Perfect Pork Tamales

I have leftover pork carnitas and I’m bored so I am going to show you all how I make tamales.  While these have some of the same similarities as traditional tamales, I don’t use corn husks, and I make my tamale sauce my way.  Using dried constituted Ancho chilies and crushed tomatoes instead of a tomato sauce.  I like the flavor of the Anchos for one, and the consistency of the crushed tomatoes, because it is a bit thicker I don’t need to use a roux of flour and oil to thicken it.  I think the flour kills the taste of the true chili flavor in my opinion.  This is far superior and will be your favorite go to for enchiladas and tamales.  15 minutes is all you need to make this sauce and it keeps in the fridge for about two weeks.  I never keep it that long as I am always using it for some Mexican dish.  The tamales are amazing and super easy.  The reason I don’t like making tamales the traditional way with corn husks is that buying enough to make my tamales gets expensive, and many times I am unable to find them.  I like the ease of the parchment and if you flavor the cornmeal and sauce for the tamales you do not need the corn husks for more flavor.  One hour is all you need and a steamer basket set in a pot of simmering water to make pork tamales worthy of the finest cantina in Mexico.  I also included my quick tamale sauce which is the basis of my Chicken enchilada Rojo.  This will become your go to method. I promise.

I hope you give these a try! Por favor!


Susan xoxo

Perfect Pork Tamales

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print

A simplified version of a Mexican Classic, that's super flavorful and oh so satisfying!

IMG_5258 (2)
Perfect Pork Carnitas




For the Tamales

  • 2 cups of Masa Harina or cornmeal (masa harina is just a Mexican corn flour)
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 stick of cold unsalted butter cubed in inch pieces
  • pinch of kosher salt

For the Tamale or Enchillada  Rojo Sauce

  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried Ancho chiles whole
  • 1 tbsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. of chipotle powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. of cumin
  • 1 tsp. of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of sugar

Leftover pork carnitas

2 sheets of parchment paper folded in fours and cut into squares about 8×8


For the Tamale dough

  1. In a large bowl add two cups of masa harina or cornmeal.  Add a pinch of Kosher salt, and the baking powder.  Mix with fork.  Cut in cubed cold, unsalted butter, using a pastry blender to combine until crumbs appear.
  2. Add in 1 cup of chicken broth.  Mix until soft dough forms.  Set aside


For the Tamale Rojo Sauce

  • In a large bowl add boiling water to cover two dried Ancho chilies, you will need to reconstitute.  Let sit until soft about 15 minutes or so.  When chilies have softened, remove stems and discard seeds.  Reserve about 1/4 cup of liquid from the reconstituted peppers.  Add to food processor or Ninja blender.  Adding liquid and seeded peppers.  Pure until smooth.
  • In a large pot add crushed tomatoes, Ancho puree, all of the seasonings and spices except the cocoa powder.  Simmer for ten minutes until thickened and heated through.  Add cocoa powder and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Let cool slightly.
  • Begin to assemble tamales.  Taking about 1/3 of a cup of the dough add to parchment square placing it down the middle and forming an oval.  Add pork carnitas to the sauce about 3/4 cup of sauce to about 1/2 cup of carnitas.  I estimate.
  • Take about a tablespoon of the carnitas and sauce combined, and add down the middle of the tamale dough.  Do not overfill.
  • Taking corners of the parchment, begin to form tamale as you crimp and fold tightly the parchment.  Then take one end and tuck and fold, and then the other to form a tight package for steaming the tamale.  It’s ok if some sauce seeps through the dough.  All the better for making a tasty tamale.  Continue all 8 in the same fashion. Set aside.

IMG_5244 (2)
Tamale Dough in Parchement Paper


  • In a large pot add enough water to cover a steam basket placed inside.  Over medium low heat cover pot and let simmer for about 5 minutes until you add the tamales.  Begin to add the tamales, I like to place them on top of each other leaving some space for steam to come up and perfectly steam the tamales.  Add tamales to the pot and cover.  Check about 25-30 minutes in, you may need to add more water.  Continue to steam for another 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let sit for about 10 minutes before removing the parchment paper.  Steam burns suck and if you do this too soon you will get a steam burn you will wish you hadn’t.
  • I love to serve the tamales with a bit of lime crema that I make with some lime zest, chili powder and the juice of one lime.  It is a simple understated topping that is so delicious, and everyone goes crazy for it!
  • Enjoy!




2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim says:

    WoW, these look great, fell in love with tamales while I was in Arkansas, can’t wait to give these a try-

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks my friend! I absolutely love tamales. They are so easy made in parchment. Let me know how you like them! Make the Pork Carnitas first, you will love them! xo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.