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A spoon spreading masa on a corn husk.
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4.64 from 11 votes

How to Make Masa for Tamales

This easy to make masa for tamales recipe is the start to yummy homemade tamales! Ready in minutes and only a few ingredients needed to make a light and soft dough.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 361kcal


  • 2/3 cup lard (or shortening)
  • 2 cups masa harina 20 ounces (for tamales)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water (or chicken broth)


  • Beat the lard with your mixer until smooth. About 2 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the masa, salt, and baking powder.
  • Add the dry ingredients in small batches to the mixer.
  • Beat until smooth, and scrape down each time.
  • Knead until you form a smooth dough.
  • The masa should look like wet sand.



You can use all water and omit the chicken broth. You can also use the broth from the cooked meat filling. 
If you run out of shortening or lard, you can also use oil. Be careful on what type of oil. Some oils such as olive oil will change the flavor of the masa and your tamales. 
This is a basic masa recipe. Add spices to flavor the masa. See post for suggestions.
Drop a small ball of masa into water. If it floats, the masa is ready. 
How Long Do Tamales Last:
  • Tamales last 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Tamales last 6 months in the freezer.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3.9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1.2g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 350mg | Fiber: 7g