Masa Preparada for Tamales


Paola Briseño González often uses duck fat for her masa preparada for tamales but switches to shortening for vegetarian guests. Whether you grind your own homemade fresh masa or you pick some up at a local Latin market, it's the secret to perfect tamales. A dough made from masa harina can be used if fresh masa is unavailable, but it will lack the sweet corn aroma and fluffy texture of fresh masa. For convenient-yet-flavorful alternatives to fresh masa, try the masa harina from Masienda (from $7,, made from single-origin heirloom corn sourced from Oaxaca, or Gold Mine's Organic Yellow Masa Harina (from $10,

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
24 tamales


  • 1 cup lard, duck fat, or shortening (about 7 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 2 pounds Homemade Fresh Masa or dough made from masa harina (about 3 1/2 cups)

  • 1 cup lower-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, divided


  1. Combine lard, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add masa. Once all masa is added, return to medium-high speed; beat until mixture is fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Reduce speed to medium-low, and gradually stream in 1/2 cup chicken stock. Beat until mixture is well combined and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl. The masa preparada should have the consistency of thick cake batter. If mixture is too thick, add additional chicken stock, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition, until correct consistency is achieved. Cover bowl with a damp towel, and proceed with assembling tamales.

    Masa Preparada for Tamales

Make Ahead

Masa preparada can be held at room temperature up to 4 hours.


Find fresh masa in the refrigerated section of Latin markets.

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