YIELDS: 12 Servings


COOK TIME: 9 hrs

TOTAL TIME: 10 hrs

A tradition at Christmas time but these Homemade Pork Tamales are delicious anytime. Add that Red Chili Sauce for a kick and be sure to throw on some fresh Pico de Gallo and avocado slices. YUM!!


1 ½ pounds pork loin shoulder or butt
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin

Red Chili Sauce 
4 dried California Chile pods 
2 cups reserved pork broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano 
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola oil)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Tamale Dough 
4 cups masa harina (I like to use Maseca brand)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 ⅓ cups lard
8 oz package dried corn husks

Pico de Gallo 
1 lb tomatoes, (3-4 medium), diced
1 cup chopped onion 
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced (optional)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper
Avocado slices, optional garnish 
Fresh cilantro, optional garnish 

Slow cooker 
Large pot or Instant Pot 
Steamer basket 
Medium saucepan 
Cutting board 
Chef's knife
Medium bowl 


  1. Combine all ingredients for the pork in a slow cooker. Add water until the pork is covered and cook on low for 8 hours. 
  2. Drain the pork, reserving the liquid for later, and shred the meat. 
  3. For the red sauce, remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles while rinsing them under cold water. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of broth from the cooked pork. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat.
  4. Transfer the chiles and broth to a blender. Add oregano, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  5. In the same saucepan you used to cook the chiles, add oil, flour, and salt and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. 
  6. Strain the chili sauce from the blender and add it to the saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, then add the sauce to the shredded pork.
  7. To make the tamales, soak the corn husks in a bowl of very hot water for 30 minutes or until softened.
  8. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the lard and 2 tablespoons of broth until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Mix together the masa flour, baking powder, salt, and cumin in a separate bowl then stir into the lard mixture and beat well with the electric mixer.
  9. Add the broth, little by little to form a very soft dough. Beat on high speed for several minutes. The dough should be spreadable and slightly sticky. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel, to keep the dough from drying out.
  10. To assemble the tamales, lay a corn husk, glossy side up, on the counter with the wide end at the top. Scoop about ¼ cup of dough onto the top, center of the corn husk. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and use your hands to press and spread the masa into a thin layer, about ¼ inch thick. Keep the dough spread along the top half of the corn husk to allow plenty of room to fold the bottom husk up, when it’s time.
  11. Place 1-2 tablespoons of pork filling in a line down the center of the dough. (Don't overstuff it with too much filling). Fold in one long side of the husk over the filling. Fold in the other long side, overlapping the first, then fold the bottom of the husk up.
  12. At this point, you can tie a string around the tamale, if desired. This helps to keep them closed, but is optional. 
  13. To cook the tamales, place a steamer basket inside of a large pot filled with 1-2 cups of water and line it with a few of the extra corn husks to prevent water from touching the tamales. 
  14. Place tamales standing upright, with their open end up, just tightly enough to keep them standing. Lay a few soaked corn husks or a wet towel over the top of the tamales before closing the lid.
  15. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
  16. Alternatively, you can cook in an Instant Pot: Fill the bottom of the pot with 1-2 cups of water, add the steamer basket and tamales, and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Allow to naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release. 
  17. The tamales are ready when the husk pulls cleanly away from the dough. If the dough is still wet/sticky, continue cooking for 5-10 minutes and check again. 
  18. While the tamales cook, prepare the pico de gallo: Combine the diced tomatoes, chopped onion, minced jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, mix well, and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  19. Serve the tamales with pico de gallo, avocado slices, and fresh cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!