Delicious Pulled Pork Tamales Recipe – Easy And Flavorful!

Welcome, dear food lovers! I am thrilled to share with you my recipe for Pulled Pork Tamales – a dish that is an epitome of the fusion of Brazilian and American cuisines. As a seasoned chef who has traveled around the world, I know how to craft a dish that punches you in the palate with flavors exploding like fireworks on the 4th of July.

This dish is one of my specialities, born out of my love for Mexican food and American-style barbeque. After tasting several types of tamales from all over Latin America, I created this delicious and memorable version. I combined the tasty slow-cooked pork with zesty spices to make it even more attractive to those who have never experienced pulled pork before.

My recipe makes it possible for anyone at home to create their own lip-smacking pulled pork tamales, without traveling to Mexico or finding authentic Latin American ingredients. It’s perfect for anyone who loves spice, protein, and finding joy in cooking for themselves and others.

So let’s get our aprons on and cook up a storm – with this recipe in your toolbox, you’re armed with everything you need to impress your guests and loved ones with a culinary delight that will put them under its spell.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Pulled Pork Tamales
Pulled Pork Tamales

This pulled pork tamales recipe is sure to win your heart and your taste buds. As a chef specializing in both Brazilian and American cuisine, I can tell you that this recipe offers the perfect blend of savory and spicy flavors, making it an irresistible treat that you won’t be able to resist.

The shredded pork is cooked to absolute perfection in a slow cooker with a blend of garlic, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, honey, ketchup, and onion – ingredients that work together perfectly to bring out the best of the crispy and juicy meat.

The masa harina dough used for the tamales is equally delicious. The dough has an irresistible corn flavor that melts in your mouth while keeping its shape thanks to its baking powder content.

The red chile sauce used for these tamales makes them even more special. The sauce is made from dried ancho chile pepper powder blended with brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, and water. It’s hard to resist the smoky, sweet and mildly spiced flavor that envelops every inch of the pork’s juicy texture.

Apart from these flavors and matchless textures, what adds to this recipe’s charm is its simplicity. Most ingredients are already present in a typical household kitchen; all you need to do is follow the recipe’s instructions closely.

Overall, this pulled pork tamales recipe is a clear winner when it comes to satiating hunger pangs or pleasing guests. Its great flavor combination combined with the ease of preparation leaves no reason not to try this dish for yourself!

Ingredient List

 The perfect balance of sweet and savory!
The perfect balance of sweet and savory!

The pulled pork tamales recipe has a lengthy list of ingredients, but trust me, all these ingredients are what make the recipe perfect! Here’s everything you’ll need to make these yummy pulled pork tamales:

For the Pork:

  • 2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or molasses
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ onion, diced

For the Tamales:

  • Corn husks, soaked in hot water for at least an hour before use.
  • Masa Harina (Corn Flour)
  • Baking Powder
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Chicken Broth or Water

For the Red Chili Sauce (Optional):

½ cup chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chicken broth or water
¼ cup tomato paste

Some of the ingredients may be hard to find so if there is anything that you don’t have in your pantry, be ready for a trip to the grocery store. Trust me when I say that it will all be worth it when you taste the deliciousness of these pork tamales.

The Recipe How-To

 Get ready for a flavor explosion!
Get ready for a flavor explosion!

Once you have all the ingredients ready, we can start making these succulent pulled pork tamales.

Step 1: Cook the Pork

Place the boneless pork shoulder in a slow cooker and season it with fresh ground pepper and coarse salt. Add some garlic cloves and dried ancho chile powder over the pork. Pour in some Worcestershire sauce and red wine vinegar to give it some tangy flavor. Drizzle some honey over the pork and top it off with ketchup, onions, and brown sugar. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or until the pork is juicy and tender.

Step 2: Make the Masa Dough

In a mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups masa harina, 2 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt. In another bowl or measuring cup, mix together 1 cup hot water, ½ cup vegetable shortening, and stir until shortening is melted. Gradually pour this mixture into the bowl with masa flour. Use your hands to mix until you get a dough like consistency.

Step 3: Assemble The Tamales

Soak around 20-25 corn husks in hot water until they’re pliable (around 30 minutes). Lay a husk flat on the surface of your workspace, spread a thin layer of masa dough over 75% of the husk leaving about 1 inch on one side. Place a spoonful (or two) of slow-cooked pulled pork down the center of the masa mix. Roll up each husk so that the meat is tightly sealed inside by masa dough.

Step 4: Steam The Tamales

Place the tamales upright in a large steamer basket, leaning slightly against one another to prevent them from unraveling. Pour in enough water under the steamer basket so that it doesn’t touch the tamales. Cover with a lid and steam for 1-1.5 hours on medium heat.

Afterwards, remove the steamer basket from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy these delicious homemade pulled pork tamales with some red chili sauce or any of your favorite toppings.

Substitutions and Variations

 These tamales will make your taste buds dance!
These tamales will make your taste buds dance!

When it comes to making pulled pork tamales, there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can try to make this dish your own. Here are some options:

1. Meat Substitutions:

If you’re not a fan of pork or want to switch things up, you can use shredded chicken or beef instead. BBQ smoked pulled chicken or beef would work particularly well with the flavors in this recipe.

2. Chili Sauce Substitutions:

Instead of using store-bought chili sauce, you can make your own red or green chili sauce. You can find recipes for these sauces online or experiment with different ingredients and spices to create a unique flavor.

3. Corn Husks Alternatives:

If you don’t have corn husks on hand or want to switch things up, you can try using banana leaves instead. Banana leaves are commonly used in Latin American cooking and will add a subtle flavor to your tamales.

4. Spice Variations:

If you like spicy food, try adding some extra heat to your pulled pork tamales by using hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes or more chili powder. Alternatively, if you prefer milder flavors, reduce the amount of chili powder or skip it altogether.

5. Sweet Additions:

For those who enjoy a touch of sweetness in their savory dishes, try adding a bit of pineapple to the pulled pork mixture or mixing a tablespoon of honey into the masa dough.

Remember that substitutions and variations can be fun but make sure that they still complement the original recipe’s flavor profile. Be willing to experiment but always let your taste buds be your guide.

Serving and Pairing

 Have patience, it's worth the wait!
Have patience, it’s worth the wait!

When it comes to serving and pairing these pulled pork tamales, the options are endless. The rich and savory flavors of this dish make it a versatile option that pairs well with a variety of sides and beverages.

For a classic Mexican-inspired meal, serve your tamales with a side of rice and beans. You can also add some fresh guacamole or salsa for an extra kick of flavor.

If you’re looking for something a little different, try pairing your tamales with a refreshing salad made with fresh greens, diced tomatoes, and sweet corn. This will provide a nice contrast to the richness of the pork.

When it comes to beverages, you can’t go wrong with an ice-cold beer or a refreshing margarita. The acidic citrus notes in the margarita will help cut through the richness of the pulled pork, while the beer will provide a refreshing balance.

Overall, these pulled pork tamales are great for any occasion–from casual backyard BBQs to formal dinner parties. Whip up a batch today and enjoy with your favorite sides and drinks!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

Now that you’ve prepared this delicious dish, you may be wondering about the make-ahead and storing options. Good news – this recipe is perfect for making in advance! Here are some tips for preparing ahead of time:

To make ahead: After cooking, let the tamales rest at room temperature for about an hour. Then, transfer the tamales to a container with a tight-fitting lid and store them in the refrigerator for up to two days.

To reheat: Before reheating, remove the husks from the tamales. You can either reheat it in a steamer basket or microwave until they are heated through. With either method, be sure to sprinkle a bit of water onto the tamales before covering with plastic wrap to keep them moist.

Storing: If you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. For longer storage, place them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer.

Reheating: The best way to reheat your tamales is by steaming them. Place them on a steamer basket or pot with water and heat until hot. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 1-2 minutes per tamale.

With these simple tips, you can enjoy your pulled pork tamales anytime with ease!

Tips for Perfect Results

Now that you have carefully followed all the steps to create the pulled pork tamales, it’s time to focus on some tips that will ensure your tamales turn out flawlessly.

Firstly, when making the dough for your tamales, make sure to use the right amount of masa harina and water. Too much water can make the dough soft and difficult to handle, while too little water can make it crumbly. I recommend using hot water and slowly adding it to the masa harina as you mix until you reach a firm consistency.

Additionally, you can enhance the flavor of your pork by seasoning it overnight with a dry rub consisting of fresh ground pepper, coarse salt, garlic powder, dried ancho chile powder, and Worcestershire sauce. This will add an extra depth of flavor to your pulled pork.

When spreading the masa dough on the corn husks, be sure not to overfill them. You want enough room for the pork filling and some space for folding and tying the husk. Overfilled tamales may burst during cooking or become too dense.

Another essential tip is using a slow cooker to cook the pork shoulder. Slow cooking allows the meat to become tender and juicy while infused with all the flavors of your spices and sauces. This is a crucial step in achieving perfectly succulent pulled pork.

Finally, wrapping your tamales tightly with corn husks is essential since this helps keep their shape during cooking. You can also use strips of corn husks or kitchen string to help hold them together.

By following these tips for perfect results, you’ll be able to impress your loved ones with these delicious pulled pork tamales every time!


Before you head off to prepare your pulled pork tamales, it’s important to clear any doubts that might be lingering in your mind. These frequently asked questions will help you avoid making common mistakes and perfect your tamales. So, let’s dive in and answer some of your burning questions!

What is the secret to moist tamales?

For deliciously rich and juicy tamales, do not hesitate to incorporate generous amounts of fat into your recipe. In Mexico, the traditional choice is lard, but if animal products are off the table, opt for shortening or softened butter for a vegetarian-friendly option.

What is the best meat for tamales?

When it comes to making tamales, pork and beef are the go-to meats. To cook the meat, simply put all the necessary ingredients in a slow cooker and let it sit on a low setting for around 6 to 8 hours. I find it helpful to make the meat ahead of time, perhaps even the day before making the tamales, especially if you plan on making a large batch. Once the meat is cooked and tender, shred it using two forks, and transfer it to a bowl, covering it to keep it warm.

What’s the difference between Mexican and Cuban tamales?

When it comes to the filling of tamales, there are variations in different cultures. In Mexican cuisine, tamales are often made with cooked chicken or pork, which is then mixed with the masa. The tamales are typically served with either red or green chile. On the other hand, Cuban tamales are filled with a mixture of seasoned fried pork that is evenly distributed throughout the dough.

What do you serve with pork tamales?

As a chef who specializes in both Brazilian and American cuisines, I am excited to share some of my favorite recipes with you. In this article, I will detail how to make a delicious Avocado Cucumber Salad, crispy Air Fryer Plantains, Elotes (Mexican Street Corn) Salad, Papas Con Rajas, Refried Black Beans, Gallo Pinto, Roasted Chili Corn Salsa, and Arroz Borracho (Beer Steamed Yellow Rice). Get ready to take your taste buds on a journey through Latin America and beyond.

Bottom Line

in the Style of Maya Angelou

In conclusion, my dear friends, let me tell you that this pulled pork tamales recipe will transport you on a culinary journey with every bite. The tender and juicy pulled pork filling seasoned with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and dried ancho chile powder takes center stage in these flavorful tamales.

Using masa harina as the dough base ensures the perfect texture that is soft and fluffy while still holding together well. The addition of homemade red chili sauce adds a bold kick of heat that truly elevates the flavor profile of these tamales to new heights.

I urge you not to shy away from attempting to make your own tamales at home. Trust me, the reward is in the process and in being able to indulge in these delicious treats any time you crave them.

So go on and gather all the ingredients listed here and get ready for an adventure in the kitchen! Whether it’s for a holiday celebration or simply a weekend gathering with loved ones, these pulled pork tamales are sure to be a hit.

As the great poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So why not make them feel like they’re tasting a bit of heaven right at their dinner table? Give this recipe a try – your taste buds will thank you!

Pulled Pork Tamales

Pulled Pork Tamales Recipe

People in the Mississippi Delta are very serious about their tamales, which were introduced to the region decades ago by Mexican migrant workers. Big or small, hot or mild, steamed or stewed every version is delicious. For the sauce the Espresso adds a jolt of rich taste to this unusual barbecue sauce, which works well with pork, beef and poultry, complementing and rounding out the flavor of the meat.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 1226 kcal


  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dried ancho chile powder
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • coarse salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, tied
  • hot water
  • 2 cups masa harina (see Note)
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening, solid
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

espresso barbecue sauce

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped for the sauce
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brewed espresso
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard, mixed with
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup dried ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


  • In a food processor, combine the onion, ketchup, honey, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chile powder, garlic and 2 tablespoons each of salt and pepper and pulse until smooth. Transfer the paste to a large re-sealable plastic bag. Add the pork roast, turning to coat it with the paste; seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F Set the pork in an enameled casserole and cover with the paste. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole and roast the meat in the oven for 3 1/2 hours, or until meltingly tender; turn the roast occasionally and add more water if it is looking dry. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let cool. Remove the strings and pull the meat into thick shreds. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of the Espresso Barbecue Sauce.
  • FOR THE MASA HARINA: Put the masa harina in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of hot water in a thin stream and beat at low speed until a dough forms. Continue beating the dough at medium low speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Add the shortening, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the baking powder and 2 teaspoons of salt. Scrape the dough into a large bowl and fold in 2 1/2 cups of the shredded pork.
  • Arrange the corn husks on a large work surface. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the tamale filling into the center of each husk. Fold the ends of the husks over the filling, then roll the husks up to enclose the filling completely. Alternatively, wrap 1/4 cup of tamale filling in a rectangle of foil, forming an oval shape, and twist the ends securely. Place the tamales, seam side down, in a large steamer basket, in several layers if necessary.
  • Steam the tamales until the filling is firm, about 20 minutes. Serve the tamales piping hot, with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side. Serves 6 to 8.
  • NOTE: Masa harina, a flour made from corn that has been treated with lime is used to make tortillas and tamales. It is available at most supermarkets.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The tamales can be prepared through Step 4 and frozen for up to 1 month in a sturdy plastic bag.
  • BEER: These tamales are best suited to a full flavored beer. Try the Brooklyn Brown Ale from Brooklyn Brewery or the Red Ale from Abita Brewery in Louisiana.
  • FOR THE ESPRESSO BARBECUE SAUCE: Combine One large onion, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup,espresso coffee, molasses, mustard, chile powder, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salt and pepper, in a medium saucepan and simmer them over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced by about half, approximately 45 minutes. Let cool completely, strain, then puree in a blender until smooth.
  • Serve the sauce right away or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The Espresso Barbecue Sauce can be refrigerated in a jar for up to 3 months.
  • Food & Wine Magazine’s Cookbook.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 495gCalories: 1226kcalCarbohydrates: 104.7gProtein: 51.7gFat: 69.4gSaturated Fat: 22.4gCholesterol: 188mgSodium: 2303mgFiber: 4.4gSugar: 61.4g
Keyword Meat
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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.