National Tamale Day | March 23
(Last Updated On: April 6, 2023)


Sweet or savory, National Tamale Day on March 23rd celebrates a traditional Mexican dish made from a cornmeal dough and filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, or fruit.


Traditional tamales are made with a dough called masa. When making tamales, you spread the dough on a corn husk or banana leaf before adding the fillings. Then you wrap the leaves around the entire package and steam it into a fragrant, mouthwatering meal. While they are popular street food in South America and the southern United States today, the tamale likely has its origins in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 B.C.

Masa is made from nixtamalized cornmeal. Nixtamalized corn has been
soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution such as limewater or hardwood ash to remove the seed husk.

Savory tamales consist of beans, rice, cheese, pork, chicken, turkey, and various vegetables and seasonings. Traditionally, people enjoy the tamale fresh from its steamy package, unenhanced by salsa and crema. However, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t drizzle a little hot sauce or guacamole if you choose.

Dessert tamales satisfy sweet tooths of every kind. Think fruity, caramel, and creamy steamed hand pies. Usually a smaller version of the hearty, savory tamale, these dessert tamales provide a little indulgence at the end of a meal.


  • Discover a delicious new recipe on National Tamale Day.
  • Take a cooking class to learn how to make authentic tamales.
  • Share your favorite tamale recipe with others.
  • Teach others how to make authentic tamales.
  • Visit your favorite street vendor or restaurant for savory and dessert tamales. Be sure to give them a shout-out on social media.
  • Let us know what your favorite kind of tamale is.
  • Attend a tamale festival or celebration. There are over 40 across the nation.
  • Try this delicious tamale recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch.
  • When you celebrate, use #NationalTamaleDay to share on social media.


In 2015, Richard Lambert, owner of Santa Barbara-based Tamales-To-Go, founded National Tamales Day to celebrate the family’s love of tamales and his signature dish. They chose March 23rd to encourage the enjoyment of tamales all year long and because the only food competition on the calendar was Melba Toast.

Tamale FAQ

Q. Are tamales sweet or savory?
A. Tamales are versatile and can be made either sweet or savory.

Q. Can tamales be frozen?
A. Yes. It’s important to allow the cooked tamale to come to room temperature before sealing in an airtight, freezer-safe container.


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