Salvadoran Tamales - Chicken

Salvadoran Tamales - Chicken


  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 1/2 cups warm chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup rendered pork fat or lard
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups of cooked, cut potatoes into strips
  • 20 banana leaves (or corn husks, if banana leaves are not available)

For the Relajo Salsa:

  • 1 package of relajo tamale seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 celery stalk (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)


  1. In a large pot, bring enough water to cover a whole chicken, add the chicken, celery, and onion. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool. Once cooled, shred the chicken.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, set aside the cooked chicken and potatoes.
  4. In a fry pan, toast the contents of the relajo tamale seasoning packet for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  5. In a blender, blend the toasted relajo tamale seasoning along with the tomato, celery and onion that were boiling with the chicken until smooth.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, warm chicken broth, rendered pork fat or lard, baking powder and salt. Mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  7. Soften the banana leaves by heating them over an open flame or in hot water. Cut the leaves into squares, about 10x10 inches.
  8. To assemble the tamales, place a square of banana leaf on a flat surface with the shiny side down and the center vein facing upwards. Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of dough into the center of the leaf. Spread the dough out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
  9. Place a spoonful of chicken and a spoonful of potatoes on one end of the dough rectangle.
  10. Roll the tamale tightly, starting from the end with the filling, tucking in the sides as you roll.
  11. Fold the bottom of the leaf up over the tamale to seal it.
  12. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and filling.
  13. Steam the tamales in a tamale steamer or a large pot with a steamer basket for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the dough is cooked through.
  14. Once the tamales are cooked, carefully remove them from the steamer and let them cool for a few minutes.
  15. Serve the tamales with the relajo salsa on the side, and enjoy!

Please note that the amount of the dough, masa harina, chicken broth and the rendered pork fat may vary depending on the size of your banana leaves. Also the cooking time may vary based on the heat of your steamer.

Enjoy your homemade Salvadoran tamales!