Mouth-watering pork tamales: the ultimate comfort food

Dear reader,

I hope this message finds you well. If you’re anything like me, then you enjoy good food that transports you to different parts of the world. That’s why today, I am pleased to share with you an authentic recipe that will take your taste buds on a journey down to the Mississippi Delta.

The Mississippi Delta is known for its vibrant soul food culture, and what better than their hot pork tamales to represent it? Tamales have been a staple in the Southern Foodways since before Colonial times, with each region having its unique variation. The Mississippi Delta style tamale is unlike any other – it’s spicy, moist and served hot off the steam. The dish is a beautiful amalgamation of flavors that owes itself to Mexican and African American influences.

This recipe is perfect for those who want to experience a true taste of Mississippi Delta’s southern hospitality while sitting right at home. Gather your ingredients and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales
Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales

Dear readers,

Are you in search of a scrumptious recipe that is both hearty and fulfilling? Look no further, as I present to you the Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales recipe that is sure to leave an everlasting taste in your mouth.

This recipe boasts a heavenly blend of ground cumin, chili powder, and pepper that is guaranteed to tantalize your senses. The boneless pork shoulder is slow-cooked to perfection and melts in your mouth with every bite. Combined with the masa harina and corn flour, this dish promises an unparalleled level of richness and flavor.

But the best part? These tamales are highly adaptable and great for family dinners, potlucks or even entertaining guests. Its versatility makes it perfect for customization- feel free to substitute any ingredients according to your liking! Its classic Delta-style essence creates a warm and cozy experience that will transport you right back to Southern foodways.

Moreover, when you make these tamales, you’re not just making any ordinary dish – oh no. You’re keeping the Delta tamale trail culture alive by carrying on a long-standing tradition that has existed for generations. Whether you’re making tamales for yourself or a group, the spirit of the delta lives on through every delicious bite.

So come on and indulge yourself in this succulent treat that has already proven popular among many pork lovers. Trust me– once this dish hits your taste buds, it will be hard to resist making more.

Try it out now!

Ingredient List

 Wrap these Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales with love!
Wrap these Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales with love!

Here are the ingredients you will need to prepare the mouth-watering Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales Recipe:

For the Tamale Dough

  • 4 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 4 cups of warm water
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • Corn husks, cut thick

For the Pork Filling

  • 6 to 8 pounds of boneless pork shoulder, chuck roast or chicken
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 to 4 cups of beef broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Chili cheese or sweet potato for extra flavor.

Make sure you have all the ingredients before starting this recipe, as it can be quite a challenge to make substitutions in tamales without changing their texture and flavor.

The Recipe How-To

 A delicious homemade tamale that will make your taste buds dance.
A delicious homemade tamale that will make your taste buds dance.

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

To make Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales Recipe, start by preparing the meat. Trim any excess fat from a boneless pork shoulder chuck roast and cut it into large chunks. In a large pot, add in 2 cups of water, 2 cups of beef broth and the meat. Next, add in 2 onions, peeled and cut into thick slices, 3-4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of paprika, and 1 tsp of salt. Cover the pot and let it simmer over low heat for about 2 hours until the meat is tender and easy to shred.

Step 2: Make the Masa Dough

While waiting for the meat to cook, prepare the masa dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of masa harina, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, and 2 tablespoons of garlic powder. Mix well and gradually stir in 6-8 cups of warm water until the dough reaches a smooth consistency.

Step 3: Soak The Corn Husks

Soak dried corn husks in hot water for at least 30 minutes or until they are soft and pliable. Rinse each corn husk to eliminate any dirt or debris.

Step 4: Assemble The Tamales

Spread a spoonful of masa dough evenly on each corn husk, leaving some space around the edges that should be left bare. Add a small portion of pork meat mix or whatever feels like yum to you, along with any additional toppings like vegetables or cheese you’d like.

Step 5: Wrap The Tamales

Fold one side of the husk over the filling until it kind of meets on top with the other edge – don’t wrap too tight. Finally, fold the narrow end of husk near the bottom up and tie with a strand of corn husk in a decorative knot.

Step 6: Steaming The Tamales

Line the bottom of a large steamer pot with extra corn husks to keep the tamales from touching the water directly. If you have extras, use them as a protective layer between each tamale as you stack them up neatly in layers as needed. Cover with the pot lid and cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 hours, adding more water if needed.

Step 7: Serve Hot

Once cooked, removed from the pot and let them cool for a minute or two so they hold their shape. Serve hot with salsa, hot sauce, or sour cream on top.

Enjoy your delicious Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales Recipe which serves six to eight people!

Substitutions and Variations

 You can never go wrong with a plate of warm and comforting tamales.
You can never go wrong with a plate of warm and comforting tamales.

As with any recipe, there is always room for substitutions and variations to suit your taste preferences or dietary needs. While the traditional Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder or chuck roast, you can use chicken or beef instead. Beef tamales are especially popular in the Arkansas Delta region, where they like to add a touch of sweetness with sweet potato.

To make vegetarian tamales, simply replace the meat with a mixture of beans and vegetables such as sautéed onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and corn.

For those who prefer a milder flavor, you can reduce the amount of cayenne powder and chili powder. Alternatively, if you want a more spicy kick to your tamales, add a dash of chipotle or habanero powder.

You can also change things up by adding different fillings such as cheese or green chilies to your tamales. The addition of cheese is especially popular in the Delta region and is referred to as “chili cheese” tamales.

Lastly, you can experiment with different types of dough. Instead of using masa harina (corn flour) as the base for the dough mixture, you could try using wheat flour or even swapping it out for plantain flour for a unique twist on traditional Delta style hot tamales.

Remember that cooking is all about having fun and experimenting with different flavors and ingredients until you find what works best for you. So don’t be afraid to get creative with this classic Southern recipe!

Serving and Pairing

 This recipe puts a Southern twist on a traditional Mexican dish.
This recipe puts a Southern twist on a traditional Mexican dish.

Now that your Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales are ready, it’s time to serve them up and enjoy! These tamales are quite versatile, making them a great dish for a variety of occasions.

For a casual dinner at home, serve these hot tamales with a side of Mexican rice and refried beans. The flavors of the rice and beans provide a complementary balance to the rich and spicy flavor of the pork tamales. A side salad with avocado, tomato, and cilantro will also add some freshness and crunch to this meal.

If you’re hosting a party, consider putting together a tamale bar. Offer guests an array of toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, diced onions, sliced jalapeños, and hot sauce. This way they can personalize their own tamale plate to suit their tastes.

To take it up a notch and create an unexpected flavor pairing, serve these Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales with sweet potato fries or baked sweet potatoes. The sweetness of the potato will contrast nicely with the spiciness of the tamales.

For drinks, you can’t go wrong with a classic margarita or festive sangria. If you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, try serving homemade lemonade or horchata to cool down the spice.

These Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales are sure to impress any crowd with their authentic flavors of Southern cuisine. Whether you’re looking for comfort food or want to impress your guests with a new culinary experience, these hot tamales are the recipe for you!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A hearty and savory dish that is perfect for any occasion.
A hearty and savory dish that is perfect for any occasion.

As with most tamale recipes, these Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales can be made ahead of time and stored for later use. Once cooked and cooled, tamales can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to six months.

To reheat refrigerated tamales, place them in a pot with just enough water to reach the bottom of the steamer. Place the steamer on top and steam over high heat until heated through.

If reheating frozen tamales, allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating using the same method.

For those who want to make these tamales ahead of time or just have leftovers, they can be easily stored by wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil individually or in batches of six. This will help to prevent freezer burn and keep them fresh.

These tamales are perfect for large gatherings or a quick snack when eaten on the go. They can be reheated easily in the microwave, oven or stovetop steamer. Finally, this dish is versatile and delicious whether freshly made or reheated.

Tips for Perfect Results

 These tamales will warm you up from the inside out.
These tamales will warm you up from the inside out.

When making Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales, there are some tips that can be helpful in ensuring your tamales turn out perfectly. Here are a few to keep in mind:

1. Use fresh corn husks – when boiling them, it helps the masa dough adhere correctly.

2. Don’t skimp on filling – using too little filling can lead to a dry tamale.

3. Soak the corn husks – this makes them pliable and easier to handle.

4. Use parchment paper – lining the steamer basket with parchment paper helps prevent sticking.

5. Spread the masa dough thin – thicker sides of the tamale take longer to cook and dry out faster.

6. Seal the ends tightly – this prevents water from getting inside while steaming.

7. Be patient – tamale-making is a labor of love that can take a few hours, so take your time and enjoy the process.

By following these tips, you can make tamales that are authentic, delicious, and worthy of Mississippi’s famous tamale trail. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fillings or spices to make them your own unique creation. Happy cooking!


As a chef, I understand that sometimes recipes can be confusing or have unexpected results. In this section, I will answer some frequently asked questions to help troubleshoot any issues that may arise while making these delicious Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales.

What is a Mississippi Delta tamale?

In the Mississippi Delta, tamales come with their own unique twist. They are smaller in size compared to the traditional Latin-style tamales and are simmered instead of steamed. The use of cornmeal instead of corn flour gives them a gritty texture, and they are generously spiced to give them a flavorful kick. To top it off, they are served with a delicious juice that is the result of simmering.

What is the secret to moist tamales?

To achieve succulent and delectable tamales, it’s crucial to not hold back on the addition of fat. In Mexican cuisine, lard is commonly utilized for this purpose. However, if you prefer a vegetarian option, employing shortening or softened butter will work as an excellent substitute.

What is the best meat for tamales?

When it comes to making tamales, the meat you choose is crucial. Personally, I recommend using a combination of pork and beef. To ensure the meat reaches the perfect level of tenderness, I suggest cooking it in a slow cooker on a low heat setting for six to eight hours. I often prepare the meat the day before actually making the tamales, especially if you’re planning to make a large batch. Once the meat is cooked, grab two forks to shred it up. Afterward, place it in a bowl and keep it covered until you’re ready to use it.

What to serve with Delta tamales?

If you ever find yourself in the American South, be sure to try the local cuisine. Known for its famous barbecue and the creation of the well-loved “come back sauce,” there’s plenty of food to be relished. Additionally, you won’t want to miss out on the delicious Delta tamales, which can be served with slaw and crackers alongside optional chili and cheese.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales recipe is both hearty and delicious. With its rich blend of spices and tender meat, it offers a flavor profile like no other. Furthermore, this recipe offers a unique opportunity to showcase the rich culinary heritage of the Mississippi Delta region.

Whether you are hosting a festive gathering or simply craving a flavorful dish, this recipe is sure to satisfy. It is a great variation to explore the world of tamales, offering a genuinely innovative take on the traditional Mexican dish.

The use of high-quality ingredients makes all the difference in this recipe. I strongly urge you to select upper cuts of boneless pork shoulder or chuck roast to achieve optimal tenderness and deep flavors.

In summary, if you’re looking for a warm and comforting meal that brings your taste buds back to life, look no further than Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales. Give this recipe a try today to taste and savor the flavors of the southern foodways and make some delicious memories with friends and family!

Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales

Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales Recipe

Born from a combination of Mexican migrant workers, and thanks to African-American and Italian influences, this dish is pure Delta. From the land of the Blues, highly spiced meat surrounded by corn husks are boiled and not steamed like traditional tamales.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Fusion
Calories 670.6 kcal


  • 36 dried corn husks
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, quartered
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cups instant masa harina


  • Fill a bowl with hot water and soak the husks to soften.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, mix 2 tbsp chili powder, the tomato paste and the cayenne powder into 6 cups cold water. To this mixture, add the pork.
  • Bring to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Transfer to a plate, reserving the broth. Shred the meat and transfer to a bowl.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Stir in 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, cumin and garlic powder and saute stirring frequently for about 30 seconds. Add in 1 cup of the reserved broth and then stir in the meat.
  • In a large bowl, mix the masa, the remaining 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the broth. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups oil.
  • Drain the husks and pat dry. Working with one husk at a time, spread about 1/4 cup of the masa mixture down the center. Top with 2 tbsp meat.
  • Fold the long sides of the husk together and roll into a skinny log, making sure the masa mixture completely surrounds the meat filling. Fold up the bottom, creating a package that is open on top.
  • Loosely tie three tamales together with a piece of kitchen string, making 12 bundles.
  • Place a heatproof 2-cup glass measuring cup upside down in the center of an 8-qt stockpot. Stand the tamale bundles, open ends up, around the cup. Fill the pot with the remaining broth and water to reach halfway up the sides of the tamales.
  • Bring to a boil, cover then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the masa is firm and pulls away from the husk easily, about 1 hour.
  • Serve hot with some of the cooking liquid.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 174gCalories: 670.6kcalCarbohydrates: 31.2gProtein: 19.9gFat: 52.8gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 67.2mgSodium: 665mgFiber: 3.6gSugar: 0.5g
Keyword < 4 Hours, From Scratch, Lunch, Meat, One-Dish Meal, Pork, Spicy, Stove Top, Weeknight
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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.