On The Menu: Pan De Muerto & Tamales!

One of the many great things that Día de los Muertos brings is the food. From traditional generational cuisines to some of the most modern ones, Mexicans celebrating Día de los Muertos everywhere around the globe graciously bring out their culinary gifts for their loved ones that have passed. For those who are new to this celebration, or simply are just interested in recreating some Mexican cuisine at the comfort of your own home, here are two of the most popular and authentic Day of the Dead recipes: Pan De Muerto and Tamales.

Pan de Muerto is a delicious treat that can only be found during these celebrations. Its symbolism is part of the altar and a central piece to Día de Muertos celebration. Its circular shape makes reference to the cycle of life; the small circle in the center is the culmination of this life and also represents the deceased´s skull; the lines that come out of the ball to the sides, are a representation of the skeleton but also the tears that loved ones have spilled.

In Mexico there are different ways to make this delicious traditional bread. Traditionally and in most Mexican regions it is typically covered in sugar. However, there are other states, such as Puebla, that add sesame seeds instead; others bake the bread with a hint of orange blossom; and in some regions in Oaxaca they use egg yolks and use alfeñique to decorate the bread. 


Mexican Day of the Dead Bread

by Chelsie Kenyon on TheSpruceEats.com

Total: 3 hrs 40 mins

Prep: 3 hrs

Cook: 40 mins

Servings: 8 


  • 4 ounces of butter (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons whole aniseed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups of flour (white bread or all-purpose)
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cups of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of orange zest
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) packets of instant dry yeast

Step 1: In a bowl, combine butter, sugar, aniseed, salt and 1/2 cup of the flour. 

Step 2: Mix the ingredients until they begin to come together.

Step 3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and orange zest.

Step 4: Add the dry and wet ingredients together along with another 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix until combined.

Step 5. Add the yeast and another 12 cup of flour, mixing to combine. 

Step 6: Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, mixing between additions until a dough forms.

Step 7: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 1 minute.

Step 8: Cover it with a clean, damp dishcloth and let it rise in a warm area for 1 hr and 30 min.  

Step 9: Assemble! Separate about 1/4 of the dough and use it to make bone shapes to drape across the loaf. Then, shape the rest of the dough into a flat bottomed semi-sphere. Position the bone shapes on the top of the loaf and press gently so they adhere. Let the dough rise for an additional hour.

Step 10: Bake the load in a 350 F oven for about 40 minutes (30 minutes for smaller loaves). Cool and glaze, if desired, before serving. Pan de muerto is usually cut in large wedges for eating by hand and greatly pairs with Mexican hot chocolate or champurrado (chocolate atole). 

Step 11: Enjoy!


Homemade Tamales

by SADDIECAT on Allrecipes.com

Total: 3 hrs and 35 mins

Prep: 35 mins

Cook: 3 hrs

Servings: 16


Tamale filling

  • 1 1/4 pounds of pork loin (can also be chicken or beef, if desired)
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 peppers dried California chile pods
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Tamale dough

  • 2 cups of masa harina
  • 1 (10.5 ounces) of beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cup of lard
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of dried corn husks
  • 1 cup of sour cream

Step 1: Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.

Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.

Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.

Step 4: Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.

Step 5: Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.


Our mouths are watering already just thinking about the hot Tamales and oh-so-soft Pan De Muerto that Día de los Muertos brings and we definitely cannot wait to try these recipes ourselves. If you make any of any of them at home, feel free to let us know and send pictures, as we always love to hear from you!

Día de muertosMexican food & authentic recipes

1 comment

Eleanor Oliver

Eleanor Oliver

Thank you so much the recipe s
Love this app

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