Zwolle Hot Tamales Recipe

Spice up dinner with this recipe for Hot Tamales.


Hot Tamale Recipe from Zwolle Tamale Festival

Steamy hot tamales are the stars of the three-day Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, held in Zwolle, Louisiana. The city was once a Native American territory that was occupied by the Spanish Province of Texas. Eventually, French and Spanish peoples migrated to the area, creating a melting pot of history, heritage and delicious culinary traditions.

If you aren’t familiar with tamales, they’re a Mexican dish of spiced meat, beans or cheese wrapped in a soft, corn-based dough. The dough is wrapped in a corn husk and steamed, creating a dense and tender bite. They’re often drizzled in hot sauce or dipped in salsa verde but are just as tasty with nothing on them. 

Try this recipe from Louisiana Kitchen and Culture Magazine and the Zwolle Tamale Festival, or pick some up along Zwolle’s Tamale Trail!


  • 1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth, divided

  • 2 cups corn kernels, drained 

  • 3¾ cups masa harina 

  • 1½ teaspoons salt 

  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder 

  • ½ cup lard, chilled

  • 5 dozen dried corn husks

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed 

  • 2 pounds pulled pork, chopped 

  • Salt, pepper, red pepper or Cajun seasoning

Method of Preparation

  1. Combine 2 cups chicken broth and corn in a blender; process until smooth. Set aside. 
  2. In a bowl, combine masa harina, salt and baking powder; whisk well. Cut in ¼ cup lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add broth and corn purée; stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight. 
  3. Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with water. Weigh husks down with a can or weight; soak at least 30 minutes.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons lard in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until liquid is reduced to ½ cup. Add pulled pork and toss well. Taste; adjust seasoning as necessary with salt, pepper, red pepper or Cajun seasoning. 
  5. Place about 3 tablespoons masa dough on center of a husk, pressing into a rectangle, leaving at least ½ inch of room on all sides. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture on top of dough. Fold husk over filling, covering the meat with dough; fold husk over once more before folding bottom end of husk underneath. Evenly place tamales in a steamer basket positioned in a large pot. Steam 1 hour. Makes 4 to 5 dozen tamales.

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