Chipotle Chicken and Cheese Tamales

Spice things up this holiday season with delicious Chipotle Chicken and Cheese Tamales

A Mexican dish traditionally prepared on Christmas Eve, these steamed corn husks are filled with Masa Harina, chipotle, chicken, and Samish Bay Queso Fresco. Finish it off with a bold adobo sauce and you’ve got a meal with just the right amount of heat that’s bursting with flavor.

Chipotle Chicken and Cheese Tamales

16 servings


  • 4 ounces dried corn husks
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2¼ cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated until steaming
  • Adobo sauce from 1 (7oz) can chipotles in adobo
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1½ cups grated Samish Bay Queso Fresco (6 ounces)


  1. In a large bowl, cover corn husks with hot water and weight them down so they are submerged. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in a large saucepan and add cool water to cover and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until internal temperature of chicken reaches 160℉. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool slightly, and shred meat.
  3. Transfer shredded chicken to a medium bowl and toss with chipotles and chili powder.
  4. In a medium bowl combine masa, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in broth and adobo sauce. In a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat shortening until smooth. Add masa mixture a golf ball-sized piece at a time until completely incorporated, smooth, and fluffy. Set aside.
  5. Place a steamer basket inside a large pot and fill pot with 2” water. Drain the corn husks well. Set aside 16 of the largest husks and line steamer with ⅔ of remaining husks.
  6. To make tamales, lay 1 husk on a work surface. Measure out ¼ cup of the masa mixture and roll into a ball. Place on top of a piece of plastic (such as plastic wrap or a plastic bag) and place another piece of plastic on top. Press flat with a tortilla press or with the bottom of a plate or heavy skillet. Peel off the top layer of plastic, flip the masa circle onto your hand, and peel off the bottom layer of plastic. Transfer the masa circle to the center of the corn husk.
  7. Top masa with 2 tablespoons chicken and 1½ tablespoons queso fresco. Fold left side of husk in towards center, then fold the bottom point up, and roll up the tamale. Place tamale in steamer, open side up. Repeat with remaining husks and filling.
  8. Cover tamales with remaining husks. Cover pot, bring to boil, and reduce heat to medium to steam until husk easily peels away from filling, about 45 minutes. Add more water to pot if necessary. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes before serving. Or cool completely and freeze up to 3 months.
  9. To reheat frozen tamales, steam for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. To microwave, place tamales in a microwave-safe dish with a lid, add 2 tablespoons water, and cook at 50% power for 3 minutes. Flip tamales and microwave at 50% power for 1-2 minutes more or until heated through.

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