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Basic Tamale Dough

  • Yield: Enough dough to make 25 tamales


  • 2 cups masa harina (available in Latin American grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup finely-diced onion
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper


  • In a bowl beat 2 cups warm water into masa harina to make a stiff, smooth dough. In a large bowl, beat lard with electric mixer or wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Begin adding masa, a handful at a time, beating constantly. When all masa is incorporated, beat in onions and season to taste with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.