Mini Chicken Tamales

Christmas time reminds me of my grandmother who use to make mini tamales that were eaten as small bites before our Christmas dinner.

Mini Chicken Tamales

Prep Time: 4 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 30 mini tamales


  • 1 whole, cage-free, all natural chicken, cut into pieces (keep bones on for flavor)
  • 1 small onion, chopped into large pieces
  • ½ head of fresh, minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 15 Corn Husks
  • 25 ounce Massa (Virgin)
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup water


  1. Immerse chicken in big pot of water. Add onions, garlic and salt. Cover and set to medium heat.
  2. Boil together for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.
  3. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from water, cool to touch and debone.
  4. Shred the chicken, place in large mixing bowl.
  5. Pour flavoring salsa over chicken and mix with hands.
  6. In a large container, place the corn husks deep in hot water and cover for a couple hours until they are soft and pliable. Tip: you may need to weigh them down with an inverted plate and a heavy can to keep them submerged.
  7. In an electric mixer add Massa to the bowl.
  8. At medium-low speed add the following ingredients one at a time: chili paste, baking powder, salt, oil and water.
  9. Mix everything until it gets soft and heavy.
  10. Drain water from husks.
  11. Cut husks in half in order to make mini tamales.
  12. One at a time, flatten out the husks and add 2 tablespoons of Massa on the middle of the corn husk, leaving a little more room at the bottom of the husk.
  13. Add 1/2 oz of chicken filling in the middle of the Massa.
  14. Take the left side of the husk and fold it directly over the right side. Fold the narrow bottom end of the husk onto the folded tamale.
  15. ** For parties and presentation you can tie with strip of corn husk when serving dry tamales.
  16. As you are making the tamales, stand them up on their rolled ends in a prepared steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for approximately 20-30 minutes until Massa is firm and holds its shape. Tip: Cover the tamales in the steamer with a layer of the left over corn husks. You can also fill empty spaces with gently wadded aluminum foil to prevent them from falling over.
  17. In Casa Vega we serve them “oven-style”: gently remove the tamale from the husk and plate. Cover with homemade enchilada sauce, sprinkle with cheddar and jack cheese and cook in hot oven for 2-3 min until cheese is melted.
  18. At home we serve them dry: Let everyone unroll their own tamale and serve with Tapatio and Mexican Crema.