Definition of tamale in US English:



  • A Mexican dish of seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough and steamed or baked in corn husks.

    • ‘Corn made into tortillas or tamales, black beans, rice, and wheat in the form of bread or pasta are staples eaten by nearly all Guatemalans.’
    • ‘For the tamales: In a bowl, combine the grits, masa, and salt and mix well.’
    • ‘A second breakfast special exchanges the tamale for an empanada with beef, chicken or vegetable fillings.’
    • ‘Heat water in a large pot, place steamer insert into pot and place tamales on top.’
    • ‘And the woman at the front desk asked if I was here to deliver tamales.’
    • ‘We then shared an assortment of three first courses - fried gizzards (who could resist), the chef's coleslaw with pineapple and hot chicken tamales.’
    • ‘Traditional tamales use corn husks lined with cornmeal mush as wrappers.’
    • ‘We're told they will have tamales and enchiladas as well.’
    • ‘The sweet sensation of piruli lollies on the tongue, the aroma of freshly brewed Cuban coffee, the flavour of chicken and rice, and the tang of tamales are discussed, replicated, transformed and savoured throughout the Cuban diaspora.’
    • ‘The demonstrators took to the plaza armed with spicy tamales and other tasty Mexican treats, which they handed out to residents and foreign visitors as a reminder of the richness of the local cuisine.’
    • ‘Tacos, quesadillas, tamales, nachos and other side dishes are available for under four bucks.’
    • ‘As for main courses, the vegetarian tamales are tasty if scrawny pillows of cornmeal that conceal punchy red and green anaheim peppers.’
    • ‘The company also makes tamales, burritos and enchiladas and supplies Texas prisons, the U.S. military and restaurant chains.’
    • ‘I've had tamales here that were as light and loose as matzo balls, the corn meal so buoyant it barely held together around the fillings.’
    • ‘Corn, the most important food of their ancestors, remains the central ingredient in their diet today and is used to make tortillas or tamales.’
    • ‘I now know - or at least I think I know - what a tamale is.’
    • ‘An hour later, the smell of beans, tamales, homemade tortillas, and carne con salsa verde filled the kitchen.’
    • ‘A small brick building located in the heart of the neighborhood, the market specializes in tortillas, tamales, chorizo, candy, and other Mexican foods.’
    • ‘The settlers loved this vegetable as every part of the plant could be used for something: husks are used for tamales, the silk for teas, the kernels to eat, the stalk for fodder.’
    • ‘Maize tamales are prepared by hand for Christmas.’


From Mexican Spanish tamal, plural tamales, from Nahuatl tamalli.