Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Snacks»Mexican»Grains»Fresh Corn Tamales with Tomatillo Chile Sauce Recipe

Chef and cookbook author Rick Bayless demonstrates how to make a classic Mexican snack that is rich with the earthy flavors of both fresh and dried corn.

The Problem

Made from masa, a rather heavy corn dough, tamales, in turn, can also be heavy. Even worse, they can lack true corn flavor.

The Goal

We wanted light tamales, with full corn flavor.

The Solution

The keys to a light tamale are to use baking powder as the leavener, and also to beat the lard together with the masa to trap a lot of air. This causes the dough to expand as the tamale steams, so they become much fluffier. To maximize corn flavor, we puree fresh sweet corn directly into the masa.