Mom's Traditional Mexican Tamales Recipe
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
These are the tamales we grew up on. Mom has made several adaptions from the original recipe including the mixture of both pork and beef. The tamales are light and fluffy with only a tiny bit of heat. The olive in the center of the tamale is a must for us and is traditional to Arizona-Sonoran Cuisine.
  • 5 pounds lean pork or beef, or a combination, cut in 3 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (10 ounces each) red chile sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds dried corn husks, soaked in water overnight
  • 1½ pounds lard (second choice: vegetable shortening)
  • 5 pounds fresh ground masa (NOT masa harina)
  • 1 cup broth from beef and pork mixture(or low sodium beef broth)
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. Tamale Meat
  2. Cook meat, garlic and salt in a slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours on high. Place in refrigerator and chill. Remove meat from refrigerator and remove solidified fat from top. Drain off liquid, reserving one cup to use in masa. Shred meat with a fork.
  3. Tamale Sauce
  4. Lightly brown the flour in the oil in a stockpot over medium high heat. Add in remaining ingredients and cook until thickened. Cool to room temperature before using. Stir suce into meat.
  5. Tamale Masa
  6. Beat lard with a stand mixer to the consistency of whipped cream (takes about 15 minutes on highest setting). Add masa a little at a time in small, golfball sized pieces. Slowly add the beef broth into whipped lard and masa mixture. Continue whipping the mixture until a small spoonful of masa floats in cold water.
  7. Tamale Assembly and Cooking
  8. Spread ¼ to ⅓ cup masa on corn husks, a little thicker than ¼ inch thick. Spread a rectangle that covers husks except 2 inches at bottom and 1 inch at top. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in center and add one ripe black olive. Roll together so that masa completely encircles filling. Fold bottom end up and place upright in a steamer, folded side down. Steam for about 40 minutes when fresh, or 90 minutes when frozen.
Recipe by Everyday Southwest at