Spicy and Delicious Hot Tamales Recipe

It is my utmost pleasure to share with you my all-time favorite recipe for Hot Tamales. This dish is a true testament to the diversity of flavors and ingredients that come together in perfect harmony, making it a staple in both Brazilian and American cuisine.

The origins of Hot Tamales are deeply rooted in the South, particularly in the Mississippi Delta region, where they have been enjoyed for centuries. I can still remember the first time I experienced the rich, bold flavors of this dish during a trip to New Orleans. From that moment on, I was hooked.

If you have yet to try Hot Tamales for yourself, you are truly missing out on something special. Not only does it pack a punch in terms of flavor and spice, but it also brings people together, creating a sense of warmth and comfort that few other dishes can match.

But don’t just take my word for it – with this recipe, you can experience the magic of Hot Tamales for yourself. So let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Hot Tamales
Hot Tamales

My dear friends, I implore you to take a moment to hear me out on why you’ll adore this fabulous recipe for hot tamales. If you’re a lover of hot and spicy cuisine, then you’re in for an amazing treat with this recipe. Let me tell you why!

Firstly, the hot tamales are a perfect combination of Mexican and Southern flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. The meat filling is made from juicy ground beef mixed with garlic, onions, and flavorful chili powder. The masa dough is enhanced with cumin and a fiery blend of cayenne pepper and black pepper for an incredible burst of flavor.

Secondly, this recipe is so versatile that it can be customized to your liking. Whether it’s swapping out the ground beef for pork or chicken, or adding your favorite vegetables like bell peppers or corn, the possibilities are endless. You can even make vegan versions by substituting vegetable shortening for traditional shortening.

Thirdly, the texture of the tamale is simply divine. The tender corn husk perfectly encases the delicious filling that transforms into a fluffy cloud-like texture when steamed to perfection. Trust me; every bite will leave you wanting more!

Lastly, making hot tamales takes patience and effort but creating these authentic homemade tamales will be one of the most rewarding experiences in your culinary journey. Not only do they make a great dish for gatherings and parties, but they are also perfect as portable meals on-the-go.

In conclusion, whether you have enjoyed tamales before or not, I strongly encourage giving this recipe a try. With its captivating mix of spices and delightful textures, Mississippi Delta hot tamales will quickly become one of your go-to dishes that will impress both family and friends alike. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking!

Ingredient List

 Steamy hot tamales on a cool day
Steamy hot tamales on a cool day

Let’s gather all the ingredients necessary to make this hot tamales recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Tamales:

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups masa harina flour
  • 8 cups hot water or beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

For the Red Sauce:

  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (10 ounces)
  • 2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Other Ingredients:

  • Corn husks, soaked in hot water for at least an hour or until soft

Make sure to get these ingredients ready before you start cooking to ensure a seamless and enjoyable cooking experience.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect excuse for a spicy fiesta
The perfect excuse for a spicy fiesta

Now, it’s time to get your hands dirty and make some hot, juicy tamales! The recipe is relatively simple, but it will take a bit of time to prepare. But trust me, the wait is worth it. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Soak the Corn Husks

First things first, you need to soak the corn husks for at least an hour before using them. This will help soften the husks and make them more pliable. You can soak them in warm water or even hot water. Just make sure they are fully submerged in the water.

Step 2: Prepare the Filling

While the husks are soaking, it’s time to prepare your filling. In a skillet over medium heat, brown 3 lbs of ground beef with 2 onions (chopped), and 4 garlic cloves (minced). As it cooks, add in 1 1/4 cups of chili powder, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp salt (or more to taste). Add in 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes or diced tomatoes (drained) and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

Step 3: Make Your Masa

To make your masa, mix together 8 cups of masa harina flour with 4 teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, cream together 2 cups of shortening until fluffy. Slowly add in the masa harina mixture and stir together. Gradually add in enough hot water to create a smooth dough-like consistency.

Step 4: Assemble Your Tamales

Now comes the fun part – assembling your tamales! Take a soaked corn husk and lay it flat on a clean surface. Spread a few tablespoons of masa dough (about the size of a golf ball) into the center of the husk, leaving a little room at the top and bottom. Spoon about 1-2 tbsp of your prepared beef mixture on top of the dough.

Step 5: Roll and Steam

To roll up your tamale, fold one side over and then fold up the bottom. The filling should be completely covered by the masa dough. Tie the ends with a small strip of corn husk to secure them. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Steam your tamales in a large pot for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the masa is firm and cooked through. To do this, place a steamer basket at the bottom of a large pot and add enough water to reach just below the basket. Arrange your tamales standing upright in the basket, cover with more corn husks or kitchen towels, and cover your pot with its lid.

Congratulations! You have just made delicious homemade tama

Substitutions and Variations

 Hot tamale, here we come!
Hot tamale, here we come!

Dear reader, let me share with you some exciting variations and substitutions that you can try out with this hot tamales recipe. As a chef, I strongly recommend that you experiment with different flavors and ingredients to add your own unique twist to this dish.

Firstly, if you’re a vegetarian or simply want to cut down on meat consumption, you can substitute the ground beef in this recipe for ground pork or chicken. You can also use bean filling instead of meat for a delicious vegetarian tamale.

For those who love spicy food, you can adjust the heat level by adding more cayenne pepper or chili powder. Alternatively, you can tone the heat down by reducing the amount of spices used in this recipe.

If masa harina flour is not available in your local grocery store, you can substitute it with cornmeal for a similar texture and flavor. However, keep in mind that masa harina flour is specifically made for tamale making and will result in the most authentic taste.

If you’re looking to add some freshness to this recipe, consider adding diced tomatoes or green vegetables such as spinach or kale to the filling.

Lastly, for a sweeter take on hot tamales, try adding sugar or honey to the dough mixture before wrapping it around the filling. This will give your tamales a delightful sweetness that perfectly complements their savory flavor profile.

I hope these variations and substitutions inspire you to be creative in the kitchen and experiment with different ingredients. Enjoy!

Serving and Pairing

 Deliciously wrapped bundles of flavor
Deliciously wrapped bundles of flavor

When it comes to serving and pairing these hot tamales, there are plenty of delicious options! You can serve them with a side of Spanish rice and beans for a classic and satisfying Latin-American meal. Alternatively, these tamales also pair well with a simple green salad or some roasted vegetables.

For an extra kick of flavor, consider topping your tamales with some fresh cilantro, chopped onions, and a squeeze of lime juice. This will add a burst of freshness and acidity that will perfectly complement the richness of the tamales.

To really round out your meal, why not pair these hot tamales with a refreshing margarita or icy cold cerveza? The bright flavors of these drinks will help to balance out the heat of the chili powder and cayenne pepper in the tamales.

Overall, these hot tamales are incredibly versatile and can be paired with a wide variety of sides and drinks. Play around with different combinations to find your perfect match!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Satisfy your hunger with these mouth-watering tamales
Satisfy your hunger with these mouth-watering tamales

My dear kitchen comrades, who among us doesn’t like to have a little less fuss and a little more time to savor the deliciousness of our culinary concoctions? Fear not, for I have some wonderful news for you. This Hot Tamales recipe can be prepared ahead of time and stored, making it a perfect homemade meal with all the excitement of authentic cuisine but with the convenience of modern living!

To prepare in advance: after cooking the tamales, allow them to cool completely before storing. I suggest you store the tamales wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When wrapped correctly, these delightful treats can be stored for up to five days, meaning you won’t need to worry about rushing around last-minute on your cooking day!

Reheating your hot tamales is straightforward. Simply place them onto a microwave-safe plate and cover lightly with a damp paper towel. Reheat on high for two minutes, checking after one minute to make sure they don’t get dry.

Another option is to reheat them in a steamer basket over boiling water. Simply place the tamales into the basket and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until they are heated through.

If you want fresh tamales that are ready-to-eat, I suggest you freeze them instead of refrigerating. Simply wrap each tamale individually in plastic wrap, and then place all of them in an airtight container or ziplock bag. They will stay fresh for up to three months!

Remember that once reheated or thawed from frozen, tamales can only be stored for one more day in the refrigerator. Thus, it is best not to reheat more than what you plan to eat.

Now that you know how simple it is to prepare Hot Tamales ahead of time and store them for later indulgence, go and enjoy your new-found freedom in the kitchen while savoring every bite of this delicious culinary delight!

Tips for Perfect Results

 A feast for the eyes and the taste buds
A feast for the eyes and the taste buds

To ensure that your hot tamales turn out perfectly every time, here are some helpful tips for preparing the recipe:

Firstly, when adding the masa harina flour, make sure to mix it well with the liquids to eliminate any lumps. This will help create a smooth and consistent texture throughout the tamales.

Additionally, it is important to use enough salt in the mixture. This is especially true if you plan on serving the tamales with a mild sauce or topping. A lack of salt can cause the flavor to fall short and not live up to its full potential.

When preparing the ground beef mixture, be sure to cook it thoroughly before adding it to the dough mixture. This will not only enhance the flavor but also promote food safety by eliminating any harmful bacteria.

To add an extra layer of flavor, consider incorporating a variety of spices, such as cumin and chili powder. These spices are used traditionally in tamales recipes and add an authentic touch to the dish.

Lastly, once you have assembled your tamales and are ready to steam them, make sure to use a tightly sealed pot with enough liquid. This will create a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process and prevent any unwanted moisture from spoiling the dough’s consistency.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your hot tamales come out perfect every time – whether they are Mississippi Delta-style or Louisiana-style – which can impress both your family and friends.


It’s natural for any cook to have questions about a recipe they’re exploring. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a novice, the hot tamales recipe can present some common and unexpected questions. To help make this experience smoother, I’ve put together a list of frequent inquiries about making hot tamales that might arise in the kitchen. Let’s dive into addressing these concerns together so you can create the best hot tamales possible.

What are the ingredients of hot tamales?

The ingredients in this product include sugar, corn syrup, modified food starch, and less than half a percent of artificial flavors, dextrin, confectioners glaze, artificial color, medium-chain triglycerides, carnauba wax, sodium citrate, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, and various food dyes.

What’s the difference between a tamale and a hot tamale?

Hot tamales from Mississippi are known for their distinct round shape and smaller size compared to traditional tamales. They have a rougher texture as they’re made with cornmeal instead of masa. Fillings primarily consist of pork or turkey, and they’re boiled rather than steamed. Mississippi hot tamales are typically enjoyed drenched in the flavorful, spicy juice leftover from boiling.

What is the secret to moist tamales?

Adding enough fat is crucial for making juicy and tasty tamales, and lard is a customary ingredient in Mexican cuisine. However, if you’re not fond of using lard, an alternative vegetarian option is to substitute it with shortening or softened butter.

What is the spice in hot tamales?

A popular American candy brand called Hot Tamales was created in 1950 by Bob Born, who tweaked the recipe of another candy called Mike & Ike. The name of the candy is a nod to the spicy taste of tamales. Hot Tamales was the best-selling cinnamon candy in the year 1999.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you are looking for a recipe that is both delicious and fulfilling, then the hot tamales recipe is an absolute must-try. This dish boasts of an amazing blend of flavors and spices that are guaranteed to leave your taste buds wanting more.

Whether you are an experienced chef or just a beginner, this recipe is easy to follow as long as you have all the ingredients prepared. With a little practice, you can master the art of making authentic homemade tamales that are delicious every single time.

So don’t wait any longer, get into your kitchen and try out this amazing hot tamales recipe today! Whether you’re serving them at a family gathering, potluck event or just enjoying them on your own – these amazing treats won’t disappoint.

Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales Recipe

These are worth the effort and time to make them. You can find dried cornhusks, instant corn masa & dried chiles in the ethnic food section of your supermarket.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 d
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2 dozen
Calories 181.7 kcal


  • 1 (3 lb) beef shoulder or (3 lb) chuck roast
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dozen dried corn husks
  • 3 large dried chilies
  • 2 teaspoons shortening
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups instant corn masa harina flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, plus
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • picante sauce (optional)


  • Combine first 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Add water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Drain meat, reserving broth; set broth aside. Shred meat with a fork; set aside.
  • Cover dried cornhusks with hot water; let stand several hours or until softened. Drain well. If husks are too narrow overlap 2 husks to make a wide one. If too wide, tear off one side.
  • Remove and discard seeds from chiles; place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes or until chiles are tender. Drain chiles, reserving 3/4 cup water; place softened chiles in container of blender. Add reserved water and blend 1 minute or until smooth; set aside.
  • Melt 2 teaspoons shortening in a small saucepan; add flour and cumin, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute stirring constantly. remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 cup chile mixture and 3/4 teaspoon salt; add to shredded meat, stirring well. Set aside.
  • Bring reserved beef broth to a boil. Combine corn masa, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening in a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons hot beef broth to make a stiff dough. Add the remaining chile mixture to the dough, mixing well.
  • Place 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons masa dough (depending on husk size) in the center of each husk, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edge. Place 2 tablespoons meat mixture in center. Fold short ends of husks to center, enclosing filling; roll up from unfolded side. Tie with string or strip of softened corn husk.
  • Place a cup in center of a steaming rack or metal colander inside of a large pot. Add enough water to fill pot below rack level and keep tamales above water. Stand tamales on flded ends around the cup. Bring water to a boil. Cover and steam 1 hour or until tamale dough pulls away from corn husk; add more water as necessary. Serve with Picante sauce, if desired.
  • Note: Steamed tamales can be frozen. Allow to cool; place in plastic bag, or wrap them securely in aluminum foil, and place in freezer. To reheat, follow steaming procedure until tamales are thouroughly heated.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 77gCalories: 181.7kcalCarbohydrates: 11.2gProtein: 13gFat: 9.3gSaturated Fat: 2.7gCholesterol: 31.8mgSodium: 300.9mgFiber: 1.4gSugar: 0.1g
Keyword For Large Groups, Kid-Friendly, Lunch, Meat, Mexican, Roast Beef, Savory, Steam
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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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.