Basic Fresh Masa for Tamales

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: n/a Easy - for beginners Serves: n/a


This recipe is based on that from Alice Guadalupe Tapp's excellent book "Tamales 101." Please note that this recipe does *not* use instant masa mix such as Maseca, but basic non-mix dry masa.


  • 1 2/3 cups slightly chilled butter (not overly soft, not hard)
  • 6 tablespoons margarine
  • 5 lbs unprepared fresh masa
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken, pork, beef, or vegetable stock, as you prefer
  • 2 tablespoons salt


This is best and easiest done with a heavy duty electric mixer such as a Kitchen Aid, using the paddle attachment. In your mixer bowl, combine the butter and margarine and, using the paddle attachment on high speed, whip them together for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy.

Lower the mixer speed to medium and add the unprepared masa gradually and alternately with 2 cups of the stock. Then add the salt. Beat the mixture until well mixed.

Return the mixer to high speed and whip for 3 to 5 minutes and the moist masa resemble the consistency of spackle. You may add additional stock if necessary, 1/4 cup at a time, until the proper consistency is reached.

Prepare a separate bowl of cold water nearby. To test the masa, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into the cold water. If the prepared masa floats, it is ready. If it does not and sinks, then continue whipping the mixture for another minute, repeating the test until the tested masa floats.

This recipe makes 30 cups of prepared masa for approximately 5 dozen tamales. If you do not need all of it at once for your tamales, you can freeze the dough in portions and unthaw it as needed (but it is, of course, better when first made and not thawed… it becomes slightly drier with freezing).

Prep: 10 minutes Amount: 30 cups

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