Tamales Canarios Recipe

Unlock the essence of Canary Islands cuisine with our Tamales Canarios recipe. A flavorful guide to crafting the perfect traditional dish at home.

Tamales Canarios

    Tamales Canarios

  • Cuisine: Canarian
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 12 tamales
  • Calories: 200 calories

Tamales Canarios are a traditional dish hailing from the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Africa. These tamales boast a unique blend of flavors influenced by the region's cultural and culinary heritage.

The key components of Tamales Canarios include corn masa harina (corn dough), pork lard or vegetable shortening, chicken broth, baking powder, and a pinch of salt for the masa. The savory filling typically consists of shredded chicken, tomato sauce, bell peppers, onions, peas, olives (green or black), and raisins.

To prepare Tamales Canarios, you start by mixing the masa ingredients to form a soft, spreadable dough. The filling is cooked separately, combining the chicken with a medley of vegetables and flavorful ingredients. The masa is then spread onto banana leaves or corn husks, filled with the chicken mixture, and folded into neat packages before being steamed.

The tamales are steamed for about 1 to 1.5 hours until the masa is cooked and holds together. This slow cooking method allows the flavors to meld, resulting in a moist and delectable dish.

Once steamed, Tamales Canarios are unwrapped and served warm. The banana leaves or corn husks impart a subtle earthy flavor to the dish. The combination of savory chicken, vegetables, and a touch of sweetness from the raisins creates a harmonious and satisfying culinary experience.

Tamales, in general, hold cultural significance in many Latin American and Spanish-speaking regions, often associated with celebrations and special occasions.

Tamales Canarios, specifically, represent the distinctive gastronomy of the Canary Islands, showcasing a fusion of Spanish, African, and Latin American influences.


Embark on a culinary journey to the Canary Islands with our mouthwatering Tamales Canarios recipe. Discover the secrets to authentic flavors and a tantalizing dining experience!


  • 2 cups corn masa harina
  • 1 cup pork lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup olives (green or black)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Banana leaves or corn husks for wrapping

Method Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the corn masa harina, pork lard (or vegetable shortening), baking powder, and salt. Gradually add chicken broth while stirring until you achieve a soft, spreadable consistency.
  2. In a pan, sauté onions and bell peppers until soft. Add shredded chicken, tomato sauce, peas, olives, and raisins. Cook until the mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Lay out the banana leaves or corn husks. Spread a thin layer of the corn masa dough on each leaf, leaving space at the edges. Spoon the chicken filling into the center.
  4. Fold the sides of the leaves over the filling, then fold the top and bottom to create a neat package. Tie with kitchen twine if needed.
  5. Arrange the tamales in a steamer and steam for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the masa is cooked and holds together.
  6. Allow the tamales to cool slightly before unwrapping. Serve warm and enjoy!

Recipe Video

Tamales Canarios

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Recipe Tags: Tamales Canarios, Tamales Canarios Recipe, Recipe


Serving Tamales Canarios is a straightforward yet enjoyable process. Here's a simple guide:

  • Unwrap Tamales: Once your Tamales Canarios are done steaming, allow them to cool slightly. Carefully unwrap each tamale, removing the banana leaves or corn husks.
  • Arrange on a Platter: Place the unwrapped tamales on a serving platter. Arrange them neatly, allowing their inviting colors and textures to be visible.
  • Garnish (Optional): For an extra touch, you can garnish the platter with fresh herbs, such as cilantro or parsley, or sprinkle some additional olives on top.
  • Serve Warm: Tamales are best enjoyed warm. Serve them fresh out of the steamer to preserve their moisture and flavors.
  • Accompaniments: Tamales Canarios are delicious on their own, but you can enhance the experience by serving them with traditional Canarian sides. Consider offering a side of mojo sauce, a popular Canarian condiment known for its garlic and pepper flavors.
  • Pairing Suggestions: Complement the tamales with a refreshing beverage like a fruity sangria or a non-alcoholic tropical drink. The Canarian cuisine often embraces flavors like citrus, so consider options that align with this profile.


  1. Masa Consistency: Achieving the right consistency for the masa is crucial. It should be soft and spreadable but not too thin. Gradually add the chicken broth to avoid making it too runny.
  2. Filling Distribution: When spreading the masa on the banana leaves or corn husks, leave enough space at the edges to facilitate folding. Ensure an even distribution of the filling for a balanced taste in every bite.
  3. Banana Leaves or Corn Husks: If using banana leaves, briefly pass them over an open flame to make them pliable. This enhances their aroma and makes them easier to fold. If using corn husks, soak them in warm water before assembling to prevent them from tearing.
  4. Secure Wrapping: Fold the banana leaves or corn husks securely around the tamales to prevent them from unraveling during steaming. You can tie them with kitchen twine for added security.
  5. Moisture Control: Be mindful of the moisture level in the masa. Too dry, and the tamales may be crumbly; too wet, and they might not hold their shape. Adjust the masa or filling ingredients accordingly.
  6. Customization: Tamales are versatile, so feel free to customize the filling based on your preferences. You can add or omit ingredients to suit your taste, just ensuring a good balance of flavors.
  7. Steamer Setup: Use a proper steamer for cooking the tamales. Arrange them vertically in the steamer to allow steam to circulate evenly, ensuring thorough cooking.
  8. Testing for Doneness: Check the tamales for doneness by unwrapping one and inspecting the masa. It should be firm and not stick to the leaves. If needed, steam for additional time.
  9. Serve with Mojo Sauce: Enhance the dining experience by serving Tamales Canarios with mojo sauce, a Canarian condiment known for its bold garlic and pepper flavors. It complements the tamales beautifully.
  10. Enjoy Fresh: Tamales are best enjoyed fresh. Serve them promptly after steaming to capture their optimal flavor and texture.

Ingredient Substitutes

If you're looking to make Tamales Canarios but need ingredient substitutes, here are some options:

  1. Corn Masa Harina Substitute: If you don't have corn masa harina, you can use regular masa harina or even cornmeal. The texture and flavor may vary slightly, but it will still work for the tamale dough.
  2. Pork Lard Substitute: Substitute pork lard with vegetable shortening or even butter if you prefer a different fat source. This change will alter the flavor a bit, but it's a suitable alternative.
  3. Chicken Broth Substitute: If you don't have chicken broth, vegetable broth or water can be used as a substitute. Consider adding a bit of bouillon or seasoning to maintain the savory flavor.
  4. Shredded Chicken Substitute: Replace shredded chicken with cooked and crumbled tofu for a vegetarian version. You can also use other proteins like beef, pork, or even shredded turkey.
  5. Banana Leaves Substitute: If banana leaves are unavailable, corn husks are a common substitute. Make sure to soak them in warm water before using to make them pliable.
  6. Bell Peppers, Onions, and Peas Substitute: Customize the vegetable filling based on availability. Zucchini, carrots, or green beans can be used as substitutes or additions. Be creative with the vegetables you enjoy.
  7. Olives Substitute: If olives are not to your liking or unavailable, capers can provide a tangy and briny flavor. Alternatively, omit them if you prefer a tamale without olives.
  8. Raisins Substitute: Golden raisins, currants, or chopped dried apricots can be substituted for raisins. Adjust the quantity based on your preference for sweetness.


As your Tamales Canarios fill the air with Canarian flavors, savor the cultural richness in every bite. Share the joy of this culinary adventure with loved ones – a taste of the Canary Islands brought to your table!

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