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Green Chicken Tamales Recipe

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Green Chicken Tamales Recipe

Recipe by Villa Cocina
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




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Green chicken tamales are soft, buttery and packed with flavor! This is just another example of how unique Mexican food is. These tamales are perfect for any occasion/celebration because the green sauce the chicken is soaked in, is prepared in a way thats impossible to resist. I hope you enjoy the process and fall in love with each and every step.

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  • Cook the chicken 
  • 2 lbs chicken breast, bone in  

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt                  

  • 10 cups water (as needed)     

  • 1 ea small white onion, cut in half    

  • For the green sauce 
  • 8 ea tomatillos, medium

  • 4 ea jalapeños, remove the stem

  • 2 ea cloves, whole 

  • 1/4 tsp cumin, whole

  • 5 ea black pepper, whole

  • 2 ea garlic, cloves

  • Small bunch, cilantro

  • 2 TBSP canola oil

  • 1/4 cup of water (to get the last bit of sauce)

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt 

  • For the masa  
  • 5 cups instant corn masa harina

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 cup lard 

  • 1/4 cup canola oil 

  • 4 1/2 cups + more if needed warm chicken broth

  • Additional

  • 26 corn husk + 10-12 additional to cover the tamales while cooking


  • Cook the chicken: Bring the water and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. (Note for water amount: add enough to cook the chicken and create about 4 1/2+ cups of broth needed later on.) Carefully place the chicken and onion in the water. When the water reaches a boil lower the heat to medium-low and allow the chicken to fully cook on a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to rest in the broth for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, strain the broth and reserve. Allow the chicken to cool down, shred and set to the side until needed.
  • For the Green sauce : Remove the husk and rinse the tomatillos. Add the tomatillos and jalapeños to a pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. When boiling, lower to medium-low heat. The tomatillos will take less time to cook, about 5-8 minutes. Remove when pale in color but do not let them burst. Let the jalapeños continue cooking and turn off the heat as soon as they are fully cooked. Remove from the pot and set them aside with the tomatillos, let them cool down. 
  • Blend the sauce: (See note, #1.) In blender add in the cooked/cooled tomatillos, jalapeños, cloves, cumin, black pepper, garlic cloves, and cilantro. Process until smooth and set aside until needed. 
  • Prep the husk: Sort through the husk and pick the best looking ones. Discard any with dark spots. Soak in water for about 15 minutes until pliable, rinse and set to the side until needed. 
  • Make the green chicken filling: heat the 2 TBSP of oil over medium heat. Carefully pour in the green sauce and stir. Add 1/4 cup of water into the blender, swirl it to get the last bit of sauce and pour into the pot. Stir and season with salt to taste. Lower the heat and allow it to cook on a low simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and continue cooking for approximately 3 additional minutes. Don’t let the sauce reduce too much. When done remove from the heat. 
  • To make the dough: In a large bowl mix in the instant corn masa harina, baking powder and salt (see note, #2.) Next, melt the lard. Add the warm lard and oil with the masa and knead (see note, WARNING, #3.) Gradually pour in the warm broth and knead as you do so (see note, #4.) Continue kneading after everything is mixed in for about 10-12 minutes. The dough is ready when soft, firm but will not stick to your clean hands (will easily spread.) Cover the dough with a damped kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. 
  • Assemble the tamales: 
    Place a corn husk on the palm of your hand, the wider end at the bottom. Take a small amount of dough, enough to spread and cover the husk. Spread in all directions until you have a little bit over an 1/8 of an inch in thickness. When spreading across stop 1/2 inch away from both ends of the husk. When  spreading towards the narrow stop a little over midway and 1 inch from the bottom wide end. 
         I. Then place a generous amount of the filling in the center but also keep in mind we want to be able to close the tamal. Now, take one end from across and fold over, gently press to secure and peel the husk away. Next fold towards the opposite side, press lightly, tuck the husk and roll to wrap the tamal.  Lastly, feel where the masa stops on the narrow top part and fold downward. Lightly pinch the bottom to seal as well. Following the same procedures, assemble the remainder of the tamales. 
  • Steam/cook the tamales: Pour in about 1 inch of water into a large steamer pot with a base at the bottom. Over medium heat, allow the water to reach a boil, while that happens, arrange the tamales and be careful not to burn yourself. 
  • Layout: Arrange 3 tamales with the open side facing the center in a T shape. Then lay the rest with the open side facing up, in the empty spaces all around where they fit best. 
  • When the water reaches a boil, (OPTIONAL: lay the extra clean corn husks on top to cover them and carefully tuck.) Place the lid over the pot. Allow them to cook over medium heat  for approximately 50 minutes -1 hr or until completely cooked. During this time you may need to add more water to the bottom of the pot if running low.
  • Test to make sure they are done: Carefully remove a tamal from the steamer. Let it slightly cool down, during this time the dough will firm up. You will know they are completely cooked if it releases easily from the husk, is set, does not taste raw and feels smooth. 
  • Enjoy with with a delicious authentic Mexican salsa, sour cream and queso fresco or simply a champurrado hot beverage. Enjoy!!!


  • Depending on your tolerance to heat, you may want to add less of more jalapeños. Removing the seeds can be another great option to reducing the heat content. 
  • When preparing the dough for the tamales, add salt to taste. If you like, add the salt gradually. 
  • WARNING: When melting the lard, remove from the microwave as soon as it melts. Don’t allow it to overheat. It should be warm when mixed into the masa to prevent your hands from burning. 
  • If needed, add more or less broth to get to the right consistency. 
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