Clean Tu Casa Blog 

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Published On
March 24, 2023

How to Make Tamales: History, Recipes, and Kitchen Cleaning Tips

Written By
Osi Egwuogu

If you’ve ever wondered how to make tamales, we have just the article for you! Tamales have been enjoyed for centuries in many Latin American countries and are a staple in Mexican cuisine. However, these delicious little packages of corn dough and filling can be very messy to make but don’t worry. We have included kitchen cleaning tips to help you enjoy your delicacy without worrying about cleaning up so much afterward.

Origin of Tamales

tamales on various plates

Tamales are food that has been enjoyed for centuries. In fact, the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations are believed to have made tamales as early as 8000 BC. These early versions of tamales were made with various fillings, such as beans, fruits, and meats, and were often used as portable food for warriors and hunters. Like the lunchboxes of that time!

Over time, tamales evolved and became more elaborate. Different regions in Mexico developed unique tamale recipes with distinct flavors and cooking methods. Today, tamales are still essential to Mexican cuisine and are enjoyed worldwide.

How to Make Tamale in Your Home

Don't be intimidated by the process of making tamales; it's very easy and enjoyable if you have lots of people around to help stuff and wrap them! So this is your perfect excuse to throw a tamalada (tamale-making party!) Here are two simple tamale recipes to get you started:

  1. Authentic Mexican Tamale:
tamales covered with nice vegetables

Lauren from TastesBetterFromScratch learned this recipe from an abuela in Mexico. Thankfully, you can still find most of the ingredients locally in Atlanta.


  • For the pork filling: pork shoulder, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, oregano, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, masa harina (corn flour)
  • For the masa dough: masa harina, chicken broth, baking powder, salt, vegetable shortening
  • Corn husks soaked in water.


  1. Cook the pork shoulder in chicken broth with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and oregano until tender and shred into small pieces.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in vegetable oil, add the shredded pork and some of the cooking liquid, and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the filling is well seasoned.
  3. Make the masa dough by mixing masa harina with chicken broth, baking powder, salt, and vegetable shortening until smooth.
  4. Spread a spoonful of masa dough on a soaked corn husk, add a spoonful of pork filling, and fold the husk to form a tamale.
  5. Steam the tamales for 1-2 hours until firm and fully cooked.
  1. Sweet Tamales: 
tamal cut with a fork

These types of tamales have dough filled with nutty and sugary fillings. 


  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • 20-25 corn husks soaked in warm water for 30 minutes


  1. Mix the masa harina, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add the warm water and stir until a dough forms.
  3. Stir in the raisins and chopped nuts.
  4. To assemble the tamales, spread about 1/4 cup of the masa dough onto a soaked corn husk.
  5. Fold the sides of the corn husk towards the center, then fold the bottom up and the top down to enclose the filling.
  6. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Steam the tamales in a steamer basket for about 45-60 minutes or until the masa is cooked through.

Kitchen cleaning tips for your tamalada

meeting to eat tamales

You'll still appreciate these tips even if you’re not throwing a tamalada. If you've ever made tamales from scratch, you know it can be messy. From soaking the corn husks to mixing the masa dough to assembling and steaming the tamales, there are plenty of opportunities for ingredients and equipment to get scattered around your kitchen.

  1. Start with a Clean Kitchen

Before making tamales, starting with a clean and organized kitchen is a good idea. Make sure your countertops, stovetop, and sink are free of clutter and debris. This will make it easier to move around as you prepare and assemble your tamales and make cleaning up afterward a much simpler task.

  1. Clean As You Go

One of the best ways to keep your kitchen clean during tamale-making is to clean as you go. After mixing the masa dough or shredding the chicken, take a few minutes to wipe down your countertops and wash any dirty dishes or utensils. This will prevent clutter build-up and make focusing on the task at hand easier.

  1. Use a Trash Bowl

Consider using a trash bowl while assembling your tamales to make cleaning up even more straightforward. This can be a large bowl or container you keep nearby to collect scraps, corn husks, or other debris as you work. Having a designated spot to collect your trash will prevent them from accumulating on your countertops or mixing with your other ingredients.

  1. Tackle Stains and Spills ASAP

If you spill some masa dough or sauce on your countertops or stovetop, it's essential to tackle the mess as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to clean up the stain. Use a clean cloth or sponge to blot up any spills, and then wipe the area down with warm, soapy water. Don’t forget to sweep or vacuum the floor to pick up any loose corn husks or masa that may have fallen.

  1. Have a Plan for Leftovers

If you have leftover tamales or ingredients, make sure you have a plan for storing or disposing of them. Use airtight containers to store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer, and dispose of any scraps or debris in a garbage can or compost bin.

With a little bit of planning and organization, you can enjoy making delicious tamales without worrying about the cleanup after. So go ahead, make tamale, and keep your kitchen spick and span while you're at it!

Clean Tu Casa is the team to call for any cleaning service in Atlanta. We offer Atlanta residential cleaning services and corporate cleaning services. We provide commercial cleaning services in Marietta, Buckhead, and Brookhaven areas. Whether you want a one-time, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cleaning, simply reach out to us for your free quote today.

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