This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
One of my absolute favorite dishes from Southern Mexico is Cochinita Pibil. Not to mention, Pollo Pibil which is basically the same thing but made with chicken.
This recipe for Turkey Pibil Tamales was born out of leftovers.
There was leftover pibil sauce. There was leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner. Put them together, and you have some insanely delicious tamales.
Jalapeno Cheese Tamales, Red Pork Tamales, Beef Tamales.
How do you clean corn husks for tamales?
- Separate them and remove any debris like hair.
- Place them in a deep container and cover them with hot water.
- On top of the husks, place an object that’s heavy enough to submerge under the water.
- Let them sit in the hot water for 30 minutes to overnight.
Once they are pliable, they are ready for assembling tamales.
Do you eat the corn husk on tamales?
No. Remove the corn husk and discard. Tamales are eaten with a fork and knife.
- See above these are the ingredients you need to make the sauce (MINUS the limes) .
- You can also make this ahead of time and store in the freezer.
Pibil sauce is typically made with sour oranges. They can be hard to find in the US. Instead use a mixture of equal parts orange juice and lime juice.
Not all tamales are savory. Check out these dessert tamales: Tamales de Cajeta and Sweet Tamales.
- Add the ingredients to the blender.
- Blend until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
What does the sauce for cochinita pibil taste like?
The sauce is very aromatic from all the spices. Earthy from the achiote and chiles. It is not spicy but deep in flavors and slightly sweet from the oranges.
You can freeze any leftover sauce. Pibil sauce lasts up to 6 months in the freezer in an airtight container.
- Chop up the leftover turkey and place in a stock pot.
- Add pibil sauce to the turkey. Mix and cook for 15 minutes.
Let this cool before assembling.
Instead of turkey, you can also use leftover pork or chicken.
What is Yucatan style?
Yucatan style refers to recipes using pibil sauce that uses oranges and spices. The sauce is then used to marinade meat and slow cooked in banana leaves.
- Spread masa on a corn husk.
- Using your best judgement, add some of the turkey pibil.
- Fold the sides in.
- Fold the pointy side inward.
Place folded tamales in a container, standing up with the opening facing up. This is to prevent the filling from falling out.
How much masa equals how many dozens of tamales?
One pound of masa will make about one dozen tamales.
Why do tamales stick to husk?
If the masa is sticking to the husk, it probably needed more lard or shortening. Lard helps tamales from sticking to the husk. Learn how to make Homemade Masa for Tamales.
How long are tamales good in fridge?
Wrap the tamales in a plastic container, and they will last up to 5 days. In the freezer, store the tamales in an airtight sealable bag, remove as much air as possible, and they will last up to 6 months.
- Add the water to the steamer.
- Place the Turkey Pibil Tamales open side up.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 1 ½-2 hours.
Pro Tip: You can make tamales in nearly half the time using an instant pot. See more Instant Pot Pork Tamales and Instant Pot Chicken Tamales.
What to serve with tamales: pickled red onions, refried beans, and more pibil sauce.
Turkey Pibil Tamales
For the Sauce:
- 10 guajillo chiles
- 4 cup water
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1 onion rough chopped
- 1 garlic bulb
- 1 tspn oregano
- 1/2 tspn pepper
- 1/4 tspn cumin
- 1 bar achiote
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
For the Tamales:
- 6 cups cooked turkey diced
- 2 1/2-3 lbs prepared masa
- 40-45 corn husks
- water enough to fill the steamer
To make the sauce:
- Remove stems and cut lengthwise on all the chiles.
- Remove the seeds and any veins.
- Place in a pot. Cover with 4 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil. Turn heat off.
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until pliable.
- Discard the water.
- Add the rehydrated chile and the remaining sauce ingredients.
- Blend until smooth.
- Strain the sauce. Set aside.
- Reserve 1 cup of the sauce for serving in the fridge.
For the Corn Husks:
- Separate the husks.
- Remove any debris like hair or dirt.
- Place in a large container.
- Cover with hot water.
- Add a heavy object over the husks so they can be submerged in water.
- This will take a minimum 30 minutes.
For the Filling:
- Add diced turkey and sauce to a large pot.
- Mix to combine.
- Cook for 15 minutes.
- Let cool before assembling tamales.
How to Assemble Tamales:
- Shake off any excess water from the corn husks.
- Smear a thin layer of masa on the husk.
- Use your best judgement on how much filling to add.
- Fold one side of the corn husk in.
- Fold the other side of husk in.
- Fold the pointy top inward.
- Place upright with the open side up while assembling the rest of the tamales.
- Add water to the steamer.
- Arrange the uncooked tamales inside the steamer with the open side up.
- Cover with the lid.
- Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Wrap and serve with reserved pibil sauce and pickled onions.
These are so tasty – we had never made tamales before, but this will be our go to recipe from now on!
This recipe is amazing. Glad you liked it!
Tamales from leftover turkey! Genius!
Right? We love them too!
I’ve always wanted to make tamales at home and this pibil sauce sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try it.
Hope you try it Emily!
I love tamales and this recipe with turkey is so flavorful. Really delicious!
I think so too! flavorful is the appropriate word!
I love adding citrus to my meals! These look so dang good!
Thank you very much. Glad you like it
These look super tasty! Having friends over on the weekend so I might try this!
Hope you and your friends love this recipe as much as I do!
Oh how I love tamales! And this Turkey Pibil Tamales looks really scrumptious!
Tamales are amazing, I love them too!
Fantastic dish, cannot wait to try it. We love turkey but never had it this way. Thanks for sharing this recipe
It’s different and delicious. Hope you try it!
My mind Is blown with this recipe! I feel like I’ve been missing out on life not knowing about these! YUM!!
This recipe is amazing! Hope you try it
Tamales for the win. A favorite in our house. Nice tasty additions you have in your recipe.
Right? this recipe is delicious. Hope you try it!