Authentic Mexican Tamales Recipe: A Flavorful Delight!

If I had to choose one dish that defines authentic Mexican cuisine, it would have to be tamales. These delicious corn-based treats are a staple of traditional Mexican cuisine and are enjoyed by people all over the world. Tamales are made by filling a corn masa dough mixture with various meats, beans, cheese, and spices before being wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed until cooked through. The end result is a savory, satisfying dish that is perfect for any occasion.

At Villa Cocina, we take pride in our ability to make exceptional tamales that pay tribute to the rich culinary traditions of Mexico. Our red pork tamales recipe is an absolute must-try for anyone looking to experience the full range of flavors that this amazing dish has to offer. With just a few simple ingredients and our step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to create authentic Mexican pork tamales that will delight both your taste buds and those of anyone you serve them to.

So why wait? Whether you’re looking for a fun new recipe to share with your family or want to impress your guests at your next party, our tamales recipe is always a winner. So let’s get started and make some delicious, homemade tamales!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mexican Tamales
Mexican Tamales

Are you ready to spice up your mealtime routine? Look no further than this authentic Mexican tamales recipe. This traditional Mexican dish made with corn-based dough mixture filled with various meats, beans, cheese, and spices is always a winner. This homemade version will transport your taste buds straight to the streets of Mexico.

What makes this recipe so irresistible? For starters, it’s the perfect combination of textures and flavors. The masa dough base made with masa harina flour and a touch of baking powder creates a slightly sweet and savory taste with a fluffy yet firm texture. The filling of juicy, slow-cooked pork shoulder mixed with dried ancho chiles, cumin, garlic, and tomato paste packs a flavorful punch that will leave you wanting more.

But it’s not just the taste that will have you falling in love with this recipe. Making tamales is a communal experience that brings people together. From soaking the corn husks to forming the tamales, every step is an opportunity to bond with family and friends while creating something delicious.

And let’s not forget the versatility of this dish. While pork tamales rojos are a classic favorite, you can tailor the filling to your liking with chicken, beef, or even vegetarian options. Top them off with some homemade pico de gallo or green chili salsa for an added burst of flavor.

In summary, this authentic Mexican pork tamales recipe will elevate any mealtime experience. It’s full of bold flavors, has a satisfying texture, brings people together and is versatile for different tastes.You’ll love it from the first bite!

Ingredient List

 Masa dough meets chicken-based goodness inside a corn husk
Masa dough meets chicken-based goodness inside a corn husk

Check Your Pantry!

Before making Mexican Tamales, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand. Nothing is worse than starting to cook a recipe only to find out halfway through that you are missing one key ingredient. Here is a list of ingredients required for this authentic Mexican Tamales Recipe:

  • 4 cups of masa harina
  • 6 cups of chicken broth or water
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 cups of pork shoulder, cooked and shredded
  • 1 bulb of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening or pork lard

Note: You can find masa harina, which is a corn-based flour used in many Mexican dishes including tamales, at most grocery stores or online.

Also, feel free to experiment with the filling. Pork is the traditional choice but I’ve also made delicious tamales with chicken, beef, green chili, and even sweet corn!

The Recipe How-To

 A celebration of flavor, tradition, and festive colors
A celebration of flavor, tradition, and festive colors

Now it is time for the crucial part: cooking the tamales. This recipe is going to be your guide to make authentic Mexican pork tamales.

Step 1: Preparing the Masa Dough

To prepare the masa dough, mix 4 cups of masa harina flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate pot, cook 6 cups of pork shoulder in 6 cups of chicken broth until tender.

Step 2: Preparing the Meat Filling

While the pork is being cooked, prepare the meat filling. Dried ancho chiles and a whole bulb of garlic are going to give flavor to your red pork. To make red pork, remove the stems and seeds from 5 dried ancho chiles and soak them in boiling water for 20 minutes until they are softened. Then blend them together with a whole bulb of garlic and 1 tablespoon of cumin.

Shred about 4 cups of cooked pork with two cans of ripe olives, tomato paste, and the blended mixture.

Step 3: Mixing the Masa Dough with Meat Filling

Incorporate all these ingredients into your masa dough mixture to create a tamale dough mixture that will be filled with various meats, beans, cheese, or vegetables as desired. This mixture will be filled into corn husks or banana leaves so that it can be steamed until fully cooked.

Step 4: Assembly Process

Dampen corn husks for easier folding; dry banana leaves would need to be first passed over an open flame before being used to prevent cracking. Spread masa dough on wet corn husks or banana leaves.

The wetness also helps in securing the filling in place. Start layering your meat filling mix and sweet corn pieces or green chili. You can also use chicken, beef or any other preferred filling.

Step 5: Cooking and Serving

Once assembled, the tamales are then placed in a steaming pot with 2 cups of simmering water in the bottom. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and steam for 40-45 minutes until fully cooked through.

Serve these delicious Mexican tamales with fresh salsa verde or pico de gallo as they are part of the main traditions!

Step 6: Enjoy your hand-made authentic Mexican dish!

Congratulations! Now you have made one of the most famous traditional Mexican dishes that everybody loves—homemade tamales. This dish is always a winner and will impress anyone who tries it.

Substitutions and Variations

 A tantalizing aroma wafts through the kitchen as tamales cook
A tantalizing aroma wafts through the kitchen as tamales cook

When it comes to making tamales, there is no one right way to do it. In fact, tamales are meant to be customized and altered to fit your personal taste preferences. While the traditional Mexican pork tamale recipe is always a classic, there are plenty of substitutions and variations that you can make to put your own spin on this dish.

One substitution that you can make is to use vegetable shortening or pork lard in place of the chicken broth. This will give your tamales a richer flavor and a softer texture. You can also mix different types of meat, such as beef or chicken, into the masa dough mixture and filling. This will add more depth of flavor so you can experiment until you find what you like best.

For vegetarians or those who prefer a meat-free option, try using ripe olives or cheese as your filling instead of meat. You can also add vegetables like sweet corn, green chili, or salsa verde for a more savory flavor.

Corn husks are traditionally used to wrap the tamales but banana leaves can be used for an earthy flavor. The masa dough base can be made from masa harina flour or cornmeal based on your preference with baking powder which lightens it up.

A popular variation of the Mexican pork tamales recipe is the red pork tamale. To make this version, simply add dried ancho chiles and tomato paste to your masa dough mixture for an extra kick. You can also use pork shoulder instead of ground pork if you want a heartier filling.

Remember, the beauty of tamales is that they allow for endless possibilities when it comes to customization. So feel free to play around with different ingredients until you find the perfect combination that suits your taste buds!

Serving and Pairing

 The ultimate comfort food for all occasions and cravings
The ultimate comfort food for all occasions and cravings

When it comes to serving these mouth-watering Mexican tamales, there are several ways you can do it. Firstly, you can savor them as a standalone viand, or they can be served alongside a variety of sides and sauces.

To add some extra flavor to this traditional Mexican dish, I recommend pairing it with some delicious, spicy pico de gallo or a creamy guacamole. You can also serve it with a side of refried beans, sliced ripe olives or salsa verde for an extra kick.

If you’re looking for a more fulfilling meal, then these tamales can be enjoyed with some savory Spanish rice on the side. The mix of yummy flavors is going to knock your socks off!

To further enhance the taste and texture of the dish, I suggest serving these tamales hot and fresh from the steamer with some corn husk still wrapped around them. Add a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese and you have yourself an authentic Mexican experience.

Tamales are perfect for dinner parties, family gatherings or on those spicy food nights when only something indulgent and meaty will suffice. Remember, they’re not just easy to make but delectably filling at the same time.

So go ahead and experiment with different combinations until you find what works best for you. Whatever your choice, this traditional Mexican dish made corn-based dough mixture filled with various meats is always a winner!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A tasty way to bring family and friends together
A tasty way to bring family and friends together

Now that you’ve made a big batch of these delicious Mexican pork tamales, you may be wondering how to store them for later. Well, fear not! I’m here to give you some expert tips and tricks for making sure your tamales stay fresh and delicious even after they’ve been sitting in the fridge or freezer for a few days.

To start off, let’s talk about making these tamales ahead of time. The great thing about tamales is that they can be made ahead and frozen until you’re ready to eat them. If you’re making a big batch, divide them into meal-size portions and wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap or foil before storing them in the freezer. They should last up to three months in the freezer.

When you’re ready to eat them, simply steam them directly from the freezer, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time. Make sure they are heated all the way through before serving.

If you only need to store your tamales for a few days, refrigerate them instead. Tamales can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. When reheating tamales from the fridge, it’s best to use an oven rather than a microwave as this will help prevent them from drying out.

When reheating your tamales, there are many different ways to do so. Here are a few of my favorites:

– Steaming: Place your tamales in a steamer basket over simmering water and cover with a lid. Steam for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

– Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and wrap each tamale in foil or parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

– Microwave: While this isn’t my preferred method, you can reheat your tamales in the microwave if you’re short on time. Wrap each tamale in damp paper towels and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

I hope these tips help ensure that your tamales stay fresh and delicious until you’re ready to enjoy them again. And don’t forget, tamales are always a winner – whether you’re making them fresh or reheating leftovers.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A delicious and colorful pile of happiness
A delicious and colorful pile of happiness

Creating the perfect tamale can be challenging, but with practice and attention to detail, anyone can master this traditional Mexican dish. Here are some tips to ensure your tamales turn out perfectly every time.

1. Use high-quality ingredients: The quality of your ingredients will greatly affect the taste of your tamales. From the masa harina flour to the dried ancho chiles and pork shoulder, make sure to use only fresh and high-quality ingredients.

2. Choose the right corn husks: Corn husks are essential for wrapping up your tamales, but not all husks are created equal. Choose large, pliable husks, and soak them in warm water for at least 30 minutes before using them.

3. Properly season your masa dough: The masa dough is the backbone of any good tamale. Mix it up with chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water to add depth of flavor. Also make sure to properly season it with salt and baking powder for optimal results.

4. Pay attention to your filling: Whether you’re making pork tamales or using a different type of meat or filling, make sure to season it well and cook it thoroughly before adding it into your tamales.

5. Steam your tamales properly: To steam your tamales correctly, arrange them vertically in a steamer basket and cook them for approximately one hour over medium-high heat. Be sure to check the water level periodically to prevent burning.

6. Get creative with variations: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of fillings, sauces or toppings for your tamales! Try introducing sweet corn kernels or green chili into your masa dough mixture or top off your finished product with salsa verde or pico de gallo.

Remember, making traditional Mexican pork tamales may require some practice and patience, but with these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making delicious and authentic tamales that will impress your friends and family.


Before concluding this article, I’d like to address some of the frequently asked questions that might help you in your pursuit of making the best Mexican tamales. The following are some of the common concerns that we received and our expert answers to them. Make sure to read till the end to find out more!

What are real Mexican tamales made of?

Tamales, a delectable Mexican treat, are made using a mixture of corn dough that is filled with meats, beans or cheese, wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and steamed until cooked to perfection. When served, they are removed from the wraps and enjoyed with some pico de gallo on the side, along with a generous helping of guacamole and some rice.

What is the secret to moist tamales?

To achieve delectable, juicy tamales, it is important not to skimp on the fat. In Mexican cuisine, lard is a common choice. However, if you prefer not to use lard, you can substitute it with softened butter or shortening for a vegetarian twist.

What are the two types of tamales?

When it comes to sweet tamales, pink masa with raisins is the go-to choice for many. However, there are plenty of other options for fillings that can be used to create a delicious tamale. From chocolate to pineapple, anise seed to berries, the possibilities are endless.

What is the best meat for tamales?

When it comes to making tamales, one of the most important steps is preparing the meat. For this recipe, we’ll be using a combination of pork and beef. To make things easier, I recommend cooking the meat in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. It’s actually more convenient to cook the meat a day before making the tamales, especially if you plan to make a large batch. Once the meat is cooked, use two forks to shred it and place it in a bowl before covering it.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, making authentic Mexican pork tamales is a labor of love that is well worth the effort. With tender pork, flavorful seasonings, and a masa dough that is perfectly moist and tender, these tamales are sure to be a hit with your family and friends. Whether you’re looking for a unique dinner party dish or just want to impress your loved ones with your culinary skills, these tamales are always a winner.

Remember to take your time when making these tamales – it may seem like a lot of work, but the end result will be well worth the effort. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different fillings, such as beef or chicken, or to add in some extra toppings like salsa verde or sweet corn. Let your creativity run wild!

So next time you’re in the mood for an authentic Mexican dish, skip the fast food chains and try making homemade tamales instead. Not only will you impress your taste buds, but you’ll also be supporting Mexican traditions and cultures in your own kitchen. Viva Mexico!

Mexican Tamales

Mexican Tamales Recipe

30 years ago my ex invited a couple over for a BBQ. It was actually to teach me to make authentic tamales. t was one of the good things he had done--ok,probably the only good thing! LOL Time is very difficult to judge. I do the crock pot prep over night, so cooking time is steaming time.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 361.1 kcal



  • 5 lbs pork roast
  • 5 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 whole jalapenos
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

tamale dough

  • 3 cups masa harina flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
  • 2 cups chicken broth

To Fill

  • 36 corn husks, soaked
  • 36 small ripe olives


  • Place all filling ingredients into a crock pot and cook on low 8 to 10 hours. (I usually do this procedure overnight).
  • When meat is done, remove meat from sauce and shred in bowl this give you the opportunity to remove the fat out of the meat.
  • Run sauce through sieve to remove skins of chiles, garlic and etc. Your sauce should be thick and a beautiful deep red color! Reserve 1 cup of meat sauce for the tamale dough.
  • While meat mixture is cooling, place husks in warm water to soften.
  • Mix all the ingredients of tamale dough plus 1 cup reserved meat sauce together (I do this in my kitchen aid -- makes the job much easier!).
  • Take approx 3 tbsp of dough and place in the middle of corn husk. Spread thinly place filling in the middle with an olive and wrap until dough meets, the Woman who taught me how to make these -- says an olive in the middle brings good luck!
  • Fold ends and roll package so that corn husk has covered all of filling.
  • Place in steamer. Steam for 40 minutes.
  • Spoon sauce over tamales on plate.
  • These freeze very well. I freeze after they are steamed so the prep of dinner is quick, I do know those who freeze before they are steamed and it seems to work as well.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 257gCalories: 361.1kcalCarbohydrates: 19.9gProtein: 31.2gFat: 17.6gSaturated Fat: 4.9gCholesterol: 86.9mgSodium: 396.7mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 1.6g
Keyword < 4 Hours, For Large Groups, Meat, Mexican, Pork
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You



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.