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Tamales are a classic Mexican dish--warm and comforting and most definitely nostalgic. They are undoubtedly one of the most authentic and traditional dishes in both Mexican and Mexican-American cooking. We'd even venture to say that every Latina--Mexican or not--should have a back-pocket recipe for tamales. From the most classic to new takes on the tamal, there are lots of amazing recipes out there that are all worth trying at least once.

More from MamásLatinas: 30 Delicious Dominican recipes to try for dinner

It's always a good idea to have a tried-and-true base recipe for a dish as classic as tamales, but since it's essentially a simple corn meal dough, there's always the option to get creative with fillings. Tamales can be filled with anything from the traditional pork with red sauce to a variety of vegan fillings that'll satisfy family members with more specific dietary and health needs. They can also vary widely when it comes to difficulty level; the masa is simple to make, but fillings can be either straightforward or quite complex.

Oh, and you definitely shouldn't overlook tamales dulces, which make for an indulgent and delicious treat for special occasions or just when you feel like having a decadent dessert. The sweet filling options are endless! Check out these 20 amazingly yummy recipes for savory and sweet tamales to get you started.

Savory: Pork tamales rojas are a classic rendition. 1

Savory: Pork tamales rojas are a classic rendition.

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Preparing the filling for pork tamales rojas is a bit of an involved process. You'll have to track down some pork belly and a variety of peppers, commit to plenty of chopping, and even grind your own spices, but the resulting dish is well worth the effort.

Get the full recipe from Bon Appétit.

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Savory: This traditional recipe for tamales is a must-have. 2

Savory: This traditional recipe for tamales is a must-have.

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Many Mexican families enjoy chile Colorado pork tamales over the holidays and on special occasions. Though it's common for recipes to vary from family to family, these tamales get their name from the color produced by the ancho chiles used for the filling.

Get the full recipe from La Piña en la Cocina.

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Savory: These pulled pork tamales are slightly simplified. 3

Savory: These pulled pork tamales are slightly simplified.

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If you're not into the laborious process of shopping for hard-to-find ingredients and grinding your own spices, but you're craving pork tamales, this slightly less authentic recipe for pulled pork tamales should do the trick. You can use leftover pulled pork, ground spices, and canned peppers!

Get the full recipe from No Spoon Necessary.

Savory: This recipe for carnitas tamales features a delicious sauce. 4

Savory: This recipe for carnitas tamales features a delicious sauce.

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This recipe for coffee-rubbed carnitas tamales with salsa verde sounds complicated, but it's really not. The pork is simply seasoned with coffee and cocoa powder and spices like cumin and coriander, then left to marinate. Both the meat and assembled tamales are quickly cooked in a pressure cooker. Though the sauce has lots of ingredients, all you have to do is whiz them all together in a food processor.

Find the full recipe on MamásLatinas.

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Savory: Chorizo tamales are a bit of a different take. 5

Savory: Chorizo tamales are a bit of a different take.

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Thanks to the use of spicy chorizo and ready-made refried beans, you can have delicious tamales ready in about an hour using fewer than a dozen ingredients. Plus, there's a secret ingredient in the masa that adds tons of flavor.

Get the full recipe from Cookpad.

Savory: Poblano and chorizo tamales hit lots of flavor notes. 6

Savory: Poblano and chorizo tamales hit lots of flavor notes.

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The combination of smoky poblano peppers, spicy chorizo, and creamy cheese give this recipe for tamales mouthwatering, complex flavor.

Get the full recipe from Buy This Cook That.

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Savory: Chicken and chorizo tamales are also a really good idea. 7

Savory: Chicken and chorizo tamales are also a really good idea.

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Adding ground chicken to a mixture of ground chorizo and spices, lightens this tamal filling up a bit without sacrificing flavor. It's full of savory goodness from onions, garlic, cilantro, and other herbs to round out all the flavors.

Get the full recipe from Cookstr.

Savory: These chicken tamales are jazzed up with a yummy salsa verde. 8

Savory: These chicken tamales are jazzed up with a yummy salsa verde.

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The most complicated part of this recipe for chicken tamales is making the salsa verde from scratch, but even that isn't too difficult. A helpful shortcut is using rotisserie chicken instead of cooking your own.

Get the full recipe from Epicurious.

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Savory: Tamales are made easier with a pressure cooker. 9

Savory: Tamales are made easier with a pressure cooker.

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Cooking the meat filling and the assembled tamales in an electric pressure cooker cuts down a lot on the actual hands-on cooking time involved in preparing tamales. This recipe for pork tamales with salsa roja is a tasty and simple one to try, though you still have to remember to soak your corn husks ahead of time.

Get the full recipe from Self Proclaimed Foodie.

Savory: Shrimp is a less typical tamal filling. 10

Savory: Shrimp is a less typical tamal filling.

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Shrimp is a less typical filling for tamales, but it's no less delicious, especially when seasoned with traditional herbs and spices. Plus, it takes less time to prepare since shrimp is such a quick-cooking protein.

Get the full recipe from Ricardo.

 

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Savory: This shrimp tamales recipe is a bit unconventional. 11

Savory: This shrimp tamales recipe is a bit unconventional.

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While the seasonings for this shrimp tamales recipe are pretty classic, cooked rice is actually added into the masa, making it a bit different. It adds a nice texture and makes the recipe uniqe.

Get the full recipe from La Piña en la Cocina.

Savory: Beef is also a traditional filling for tamales. 12

Savory: Beef is also a traditional filling for tamales.

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Braised beef brisket is a classic filling option for tamales. The beef is slow-cooked with garlic, spices, and chiles to create a delicious, savory, and homey flavor.

Get the full recipe from Beef Loving Texans.

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Savory: Vegan tamales can be absolutely delicious. 13

Savory: Vegan tamales can be absolutely delicious.

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A savory combination of pureed butternut squash, black beans, garlic, and spices makes for an amazingly yummy tamal filling.

Get the full recipe from Thyme and Love.

Savory: Chipotle and pumpkin is a tasty take on the tamal. 14

Savory: Chipotle and pumpkin is a tasty take on the tamal.

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This cheese-stuffed tamal is a great vegetarian option. The pumpkin and chipotle are actually incorporated into the masa, and the filling is simply cotija cheese. Topped with a tomatillo-avocado sauce, it's so tasty!

Get the full recipe from The Modern Proper.

 

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Savory: This recipe for tamales has a Southwestern flare. 15

Savory: This recipe for tamales has a Southwestern flare.

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Though not exactly traditional, filling tamales with poblano peppers and pepper jack cheese is a tasty and unique option, especially for those who prefer not to eat meat. It's a got a very Southwestern vibe.

Get the full recipe from Isabel Eats.

Sweet: Sweet tamale dough is a little bit different. 16

Sweet: Sweet tamale dough is a little bit different.

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Though not everyone adds sugar to the masa for sweet tamales, some people do, especially if the tamales are going to be served for dessert. It's a good idea to have a base recipe for both sweet and savory tamales.

Get the recipe from My Latina Table.

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Sweet: Guava and toasted almond tamales are great for dessert or even breakfast. 17

Sweet: Guava and toasted almond tamales are great for dessert or even breakfast.

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The combination of guava paste, toasted slivered almonds, and cinnamon make for a warm and comforting tamal filling that works for dessert, breakfast, or pretty much any time of day.

Find the full recipe on MamásLatinas.

Sweet: Strawberry tamales are a surprisingly amazing dessert. 18

Sweet: Strawberry tamales are a surprisingly amazing dessert.

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Strawberry dessert tamales are surprisingly easy to make. You just puree almond milk and strawberries together and combine with the masa, then fill the tamal with strawberry jam. They're even vegan!

Get the full recipe from Veggie Inspired.

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Sweet: This pineapple and coconut tamal recipe looks incredible. 19

Sweet: This pineapple and coconut tamal recipe looks incredible.

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The filling for these sweet coconut and pineapple tamales includes warm flavors from vanilla, cinnamon, and raisins and seems absolutely to die for.

Get the full recipe from Pizca de Sabor.

Sweet: These sweet apple dessert tamales are like a blending of cultures. 20

Sweet: These sweet apple dessert tamales are like a blending of cultures.

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Dessert tamales with an apple pie and cream cheese filling are totally Mexican and totally American at once. Top with some vanilla ice cream, and you're good to go.

Get the full recipe from Yummly.