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Pati's Mexican Table : TV Recipes

Pati Jinich

Tamales de Zarzamora y Nuez
Makes about 20 tamales

25 dried corn husks
1 cup vegetable shortening or good quality lard
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp baking powder
1 lb instant corn masa mixfor tamales, or about 3 1/4 cups, such as Maseca
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
12 oz blackberries, rinsed

To make masa for tamales:
Place the vegetable shortening or lard with 1 tablespoon of cold water in a mixer and beat, until very light and spongy, about 1 minute. Add the baking powder and salt, and then take turns adding the instant corn masa mix and the water. Continue beating until the dough is homogeneous and fluffy.

Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and continue beating until everything is well mixed. You may also do it by hand.

You know the tamal masa is ready if:
1. When you lift a big spoon with masa, drop it into the dough it falls “de golpe” or heavy.
2. It has the consistency of a medium thick cake batter.
3. If you place 1/2 teaspoon of masa in a cup of cold water and it floats.

To prepare the steamer:
Place water in the pan of a steamer and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of corn husks. Use the dough to form about 20 corn husk wrapped tamales.

To make tamales:
Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple of minutes, until they are pliable and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapered ends facing towards you. Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the masa into a 2 to 3 inch square, the layer should be about 1/4 inch, leaving a boarder of at least 1/2 inch on the sides. Place 1 to 2 blackberries in the middle of the masa filling and sprinkle about a teaspoon of the pecans on top.

Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together, causing the masa to surround the berries and pecans and fold them to one side, rolling them in the same direction around the tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.

Prepare the tamales and then place them vertically in a container. When you have them all ready, place them as vertically as you can in the prepared steamer, with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in more corn husks so the tamales will not dance around. Cover with more corn husks and steam, covered for 50 minutes to an hour over medium heat. You know the tamales are ready when the tamales come easily free from the husks.

Finished tamales will stay warm for about 1 to 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in the refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in the steamer. For refrigerated tamales it will take about 15 minutes, and for frozen tamales about 45 minutes.


Can you use any type of nuts and berries in these tamales?

Of course Adrienne! Go Wild! You can pick any sort of filling for the tamales that you want!

Pati, just saw a TV show on KLRU Tv yesterday. The Blackberry and Pecan Tamales look wonderful. I am just wondering if I wanted to make a pork tamale, would I use the same technique you used for the blackberry and pecan tamales. Can’t wait to try your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

Que deliciosas recetas. Muchas gracias.

If you were going to you fresh masa or “masa preparada” for this recipe, how much would you use? I was also wondering if you have a recipe for uchepos? My husband is from Michoacan and he has been craving them like crazy!! We love your show and you have given us so many interesting ideas!! I especially loved the Revolution episode, gracias Pati!!!

I really enjoy your show. When I saw the recipe on sweet tamales
I was so excited. We use to buy them from our favorite Mexican
Restaurant. When we moved we have not been able to find any in
our new area. Now I am very anxious to make these and share
with friends. Thank you!

That is great Bonnie! You will have to be sure to tell me how it goes. I can’t wait to hear.

Pati, I am thrilled with the TV program and you are helping me understand mexican cooking to a new level. I can’t wait to give these a try, they looked so delicious on the TV screen 😉 Thank You!!

Oh Pati, these really sounds wonderful. I have never tried to make tamales. I have always been afraid it was too hard. Will you be making any regular hot tamales soon. I would love to learn how to make them.
Thanks Pati!

These are wonderful tamales. The art of making tamales is frightening but you made it look simple. I too am interested in watching you make regular tamales. This would be wonderful. Great show and thanks so much!!

Hola! Don’t be afraid. We are all students and we are all allowed to make mistakes. Just dive in, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised by how much you already know! Wishing you the best!

thaks for those recipes. I love the show. I want to know how to make the tamales of rajas with cheese and gorditas of chicharron. :)

Hi Pati,
I love your show! You have brought back so many wonderful memories of my mom’s amazing cooking. I too would love to see your recipe for regular pork tamales. The tamale building technique does not scare me; it is the filling recipe that I am after. Could you please let us know if this recipe is on your future agenda and if so, for when?
Thank you so much for all that you do!
Kind regards,

Hola Claudia, I am so happy I am able to remind you of your mom’s cooking! Yes, I will be posting more tamale recipes soon. I do not have a specific date, but I am working on it. I will let everyone know when I do! :)

Thanks for your wonderful recipe on sweet tamales. My nana used to make a few along with her regular red chile tamales but we do not have the recipes When will you teach us how to make the red chile for our tamales? Love your show and all your mexican recipes…..Carmen

Thank you for your request Carmen! I will look into the red chile tamale and be sure to post soon. :)

Thank you so much for your recipes and your passion for cooking. My family is from tejas and we make savory tamales… but you have inspired me to try sweet tamales and surprise everyone!

Hope you and your family enjoy Anamaria!

Hola Pati,
Me encanta tu programa. Me parece muy interesante tu técnica de cocina, Además encuentro refrescante ver un programa de Autentica comida Mexicana.
Te comento que desde llegar a vivir a los Estados Unidos no he vuelto a tener el gusto de comer unas Gorditas de harina con chicharrón como las que encuentras en cada rincón de México.
Me tomo el atrevimiento de pedirte que compartas una receta de gorditas con tu público.
Te felicito por tu maravilloso programa!

Can you steam the tamales inside a digital pressure cooker instead of just in a steaming pot on the stovetop? It would save me time if it was doable. Thanks

Pati, i recently took a trip to guatemalan and while i was there i took a tamale cooking class for fun. Ever since then i have been obsessed with tamales. Ive learned that mexican tamales are different than Guatemalan tamales in that the masa boiled until thickened and the ratio of masa to liquid is closer to 5 to 1 rather than 1 to 1 (ish) in the mexican recipes ive found. Anyway, i found your recipe for the dessert tamales and tried it tonight. They turned out so good!!! I did modify your recipe though by using virgin coconut oil instead of lard, and using honey instead of sugar and using coconut milk instead of water. Thank you for posting this recipe, even though i modified it quite a bit, it was so darn good!

Thank you for trying the recipe, Gabriele!! Your healthy substitutions sound delicious!

Sounds delicious! I have to try making it.

Thank you!!

I’m looking for a recipe for a green chili and asadero cheese filled tamale. I used to get them when I lived in New Mexico, and have seen some since but never found a recipe. The lady who made them also made asadero burrito’s – the best I’ve ever had. She used long strips of green chili in both the burrito’s and tamales. Do you have any recipes like that for us vegetarians? Thanks.

Hola Karen, Thank you for writing to me! I will try to post a recipe for tamales with green chile and asadero cheese soon. I have many vegetarian recipes in my blog – and a whole vegetarian chapter in my cookbook: :)

I noticed that someone above has made sweet tamales with coconut oil instead of shortening, lard or butter. Have you tried this, Pati? It really works! I chill it a little before I start, so that it is solid, like shortening. It gives the tamales a wonderful, nutty undertone.

I adore the idea of these, I’m making them for a NYE potluck party! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!


Thank you!!

Paty, soy tu fan. Ya he hecho muchas veces los tamales de verde usando tu receta y son de lo mejor, me transportan al DF con su sabor! Gracias.
Oye, si quiero hacer los tamales de piña o el tradicional de anis o elote, puedo usar esta misma receta ? O En lugar de echarle agua simple le echo agua de anis?

Hola! Exacto, puedes usar esta receta como base y adherir el sabor que te guste
Muchas gracias por escribirme!

Pati, I love your recipes, but I tried this one last weekend, and I believe the proportion of water to masa is incorrect. 3 cups of water to 3 1/4 cups of masa? I used 2 cups of water only, and the tamales did not cook; they were too mushy. Did I do something wrong? Gracias!

Hola Evita, That amount of water has worked for me, but you can tweak it.

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