Pork Tamales for the Holidays

At Christmastime, there is nothing better than homemade tamales. Tamales are a corn dough based item that can be filled with different meats, beans, cheeses, or fruit for a sweeter version! This traditional Mexican dish takes some time to prepare, but it is worth it! They make wonderful gifts for friends or family, assuming you can part with any that you made!

Traditional Pork Tamales


  • 2 1/2 lbs pork shoulder trimmed of fat and diced
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 medium onion quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup lard
  • 1/3 – ½ cup chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon for the dough, depending on your spice tolerance
  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30 corn husks dried, about 8 inches long


The filling:

  • Place the pork in a deep saucepan along with the cold water. Add onion, chili powder, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours, until the pork is very tender.
  • Remove the meat from the broth. Strain the broth and reserve (allow the broth to cool if you want to remove the fat; if that’s not important to you, keep it warm for tastier tamales). Allow the meat to cool and shred using two forks.

Mama Lola’s Corn husks (Hojas)

  • Soak the corn husks in a bowl of hot water, using a plate to keep them submerged, until pliable, for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Rinse to remove any corn silk and drain well. Reserve.

The Mama Lola’s masa (dough)

  • Mix the lard (room temperature) with the baking powder, the ½ tablespoon chili powder and two teaspoons of salt. Slowly, alternate mixing in the masa harina, with 2 cups of the reserved broth. The result should be a thick, creamy paste.

Assemble the tamales!

  • Starting 1/2 inch from the wide end, spread about 3 tablespoons of the dough down each husk. Leave a 1-inch border on the sides. If the husks are small, use two so the tamales do not fall apart.
  • Spoon 1 tablespoon of the pork filling down the center of the dough, then fold in the sides of the husk, wrapping the dough around the filling.
  • Fold up the narrow end of the husk. Repeat to create the rest of the tamales.
  • Set the steamer in a large pot filled with 2 inches of water. Arrange the tamales standing up in the steamer, folded-side down. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and steam until the dough is firm, 45 to 50 minutes. Add water when necessary.

You can find this recipe and more authentic Mexican recipes at Mama Lola’s website. You can find Mama Lola’s products at your local Bashas’.