Smoked Chicken Tamales

May 2, 2012
by Curt

It’s time to make tamales again, and I thought I’d take it up a notch this time around. My wife boiled and shredded the chicken, then I added a nice southwestern blend of spices to it and smoked it for about an hour and a half with mesquite wood. This really added a nice kick to the tamales.

I also changed up the spicing a bit for the masa this time. I felt that the last time I made these, “A Healthier Chicken Tamale Recipe“, the masa was just a bit bland tasting.

So, check out the recipe and give it a try. I’d love to hear how they turned out for you!

Smoked Chicken Tamales


  • 30 corn husks
  • Chicken Filling
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Chicken Spices
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning mix
  • Dough
  • 4 cups masa (no salt added)
  • 6 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


  1. Before starting, place your corn husks in water and allow them to soak for about 2 hours. Once they are completely soaked and pliable, completely rinse and tear them into even widths of about 7 to 8 inches wide.
  2. Chicken Filling
  3. Boil and shred the 6 chicken breasts.
  4. In an empty spice shaker, mix together all the chicken spices.
  5. Place the shredded chicken into a disposable aluminum baking pan and shake all the chicken spice over the chicken, thoroughly mixing it in.
  6. Mix the 3/4 cup water and the taco seasoning together and pour this into the pan of shredded chicken. Mix well.
  7. Set up your smoker and get it stabilized at 250° F. I used mesquite wood for this to give it a strong southwestern smoke flavor.
  8. Place the chicken in the smoker for 1 1/2 hours, maintaining a temperature of 250° F. Stir the chicken around every half hour.
  9. Dough
  10. Mix the masa, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper together. Add in the canola oil and mix completely. Note: This will still be very dry.
  11. Mix the hot water in 1 cup at a time. Mix by hand. It should end up as a very moldable and pliable consistency.
  12. Assembling the Tamales
  13. Rather than trying to explain in words how to spread the masa, fill it, and roll it, I found an awesome short video that shows a great way to do this. How to Wrap a Tamale
  14. A few notes to add to the video:
  15. Wax paper will work well as the sheet for laying over the masa. Spreading with just your fingers works very well too once you get the feel for it.
  16. I recommend that you spread the masa as thin as you can. A little thinner than the video shows.
  17. I pulled strips from one of the husks to use as a tie to hold the fold together. This helps if you aren't completely filling your steamer.
  18. Cooking
  19. Once you've loaded the tamales in the steamer, (opened end facing up), pour enough water in the pan to come just below the the bottom of the tamales, but not too much that the tamales are getting wet. Watch the water level so it doesn't boil away. (Not a good thing!)
  20. Steam the tamales for 2 hours checking regularly.
  21. Note: To check for doneness, remove a tamale and unwrap it. The masa should no longer be sticky, and it should easily pull away from the husk.