Simple Tamales with Guajillo Pasilla Simmer Sauce

Chosen Team

The tamale is an authentically Mexican recipe, featuring various fillings (typically seasoned meat) inside a ground corn dough called masa. The tamale is then wrapped in dried corn husks and steamed. Popular year-round, they're especially celebrated in Mexico during the holidays. Our take unites pulled chicken and our sweet, spicy Guajillo Pasilla Simmer Sauce.

Total Time: 2 hours

Yields: 25 tamales

Simple Tamales with Guajillo Pasilla Simmer Sauce

Tamale Filling Ingredients


  1. To prepare the chicken, place the chicken in a large pot with enough water to cover it. Add salt, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As the water comes to a boil, cover and simmer for 8 to 15 minutes. Use a thermometer to check for doneness. The internal temp should be 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. You can also cut into the chicken to see if it's cooked through.
  2. Remove the chicken and let it cool, then shred it with a fork, your hands, or blend in a mixer. Then toss the chicken with the Guajillo Pasilla Sauce to your desired amount. We recommend saturating it.

Masa Ingredients

  • 25 large dried corn husks (order online or find in a Hispanic market)
  • 6 cups masa harina or maseca (found at most stores)
  • 2 cups broth (chicken, bone or veggie) 
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups fat of choice at room temperature (lard, butter, avocado oil, coconut oil). We'll use 1/2 cup lard, 1 cup avocado oil, and 1/2 cup grass-fed butter.


  1. Make sure husks are soaked ahead of time until softened (about 30 minutes in warm water).
  2. Combine the masa, baking powder, salt, and broth in a bowl with your hands or using a hand/electric mixer. Set aside. 
  3. In your mixer, add the fat and mix for a couple of minutes to get it light and fluffy. Then add in the dry masa mixture slowly and combine. To test the moisture level, spread some of the dough in your hand. If it holds its shape without cracking, then it’s ready. If not, add more broth. 
  4. Once your dough is ready, spread about ¼ cup of masa evenly over the middle of a corn husk, leaving a 1 inch border clear along the sides. Then spread ¼ cup of shredded, marinated chicken mixture in the middle of the dough. Optional: add a little Simmer Sauce on top of the chicken with the back of the spoon.
  5. Fold the long edges of the corn husk to the center of the tamale, so they overlap. Then fold the empty part of the husk under, so it rests against the side of the tamale with a seam. This part can be done a couple days before you steam. You can also freeze them at this point.
  6. When you're ready to cook, place the tamales in a steamer, piling them on top of each other with the open ends facing up, ensuring the filling does not fall out. 
  7. Cook for about 60 minutes, checking halfway to see if the dough separates easily from the corn husk. An inserted toothpick should come out clean. If so, they are done.
  8. Serve on more Simmer Sauce and top with cilantro, pickled onions and salsa fresca.

Note: If using an electric stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.

Simple Holiday Tamales with Guajillo Pasilla Simmer Sauce

All recipes adapted from The Mexican Keto Cookbook. Copyright © 2019 by Torie Borrelli. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.