Pork Tamales Recipe

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James Published: September 10, 2021
Pork Tamales Recipe


How To Make Pork Tamales

Savor a Mexican classic in this steamed pork tamales recipe that wraps seasoned pork shoulder with a masa dough and corn husks.

Prep: 2 hrs 25 mins
Cook: 1 hr 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
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  • lbs pork shoulder, boneless, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • kosher salt, as needed
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme , or 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano , preferably Mexican
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • cup chili powder, plus ½ tsp
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cups masa harina , (instant corn flour)
  • 1⅓ cups lard


  1. Put the pork in a deep saucepan and cover with 6 cups of cold water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, onion, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and peppercorns; cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

  2. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 1½ to 2 hours until the pork is tender. Transfer the pork to a plate and shred. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid; keep warm.

  3. Meanwhile, soak the corn husks in a bowl of hot water, using a plate to keep them submerged, for 1 hour until pliable.

  4. Combine the pork, cumin, ⅓ cup of chili powder, garlic, flour, sugar, vegetable oil and 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.

  5. Mix the masa harina, lard, 2 teaspoons salt, the remaining chili powder, and 2⅔ cups of the reserved cooking liquid in a bowl until combined.

  6. Drain the husks and pat dry. Starting ½-inch from the wide end, spread about 3 tablespoons of the dough down a husk, leaving a 1-inch border on the sides.

  7. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the pork filling down the center of the dough, then fold in the sides of the husk, wrapping the dough around the filling. Fold up the narrow end of the husk. Repeat with the remaining husks, dough and filling.
  8. Set a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 to 2-inch of water. Arrange the tamales standing up in the steamer, folded-side down.

  9. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and steam for about 45 to 50 minutes until the dough is firm. Remove from the steamer and let cool slightly before unwrapping.

  10. Serve and enjoy.

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