Often asked: How to bake tamales in the oven?

Tamales are a traditional and delicious Mexican food that can be filled with various ingredients such as chicken, beef, cheese, or vegetables. They are usually cooked by steaming them in corn husks. However, baking tamales is also a preferred method for preparing them. In this article, we will guide you on how to bake tamales in the oven.

Ingredients and Equipment needed for the recipe:

Here is a list of ingredients and equipment that you would need for baking tamales in the oven:


  • Masa Harina (corn dough)
  • Water or broth
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Lard or vegetable shortening
  • Corn husks
  • Tamale filling (of your choice)


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Tamale steamer pot (If unavailable then you can prepare it in the oven by following our guide.)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Baking sheet or dish

Cleaning and Soaking Corn Husks:

Before using corn husks for tamale preparation, it’s necessary to clean them properly.

Steps involved in cleaning corn husks before use: 1) Separate torn pieces from whole maize leaves. 2) Rinse each leaf by holding it under running water gently without breakage. 3) Use soft cloth paper to dry excess water from it. 4) Remove any dirt residues using a kitchen brush.

Soak the clean corn husks by putting them into lukewarm water so that they become pliable.

Preparing Tamale Filling:

There are numerous options available when it comes to choosing tamale filling. Types of fillings that can be used are:

1) Chicken: Boiled chicken shredded and cooked with salsa until tender. 2) Beef: Cooked ground beef seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt pepper, and other spices as per taste buds. 3) Cheese: A mixture of different types of cheese with hot sauce along with bell peppers and onions. 4) Vegetarian: Sauteed zucchini, mushroom, red pepper, onion combined with cumin.

Now prepare the filling by following below-mentioned preparation steps for each filling type:

1) Chicken Filling: Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Salsa or tomato sauce
  • Salt, paprika, cumin Method: a) Boil chicken breast for about 20 minutes or until cooked properly. b) Once cooked, shred it using two forks or hands. c) Marinate shredded chicken in salsa. Add salt, cumin and paprika for desired taste.

2) Beef Filling: Ingredients-

  • Ground beef 1lb/500gms
  • Onion powder -1 tablespoon -Garlic powder -1 tablespoon -Pepper- 1 teaspoon -Chili powder -2 tablespoons Method: a) Cook ground beef in a medium skillet over medium heat stirring frequently until browned. b) Stir in Onion powder, Garlic powder, Chili Powder and Pepper. c) Cook on slow flame till all the moisture is evaporated from it.

3) Cheese Filling: Ingredients- -Monterey Jack cheese (1 cup) -Cheddar Cheese (1cup) -Bell peppers(half) -Onion(half) -Hot sauce (half cup) Method: a) Mix Monterey Jack cheese(1cup), Cheddar Cheese(1cup), Bell Peppers(half cut), Onion(half cut). b) Combine them well while keeping it aside to settle down for fifteen minutes. c) With the help of spatula flip upside down after sometime interval.

4)Veggie filling Ingredients – -Zucchini(thinly sliced)- 3 large -Button mushrooms(sliced)- 15 Oz –Olive oil– (3 tbsp.) -Bell pepper( 3 medium sizes) -Red onion (thinly sliced) -1 -Garlic powder(1 teaspoon) -Cumin powder(1/2 tablespoon) Method: a) Heat olive oil in a skillet. b) Soften garlic, onion and pepper on a slow flame until translucent. c) Add zucchini slices and button mushrooms. All of them to cook until all the water is evaporated from them.

Assembling the Tamales:

Assembling Tamales requires precision and patience, but once you know the technique it’s very easy!

Follow these steps below mentioned to assemble your tamales:

  1. Prepare Masa: Mix together masa harina, water or broth (according to recipe). Beat in lard using a mixer at low speed. Continue mixing till the batter looks fluffy.
  2. Prepare Husk: Spread corn husks smooth side down across the working area.
  3. Making Dough Ball: Take golf-size dough balls with a spoon and place them in the center of each husk. Smash it down gently with hands for an even layer.
  4. Adding Filling: Add around 2 tablespoons of filling over this layer.
  5. Roll-up Method: Through gentle force wrap and seal every end of tamale forming long parcels, carefully folding and overlapping two sides of each leaf over one towards its edge where the batter is exposed.

Baking The Tamales:

There are certain key factors that one should keep in mind before baking Tamales like time temperature and oven type:

Here are some tips on how to ensure evenly baked tamales.

  1. Preheat oven: Set oven temperature up to 375°F.
  2. Line Baking Sheet or dish with foil paper
  3. Place every tamale along with their open ends facing up position onto baking sheet leaving some space apart in-between, don’t overlap them as this could make heating uneven or leave them uncooked.
  4. Cover each tamale by overlapping each other two aluminum foil sheets.
  5. Put the baking dish with tamales in the oven and bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes or until done.

Checking Readiness And Serving

Now let us check if your tamales are ready to be served!

Here are the techniques and signs for checking if the tamales are ready:

  • Insert a toothpick into a corn husk, if it comes out easily, then they are cooked.
  • Or you can press down slightly onto the tamale; it should feel firm when cooked.
  • Take off the foil paper from every tamale’s end twisting it back over itself. Unfold opened leaves.

Tips on serving hot and fresh tamales with accompaniments.

Tamales can be served along with multiple accompaniments such as Pico De Gallo, Guacamole, Sour Cream or Chips. For vegetarians, Pinto beans based dip can be utilized as dips. Mexican-style rice bowls might enhance taste buds.


Baking Tamales is an easy method of cooking that anyone can follow right at their homes! All of our instructions provided here specify vividly how to make your own dough and fillings from scratch using (vegetarian options included). We hope this article has been helpful enough for you to get started making delicious tamales right away!


  1. Q: Can I bake frozen tamales in the oven? A: Yes, you can bake frozen tamales in the oven but they will require more time to cook. Preheat your oven to 350°F and place the frozen tamales on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until heated through and tender.
  2. Q: How do I know when the tamales are fully cooked in the oven? A: You can check if the tamales are fully cooked by inserting a toothpick or fork into one of them. If it comes out clean, then they’re done! Another way to tell is by checking if the masa (dough) has pulled away from the corn husk.
  3. Q: Do I need to add any liquid to my tamales before placing them in the oven? A: No, you don’t need to add any liquid as long as you’ve wrapped them properly and sealed them tightly with aluminum foil before baking. This will trap steam inside and ensure even cooking.
  4. Q: Can I use different kinds of meat for my baked tamales? A: Yes, you can use any kind of meat filling for your baked tamales as long as it’s cooked and shredded beforehand. Popular options include pork, chicken, beef, and even goat or lamb! Vegetarian fillings like cheese or vegetables can also be used.

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