How to make Salvadoran tamales

How to Make Salvadoran Tamales

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Hi everyone! It’s Bernie, author of Herencia Cookbook, which contains over 65 Latin recipes inspired by my SalviMex upbringing in South East Los Angeles. Today, I would like to share the recent cooking class that I hosted along with Northgate Market. In this Central American cooking class, I share how to make Salvadoran tamales, how to make ambrosia salad, and how to make Central American eggnog.  The class is now live on YouTube. You can watch it here.  

I am really excited to share these recipes with you all,  because these recipes are all very near and dear to me. For instance, the Salvadoran tamal recipe reminds me of my suegra (mother-in-law). When I learned how to make Salvadoran tamales, my suegra shared tips with me that her mother shared with her. This type of experience helped us to bond so deeply. I am excited to continue to pass down this recipe when it is my time.  

Additionally, the ambrosia salad that I demonstrate in this class has a warm place in my heart as well. My mother would make this every year for noche buena, also known as Christmas Eve. For Christmas Eve 2019, I hosted the holiday festivities in my own home for the first time. I was only a few weeks pregnant. My mother brought this ambrosia salad over. What a lovely feeling to eat this food in my home. It felt as though the torch had been passed.  

Finally, it is not the holiday season without eggnog! You can enjoy this eggnog recipe with or without alcohol. The choice is yours.   I hope you enjoy Northgate’s YouTube video of me demonstrating 3 Central American recipes. Watch below to see how to make Salvadoran tamales, ambrosia salad, and Central American eggnog.

Central American Cooking Class: How to make Salvadoran Tamales

In conclusion, what do you all think of this Central American cooking class that Northgate and I presented? Did you like the tips on how to make Salvadoran tamales? How about the tips to make ambrosia salad and Central American eggnog? Let us know in the comments. Finally, if you liked this recipe, then check out my blog and my cookbook for authentic SalviMex recipes with a modern (and sometimes healthy) twist. Herencia Cookbook is currently available for sale on Amazon.

How to Make Salvadoran Tamales

Salvadoran Tamales Recipe – Video

How to make salvadoran tamales, wrapped in banana leaves
Course Main Course
Cuisine el salvador, Salvadoran


  • comal
  • Sauce Pan
  • Large Pot
  • Foil, pre-cut into squares
  • Tamalera


  • Tomatoes 4
  • Garlic 2-4 cloves
  • Onion 1 whole, peeled and cut into fourths
  • Cumin 1 pinch
  • Pumpkin seeds 1 tablespoon
  • Bay leaf 1
  • Sesame seeds 1 tablespoon
  • Peppercorns
  • Bell pepper 1, optional
  • California pepper 1
  • Banana leaves
  • Garbanzo beans 2 cans, rinsed, drained and peeled
  • Green olives 1 jar, drained
  • Salt to taste
  • Masa harina
  • Chicken breasts 2 large, bone-in, cooked and shredded
  • Knorr caldo de pollo seasoning to taste
  • Potatoes about 6, peeled and cut into strips, soaked in cool water to prevent browning
  • Chicken broth


  • Make the salsa
  • On a comal on medium heat, roast the tomatoes, garlic, and onion. You can also add the bell pepper. Once they have an even and beautiful golden color, you can remove them and set to the side.
  • Next, toast the sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, peppercorns, cumin, laurel leaf, and California pepper. Once evenly browned, set aside.
  • Add all the toasted ingredients and salt to your blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Mix the salsa with about a tablespoon of masa preparada. This will help to thicken the masa so it doesn’t absorb into the tamales.
  • Put the salsa into a saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Warm until it bubbles.
  • Once it bubbles, set it aside.
  • Prepare the masa
  • In a large pot on medium heat, add Northgate Masa Preparada, chicken broth, and a bit of olive oil.
  • Stir constantly. Stirring is imperative to create the desired texture, and to prevent the masa from sticking to the edges.
  • You want the texture to be like that of frosting. Once the desired texture is reached, season with salt and Knorr caldo de pollo seasoning if desired.
  • Assemble the tamales
  • Spread the masa on the banana leaf, place the shredded chicken. Now add one olive, a few garbanzo beans, and a slice of potato. Drizzle salsa over the ingredients.
  • Fold over the banana leaf tightly. Then, wrap with foil.
  • Pinch the edges to avoid the masa from seeping out of the ends.
  • Steam for 2 hours in your tamalera.
  • You will know they are ready when the leaves are dark green and the potato i s cooked and has a soft texture.
  • Enjoy!


Keyword el salvador, tamales

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