Beef Tamales

Beef Tamales

jenn 1

"These are just like the tamales my Abuelita used to make for special occasions. This recipe makes a lot, but if you're going to go to all the trouble of making tamales from scratch, you might as well have a party! You will need butchers' twine and a large pot with a steamer basket to make these. May be frozen up to 6 months in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags. To reheat, thaw in refrigerator and then steam or microwave until heated through."

Ingredients 6 h 30 m {{adjustedServings}} servings 347 cals

Serving size has been adjusted!

Original recipe yields 36 servings



Amount per serving ({{servings}} total)

  • Calories:
  • 347 kcal
  • 17%
  • Fat:
  • 24.4 g
  • 38%
  • Carbs:
  • 23.3g
  • 8%
  • Protein:
  • 9.1 g
  • 18%
  • Cholesterol:
  • 38 mg
  • 13%
  • Sodium:
  • 248 mg
  • 10%

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

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  • Prep

  • Cook

  • Ready In

  1. Place beef and garlic in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as water boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot. Let simmer for 3 1/2 hours, until beef is tender and shreds easily. When beef is done, remove from pot, reserving 5 cups cooking liquid and discarding garlic. Allow meat to cool slightly, and shred finely with forks.
  2. Meanwhile, place corn husks in a large container and cover with warm water. Allow to soak for 3 hours, until soft and pliable. May need to weight down with an inverted plate and a heavy can.
  3. Toast ancho chiles in a cast iron skillet, making sure not to burn them. Allow to cool and then remove stems and seeds. Crumble and grind in a clean coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet. Mix in flour and allow to brown slightly. Pour in 1 cup beef broth and stir until smooth. Mix in ground chiles, cumin seeds, ground cumin, minced garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, vinegar and salt. Stir shredded beef into skillet and cover. Let simmer 45 minutes.
  5. Place lard and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whip with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add masa harina and beat at low speed until well mixed. Pour in reserved cooking liquid a little at a time until mixture is the consistency of soft cookie dough.
  6. Drain water from corn husks. One at a time, flatten out each husk, with the narrow end facing you, and spread approximately 2 tablespoons masa mixture onto the top 2/3 of the husk. Spread about 1 tablespoon of meat mixture down the middle of the masa. Roll up the corn husk starting at one of the long sides. Fold the narrow end of the husk onto the rolled tamale and tie with a piece of butchers' twine.
  7. Place tamales in a steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for approximately one hour, until masa is firm and holds its shape. Make sure steamer does not run out of water. Serve immediately, allowing each person to unwrap their own tamales. Allow any leftovers (still in husks) to cool, uncovered, in the refrigerator.
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Reviews 128

  1. 159 Ratings


I have made these a few times now. This recipe is really awesome as is - but I found an easier & tastier way to do it after making it many times the way listed. I use the recipe on this site for Charley's Slow Cooker Mexican Style Meat. Its very easy to make, & makes the tamales SO much tastier! I make the meat one day in the crockpot, then refrigerate it overnight. This makes it easier to remove any fat. Just pluck off any fat the next morning & follow the recipe for the tamale dough, although I use vegetable shortening instead of lard. Make sure to keep a little water or beef broth on hand to dip your spreading knife into to make spreading the dough onto the corn husks a little easier. If you put a can of beef broth in the stockpot with a little water while you are steaming them, it makes the dough tastier as well. Instead of using butchers twine, I just tear off thin strips of the corn husks & tie them with that. These are really good to freeze too. Place in a freezer bag, and pop in the freezer for up for 6 months. To reheat, steam for 15-20 mins or wrap in a damp paper towel & microwave for 3-7 mins, depending on the microwave. Steaming them will produce a moister tamale. To reheat refrigerated tamales, wrap in a damp paper towel & microwave for about 1-2 mins. You could also steam them for about 5 mins. Make sure you leave the corn husk on while reheating!


if you have never attempted tamales, here are some important tips: boil garlic and dried or fresh peppers in water(your favorite kind of pepper)for 30-ish minutes then cook the meat in that broth(leave peppers/garlic in) and add lots of spices. This broth flavors the meat very well--I like spice so I use tons of peppers and garlic. The meat should be cooked long enough that it practically crumbles to the touch--this makes it easier and faster to shred by hand--I usually cook mine 4 hours to overnigt depending on the cut of meat. Boiling the meat is actually the only thing it needs cooking wise--but it depends on whether you boil in the meat in all the spices or add them later. I soak my corn husks in hot/boiling water--this makes them softer faster. Two important things to remember: masa is very bland and there is no substitute for lard! I keep my meat juice for masa flavoring but still add other stuff--El Pato (mexican style tomato sauce)if you can find it is spectacular! When making the tamales, the corn husks should only be about five inches across--any larger need to be sized! (Line the meat along the edge and roll like a cigar) If I plan on freezing I cook them only half the time--also, don't load to many in the steamer or they won't cook evenly! When you place them in the steamer they need to be standing up as much as possible.


A little advice about mixing masa: add the lard to your dry ingredients and mix very well by hand. Begin adding your meat broth a little at a time until you get peanut butter consistancy, and to be really sure your batter is ready, drop a bit into a glass of water. If it floats to the top, it's ready.