Tamales For Christmas Are A True Hispanic Tradition

Bricia Lopez

For many Hispanics, the taste of posadas and Christmas Eve is a mouthwatering gift of corn masa and filling wrapped up in leaves.

Mexican Chef Bricia Lopez shared with VIX her recipe of "Tomatillo, Jalapeño & Turkey Tamales," a savory and modernize twist to the traditional way.

“Making tamales has always been such a delicious part of my family’s holiday traditions. I especially like this tamale recipe because the flavors are bright, but the filling is still hearty enough to make a satisfying dinner. It’s also really approachable for the home cook,"Chef Lopez said.

Tomatillo and Jalapeño Turkey Tamales


  • 15 dried corn husks
  • 1 1/2 pounds store-bought masa prepared for tamales

For filling

  • 1 pound tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup Tabasco Green Sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, shredded
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and julienned


For corn husks

Soak corn husks for about 10 minutes in hot water until soft and pliable. Use a plate or a mortar stone to weight them down to soak.

For filling

In a blender, add tomatillos, onion, 3 garlic cloves, Tabasco Green Sauce, cilantro, chicken broth, and sea salt. Blend until smooth and set aside.

In a mortar, add oregano, cumin, minced garlic cloves, and water. Grind until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.

In large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add paste from the mortar until aromatic, about 2-3 minutes. Add shredded turkey and combine, stirring constantly until the turkey is well-coated, about 5 minutes.

Pour green salsa over turkey. Raise the heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to slightly reduce the sauce, about 20 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt or adjust to taste. Remove from heat.

To fill tamales

Pat dry corn husks. Set one corn husk down at a time, smoother side up, and using a spoon or masa spreader, spread about 1/3 cup of prepared masa onto each husk. Fill up the left and right sides of the husk, leaving about an inch at the top and bottom.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of filling and place it in the middle of the husk. Use the julienned jalapeños as a garnish by placing one on top of the filling. Bring sides of the husk across to meet over each other, then fold the bottom part over the tamal.

Carefully place the tamales, open side up, in a steamer. Cover the tamales tightly with a kitchen towel to create steam and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 35-40 minutes. Turn off heat and leave tamales covered for about 1 hour to allow tamales to set.

Makes 15 tamales

Tomatillo and Jalapeno Turkey Tamales Tips

  • Using Tabasco green sauce brightens the tamales beautifully with just the right amount of heat.
  • Use the julienned jalapenos as a sort of garnish, by placing one on top of the filling when folding your tamales. It will give your tamales an elegant look without adding any unnecessary heat.
  • These tamales keep in the freezer for up to two months.
  • This filling recipe also makes perfect for taquitos filling. Top with Mexican crema and have yourself an incredible dinner.