Christmas Tamales, Holiday Tamales, Call Me Tamale…I’m Full

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Tony Maples Photography


Over the holiday season, many great tamale makers will be hurriedly preparing and filling orders for tamales. Made special for Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Day dinners, or even to snack on into January (because we all know you freeze a batch or two here and there as well), these scrumptious meaty morsels are what holiday meal dreams are made of. Not simply unique to Texas, the concept of enjoying tamales over the holidays stems from the heritage and lineage in our family trees and our communities.

Many modern-day tamale recipes found in Texas originated in Mexico, although every Latin American country has a similar recipe with variations. Those served in Texas are typically filled with beef, pork, or chicken, wrapped in masa dough. In their preparation, they’re wrapped in a corn husk and steamed until cooked. Afterward, they can be eaten plain or topped with chili, but remember to remove the inedible corn husk.

Why do we look to consume these more during Christmas or over the holidays? In Texas, as in many areas where families gather for not only feasting but also cooking together, tamales are served at a number of holiday get-togethers. Entire tamale-making parties are organized (also called a tamalada) to celebrate family togetherness. Also, the more the merrier – without the added assistance, the making of tamales can be a long, drawn-out process. This way, your holiday celebrations are made all the more memorable…and tasty!