:

  • 30 to 36 dried corn husks

To Prepare

To make the tamal dough:

  • Whisk together the masa harina, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening in a mixer set with the paddle attachment and beat on high until very light, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the chicken broth and masa harina mixture alternately, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once it has all been added, raise speed to medium and continue beating for about 4 to 8 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous, very fluffy, and aerated.
  • To test if the dough is ready, drop 1/2 teaspoon into a cup of cold water. If it floats, it is ready. If it sinks, beat longer to aerate further.

To make the filling:

  • Place poblano chiles and tomatoes (if using fresh) on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Place under the broiler and char for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping a couple times in between, until charred, soft, and wrinkled.
  • Remove the poblanos and tomatoes from the oven. Place the poblanos in a plastic bag, close the bag, and set aside to allow the poblanos to steam and sweat for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 hours. Remove the poblanos from the bag and in a bowl of water, or under a gentle stream of running water, peel away the charred skin. Next, cut a slit down the side of each poblano and remove the seeds and stems before cutting into strips of about 1” x 1/4”. Set aside.
  • Chop the broiled tomatoes into 1/2" pieces. If using canned tomatoes, simply chop them.
  • In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute or two longer.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes (including the skins, seeds, and juices), cumin, crushed tops of the whole cloves, and salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is dark red and thickened. Add poblanos, olives, capers, pickled jalapeños and chicken, stirring to combine. Cook for 5 more minutes.

To assemble tamales:

  • In a large bowl, soak the dried corn husks in hot water for at least 10 minutes, or until soft and pliable, drain.
  • Working with one corn husk at a time, lay it out with the tapered end pointing towards you. Portion about 1/4 cup (50g) masa onto the husk – a scone or muffin scoop works well here. Spread the masa into a rectangle, about 3” x 5”; the layer should be about 1/4” thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2” on the sides and at least 1” on the bottom. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling (about 40g) in the middle of the rectangle.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (the masa will start to swaddle the filling). Fold the joined sides of the husk together to one side of the tamal, wrapping them in the same direction around the tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end from the bottom up and spread the tamal gently so it is evenly distributed. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Place the tamales as vertically as you can in a container (open side up) and repeat the assembly with the remaining masa and filling.

To steam tamales:

  • Fill a steamer with water right up to the bottom of the steaming base or basket and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Line the steamer base or basket with a layer of soaked corn husks. Place the prepared tamales as vertically as you can into the prepared steamer with the open end facing up. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some more corn husks, so the tamales will be snug and not shift around. Cover the tamales with more soaked corn husks and steam, covered with a lid, for about an hour.
  • Turn off the heat and let them rest and settle in the steamer for at least 10 minutes. You can test the tamales for doneness by unwrapping one and checking to see that it releases easily from the husk. If it doesn’t, return the steamer to the heat, checking them at 5-minutes increments. Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer.

Storage information:

  • Tamales can be made ahead several days before and stored in the 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.


40comments inJalisco-Style Chicken Tamales

  1. Mary Bowers gomez

    Dec 16

    Pati I would love for you to go to Chiapas we know very little about their dietary habits their tamales I think Chiapas would be a great place to film one of your episodes or seasons

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 20

      Great suggestion Mary, I have been looking forward to filming in Chiapas as well, hopefully soon!

  2. Sherri S.

    Dec 12

    What did I do wrong! The favor of the chicken filling was great. After I cooked my tamale they were dense and heavy.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 19

      Most likely you overworked the masa Sherri. Make sure to mix it softly and not to over do it 😉

  3. Mary Bock Peru

    Sep 28

    Patty, me encantan tus recetas, veo tu programa en tv y aprendo bastante, gracias.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 05

      Mil gracias Mary, que alegria que te guste el programa, un abrazo!

  4. francine kruszelnicki

    Dec 19

    love your show ,, watch it all the time.. I’m gonna try this recipe..my husband loves chicken anything.. lolwish me luck because I’m new at cooking Mexican..ill let you know what happens merry xmas!!!!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 08

      So happy you gave these tamales a shot Francine, let me know how you guys liked them!

  5. Debbie D

    Sep 17

    Thank you Pati

    Our parish Priest is from Mexico City and has been over to our home several times for dinner. I’ve always been reluctant to fix any Mexican dishes for him but I’m going to try your tamales. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 26

      You are going to do great and he is going to love them Debbie, good luck!

  6. Francisca Martinez

    Sep 17

    Your tamales are just like my grandma’s

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 26

      I’m taking this as the biggest compliment, thanks Francisca 😉

  7. Chris Utah

    Jun 17


    Made your Jalisco style chicken tamales. I have tried to make tamales before and they were just ok. This recipe was perfect and my Masa was perfect. I have never tried using the mixer for making the masa. This made it very simple. Will not go back to hand mixing. Thanks for all the recipes. On to the flour tortillas. I will let you know how it goes.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 23

      So glad to hear you loved these tamales and that using the mixer was so easy Chris! Let me know about your tortillas 😉

  8. Chrissy

    Apr 15

    Thank you Pati! I used the tamal dough from this recipe for some refried black bean, poblano, tomato, chile Morita, shallot and garlic tamales, with blue masa harina. I call them black and blues 😆
    Thank you for inspiring us with your own sense of adventure!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 19

      Uy, that sounds yummy Chrissy, thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

  9. Xenia

    Apr 05

    These are just like my mama used to make them!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 08

      Aw, that is the best compliment ever, thanks Xenia 😉

  10. Denise

    Feb 26

    Could one put the filling in an empanada? With a little meaty cheese.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 26

      Absolutely! Great idea Denise 😉

  11. Linda

    Feb 01

    Hi Pati, I love your show, I will make this tamales they sound so easy to make and look delicious, thank you for all your recipes 👍😃

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 03

      Let me know how you like them Linda 😉

  12. Barbara Day

    Jan 31

    Hi Pati,
    Thanks for your wonderful Mexican culture, travel and cooking show on t.v. and cookbooks. Was watching your t.v. program today and noticed that you added avacado leaves to an egg dish or perhaps it was added as an ingredient to the refried bean dish. I’d never heard of this before but I did want to warn you to be very careful in your use of the toasted avacado leaves due to an article that I read on the Internet.

    It turns out that avacado leaves contain a toxin known as “persin” which can make dogs, cats , birds and other pets very sick to their stomachs. Obviously, you are a good person and a wonderful gourmet chef , but occasionally all of us inadvertently get a hold of an ingredient which might not be very good for us. I’ve submitted an inquiry about the safety of the use of avacado leaves to the Food and Drug Administration (as opposed to the avacado fruit which is obviously safe for human consumption), but I just thought I would pass along this information and let you know about the controversy of this particular ingredient with respect to the warnings about the TOXIC “persin” chemical in the avacado leaf. To be extremely clear, it is dangerously toxic for pets, i.e., dogs, cats, etc. I’m not certain about its safety for human consumption.

    I have sent a question to the FDA about the overall safety of avacado leaves and they indicated that they would get back to me regarding the safety of this particular potential ingredient and the use of raw and/or toasted avacado leaves in cooking or as a tea. I will let you know ASAP when I hear anything from them since they indicated that they needed to do further research to get back to me on this question.

    When I hear back from them, I’d be glad to let you know what this federal government agency has to say. I may be overly anxious about it since it obviously does not seem to have done you and your family any harm but I try to be very careful about such things. In any event, take good care of yourself and your lovely family and thanks for all the great information about Mexican culture and cooking and the travel information. I enjoy seeing images of your beautiful homeland that you highlight from time to time when you visit your country of origin. Will let you know asap when I hear back from the FDA regarding the use of avacado leaves. In the meantime, if you have a family pet, i.e., a dog, cat, or a bird, please don’t feed it any human food leftovers cooked with anything in which the avacado leaves were used as an ingredient. I wouldn’t want your pet dog, cat, or bird (if you even have a pet) to get sick from the toxic “persin” in the avacado leaves.

    Take very good care and again, thanks for all the great recipes and information on your web site. I genuinely enjoy your Mexican culture, cooking, and travel show. Have a great afternoon.

    Barbara D. Day
    Arlington, Virginia

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 07

      Hola Barbara, thanks so much for reaching out and for your concern about using avocado leaves in cooking. Yes, please let me know what the FDA has to say. I will be careful with my dog Mila but I am pretty sure it is safe for human consumption as avocado leaves have been used in Mexican cuisine for centuries. Gracias!

  13. Cheryl

    Jan 03

    Thank you and a very happy and healthy 2022. This recipe is one for the ages and truly excellent. Your instruction certainly alleviated some of my trepedations. My neigbours love me :). I also followed Kimberly’s suggestion and made a side of lime crema, what a combo.

    If only, I could now master, the art of making better corn and flour tortillas. My tortillas are just not puffing up on the comal?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 03

      Hi Cheryl, so happy your neighbors love you 🙂 Here is a video of me making corn tortillas, have you checked it out? Hope it is helpful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT7E1XcGWAc

  14. Kimberly

    Dec 28

    These were OUTSTANDING. Made them yesterday, with the addition of homemade Mexican lime crema on the side. We can’t stop eating them!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 28

      Yum! So glad you liked them Kimberly 🙂

  15. Sarah M.

    Dec 21

    We added these tamales to our Christmas tamale tradition yesterday and they were everyone’s favorite. It was made clear that we must make these again! Thank you for the wonderful addition to one of our favorite family traditions.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 26

      Happy you liked them and love the idea of a yummy Tamaliza for the holidays, bravo Sarah!

  16. 😃😃😃

    Dec 17

    Soy de Jalisco,muy buena receta!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 27

      Que bueno que te gusto!

  17. Nicolette

    Dec 13

    Pati! Tears welled up in my eyes. My dad is from Chapala and always made this style tamal. I never got the recipe. I can recreate it now, thanks to you!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 27

      Aw, so glad it brought great memories Nicolette, enjoy!

  18. Anonymous

    Sep 25




    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 28

      Completely agree with your mom Alfredo, Tamales are a must. So glad you liked this recipe 🙂

  19. Aurora Rodriguez

    Sep 17

    I will have to to try. They must be delicious!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 03

      Hope you’ll like them Aurora!

      1. Leticia Sanchez de California

        Dec 12

        Hola Paty , es mi primer vez participando pero ya e cocinado varias de tus recetas y tu show me encanta , primero para agradecerte porque siempre me senti intimidada de prepara mi propia masa para tamales pero cuando prepare la receta que compartiste de : CORN,CHEESE AND CHILE VERDE TAMALES ,me quede super satisfecha de la consistencia de la masa y me quedaron deliciosos !!!!! Lo que yo quiero compartir contigo y con tus seguidores es que yo preparo los tamales 2 semanas antes de Navidad y los pongo crudos en el congelador y ese dia los cocino y quedan como si apenas los huviera preparado . hice este truco porque por estar cocinando me veia carrereada para ir al templo . Saludos y Feliz Navidad y un año nuevo 2024 lleno de mas exitos !

        1. Pati Jinich

          Dec 19

          Mil gracias por tu mensaje tan lindo Leticia y por compartir tu secreto, thank you!

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