Green Chile Cheese Tamales

  • Active Time 40m
  • Total Time 3h 50m
  • Rating ****

Makes about 12 tamales

All it takes is a great cheese and a great salsa to make a terrific tamale. We like our green tomatillo salsa uncooked for the best bite.


  • 1 package (8 ounces) dried corn husks
  • 1 pound Mexican cheese, such as Ranchero, queso fresco, panela or manchego, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 1/2 cups Green Salsa, divided (see recipe)
  • 1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pound cold prepared ground masa for tamales
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening or cold lard
  • 12 square foil sheets (6 inches each)
  • Sour cream

Companion recipe: Green Salsa



Soak dried corn husks in hot water 2 hours or overnight. Drain on paper towels. Combine cheese, chiles and 1/2 cup salsa in medium bowl. Set cheese mixture aside.

Combine 1/2 cup salsa, chicken broth, salt and baking soda in 2-cup glass measuring cup. Set broth mixture aside. Using electric mixer, beat cold masa in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Gradually beat in broth mixture. With mixer on high speed, beat shortening or lard 1 tablespoon at a time into masa, beating well after each addition. Continue beating and scraping down sides of bowl until mixture is light and fluffy, about 15 minutes total. Test for lightness by dropping 1 tablespoon masa into cold water: If it floats, masa is light enough to use. If not, continue beating at high speed a few minutes longer.


Spread 1 or 2 whole husks lengthwise on counter with narrow end pointing away from you. Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons masa mixture over 3 x 2-inch area of husk. Top with 1 heaping tablespoon cheese mixture. Fold sides over, then fold in ends to enclose filling completely. Place folded tamale on foil square and fold foil to enclose tamale. Repeat with remaining husks, filling and foil squares.


Add enough water to large pot to come 1 inch up sides. Cover bottom of steamer basket with remaining corn husks. Arrange tamales upright and in layers in steamer basket. Cover pot and bring water to boil. When water begins to boil, place steamer basket with tamales into pot. Reduce heat to low. Cover and steam tamales until husks just pull away from masa without sticking, checking water level occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove basket from pot and let rest 10 minutes. (Cold tamales can be reheated in a steamer over simmering water for 30 minutes. They’re delicious for breakfast the next day, topped with a fried egg.)

Transfer tamales to platter and serve hot with remaining salsa verde and sour cream.


If you cannot find masa for tamales at a Latin American market, mix 1 3/4 cups dry masa harina with 1 cup warm water and then chill.

Copyright 2000, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, all rights reserved.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved.

RecID 5823

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