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Best Authentic Mexican Tamales Ever!

Best Authentic Mexican Tamales Ever! created by nikki e.

Authentic Tamales are a lot of work but soooo worth it! If you are having trouble finding the MaSeCa (a very popular brand of corn masa, it is the one I use) or Corn Husks locally there is an excellent online Mexican grocer that offers these and other ingredients at fair prices. Find them at Check out the pictures for how to assemble the actual tamales. If you have any questions please feel free to send me a message I'm happy to help!

Ready In:



  • Cook and Shred Pork Roast:

  • Start with 1 pork roast. Cut the roast into fist size chunks. Put the chunks into a Pan, and cover with water. Boil for about 2 1/2 hours or until it becomes really tender. After the meat is really tender, take it out of the broth to cool (Save the Broth, you will need it for the Masa!).
  • After the roast chunks are cool enough to handle easily, shred them with your fingers. Try to remove and discard the fat as you go. There is no need to throw a lot of fat into the tamales. If you have cooked the roast chunks thoroughly, it will be easy to shred into small pieces with your fingers.
  • Cook and Shred Chicken:

  • Cover the chicken with water in a large pot, and boil for 2 hours, or until the chicken is done and tender. Take the chicken out of the broth and allow the chicken to cool. (Save the Chicken Broth as well!) Remove and discard the skin. Take the chicken meat off the bones and shred the it into very small filaments. Discard any large chunks of fat.
  • Combine Pork and Chicken:

  • Combine both meats in very large pan, and mix together. Make sure that the meats are thoroughly combined and mixed well. You are now ready to add the seasoning:

  • Add the Spices and Seasonings:

  • Mix the oil and seasonings listed below in a small pan and warm on the stove. Do not cook the oil and seasonings mix, but just gently warm on the stove.
  • Meat Spices and Seasonings:

  • 1/2 c corn oil.
  • 6 Tablespoon Gibhartds chili powder (Other Chile Powders will work).
  • 3 Tablespoon garlic powder.
  • 3 Tablespoon ground cumin (comino).
  • 1 Tablespoon (or less) black pepper.
  • 2 Tablespoon salt.
  • When the oil and seasonings mix is warm, then pour over the meat and mix with your hands until it is completely distributed through the meat. It takes a good 10 minutes to get the mixture completely uniform.
  • The meat is now finished. You should put the meat in the refrigerator covered until ready to make the tamales. Put both the chicken broth and roast broth into the refrigerator as well. You will need the broth when you make the Masa.
  • Prepare the Corn Husks:

  • Soak the husks in a sink full of warm water for about 2 hours. You will need to carefully separate them when they get soft. Try to not tear or damage the corn shucks. It is easier to make the tamales if the shucks are in one piece.
  • Make The Masa Dough Mix:

  • Start with 4 lbs. of the Masa flour. Now, skim the fat off the broth that you saved from the Pork and Chicken you made earlier. Throw the fat away, and save the broth. Warm the broth from the pork and chicken up. Don't get it hot, just nice and warm.
  • Now put the 4 lbs. of Masa in a large bowl. Add the following dry spices to the Masa:

  • 3 Tablespoons paprika.
  • 3 Tablespoons salt.
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds.
  • 3 Tablespoons Gibhardts Chili Powder.
  • 3 Tablespoons garlic powder.
  • Mix the spices above with your hands into the Masa until it is completely incorporated. Mix well, as you don't want a clump of spices in a tamale.
  • Now add:

  • 4 cups of Corn Oil to the Masa and Spice mixture. After adding the oil, begin to slowly work in 4 quarts of the warm chicken/pork broth, about a cup at a time. Work the mixture with your hands to make dough. Slowly add the warm broth one cup at a time as you continue to work the mixture with your hands. If it is too dry, add enough warm water to get it right for spreading. It should be about like thick peanut butter. If it is too thin add more Masa, if it is too thick, add more broth or warm water. Thick peanut butter is the consistency you are trying for.
  • Build the Tamales:

  • After the corn shucks are soft, take some of them out of the water, shake the water off, lay them on the counter on a towel.
  • Pick up a shuck, lay it across the palm of your hand with the small end toward your fingers. scoop up about 1/2 c of the Masa dough with a spatula, and then smear it on the shuck.
  • Cover about left 2/3 of the shuck with Masa, leave 1/3 on the right uncovered. Similarly, cover the bottom 2/3 of the shuck, and leave the top 1/3 uncovered.
  • Take about 1 tablespoon of meat, and lay it on the masa about 1 inches from the left edge.
  • Starting on the left side (the side where the Masa dough goes all the way to the edge), roll the tamale all the way to the right edge. Now, fold the top of the shuck over like an envelope and lay tamale on the counter with the fold on the under side.
  • Repeat until all the masa dough mix and meat mix are gone.
  • You should have about 4 dozen or more tamales.
  • Cooking The Tamales:

  • To cook the tamales, You need a very large pot that has something in the bottom to keep the tamales out of the water while they steam. Add about 3 pints of water to the pot, then start stacking the tamales upright until full. The envelope end of the tamale will be on the bottom, the open end of the tamale should be on top, as pictured at left. Continue to fill the pot. The tamales need to pack tight enough that they do not fall over and begin to unfold. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook for at least 2 hours. Check water several times and add more if it is getting low, you DON’T want to boil it dry. Add more water as you need to. When done, take one tamale out and leave it on the counter for about 5 minutes to test. Unwrap it and it should be firm, with no raw masa. When done, remove all the tamales and let them cool on the counter, then put in bags for the freezer, 6 to a bag. If you have one of those Vacuum sealers, those are ideal. You can save the tamales in the freezer indefinitely if they are vacuum sealed. If you use zip lock bags, they will stay for up to a year in the freezer.
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"Authentic Tamales are a lot of work but soooo worth it! If you are having trouble finding the MaSeCa (a very popular brand of corn masa, it is the one I use) or Corn Husks locally there is an excellent online Mexican grocer that offers these and other ingredients at fair prices. Find them at Check out the pictures for how to assemble the actual tamales. If you have any questions please feel free to send me a message I'm happy to help!"
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  1. ArtemisRiver
    Love that you use chili powder instead of dry Chiles. I work and want to make for my family with lots of flavor but just a bit easier on me. Great flavor it seems like a lot but after steaming and all the ingredients it's great tasting. This South TX family enjoyed them. I used lard but only had a pound which I think is about 2 cups but l did add the fat from my pork stock so l got at least another 3/4 cup
  2. jerryturczak
    Using parchment paper instead of husks did that work out ok
  3. nikki e.
    So i made these tamales but i changed some of the process. I did it in a 2 day process. 1st day i cooked the meat on stove top for 6 hours on simmer then put it in the frig. The second day i ground the cold meat and made masa to put the tamales together. Letting the meat sit in the spices and broth really add a lot of extra flavor to the tamales. Makes a big difference. I also used beef instead of pork and chicken (had a 8lb brisket in the freezer so i browned that and trimed all fat off) i filled my pot with 20 cups of water and i used this meat sauce recipe to simmer my meat in for the 6 hours and overnight. I honestly havent changed the recipe just the process. The next day i took my brisket chuncks which are cold and put them in the food processor, add 3 ladels of the broth to ground beef before u put tamalea together otherwise they come out dry. So for my masa my kitchenaide mixer can only hold 2lbs of masa dough mixture at a time so i did it in two back to back batches. Since i added my tamales meat mixture to my broth i didnt want to add to much seasoning so based on my tamale meat mixture i added 3 tbsp paprika, 1.5 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp salt, 2 c. Veg lard or oil, and 2 quarts of my broth. Remember this is for half of your masa dough. You will need that other half of masa otherwise u will have meat leftover. I also like my tamales with ablot of masa and meat so i make big tamales (3 fingers put together size) i also cheat and use cut up parchment paper instead of corn husk. Its just easier and cuts down time. I also add corn husks and put it in the pot when i steam tamales bc i cheat and im all about flavor. Ive been making tamales for years and this seasoning is spot on!
    • Review photo by nikki e.
  4. nikki e.
    I used a two day process
  5. appy_lou
    When using lard. Is it the same 4 cups?
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