Authentic Mexican Tamales Recipe That Is So Worth Your Time

There is nothing like authentic Mexican cuisine, and if you're willing to spend some time in the kitchen, it definitely pays off when it comes to recipes from the region. Quicker is not always better when it comes to Mexican food — especially when it comes to these authentic Mexican tamales. So if you're ready to take your time and put some passion into a dish, this is definitely the recipe for you.

From start to finish, expect this recipe to take about six hours, which includes the prep and the cooking time. Your kitchen — if not your whole home — is going to smell absolutely incredible, and your taste buds will be thanking you in no time. This recipe comes from Tommy Leung, recipe developer and founder of frozen food company Gafell. The experienced chef put together this recipe based on classic tamale recipes, a dish that reportedly goes back as far as 7000 B.C.

If Mexican cuisine isn't traditionally in your repertoire, you'll probably need to head out to the grocery store to nab some must-have ingredients for this tasty dish. Just make sure you begin cooking early enough in the day to enjoy these authentic Mexican tamales later in the evening!

Gather your ingredients to prepare authentic Mexican tamales

Some of what you'll need for this dish can be found in your cupboard, while some might require a trip to the store. For your dry ingredients, you'll need one pack of corn husks (about 40 wrappers), 4 cups of masa, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of cumin, and six large dried ancho chilis.

For the remaining ingredients, the recipe requires 8 ounces of lard, 3 cups vegetable stock, 18 ounces of cubed pork shoulder (pork collar also works here), six cloves of garlic (diced), one large onion (chopped), 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and one lime.

Prep your corn husks and ancho chilis

First things first: You need to soak the corn husks in water before you get your hands into anything else. They need to soak for at least an hour in warm water. A large stockpot or the kitchen sink will do just fine — you just might need to place something on top of the husks to make sure they are fully submerged.

Secondly, the ancho chilis also need to take an underwater dive. Soak the chilis in 2 cups of water for approximately 10 minutes, or until soft. When they're nice and soft, put them in a blender with the water they soaked in. Blend the mixture until it makes a smooth paste.

Cook the pork

In a large pot on medium heat with the vegetable oil, sear the cubed pork shoulder on all sides, then add in your chopped onion and six cloves of minced garlic, and cook until the onions are golden. Add in the blended chilis, and slow cook the pork on low heat for approximately three hours. You'll know it's done when you're able to pull the meat apart easily with a fork.

When it's finished, remove the pork from the heat, and place it in a large tray. Shred the entire shoulder with a fork, and set off to the side.

Make the masa dough

Whisk the 8 ounces of lard in a stand mixer until it becomes light and fluffy. Then, add in the 4 cups of masa corn flour, 3 cups of vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of cumin powder until a smooth and wet dough forms.

By this time in your tamale journey, you can take your corn husks out of the water, and squeeze out any excess water. Separate them, and set them off to the side.

Fill and cook your tamales

Spread a thin layer of your masa dough on the bottom ⅔ of the corn husks. Then, take a spoonful of the pork filling, and lay it on top of the dough, and spread it out. You'll now fold up the corn husks on both sides to seal in the meat filling. Fold up the bottom to close your tamale.

You're almost done! Stack the tamales vertically in a steamer basket, or you can put them in a large pot with a steamer insert. Fill up the pot with water just before it hits the steamer basket, and steam the tamales for about 1½ to 2 hours. They're done when the filling separates easily from the corn husk.

These are going to be quite toasty, so make sure and let them rest for about 20 minutes before serving. They'll still be nice and warm, and we suggest serving them with a wedge of lime. Feel free to add any other side items you might want to enjoy your tamales with, including pico de gallo, Mexican rice, or beans.

Authentic Mexican Tamales Recipe That Is So Worth Your Time
4.9 from 20 ratings
Get ready for your entire home to smell incredible when you prepare these authentic Mexican tamales.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
4.75
hours
Servings
4
servings
Mexican tamales
Total time: 5 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 pack corn husks
  • 6 pieces large dried ancho chilis
  • 18 ounces pork shoulder or collar, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces lard
  • 4 cups masa flour
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lime
Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, soak the corn husks in water while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Soak the ancho chiles in 2 cups of water for about 10 minutes until soft.
  3. In a blender, mix the ancho chilies and water until it makes a smooth paste.
  4. Sear the pork shoulder cubes in a large pot on medium with the vegetable oil. Then, add the onions and garlic, and cook for 15 minutes until onions are golden.
  5. Add in the blended chiles, and slow cook the pork for at least 3 hours on low until tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
  6. Whisk the lard in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Then, add the masa corn flour, vegetable stock, baking powder, salt, and cumin, and mix together until a smooth and wet dough forms.
  7. When the pork is cooked, remove it from heat, and place it in a large tray, and shred the pork with a fork.
  8. Remove the corn husks from the water, and squeeze to remove most of the water.
  9. Spread a thin layer of masa on the bottom ⅔ of the corn husks, then spoon a line of pork filling in the middle. Fold up the tamale from both sides to seal the meat filling in the center, and then fold the bottom closed.
  10. Stack the tamales vertically in a steamer basket or in a large pot with a steamer insert. Fill up the pot with water until just under the steamer basket, and steam for about 1½ to 2 hours, or until they are all fully cooked and easily separate from the corn husk.
  11. Let tamales rest for 20 minutes before serving hot with a wedge of lime.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,482
Total Fat 91.7 g
Saturated Fat 31.3 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 144.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 125.7 g
Dietary Fiber 12.4 g
Total Sugars 4.0 g
Sodium 991.2 mg
Protein 40.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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