Oaxaca-style tamales (tamales oaxaqueños)

In Mexico, birthdays, weddings, religious festivities, etc. are usually accompanied by great feasts. Oaxaca-style tamales, cooked in banana leaves, are one of those meals commonly prepared to celebrate those special ocassions. Treat your family with these tamales Oxaca-style made with pork loin in green sauce or shredded chicken in mole sauce. A piece of heaven on every bite.


  • 4 cups of dry masa maize dough
  • 3.5 cups broth for masa
  • 1 cup of lard or 1.5 cups of vegetable oil 
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2.5 cups broth


  • 1 pound of pork loin
  • 1 pound of chicken tights without bone
  • 1 pound of green tomatoes (tomatillo)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1 jar of mole paste


Cut pork loin into small cubes and boil in water until cooked, with 1/2 onion, 2 garlic teeth, and season it with salt and pepper.

Do the same with chicken tights, let both cooldown, pull apart the meat, and reserve. Do not throw away broth, it will be needed later.

In some water boil tomatillos for 5 minutes with the onion, 3-4 garlic cloves, 1 jalapeño pepper (remove veins and seeds to reduce spiciness). Put all ingredients in a blender add some of the water and blend adding a bunch of cilantro. Warm some canola oil in a pot and pour the blended sauce, cook it for 10 minutes, rectify seasoning with salt and pepper, you can also add some chicken broth in powder.

To prepare mole, follow instructions in the package, mix with chicken broth instead of water to give it more flavor, to make mole less spicy add 1/2 tablet of Mexican chocolate. Cook it in a pot for 15 mins at low to medium temperature stirring well until mole is free of lumps. Let it cool down and reserve.

Mix 4 cups of dry masa with 3.5 cups of broth, mix well and knead it until you form a smooth dough.

In a bowl mix the masa, with the lard or oil, and 2.5 cups of chicken broth. You can whip by hand with a wooden spoon or use an electric mixer at low speed. Don’t add extra salt if you have added some previously while cooking chicken. Pour broth a little at a time until the mixture is the consistency of very moist and soft cookie dough.

Tamales dough mix

Oaxaca-style tamales require them to be cooked on banana leaves, however, traditional tamales use corn husks, just place corn husks in a large container and cover with warm water. Allow them to soak for 3 hours, until soft and pliable. You can use an inverted plate and a heavy can to weight down the husks and keep them underwater.

To prepare banana leaves, wash them carefully and cut them in squares of 25×25 cm (remove the spine of the leaf), to soften banana leaves you need to put them in a grill, and cook them 1 minute per side, you know they are ready when they turn from dull to a bright green. Once cooled they will be easier to fold, more malleable, and more resistant.

Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons masa mixture in the center of one banana leaf, add some of the cooked pork and put some green salsa on top do the other half with mole sauce and chicken. 

Fold sides of the banana leaf together, going slightly one over the other. Then fold the bottom up to the middle and the top as well (do it carefully to avoid pressing too much and spilling the filling).

Once all sides are folded, tie together with kitchen string (you can use strips of the banana leaves to tie the tamales as well if you want, it will give your tamales a more traditional presentation).

Cook tamales in a steamer for 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours. Let tamales rest for 15 minutes before serving. 

Tip: You can use your leaves to cover the bottom of the steamer to avoid tamales would get wet.

Author: F. Guerra

Foodie, amateur cook/baker & a spicy food lover with a sweet tooth.