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Authentic Mexican Tamale Recipe

Course Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 30 minutes
Servings 5


Shredded Pork Filling

  • 5 pounds pork shoulder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ¾ tsp black pepper

Red Chile Sauce

  • 8-10 dried ancho chile peppers
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Masa Dough

  • 4 cups masa harina corn flour
  • 2 cups lard
  • 1 cup pork drippings
  • ½ cup ancho chile water
  • Salt to taste


  1. Separate and soak the corn husks in a large bowl full of hot water for 30 mins - 2 hours.

Shredded Pork Filling

  1. Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker with three cloves of garlic.
  2. Add chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper then cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Once the meat is fully cooked and tender, remove the bone and shred with a fork.
  4. Stir in the ancho red chile paste (see below) and mix until well combined. Add extra salt to taste.

Red Chili Sauce

  1. Remove the stems and deseed all of the ancho chile peppers and add to a pot full of boiling water.
  2. Add three cloves of garlic and a halved onion, then allow the mixture to boil for around 30 minutes.
  3. Once the peppers are soft, remove them along with the garlic onions, and about ½ cup of the water and add to a blender, making sure to not discard of the water quite yet.
  4. Blend the peppers, onion, and garlic until a thick paste is formed. Add more water if necessary. Salt to taste.

Masa Tamale Dough

  1. Heat the lard in a medium saucepan until completely melted.
  2. Add the masa harina to a large bowl and mix the lard in.
  3. Continue mixing as you add the pork drippings along with the extra ancho chile paste.
  4. Continue mixing until the dough is soft and fluffy, with a consistency similar to peanut butter or frosting. Salt to taste.

Assembling the Tamales

  1. Remove the corn husks from water and pat dry with a cloth.
  2. Spread a very thin yet even layer of the masa dough on a corn husk, covering about 75% of the surface.
  3. Add enough of the pork filling to completely fill the tamale.
  4. Fold the husk over and seal it at the bottom.
  5. Place in the bottom of a steamer pot and allow them to steam for 90 minutes.