Tamales Prontos

Tamales are a favorite comfort food in Mexico.  This recipe comes together quickly with a simple dough made with masa harina (a fine corn meal flour) and a filling of cheese, salsa, and beans.  Wrapping them in cornhusks can be a challenge at first, but even the less-than-perfect ones end up tasting great.

Use a whole cornhusk for larger tamales, only a half for smaller, appetizer-sized ones.

Ready to be placed in the steamer, and cooked about 20 minutes.

Tamales Prontos

11 large dried cornhusks
2 cups masa harina
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups water
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 (14 oz.) can refried beans
1 ½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 ½ cup mild peach and mango salsa


  1. Place cornhusks in a large bowl of hot water, and weigh down with another bowl.  Soak for at least 30 minutes.  Drain husks, rinse with cold water, and pat dry.
  2. Tear one cornhusk into 10 ribbon-like strips (about ½ inch wide).
  3. Combine masa harina, paprika, and salt in a large bowl.  Add water and oil, stirring to form a soft dough.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead lightly about 5 times.  Divide into 10 equal portions.
  4. Working with one portion, place dough in the center of 1 husk.  Press the dough into a 4 x 2 inch rectangle, leaving about a 1 inch border on all sides.  Arrange ½ Tbsp. refried beans, ½ Tbsp. cheese, and ½ Tbsp. salsa down the center of the dough.
  5. Take 1 long side of the husk and roll the dough around the filling, sealing in the filling.  Fold up the tapered end.  Tie 1 husk ribbon around the middle of the tamale to seal it.  Trim all but ½ inch excess cornhusk from the top, broad end.  Repeat with remaining husks, dough, and filling.
  6. Arrange tamales in a steamer.  Place steamer in a large pot with 1 inch water at the bottom.  Cover, and steam over lightly boiling water for 12 minutes, or until the husks peel away cleanly.  Remove tamales from steamer and allow to cool slightly before eating.



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