Green Chicken Tamale Recipe

Green Chicken Tamales, This tamale recipe brings together shredded chicken in a flavorful green salsa made with tangy tomatillos surrounded by corn masa and wrapped in a corn husk, topped with your favorite toppings.

Green Chicken Tamale Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases
Tamales are one of Mexico's most famous street foods, they are also one of its most popular Holiday & celebration foods. Making tamales during the Christmas holidays is a tradition for Mexican and Mexican-American families that has been passed down for decades. Tamales are also served at New Year's celebrations, quinceaneras, christenings, and more!

Is It Hard to Make Tamales?  Nope!
If you think making tamales sounds daunting, this recipe for tamales will change your mind. Green chicken tamale is the SIMPLEST of all tamale recipes to make. 
I’ll give you all the tips and tricks for making these Delicious! tamales.


Green Chicken Tamale on plate

Meat + Tomatillo salsa + Masa = Green Chicken Tamales

Step-by-Step Instructions 
  • The first step - Chicken 
  •  The second step - Corn husk 
  •  The third step - Salsa 
  •  The fourth step - Masa

First - Chicken

Which one?  Whatever is convenient for you

  • Shredded homemade chicken - Chicken breast or boneless skinless thighs. 
  • Shredded rotisserie chicken - Some grocery stores sell shredded chicken at their deli department, or just grab a rotisserie chicken and shred it up.
  • Leftover turkey - Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are perfect for this recipe

Second - Corn Husks

Corn Husks can be bought at a local grocery store in the Mexican aisle, Walmart, or Mexican grocery stores. Corn husks can be ordered here online

I soak corn husk for 1 hour before making tamales
  • Soak tamale husk leaves under hot water, and place something heavy on the tamale leaves to keep them underwater. ( I use a large deep pot and place a couple of heavy plates on top)
  • After soaking, rinse corn husks, which may contain corn silk or debris
  • Lay out the corn husk on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and dab any extra water before spreading the dough on the husk.

Third - Tomatillo Salsa 

 Homemade or store-bought Tomatillo Salsa Verde?

Homemade Salsa Ingredients include tomatillos, onions, garlic, cilantro, serranos, oregano, salt, lime juice, water, and olive oil.

Green Chicken Tamale Recipe

Store-bought tomatillo salsa - 16 oz. jar

If you choose to buy a jar of salsa buy a thicker, chunkier tomatillo salsa verde.

Homemade Salsa Instructions:
  • In a blender, blend the tomatillos, onion, garlic, serrano chiles, lime juice, water, cilantro, Mexican oregano, and salt.
  • In a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil. Add the tomatillo salsa and simmer on medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Fourth - Tamale dough (Masa) 

Homemade masa or store-bought prepared masa from a Mexican grocery store or tortilleria

Homemade Masa Ingredients include Maseca tamal corn flour, vegetable shortening or lard, chicken broth or water, baking powder, onion & garlic powder, and salt

Masa Instructions:
  • Gather dry ingredients in a large bowl, Maseca cornflour, salt, baking powder, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • Add chicken broth or water to dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly by hand until you have a soft moist dough

Green Chicken Tamale Recipe

  • In a stand mixer, mix the lard or shortening until light and fluffy. ( If you don't have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer)
  • Add the masa, a little at a time to the mixer and continue beating until the batter becomes smooth and slightly sticky.
  • Drop a pea-size piece of tamale masa(dough) into cold water, if the dough floats...your dough is ready.

Store-bought Tamale Masa

Prepared masa is ready to be used for tamales. I set the bag of masa on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes to soften up a bit before using it. If the masa is a little too stiff, you can throw it into the mixer and whip it to the desired consistency.

Let's put it all together 

Chicken and Homemade Tomatillo Salsa Verde 

  • Add the shredded chicken to homemade salsa in the pot. Stir well to combine with the salsa, and heat for 5 minutes. Set apart.

Store-bought Salsa + Chicken Instructions

  • Mix the jar of tomatillo salsa with cooked shredded chicken in a large bowl. That's it! Set aside

Spreading Masa on Corn Husks
  • The consistency of masa should be smooth like peanut butter and spread easily on tamale husk. Spread about a 4-inch square on the husk...I like tamale dough so I spread it extra wide.

Green Chicken Tamale Recipe

  • Place tomatillo chicken mixture in the center, about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
  • Fold the long edges of the corn husk over each other then fold down the pointy side down.

 Cooking Tamales
  • Pour 1 inch of water into a large pot and add a steamer basket. ( one inch of water will keep the steam going)
  • Arrange the tamales vertically (opening up) in the basket. 
  • Bring the water in the pot to a boil then reduce the heat. Cover with lid. 
  • Check the water level every 20 minutes, add more if needed, and simmer the tamales for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. ( one inch of water will keep the steam going) 

*Instant Pot can be used to cook tamales - (1 cup water + trivet rack + place a couple of corn husks on top of the rack, then place tamales opening side up) takes about 30 minutes +10 minute release

  • Tamales are cooked when the dough pulls from the tamale husk easily. 
  • Pull tamales out of the pot and let tamales sit for 30 minutes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet before eating, or refrigerate when cool in a food storage bag.

To store cooked tamales first cool them down, then put them in a freezer airtight bag, and refrigerate. Tamales can last between 4-7 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer. Frozen meat tamales have a shorter lifespan: up to two months.

These green chile chicken tamales are best served on a large platter at the center of the table for sharing with your friends and family.

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube for my latest recipes and videos.

Green Chicken Tamales