Total Time
Prep 2 hrs
Cook 4 hrs

This tamale recipe is about as traditional as you can get, although I use a roast instead of the whole pig head that many Mexican women use. I have also used beef, but they just do not taste quite the same. These take about all day to make and are a lot of work, but they are so worth the time and the effort. Not for the faint-hearted cook for sure. They are a huge hit here in the West. For added flavor, top with either some of the red sauce used to prepare this recipe, or with my favorite, green chili sauce with pork, Chile Verde Con Cerdo (Green Chili With Pork). Serve with sides of Spanish rice, refried beans topped with cheese and frosty margaritas for a delicious authentic Mexican meal. For an online tamale-making tutorial, including pictures, please see posted in the Mexican cooking forum.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a 5 qt Dutch oven, bring pork, water, onion, garlic and 1 1/2 salt to boil.
  2. Simmer covered, about 2 1/2 hours or until meat is very tender.
  3. Remove meat from broth and allow both meat and broth to cool. (Chilling the broth will allow you to easily remove the fat if you desire to do so).
  4. Shred the meat using 2 forks, discarding fat.
  5. Strain the broth and reserve 6 cups.
  6. In a large sauce pan, heat the red chili sauce and add meat; simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
  7. To make masa beat shortening on medium speed in a large bowl for 1 minute.
  8. In a separate bowl, stir together masa harina, baking powder and 2 teaspoons salt.
  9. Alternately add masa harina mixture and broth to shortening, beating well after each addition. (Add just enough broth to make a thick, creamy paste).
  10. In the mean time, soak corn husks in warm water for at least 20 minutes; rinse to remove any corn silk and drain well.
  11. To assemble each tamale, spread 2 tablespoons of the masa mixture on the center of the corn husk (each husk should be 8 inches long and 6 inches wide at the top. If husks are small, overlap 2 small ones to form one. If it is large, tear a strip from the side).
  12. Place about 1 tablespoon meat and sauce mixture in the middle of the masa.
  13. Fold in sides of husk and fold up the bottom.
  14. Place a mound of extra husks or a foil ball in the center of a steamer basket placed in a Dutch oven.
  15. Lean the tamales in the basket, open side up.
  16. Add water to Dutch oven just below the basket.
  17. Bring water to boil and reduce heat.
  18. Cover and steam 40 minutes, adding water when necessary.
  19. To freeze these for future meals, leave them in the husks and place them in freezer bags. To reheat, thaw and wrap in a wet paper towel and reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes for one or two or re-steam them just until hot.
Most Helpful

5 5

These are so good and well while the time they take to prepare. If you steam on top of your stove use medium heat & watch closely. Next time I'm going to make an extra cup of the Red Chili Sauce to top each tamale with a tsp or so before serving. These were so good and Karen, thanks for all the help!!

5 5

Delicious! These are a lot of work, but the end result is sooooo good! I froze them individually in foil, and then packaged them in freezer bags so that I can take them out as needed and microwave them. I did not change the recipe at all, as this is the first time I've made tamales. Thanks for a great recipe, Karen! :o)

5 5

My daughter and her boyfriend came to our house last sunday. We spent the afternoon making tamales (150). We had a great time. The tamales were excellent! Best I have ever had. We made half of them with chicken and the other half pork.I used Thai peppers grown by a freind of mine (quite spicy) they were excellent. I didnt understand the direction of using 15 large peppers. How big is a large pepper? So I used 30 Thais per batch. Thank you for a great recipe and a lovely afternoon.