Delicious Crockpot Tamales Recipe for Food Lovers

Welcome to my kitchen, where I specialize in crafting delicious recipes that fuse Brazilian and American cuisine. Today, I’m excited to share with you all one of my favorite dishes – crockpot tamales.

If you’re someone who enjoys hearty and filling foods bursting with flavor, then this recipe is for you. These steamed tamales are one of the easiest ways to make authentic tamales in the comfort of your own home. The best part? The slow cooker does most of the work, so you can sit back and relax while your dinner is being cooked.

The secret to making delicious crockpot tamales is in the masa harina, which is a traditional Mexican cornmeal often used in tamale making. When combined with other flavorful ingredients like ground beef, chicken, garlic, onions, and cumin – the result is a beautiful medley of tastes that will satisfy all of your senses.

In this article, I’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to make crockpot tamales that are sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any gathering. Whether it’s for a weeknight dinner or special occasion, this recipe will quickly become a household favorite.

So grab your slow cooker and let’s start cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


You know those recipes that just make your mouth water even before you’ve taken a bite? Well, this Crockpot Tamale recipe is exactly that kind of dish.

Firstly, it’s incredibly easy to make – you’ll save so much time without sacrificing taste. By cooking everything in a crockpot, you won’t have to put in too much effort and still end up with delicious steamed tamales.

But what really makes this recipe stand out is its versatility. You can use rotisserie chicken, beef, or even go vegetarian with veggies and beans instead of meat. And if that’s not enough, there’s also the option of tamale pie or tamale casserole. The recipe is so customizable that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Another great thing about this recipe is how perfect it is for feeding a crowd – whether it’s a family gathering or a potluck with friends, everyone loves tamales. And because the recipe yields quite a few tamales, you’ll have leftovers that can be reheated just as easily as they were made.

And let’s not forget about the flavor. The combination of masa harina and beef broth creates doughy goodness while the chicken (or whatever protein you choose) absorbs all the spices and flavors perfectly. With each bite, you’ll experience savory satisfaction.

Overall, this Crockpot Tamale recipe encourages the perfect combination of easy preparation and mouthwatering flavor. It’s versatile, perfect for feeding crowds and oh so tasty-what more could you ask for?

Ingredient List

 Let's get wrapped up in the deliciousness of these Crockpot Tamales!
Let’s get wrapped up in the deliciousness of these Crockpot Tamales!

Before diving into the recipe, let’s take a look at the important ingredients that you’ll need for this mouthwatering crockpot tamales recipe.

  • Vegetable shortening
  • Kosher salt
  • Baking powder
  • Beef broth
  • Masa harina (corn flour)
  • Ground cumin
  • Corn husks
  • Garlic cloves
  • Yellow onion
  • Canned green chilies
  • Shredded chicken (you can use rotisserie chicken for ease)

Make sure to have these ingredients on hand before starting to make tamales in your crockpot.

The Recipe How-To

 One bite of these savory tamales will transport you straight to Mexico!
One bite of these savory tamales will transport you straight to Mexico!

Now that all the ingredients are gathered, it’s time to start making delicious crockpot tamales. With this handy guide, you can make tasteful tamales with a slow cooker by following these simple steps.

Step 1: Preparing the Filling

  • With a pan at medium heat, cook one diced yellow onion and one minced garlic clove until they are fragrant and the onion has become clear.
  • Next, dice green chilies and add them to the pan with the mixture along with half a teaspoon of cumin and kosher salt to taste.
  • In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups of shredded chicken meat (use rotisserie chicken for an easier option) with the onion and garlic mixture.
  • Make sure to mix everything well and taste for seasoning.

Step 2: Making the Tamale Masa

  • In a stand mixer or by hand, beat 1 cup of vegetable shortening on medium-high speed until it becomes whipped and light in color.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of baking powder and kosher salt to taste.
  • Gradually add 4 cups of masa harina flour to the mixer/stirring bowl alternating between adding water or beef broth until you have a batter-like texture.
  • Stir in 1 cup of drained corn kernels until they’re well incorporated into the masa.

Step 3: Assembling the Tamales

  • Once you have your masa prepared, take out your slow cooker (4-quart size is recommended).
  • Fill the bottom of the crockpot with about one inch of water.
  • Take some parchment paper, cut into individual six-inch squares, making sure to crumple them up before placing them at the bottom of your crockpot. The crumpled paper ensures that steam circulates freely in your crockpot.
  • Take some of the masa batter (enough for one tamale) and season it with additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread it in the center of a piece of parchment.
  • Place about 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture on top of the masa.
  • Carefully roll up the tamale, tucking in the sides, and placing them seam side down in a single layer in the slow cooker.
  • Repeat until you’ve rolled and placed all your tamales.

Step 4: Steaming the Tamales

  • Cover your slow cooker with the lid and set it to cook high for 6 hours. You want your tamales cooked through entirely.
  • Once your tamales are done, remove them from the crockpot using a spatula or kitchen tongs. Allow them to rest for about 5 minutes before serving with ranchero sauce, shredded beef, or any other of your favorite toppings.

With these foolproof steps, making authentic Tamales Croc Pot has never been easier.

Substitutions and Variations

 These tamale parcels are cooked to perfection in the trusty Crockpot.
These tamale parcels are cooked to perfection in the trusty Crockpot.

Variety is the spice of life, and in the world of cooking, it’s no different. Substituting ingredients can add a unique twist to an already fantastic dish. Here are some substitutions and variations you can try with this scrumptious crockpot tamales recipe.

Firstly, if you don’t have vegetable shortening, you can substitute it with unsalted butter or lard. Keep in mind that butter will add a slightly different flavor compared to the neutral taste of vegetable shortening. Moreover, if beef broth isn’t your thing, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth instead.

Are you looking for vegetarian options? You can make your tamales without meat! Instead of chicken or beef, add some sautéed vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, or mushrooms for an equally scrumptious tamale. If you’re not a fan of corn husks, you can wrap your tamales with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Want to mix things up? Try substituting the suggested green chilies with jalapeños for an extra kick or chipotles for a smoky flavor. Add some diced tomatoes to the mixture to give it a fresher taste.

Finally, if your dinner guests have different taste preferences or dietary restrictions, consider setting up a “tamale bar” with various toppings like salsa verde, guacamole, sour cream, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. By doing so, everyone can tailor their tamales according to their preferences.

In summary, be creative and don’t be afraid to experiment and explore new alternatives. Remember that cooking should be fun and enjoyable. So go ahead and personalize this crockpot tamales recipe to suit your needs and preferences!

Serving and Pairing

 Slow and steady wins the race - especially when it comes to Crockpot Tamales!
Slow and steady wins the race – especially when it comes to Crockpot Tamales!

Now that you have your crockpot tamales ready, it’s time to think about how to serve and what to pair them with. One of the best things about tamales is that they are versatile and can be combined with different side dishes and beverages.

For a traditional Mexican-style tamale experience, serve your tamales on a colorful plate with a side of refried beans, rice, and a dollop of sour cream. You can also add some chopped fresh cilantro and diced tomatoes for extra color and flavor.

If you prefer a lighter side dish, try pairing your tamales with a crunchy green salad or a simple vegetable medley. For the perfect beverage pairing, a cold glass of horchata or agua fresca will complement the spice of the green chilies in the tamales.

Another fantastic option is to turn your crockpot tamales into tamale pie by adding cooked ground beef, onions, and green chilies to the mixture before cooking. Top with shredded cheese and bake in the oven until melted and bubbly. This tamale casserole recipe is a crowd-pleaser and can be served with a side salad or cornbread for a cozy dinner meal.

You can also experiment with different variations of tamales such as chicken tamales ranchero sauce or pork tamales. The options are endless, so feel free to unleash your creativity.

Whatever way you choose to serve your crockpot tamales, make sure to have fun and enjoy the delicious flavors of authentic Mexican cuisine right from your kitchen!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Tamales are a labor of love, but the Crockpot makes it so much easier!
Tamales are a labor of love, but the Crockpot makes it so much easier!

One of the most convenient things about this crockpot tamales recipe is that you can easily make it ahead of time for busy weeknights or special occasions. To make ahead, simply prepare the tamales according to the recipe instructions, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve.

When storing tamales in the refrigerator or freezer, be sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. If you’re storing in the refrigerator, they should last for up to 3-4 days. If you’re storing in the freezer, they can last for up to 3 months.

To reheat the tamales, there are a few different methods you can use depending on your preference. One method is to steam them in a vegetable steamer basket over simmering water until heated through (about 10 minutes for refrigerated tamales and 15-20 minutes for frozen tamales).

Another option is to reheat them in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes per tamale (adjusting time based on the power of your microwave). Be sure to remove any wrapping or husks before reheating.

If you’re short on time and don’t want to go through the hassle of steaming or microwaving your tamales, you can also reheat them directly in the crockpot. Simply lay them flat in a single layer in the bottom of the crockpot and add enough water to come up about halfway up the side of the tamales. Cover and cook on low heat for 2-3 hours or until heated through.

No matter how you choose to reheat your tamales, be sure to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer before serving. The internal temperature should reach at least 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The best things in life are worth waiting for - just like these tamales cooking in the Crockpot.
The best things in life are worth waiting for – just like these tamales cooking in the Crockpot.

I have a few tips to share with you to ensure that you achieve perfect results when making these crockpot tamales.

Firstly, it’s crucial to pay attention to the amount of liquid you add to the crockpot. Too much liquid will make the tamales mushy, while too little liquid will result in dry and hard tamale. Therefore, it is important to follow the recipe instructions precisely and resist adding more liquid than called for.

Secondly, be sure to use good quality masa harina. The quality of your masa harina can impact the texture and flavor of your tamales. It is recommended to use masa harina made specifically for tamales.

Thirdly, before laying the tamales on top of the mixture in the slow cooker, be sure to line the bottom with a layer of corn husks or parchment paper as this will prevent sticking and burning.

Next, don’t be afraid to experiment with substitutions and variations, but do so carefully as it can affect the final outcome. You can use different types of meat such as shredded beef or pork for a different flavor profile or even try adding vegetables like sweet potatoes or zucchini for added nutrition and flavor.

Another important tip is to resist opening the crockpot lid too often during cooking as this can cause fluctuations in temperature and increase cooking time.

Lastly, take into account the timing when making this recipe. While I recommend cooking on high for two hours and then reducing heat to low for an additional four hours, keep in mind that depending on your crockpot model and size, cooking time may vary.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to create perfect crockpot tamales every single time.


Now that you have all the necessary information about this crockpot tamales recipe, let’s address some common questions and concerns that you might have. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to assist with any doubts or issues that might arise while you’re cooking these delicious tamales. Read on to find out more.

Can tamales be cooked in a crockpot?

Making delicious tamales right in the comfort of your own kitchen has never been easier! The secret lies in using your trusty crockpot slow cooker to steam and cook up to 20 of these heavenly treats at once.

What is the secret to moist tamales?

Achieving tasty and moist tamales calls for boldness in using ample fats. Mexico’s culinary tradition involves using lard, but if you prefer a vegetarian recipe, consider substituting it with shortening or softened butter.

Can you steam in a slow cooker?

If you’re a busy cook, you can easily steam your vegetables while tackling other tasks in the kitchen. A simple method is to use a steaming basket and place it inside your slow cooker. Arrange your vegetables on top of the basket, making sure they don’t touch the water in the bottom of the cooker. Turn on the slow cooker to high and let it go for a few hours until the vegetables are nice and tender. This way, you can accomplish multiple tasks at once without worrying about overcooked or burnt food.

How to make tamales without oven?

Making tamales on the stove is a straightforward process. First, place the tamales in a strainer and add two cups of water to the pot’s base. Cover the pot and steam the tamales over medium heat for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the masa comes off the husks effortlessly.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this crockpot tamales recipe is the perfect solution for all your Mexican food cravings. This recipe brings together the best flavors and aromas of Mexican cuisine with American-style slow cooking to make an absolutely delicious meal. With easy-to-follow instructions and customizable ingredients, anyone can make these tamales at home – whether you’re an experienced cook or a beginner in the kitchen.

By using a crockpot, you can make a big batch of tamales with minimal effort and time. Plus, the possibilities are endless when it comes to variations and substitutions. You can swap out proteins, add more veggies, tweak the spiciness level to your liking, and much more.

So why not give this crockpot tamales recipe a try? You won’t regret it. Whether you’re hosting a party or just want to have an authentic Mexican dinner with your family, these tamales are sure to impress. And who knows – maybe this will become your new go-to recipe for every occasion!

So gather up all the ingredients, plug in your slow cooker, and get ready for some of the most delicious tamales you’ve ever tasted!



Easy to make tamales in a crockpot
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 807.8 kcal


  • 1 (3 1/2 lb) store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups lard (I used crisco) or 1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening (I used crisco)
  • 1 (6 ounce) package dried corn husks


  • If you're going to use the rotisserie chicken, combine the meat with the onion, garlic, can of green chilies, cumin, salt, and drained corn in a 4 quart (or so) crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6. The onions need to be translucent before going into the tamales. If you don't have time for this step, skip the garlic and onion, and combine the chicken with the chiles, cumin, salt, and drained corn in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Soften the corn husks by soaking them in very hot water until they are quite pliable.
  • To make the masa, combine all dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and beat on medium-to-high speed until everything is mixed well and the dough is spongy. Check the dough by dropping a little ball of it into a glass of water. It should float. If it doesn't float, this source says to continue to beat the dough.
  • Take a bit larger than a golf-ball size piece of masa dough, and spread it into a wet corn husk. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick--you do not want to see the corn husk through the dough. Add a bit of filling, and some cheese. Fold the corn husk over to join the edges of the masa. If you need to add more dough, do so---no filling should peek through. Fold all corn husk edges into the center and place into the bottom of an empty crockpot, seam side down (I used a 6.5 quart, and fit 19 inside).
  • Repeat. Many, many, many times. It took me about 2 hours to make all of the tamales. If you find that your corn husks are unraveling, you can add another the other way to secure it, and tear off a long piece to tie around. I had to do this a few times. I also needed to add more hot water to the soaking husks to keep them pliable. If you need to step away from the tamale-making-process for a bit, put the lid on your crockpot to keep moisture inside.
  • When the crockpot is full, put the lid on and cook on high for 4-6 hours, or until a tester tamale looks and tastes done. The tamales on the edges will cook a bit faster. Once your tester looks good (I used the same one, and kept re-wrapping it and adding it back when it wasn't ready), unplug the crockpot and keep the lid off. Don't unwrap any others until they've set for about 15 minutes. My tamales were cooked at 6 hours, but I began checking every 45 minutes at 4 hours.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 365gCalories: 807.8kcalCarbohydrates: 45.7gProtein: 36.2gFat: 53.8gSaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 759.9mgFiber: 4.2gSugar: 2.8g
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.