Cheese Tamales

Tamales can be intimidating to make at home, but once you've made them once or twice, they are really quite easy to prepare. You'll just need patience and the necessary ingredients, which you will likely need to get at a specialty grocer.
Time 2 hours
Servings 4
Difficulty Medium




  • lb Corn husks, dried
  • 6 tbsp Lard
  • cup Cream cheese
  • 1 cup Chili con queso , homemade or jarred
  • 4 cups Masa harina cornmeal
  • 2 cups Stock , chicken or vegetable
  • To taste Salt
  • To taste Black pepper
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Pepper jack cheese , grated
  • 1 ½ cups Salsa


  • Set the corn husks out to thaw or soak corn husks in very hot water for an hour to soften.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the lard or vegetable shortening, cream cheese, and chili con queso until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix the masa harina with 2 cups of chicken stock. Add half of the masa harina mixture to the mixer bowl and beat well. Add the remaining masa along with additional chicken stock as needed, beating well, until mixture resembles a thick cake batter. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • For the filling, stir together the grated cheeses with the salsa.
  • Rinse and dry the corn husks, and cut them into rectangles about 8 inches by 10 inches in size (for medium tamales).
  • Lay a corn husk on a flat surface. Place about 1/4 cup of the masa in the middle, and spread into a rectangle about 2 inches by 4 inches. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of the rectangle. Fold the sides of the corn husk in over the filling, closing the masa over the cheese filling. Fold up the bottom half over the filling, then fold the top half down and roll tamale until well wrapped. Tie tamale with a piece of kitchen string or a strip of husk to secure it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to produce more tamales.
  • Bring 1 to 2 inches of water to boil in a steamer pot, or in a large pot with a colander or steamer basket Fill the steamer with one layer of tamales (you may have to steam in batches). The tamales should be above the water; they are cooked by the steam only.
  • Cover the tamales with a dish towel and the pot lid and steam for 30 to 40 minutes. Add water to the pot when necessary. Remove tamales and serve warm. Garnish with toppings of your choice.


  • Jalapeños, green onion, sour cream and diced tomatoes are all great garnish choices