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Pork Tamales (Tamales de Puerco)

Pork tamales along with other types of tamales are very popular during the holidays. They are incredibly flavorful and go great with many Mexican sides. Give them a try this holiday season!


Pork tamales may seem difficult to make but they aren’t.

The key is to spread the process out over a couple of days.

I promise this makes everything a whole lot easier.

My favorite are the pork tamales but I love all tamales.

Have you tried sweet tamales?

They’re soo good and very easy to make!

Making tamales yourself is definitely the way to go.

Many times when you buy them they will only have a tiny bit of meat inside and a lot of masa.

I think that’s a huge rip off!

My recipe includes plenty of meat filling and it makes dozens of tamales.

I have included some photos that should make things easier if you have never made tamales before.

What are pork tamales made of?

Pork tamales are made with masa harina, pork butt, the broth from the pork and a delicious salsa made from dried chilies.

I love making tamales for the holidays. I look forward to them all year!

Ooh another one of my favorites are tamales in banana leaves! The banana leaves give the tamales an incredible flavor!

Tamales are perfect for the holidays along with this Mexican Christmas punch and bunuelos!

However they are a lot of work.

Therefore many people choose to have a tamale making party.

This is a great option as you can get it done faster this way.

Unfortunately for me it’s just my husband and I making them.

But that’s ok!

I break it down into steps and it’s not bad at all once you get the hang of it.

How to Make Pork Tamales

Day 1: Make the meat and chile sauce

Put the meat, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer on low for 4 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.

While meat is cooking toast the chiles on both sides in a skillet over medium heat. This will take less than a minute.

toasting chile

Be careful not to burn the chilies or they will take on a bitter taste.

toasting chile

Also toast the onion and garlic.

toasting onion and garlic

Transfer chiles, onion and garlic to a pot with about 6-7 cups of warm water and simmer on medium low for about 10 min or until chiles are soft.

soaking chiles

Transfer the chiles, onion and garlic to a blender with 5 cups of the water and blend for 1 min. Do this in two batches.

chiles in blender

Add 1 1/2 tbsp of oil to a pot over medium heat. When oil is hot strain the chile sauce into the pot.


Simmer over medium low heat for about 15 min. Salt to taste. Reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce for the masa.


When the meat is done remove it from stockpot and shred with two forks making sure to discard any fat. Or use your hands when the meat is cool.

When the broth is cool strain it and store it in the refrigerator.

Mix together the shredded meat and the chile sauce.

Don’t forget to reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce which we will use for the masa.

pork in chile sauce

Store the meat and the rest of the sauce in the refrigerator when cool.

Day 2: Make the tamales

Put the corn husks in a large pot with hot water and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat off and let the husks soak for at least one hour.

Take the broth out from the refrigerator and skim off the fat

fat from broth

In a large bowl mix together the Maseca, baking powder and salt. Then add 5 cups of the broth and the 1/2 cup of reserved sauce and mix well either with a spatula or your hands.

Maseca with broth

In another bowl beat the 2 cups of lard with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes.


Add the Maseca and broth mixture to the lard and continue to beat for about 3 minutes more.

maseca with lard

After the husks have soaked shake off the excess water.

Take 1 husk and spread a heaping tablespoon of masa over it.

Then add a heaping tablespoon of the pork filling on it.

preparing tamales

Fold the sides of the husk then fold the bottom part of the husk up.

You can tie the tamales with long stringy pieces of the husks to make them more secure but this is optional.

tamal tied

Repeat the above steps until all the masa and pork filling are gone.

Fill a tamale steamer with enough water so that it wont run out while steaming but not too much that it gets the tamales wet.

The water shouldn’t come through the holes of the steamer insert.

Put all of the pork tamales in the steamer standing up.

Bring the water in the steamer to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low.

Cover and cook for 1 hour.

If the masa is mushy and is still sticking to the husks steam for an additional 15-20 min.

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Pork Tamales

These delicious pork tamales are sure to please everyone during your holiday festivities.

My favorite thing about tamales is that there’s always plenty of leftovers the next day!

Serve these tamales with my delicious mexican rice and some champurrado to make it a complete meal!

I truly hope you enjoy them! If you liked this recipe please leave a rating below.

Thank you!

tamal after steaming
3 tamales
4.24 from 67 votes

Pork Tamales

Moist and full of flavor everyone will fall in love with these amazing pork tamales! They’re especially popular during Christmas and New years.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword how to make pork tamales, pork tamales, pork tamales recipe, tamales de puerco
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 35 minutes
Servings 45 tamales
Calories 224 kcal
Author carissa


For the meat

  • 5 pounds pork butt cut up into pieces
  • 1 white onion quartered
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 cups of water
  • 3 teaspoons of salt

For the sauce

  • 25 dried guajillo peppers
  • 5 dried morita peppers
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • salt to taste

For the masa

  • 5 cups of Maseca for tamales
  • 5 cups of pork broth
  • 1/2 cup of chile sauce
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of lard
  • corn husks


For the meat

  1. Add the pork, onion, garlic, bay leaves, water and salt to a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 4-5 hours or until meat is tender and falls apart easily.
  3. Remove meat from pot and transfer to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Or when cool use your hands to shred.
  4. Strain the broth and when cool place in the refrigerator.
  5. Skim the fat off from the broth.

For the sauce

  1. Toast chiles in a skillet over medium heat. (about 25 seconds)
  2. Toast garlic and onion.
  3. Transfer chiles, garlic and onion to a pot with about 6-7 cups of warm water and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer for about 10 min or until chiles are soft.
  4. Transfer contents to a blender with about 5 cups of the water from the chiles.
  5. Blend for 1 minute (Do this in 2 batches).
  6. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a pot over medium heat and when hot strain the chile sauce into the pot. stir, cover and cook over medium low for about 15 min. Season well with salt.
  7. Reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce for the masa
  8. Add the shredded pork to the chile sauce and stir well.

For the masa

  1. Soak the corn husks in hot water for 1 hour
  2. In a large bowl add the Maseca, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the broth and chile sauce to the Maseca and mix well making sure the dough is moist.
  4. In another bowl beat the lard with a mixer until it is fluffy. (a couple minutes)
  5. Add the masa to the lard and continue to beat for 3 min

Assembling the tamales

  1. Spread a heaping tbsp of masa over the corn husks.
  2. Add a heaping tbsp of the pork onto the masa.
  3. Fold each side of the husk and then fold the bottom part of the husk up
  4. Fill the steamer with water then put the steamer insert in and add the tamales standing up.
  5. Bring the water in the steamer to a boil and lower it to medium low.
  6. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
Nutrition Facts
Pork Tamales
Amount Per Serving
Calories 224 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 463mg20%
Potassium 303mg9%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 515IU10%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 47mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Learn how to make authentic pork tamales with step by step directions
Recipe Rating

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Tommie Lou Rogers

Tuesday 27th of September 2022

I love the idea of adding the sauce to the masa. Sounds delicious. My sister is coming for a long visit and I am hoping that she will want to make these as a holiday project.


Tuesday 27th of September 2022

That's a great idea, it's so much easier and faster when there's more than one person.

Isabela Teck

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

I love making the tamales but some of mine are still a little moist. I read the recipe and follow it to cover. I put them in the rice cooker that has a steam button. Should I be making them in a big pot or something.


Tuesday 4th of January 2022

@Isabela Teck, I purchased an expendable steam basket with handle from Walmart and put it in a tall pot with lid. It has legs about 2" so don't ad more than 1.75" of water. Keep an eye on it and add water as needed. Works great. So does an inverted aluminum pie tin with tons of holes in it.

Saunders Belinda

Saturday 30th of October 2021

I can’t wait to try this

Saunders Belinda

Saturday 30th of October 2021

Wonderful tamale recipe. Thanks so much for sharing .


Monday 11th of October 2021

So I saw where Ancho peppers are used in most recipes. Why do you use so many different peppers and no Ancho peppers. Thanks!

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