How To Make Tamales

How To Make Tamales

When Thanksgiving is over, that usually means I need to set my schedule and begin the process of inviting my family, friends and relatives over to my house for my annual Tamale Making Project. There is something special to me having all my loved ones around the kitchen; lots of food, laughter and drinking. This may seem as a huge undertaking, however, over the years I have perfected this process with amazing efficiency.

So whether you plan on making 30-Dozen Tamales, or just a few dozen for you and your family to enjoy; just follow my steps and useful tips and experience the joy on how to make Tamales.

Key Facts:

Masa to Meat Ratio: 2:1, for every 2 pounds of Masa, You need 1 pound of Meat

The 2- Stage Approach:

To start the crazy process, you need at least one day before to prepare and cook the meat. I set up all my meat cooking the night before my formal Tamale Factory setting in my kitchen. I am using Pork as my tamale meat stuffing of choice. Pork is more tender and easier for me to season; however, you can use Beef as well, (For my non-meat eaters, I also use Jalapeno Jack Cheese with Ortega Chili).


To cook your meat, you will need a Large Crock Pot. In my video, I am preparing 15 pounds of pork shoulder in four separate Crock Pots. I have seared and seasoned the pork shoulder, Chopped Onions, Garlic and placed 1-can of Chicken broth in each Crock Pot. I have the meat cooking at a LOW setting for a minimum of 7-hours. As I had mentioned earlier, I prepare my crock-pots of meat the night before my Tamale Factory Process.

Stage 1, Seasoning The Meat:


New Mexico Chili Pods

Garlic Cloves

Can of Stewed Tomatoes

Dry Chili Powder

Cinnamon Powder

Chocolate (Dark or Milk Chocolate)

Garlic Salt



When its time to remove the meat from the Crock Pots, save a portion of the Crock Pot juices for your sauce mixture. Take your cooked Pork into a large Mixing bowl.

I like to roast my dry chili pods on a hot skillet, then I take them into a blender that has half of the container filled with the crock-pot juices, 1-tablespoon of dry chili powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. I then add 2 teaspoons of Garlic Salt, 3-4 Chocolate “Mini-Bars” (the kind you kid gets for Halloween). Add 1 can of Stewed Tomatoes. Blend all ingredients together.

This will create a dark brown gravy mixture that you can now add the mixture into the bowl with the cooked Pork. Mix and mash the pork and red sauce together. If you need more sauce, repeat the steps above.


Stage 2, Prepping the Masa:

Masa is cornmeal prepared for making tortillas. There is also Tamale Masa, which is known to be a little more course than tortilla Masa. I like to use the combination of both. I don’t like my masa to be too smooth nor too course so I combine both types of Masa. I also like to season my Masa and as you see in the video, I have my father, Mother correcting me all the time about the seasoning. In all cases, you need to season the Masa to add flavor. There are many different versions on how to season the Masa, so here’s my two cents:

  • Lard
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt

Combine the above ingredients and season your Masa to your preferred taste. Mix Masa and ingredients in a large roasting pan and mix by hand to make sure all ingredients are mixed well into the corn meal.


Tamale Factory Time:

Now that we have the Meat Cooked and seasoned, the Masa Seasoned and prepared; it’s time to have your kitchen converted to a Tamale Factory. I like to have two sections separated:

Masa Table: This is where the Corn meal is spread evenly on Corn Husks and then delivered to the Meat & Folding Table

Meat and Folding Table: As stated above, the cornhusks arrive with a layer of Masa. At this point, it is time to place the Meat in the center of the cornhusk, add olive and fold in preparation for the cooking time.

As you can see in my video, there is plenty of family and friends helping out at each station. The goal is to keep everybody moving in one direction and get as many Tamales prepared for cooking. I even serve Margaritas and Sangria to everyone so they can all have a good time!



How To Cook Tamales:

My mother has handed down her cooking technique to me, which requires large Steam pots often used for Canning. These large pots hold in a large amount of water, the water is then heated high enough and the heat of the steam cooks the contents in the pot. Dozes of Tamales line the interior of the pot and are cooked together at high steam heat.

Cooking time: 55- 60 Minutes, HIGH Steam heat.

At the end of the cooking time, the Tamales are then removed from the pan and left to cool. You can store Tamales up to 6 months in a freezer as long as they are wrapped in foil and enclosed in a freezer safe and sealed bag.

In summary, I hope you liked the video as well as the description of this family holiday event. For a more detailed recipe, please feel free to contact me directly and email me at:

From my Family to yours, Happy New Year!


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