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How To Fold & Wrap Tamales

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Tamales is a Mexican dish made by placing a stuffing inside masa dough and finally wrapping tamales in either dry or fresh corn husk. You can successfully prepare tamales if you know how to fold and wrap tamales because it is the skill of wrapping tamales that makes the recipe a successful dish.


While tamales filling can be made with beef, chicken, pork or vegetables, wrapping tamales can be done either with corn husk or even banana leaves, if corn husk is not available.


Let’s look at the significance of folding and wrapping tamales in different types of leaves and how to wrap tamales in each wrapper.


Corn Husk – Dry

The most common method of wrapping tamales is done by using dry corn husks. The dry husk needs a bit of preparation before wrapping tamales. Soak dry corn husk in warm water and let it submerge in it by keeping a heavy weight on the husk. Soak for approximately 10 minutes, remove from water and pat them dry before preparing tamales. It is important to keep them moist so it is best to cover them after pat drying. Prepare tamales by filling the stuffing in masa and then folding it.


Corn Husk – Fresh

Fresh corn husk can be used directly for filling tamales. Just remove the husk from fresh corn and lay them on a table and start filling. Continue with folding and wrapping tamales and cook them.


Fresh Banana Leaves
Since banana leaves are bigger in size they are ideal for preparing tamales of large size. Younger the banana leaf the better it is, because folding and wrapping tamales would not tear the leaves. You would need to remove the center rib of the banana leaf with the help of a knife and heat the leaves directly over flame. Cool the leaves before you start filling and wrap normally.


Now that you know what material to use for filling tamales, I will now teach you the right method of folding and wrapping tamales. If you don’t fold and wrap them nicely the dough and the stuffing will come out and your tamale recipe would get spoiled. No matter what filling you use, the process of folding and wrapping tamale is pretty same.

  1. Sort out the corn husk and discard what is not suitable for wrapping tamales.
  2. Place the husk vertically and use the inner side of husk for filling because it is smooth. Use a spoon to spread the dough.
  3. Always use the upper half of the husk to place the masa.
  4. Secondly add the stuffing on masa.
  5. Fold tamales from the sides of the husk first; it is the longer side of the husk that is folded towards the center.
  6. Next fold the lower part of the husk on to the masa.
  7. While folding take care that the stuffing or masa does not ooze out.
  8. Tie the wrapped tamales with a thin strip of corn husk, these strings can be tied together to form long stings for easy tying.
  9. Place the tamales in standing position inside a bowl so that the filling does not flow out of the wrapping.
  10. You can tie the tamale at the bottom and the top as well for the security of the filling.
  11. If you are tying tamales only once then they have to be kept vertical even during cooking but tying tamales on top and bottom will let you keep them horizontally while steaming.


As you master folding and wrapping tamales, you can prepare delicious tamales for special occasions like Christmas or on any other holiday.


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How To Fold & Wrap Tamales