With the rush of the holiday season, I find myself craving warm tamales but I have little time for such a labor-intensive task. As you probably know, this very popular party food for the Christmas holidays can take days to assemble.

So instead, I whip up a Tamal de Cazuela. This easy Mexican casserole is brimming with the flavor of freshly made tamales but takes minimal effort. This dish is perfect for a family gathering!

Cut your kitchen time in half by picking up a pre-made roast chicken and preparing the salsa verde the day before. A tasty cornmeal-based dish that can be pulled together any day of the week, Tamal de Cazuela will satisfy any tamale loving addict!

Read Related: Tamale Secrets From the Experts


3 cups masa harina for tamales (maseca)
1¾ cups hot water
¾ cup vegetable shortening
1½ TSP baking powder
1½ cups chicken broth
½ pound tomatillos
½ medium onion, cut in half
1 garlic clove, skin on
Handful of cilantro
1½ cup shredded cooked chicken


• Preheat oven to 400°.
• Grease a 10 inch pie plate. Set aside.

For the Filling:

  1. Place the tomatillos, onion and garlic on a baking sheet.
  2. Place under broiler, until charred. 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Be sure to watch the garlic, it will char quickly.
  4. Allow to cool, remove skin from garlic.
  5. Place tomatillos, onion, garlic and cilantro into a blender and puree until smooth.
  6. Season to taste.
  7. Combine with the shredded chicken, about 2 cups of the salsa verde.

For the Masa:

  1. Combine masa harina with hot water and mix well to reconstitute.
  2. Beat the shortening with the baking powder in a large bowl until light, about 2 minutes.
  3. Continue to beat as you add masa in cup by cup, mix until all is well incorporated.
  4. With mixer running slowly add chicken broth and beat until masa dough is well combined.  Season with salt to taste.
  5. Spread half the masa on the greased 10 inch pie plate.
  6. Add the filling and then spoon remaining batter to cover the filling.
  7. Bake in oven for 25 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  8. Allow tamal de cazuel to stand a few minutes and cut into wedges.
  9. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado and remaining salsa verde.

This can be made a day ahead.