Cooking Guatemalan Tamales: A Step-by-Step Guide

to Delicious Guatemalan Tamales!


Cooking Guatemalan tamales is a great way to bring a taste of Central America into your kitchen. Tamales are a traditional dish in Guatemala, and they are made with a variety of ingredients, including corn, pork, chicken, and vegetables. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of making delicious Guatemalan tamales from start to finish. You’ll learn how to make the masa dough, prepare the filling, assemble the tamales, and cook them to perfection. With this guide, you’ll be able to make delicious tamales that will impress your family and friends. So let’s get started!

The History of Guatemalan Tamales: How This Traditional Dish Came to Be

The Guatemalan tamale is a beloved traditional dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a simple yet delicious meal that is enjoyed by people of all ages. But how did this tasty treat come to be?

The story of the Guatemalan tamale begins centuries ago with the Mayan people. The Mayans were a highly advanced civilization that lived in what is now Guatemala. They were known for their intricate architecture, their advanced mathematics, and their delicious cuisine.

The Mayans were the first to create the tamale. They would wrap a mixture of corn, beans, and spices in a banana leaf and then steam it. This was a convenient and tasty way to enjoy a meal.

The tamale was then adopted by the Aztecs, who added their own unique twist to the dish. They added chilies and other spices to the mix, giving the tamale a spicy kick.

When the Spanish arrived in Guatemala, they brought with them their own version of the tamale. They added pork, chicken, and other meats to the mix, creating a more hearty and filling meal.

Today, the Guatemalan tamale is enjoyed by people all over the world. It is a delicious and convenient meal that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is a reminder of the rich history and culture of Guatemala and a testament to the creativity of its people.

Exploring the Different Types of Guatemalan Tamales: From Sweet to Savory

Ah, the deliciousness of Guatemalan tamales! Whether you’re a fan of sweet or savory, there’s a tamal for everyone. Let’s explore the different types of tamales that you can find in Guatemala.

If you’re looking for something sweet, you’ll love the tamales de dulce. These tamales are filled with a sweet mixture of raisins, nuts, and spices, and are often served with a sweet syrup or honey. They’re a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth!

For a savory treat, try the tamales de pollo. These tamales are filled with a flavorful mixture of chicken, potatoes, and vegetables, and are often served with a spicy salsa. They’re a great way to get your protein fix!

If you’re looking for something a little different, try the tamales de elote. These tamales are filled with a sweet corn mixture and are often served with a creamy sauce. They’re a great way to get your daily dose of veggies!

No matter what type of tamal you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something delicious in Guatemala. So why not give them a try? You’ll be sure to find a tamal that you love!

The Essential Ingredients for Making Guatemalan Tamales: What You Need to Know

Ah, the delicious Guatemalan tamale! A traditional dish that has been enjoyed for generations, it’s a favorite among many. But what are the essential ingredients for making this tasty treat? Let’s take a look!

First, you’ll need masa, which is a corn-based dough. This is the base of the tamale and gives it its unique texture. You can find masa at most Latin American grocery stores.

Next, you’ll need a filling. This can be anything from pork, beef, chicken, or even vegetables. The filling is what gives the tamale its flavor.

Finally, you’ll need a sauce. This can be anything from a mild salsa to a spicy mole. The sauce adds a delicious kick to the tamale.

Once you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to assemble the tamale. Start by spreading the masa on a corn husk. Then, add your filling and top it with the sauce. Finally, wrap the tamale up in the husk and steam it for about an hour.

And there you have it! With these essential ingredients, you can make a delicious Guatemalan tamale. So, what are you waiting for? Get cooking and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks for Making Perfect Guatemalan Tamales Every Time

1. Start with the right masa. Masa is the foundation of a great tamale, so make sure you use the right kind. Look for a masa that is made with fresh corn and is free of preservatives.

2. Use the freshest ingredients. Fresh ingredients make all the difference when it comes to making tamales. Look for the freshest vegetables, meats, and spices you can find.

3. Don’t skimp on the filling. Guatemalan tamales are known for their generous fillings, so don’t be afraid to stuff them full of delicious ingredients.

4. Take your time. Tamales take time to make, so don’t rush the process. Take your time to make sure everything is perfect.

5. Get creative. Guatemalan tamales are a great way to get creative in the kitchen. Try adding different ingredients or experimenting with different flavors.

6. Don’t forget the sauce. Guatemalan tamales are usually served with a delicious sauce. Make sure you have a tasty sauce ready to go when you’re ready to serve your tamales.

7. Have fun! Making tamales is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Enjoy the process and have fun!

Serving Guatemalan Tamales: Creative Ideas for Presentation and Accompaniments

Serving Guatemalan tamales is a great way to bring a taste of Central America to your dinner table. With a few creative presentation ideas and accompaniments, you can make your tamales stand out and be the star of the show.

To start, why not serve your tamales in a traditional Guatemalan way? Place them in a large basket lined with a colorful cloth and decorated with ribbons and flowers. This will give your guests a true taste of Guatemala.

For accompaniments, you can’t go wrong with a classic salsa. Try making a traditional Guatemalan salsa with tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and jalapenos. Serve it alongside your tamales for a delicious and spicy kick.

If you’re looking for something a bit more creative, why not try a mango salsa? This sweet and tangy salsa is a great way to add a tropical twist to your tamales. Serve it with a side of tortilla chips for a fun and flavorful snack.

Finally, don’t forget to offer your guests a variety of condiments. From sour cream to guacamole, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can even make your own special sauce with a combination of spices and herbs.

With these creative presentation ideas and accompaniments, your Guatemalan tamales will be the talk of the table. Enjoy!


1. What type of ingredients are used to make Guatemalan tamales?

The ingredients used to make Guatemalan tamales typically include masa (corn dough), lard, achiote (annatto) paste, chicken, pork, beef, vegetables, and spices.

2. How long does it take to prepare and cook Guatemalan tamales?

It typically takes about 2-3 hours to prepare and cook Guatemalan tamales.

3. What type of cooking vessel is used to steam the tamales?

A tamalera, or tamale steamer, is typically used to steam the tamales.

4. What is the traditional way to serve Guatemalan tamales?

Guatemalan tamales are traditionally served with a side of salsa and a cup of hot atol (a corn-based beverage).

5. Are there any special tips for making the perfect Guatemalan tamales?

Yes, there are a few tips for making the perfect Guatemalan tamales. Make sure to use the right amount of lard and achiote paste, and to mix the masa and filling together thoroughly. Additionally, make sure to wrap the tamales tightly in the banana leaves and to steam them for the correct amount of time.


Cooking Guatemalan Tamales is a great way to bring a taste of Guatemala into your home. With the right ingredients and a little bit of patience, you can make delicious tamales that will be enjoyed by all. The process may seem intimidating at first, but with the help of this step-by-step guide, you can make tamales that are sure to impress. So, grab your ingredients and get cooking!