Masa Dough for Tamales

Masa Dough for Tamales

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  • 3 cups masa harina (masa flour)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or shortening
  • 1 to 2 cups chicken, pork or vegetable stock (if you are making a meat filling, use the liquid obtained when cooking the meat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste (you may need less if your stock is very salty)


Mix masa harina with warm water to form a stiff, moist dough. Add a little additional water if the dough is too crumbly.

Place butter or shortening in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. With the paddle attachment on high, whip for 1 minute, or until it’s fluffy. Lower the speed to medium and add masa dough alternately with 1 cup stock, baking powder and salt. Beat until well mixed.

Return the mixer to high and whip for 1 to 2 minutes, or until masa resembles the consistency of Spackle. If necessary, add additional stock, 1/4 cup at a time, until the correct consistency is attained. The dough should be soft but workable, like a thick, fluffy cake batter.

Drop approximately 1/2 teaspoon masa into a cup of cold water. If the masa floats, it’s ready; if it sinks, continue whipping for another minute. Repeat this “float test” until the sample masa floats.

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