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Guatemalan Tamales

Guatemalan Tamales: A Flavorful Journey

Guatemalan tamales are a culinary delight, deeply rooted in the rich traditions of Guatemala.

These delectable bundles bring together a harmonious blend of flavors, showcasing the country’s diverse culinary influences.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this meal appeals to: Perfect for those who appreciate a symphony of flavors in a single, satisfying dish.
  • Estimated duration: While the preparation demands a bit of time, the outcome is well worth the effort. Plan for around 3-4 hours from start to finish.
  • Nutrition Facts: Guatemalan tamales provide a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The specifics can vary based on the filling.

About this Recipe

Guatemalan tamales are distinct for their use of masa (corn dough) enveloping a variety of fillings. The choice of fillings may include meats, vegetables, or both, creating a delightful medley of textures and tastes.

Equipment Required

  1. Large Steaming Pot: Essential for cooking the tamales to perfection.
  2. Mixing Bowls: To prepare the masa and fillings.
  3. Banana Leaves or Corn Husks: Traditional wrapping for the tamales.


  • Masa: 3 cups, finely ground.
  • Chicken or Pork: 1 lb, cooked and shredded.
  • Vegetables: 1 cup, finely chopped (carrots, bell peppers, and peas work well).
  • Raisins and Olives: 1/2 cup each, for a sweet and savory twist.
  • Guatemalan Recado: 2 tablespoons, a traditional spice blend.
  • Chicken Broth: 2 cups, for flavoring the masa.
  • Banana Leaves or Corn Husks: 12-15 pieces, for wrapping.


  1. Prepare the Masa: In a bowl, mix the masa with chicken broth and Guatemalan recado until it forms a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  2. Prepare the Filling: Combine shredded meat, vegetables, raisins, and olives in a separate bowl.
  3. Assemble the Tamales: Spread a thin layer of masa on a banana leaf or corn husk. Add a spoonful of the filling in the center. Fold and secure the tamale.
  4. Steam to Perfection: Arrange the tamales in a steaming pot and steam for 1.5 to 2 hours until the masa is cooked.

Side Dishes

Serve with a side of salsa or pickled vegetables for an extra burst of flavor.

Storage Options

Store any leftover tamales in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Ingredient Substitutes

Feel free to experiment with different fillings like black beans, cheese, or other meats based on your preferences.

Alternatives to this Meal

For a quicker option, try simpler dishes like Guatemalan tamales with only vegetables or a specific type of meat.

For futher reading check out this comprehensive article on Regional Tamales. For similar tamales check out: Oaxacan Tamales and Yucatecan Tamales.


Guatemalan tamales are a culinary masterpiece that reflects the vibrant and diverse gastronomic heritage of Guatemala. Whether enjoyed during festivities or as a comforting meal, these tamales are a true celebration of flavor and tradition.