Chicanos Tamales with Ground Turkey

cooked tamale split in half with tamale wrapped in cornhusk in background
Servings per Recipe
Serving Size
2 tamales
Nutrition Facts
Calories : 240
Fat : 12 g
Sodium : 410 mg
Total carbohydrate : 22 g
Fiber : 2
Protein : 15 g
18 corn husks
2 cups maseca
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups water or low-sodium chicken stock
½ cup tub margarine (low-sodium if possible)
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey
1 Tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
¼ cup green salsa
¼ cup reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend (optional)
1 quart water
Steam basket
Wash hands with warm water and soap.
Submerge the corn husks in warm water for at least an hour in a large pan.
Pour maseca, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
Add water or chicken stock and softened margarine to the bowl with the maseca mixture. Mix thoroughly with a fork, then mix with washed hands until all items are thoroughly mixed into a moist texture where the masa mix barely sticks to the hand. Add more water if necessary. Set aside masa mix.
Place a large pan on the stove. Add oil and heat over medium heat.
Add onions and occasionally stir for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the ground turkey and lemon pepper seasoning. Stir occasionally for 4-5 minutes.
Slowly pour the green salsa and 1/8 cup cheese (optional), stirring occasionally.
Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until ground turkey is browned with no signs of pink.
Add 1/8 cup cheese (optional) to melt, turn off the heat, and set aside to cool.
Drain the water from the corn husks.
Gather the masa mix, corn husks, and meat mix together to prepare the tamales.
Take a corn husk and spread about a quarter cup of masa mix into an oval in the middle of the husk. Next, scoop a spoonful of meat mix in the middle of the masa and fold the masa like a taco. Seal the open ends by pressing them together with your fingers.
Fold the corn husk over the masa and meat mix from the sides first, then the bottom and top. Then place the tamale in a steam basket with the non-folded side on top.
Repeat steps 13-14 until the masa or meat mix runs out.
In a large pot, pour a quart of water and heat to a simmer for steaming.
Place the steam basket carefully in the pot of simmering water, cover, and steam for about an hour.
Turn off the heat and let the tamales finish cooking by letting them sit for another 15 minutes in the steamer.
Remove tamales from the steam basket, allow them to cool, and serve by removing corn husks.


  • Recipe courtesy of Illinois SNAP-Ed specialist, Joey Fonseca-Islas.
  • Notes: Larger grocery stores, international markets, or Mexican grocery stores should have maseca and corn husks in stock.