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Homemade Hot Tamales Recipe

Margie's been an online writer for several years. Her articles focus on great Southern-style recipes for any occasion.

This is a recipe for homemade hot tamales. Here, a batch of tamales have just finished steaming in the pot.

This is a recipe for homemade hot tamales. Here, a batch of tamales have just finished steaming in the pot.

In the Southwest, tamales are a tradition during the holiday season but are enjoyed any time of the year. You can make hot tamales spicy or mild, with pork, chicken, beef, vegetarian, or whatever you like. Some folks even add beans and cheese; the filling of the tamale is only limited by your imagination!

This recipe makes 4 dozen tamales. You can adjust the recipe for the amount you want to make.


  • 1 to 4 pounds pork roast
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 dozen dried corn husks
  • 5 fresh green Serrano chiles
  • 8 tomatoes, peeled, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chicken-flavored bouillon granules
  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 cups instant corn masa


  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • large capacity steamer
  • large slotted spoon
  • dutch oven
  • electric blender
  • plastic gloves
  • mixing bowls
  • baking sheet
  • knife
  • fork
  • plastic bag, large
  • kitchen towel
  • tongs
  • large skillet, with lid
  • spoons
Shredded tamale meat for the filling.

Shredded tamale meat for the filling.

Step 1: Make the Filling

  1. In a dutch oven, combine pork roast, 1 medium onion, crushed garlic, and salt.
  2. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.
  4. Drain the meat with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 cup of broth.
  5. Shred the meat with a fork. Set aside.
  6. Place the chile peppers on a baking sheet; broil them 3 to 4 inches from the heat, turning often with tongs until blistered on all sides.
  7. Immediately place the chilies in a plastic bag, fasten securely, wrap in a towel, and let steam 15 minutes.
  8. Using plastic gloves, remove the stems and peel each chile pepper. Cut a small slit in the side of each chile, and rinse under cold water to remove seeds. Coarsely chop chilies.
  9. In an electric blender, combine chilies, 1 medium onion, 3 garlic cloves, 4 tomatoes, and chicken-flavored bouillon granules.
  10. Blend the tomato mixture until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  11. In a blender, add remaining 4 tomatoes; blend until smooth. Stir into mixing bowl with the tomato mixture. Set aside.
Soaking the dried corn husks.

Soaking the dried corn husks.

Step 2: Soften the Dried Corn Husks

  1. First, place the dried corn husks in a large bowl with hot water; let stand 1 hour or until softened. To keep the corn husks submerged in the water, place a heatproof plate over them.
  2. Drain the corn husks well, and pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess water.
  3. Overlap two husks to make a wide one if some husks are too small. If husks are too wide, just tear off one side.

Step 3: Make the Dough

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening. Add baking powder, baking soda, and reserved broth; mix well.
  2. Gradually add the corn masa to the shortening mixture, mixing well. Beat 10 minutes on medium speed in a heavy duty electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy.

Step 4: Finish the Filling

  1. In a large skillet, sauté the meat in the vegetable oil until browned. Stir in the tomato mixture.
  2. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 5: Assemble and Steam the Tamales

  1. In the center of each corn husk, place 1 tablespoon of the masa dough.
  2. Spread dough within 1/2 inch of the edge of the corn husk.
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on the dough, spreading evenly.
  4. Spoon in any other filling additions, like cheese or beans.
  5. Fold the short ends of the husk to the center.
  6. Fold one long side of the husk to the center, enclosing the filling completely; roll up from the same side.
  7. Tie the tamale with string or narrow strip of the softened corn husk.
  8. Place the tamales into a steamer on folded end. Arrange them so they'll remain as upright as possible.
  9. Add just enough water to keep the tamales above the water.
  10. Bring the water to a boil.
  11. Cover and steam 60 to 90 minutes or until the tamale dough pulls away from the husk; add more water as needed.

How to Reheat the Tamales

  • To reheat the tamales, the best way is to steam them again for about 10 minutes if refrigerated. (For frozen tamales, steam 25 to 30 minutes.)
  • You can also reheat the tamales in the microwave by covering them with a damp paper towel; cook for 1 minute or more.

Either way, make sure they are hot throughout before serving.

Vegan tamales with beans and rice.

Vegan tamales with beans and rice.

Tips From Margie Lynn

  • Add 1 tablespoon of Monterrey Jack or Cheddar cheese to the filling.
  • Use chicken or beef for the meat filling.
  • Other seasonings that may be added are paprika and black pepper.
  • For the vegetarian tamale dough, substitute vegetable shortening.
  • Tamale toppings include melted cheese, green chilies, sour cream, and salsa.
  • Sides to serve with the tamales are salads, rice, beans, or guacamole.
  • Cooked tamales can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Tamales should keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.
  • Be careful not to steam your hand or arm when lifting the lid on the steaming tamales.

Video on How to Make Chicken and Cheese Tamales

Tamale Making

© 2016 Margie's Southern Kitchen