Traditional Pork Tamales

Makes 16
Tamales! They’re so much more than a special delicious meal. The time and care that goes into making them are essential ingredients, and part of why they’re so good! Whether you’re tackling tamales for the first time or the twentieth, here’s a great recipe for this delectable holiday staple, plus some tips to help make prep, sharing, and storing neater and easier! 


  • 1 6 

    oz package dried corn husks

  • For the Dough/Masa:

  • 4

    cups masa harina (find it in the baking aisle)

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder
  • 1

    teaspoon salt

  • 1 ⅓

    cup vegetable shortening or lard

  • 10

    oz chicken broth 
  • For the Pork Filling:

  • 1

    lb pork shoulder or pork loin

  • 1

    yellow onion, halved and peeled

  • 1

    clove garlic, peeled

  • For the Chile Sauce:

  • 2

    dried chile pods
  • 2

    chipotles in adobo sauce

  • 2 ½

    cups water

  • 1-2

    teaspoons kosher salt, to taste


  • 1 Place pork shoulder in a heavy lidded pan such as a Dutch oven with onion and garlic. Add water to cover the meat, cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. 
  • 2 Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Let the pork cook until tender and shreddable, about 2 hours.
  • 3 While the pork is cooking, make the sauce. Place chile pods and chipotle sauce in a small saucepan with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the sauce into a bowl, season with salt to taste.
  • 4 When the pork is fully cooked, shred the meat using two forks in a large bowl. Stir in half of the prepared chile sauce.
  • 5

    Make the dough by whisking together the masa harina with baking powder and salt. Beat in vegetable shortening or lard until it becomes crumbly, like pie dough, using an electric mixer, a bowl with a wooden spoon, two forks, or a pastry cutter. Add the broth gradually until you have a nice dough (you may not need all the broth).

    Tip: If making your masa in advance, transfer it into a Ziploc® brand bag and refrigerate or freeze until ready to assemble the tamales.

  • 6

    Before assembling the tamales, soak the dried corn husks in hot water for 20-30 minutes.

    Tip: This is easy to do in a Ziploc® brand bag. Simply put the husks in, add water, seal, and allow to sit. Once the corn husks are pliable, remove and lightly dry them with a kitchen towel.

  • 7 Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the masa over the corn husks about 1 ½ inches from the narrow part of the husk. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough, making it about ¼ inch thick. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the filling in the center, then fold or roll the corn husks into the center. If you wish, use a strip of corn husk to tie in place.
  • 8 Steam in a steamer for 1 hour, checking periodically to make sure that there’s always water at the bottom of the pot. Heat water in a kettle so you can add more as needed.
  • 9

    Once cooked, remove the husks and serve with a drizzle of the reserved chile sauce, and enjoy!

    Tip: You can also refrigerate or freeze cooked and cooled tamales in Ziploc® brand bags for another time, or for gifting to friends and family. Tamales can be reheated in the microwave.