ImageSaturday afternoon is a time that we often get together and make a “family project” dinner. This weekend we made tamales… This is only our fourth time making these so I wouldn’t say that we are tamale experts by any means, but these things are great! They are definitely better than any I have ever purchased.

One nice thing about making your own tamales is that you can customize them for your own tastes. My son Zack and I prefer the pork tamales but my wife and daughter like the chile-cheese ones! Plus you can guarantee yourself that they are Gluten-Free if your diet demands it!


Fillings: 1 small pork roast, fire roasted green chiles, Monterey Jack Cheese (cut into cubes)

Pork Filling: I think the best pork for tamales comes from cooking it low and slow so it will be moist and shreds easily. Start by placing a small pork roast (4lb +-) in a oven roasting pan. Dust liberally with chile powder, garlic, cumin, and a pinch of brown sugar and kosher salt. Cover pan tightly with foil  and place in oven for 4 hours at 275f. Meat should shred easily when done. Set aside.


  • 2 cups Masa Harina
  • 15 oz chicken broth (1 can)
  • 2/3 cup Lard or other shortening (Lard makes the best tamales)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 20 + Dried Corn Husks

Mix dry ingredients then stir in broth. Melt lard and mix in thoroughly.Let stand 1/2 hour.

Corn Husks:

While masa is resting, soak husks in hot water (for 1/2 hour) Use a bowl to keep them submerged. Separate husks  and check for and remove debris  before using.


Lay out husk on cutting board and spread masa to within 1/2″ of each side and the wide end. Use a spatula or spoon to spread approximately 3/8″ thick. Fill with your favorite topping (maybe 2 Tablespoons worth…) Roll edges together to form a nice round shape, then fold empty part of husk up. The first few tamales may be a bit hard to get just right, but it gets easier! This is a great place for the whole family to help… Have one helper focus on spreading the masa just right, then pass it on for the filling, then rolling. Place tamale into steamer basket and repeat. You will get around 20 tamales with this recipe, although you will have some pork left over.

ImageCover and steam for 1 hour. (make sure not to run out of water in steamer)

While the tamales are steaming, it’s time to make the sauce….

Red Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons Chile Powder (Your choice, but mix it up and be adventurous!)
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 5 Tablespoons All purpose flour. (For Gluten Free use 3 Tablespoons cornstarch.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cans chicken broth (approx 30 oz)

In appropriately sized saucepan, whisk all dry ingredients into broth and simmer until thickened.Image




About CastIronDan

I'm a married father of three from Apple Valley, CA that enjoys Cooking, Roasting Coffee and HomeBrewing.
This entry was posted in Meat, Mexican and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tamales!

  1. Pingback: Almond Crust Cheesecake With Blackberry Topping | Cast Iron Dan

  2. CastIronDan says:

    Reblogged this on Cast Iron Dan and commented:

    I’ll be making my tamales again for a Cinco de Mayo party later today, but I am going to do a couple of things different this time- So I thought I’d reblog my original post and edit it with my changes!
    Yesterday we had fresh corn on the cob with dinner and as I was shucking the corn I thought “Why not use these fresh husks on my tamales?” I’m sure this is not a new idea at all, but it just occurred to me!! Anyways, here is my new – updated version. I will post a picture of the finished product from the party!

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