Pork tamales in salsa verde | ethnicspoon.com
5 from 30 votes

Pork Tamales Recipe and History

Here is a Mexican traditional family recipe and one of my favorites for authentic pork filled tamales served with salsa verde.  I love to make these for the holidays and gather everyone around the table! 

Course Main dish
Cuisine Latin American
Keyword authentic, food history, how to steam tamales, making tamales, Mexican food
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Servings: Change to adjust-> 25 servings
Calories 143 kcal


For the tamale dough:

  • 4 1/2 cups masa
  • 4 1/2 cups broth (Saved from cooking the meat. Add more water if needed.)
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

For the filling:

(25 corn husks soaked overnight)

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves large cloves, minced
  • 1 onion medium, thinly sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 12 stuffed olives sliced into thirds
  • 2 Tbsp raisins


Prepare the pork filling:

  1. Place the pork in a glass dish.

  2. In a small bowl mix together salt, cumin, paprika and nutmeg.
  3. Rub the spice mixture all over the meat and marinate for about 4-6 hours. If you can marinate overnight, even better.
  4. In a Dutch oven on medium, heat the olive oil and sear the meat until slightly brown on all sides. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and chicken stock.
  5. Cover and cook for about 2-3 hours hours on low or until fork tender. Turn the meat and baste it every 20 minutes or so. Add the cilantro near the end.

  6. Place meat on a large cutting board and allow it to cool slightly. Shred using two forks. Place in a bowl. Add the olives and the raisins and mix well.
  7. Save the broth and strain it, you will need it to add to the masa. Add the strained solids back to the meat mixture and toss out the bay leaves.

Prepare the masa dough:

  1. Place the masa in a large bowl and add the baking powder. Mix well.
  2. In a small bowl mix chili powder, salt, and olive oil and set aside.

  3. Add the cooled broth from the cooked meat to the masa and then the chili powder mixture. Fold together until well combined.

Assemble and fill the corn husks:

  1. DO NOT OVERFILL, or you will not be able to properly close up the tamales.

  2. Pat dry the corn husks as you use them.
  3. Place a corn husk in your hand with the tapered end facing you.
  4. With your hand, pinch off a chunk of dough and put it in the center of the husk. Flatten it out a little bit.
  5. Take approximately a tablespoon of the filling and place it on top along the length of the dough.
  6. Cover the filling with another chunk of dough.
  7. Fold both sides of the husk inward so they overlap. Take each end and flip inwards towards the center. You will end up with somewhat of a rectangle.
  8. Tie using kitchen twine, as though you were tying a parcel.
  9. Steam for about 35 minutes.
  10. To make sure tamales are ready, take one out, cut the twine and unwrap. Tamales are ready if the corn husk peels away easily.
  11. Serve with your favorite salsa. Buen provecho!

Recipe Notes

Frequently Asked Questions:


Nutrition Facts
Pork Tamales Recipe and History
Amount Per Serving
Calories 143 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Cholesterol 11mg4%
Sodium 591mg26%
Potassium 224mg6%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 415IU8%
Vitamin C 0.7mg1%
Calcium 58mg6%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.