How To Make Mexican Pork Tamales

Mexican pork tamales are a delicious, authentic tasting recipe you can make at home. Don’t wait to get your tamale fix until the next time you go out to eat! Follow along with my step by step guide and you’ll be making delicious tamales at home like a pro.

pork tamales stacked on a white serving plate

Tamales are one of my very favorite foods. I just love their flavorful filling and tender dough.

While I often get them when my family and I go out to eat, dining out isn’t something I get to do very much of in a family of 6.

Thankfully, though, you can learn how to make Mexican tamales at home.

After a lot of testing, I’ve come up with a delicious pork tamale that is as good, if not better, than any I’ve ever had out.

I love making them whenever I get the chance.

They are the perfect way to spice up a weekend at home and a tasty treat to serve for entertaining.

pork tamales stacked on a white serving plate

What are tamales?

Tamales are a complete, handheld meal.

There are several different variations from all over South and Central America and parts of the Caribbean. 

Most varieties of tamales include a mixture of masa dough and filling that gets wrapped in a corn husk and then steamed.

They can be filled with any combination of meat, cheese or vegetables.

My tamale recipe is a Mexican style tamale filled with a tender pork roast filling.

Equipment

To make these you’ll need the following kitchen gear and gadgets:

  • large pot with lid
  • Instant Pot and steamer rack
  • large bowl
  • large measuring cup
  • fine mesh sieve
  • electric mixer and mixing bowl
  • paddle attachment 
  • small bowl

Ingredients

To make these tamales you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • oil
  • salt
  • pork shoulder roast
  • garlic cloves
  • dried ancho chile pods
  • dried New Mexico chile pods
  • oregano
  • water
  • salsa
  • masa harina
  • baking powder
  • chicken broth
  • corn husks

How to Make

There are several parts to making these tamales.

Let’s break it down, part by part.

The Prep

Before you do anything else, put the corn husks in a large pot of warm water.

Let them soak for at least an hour.

You can leave them in the water up to overnight.

Make sure you weight the corn husks down so they don’t float to the surface by using the pot lid as a weight.

How to Make Pork Filling for Mexican Tamales

Set the Instant Pot on Sauté mode and add the oil. Allow it to heat through.

Coat both sides of the pork roast with salt before placing it in the hot oil.
 
Sear both sides of the roast until they are browned, which will take about 5 minutes per side.
 
Next, add the garlic, chili pods, oregano, and water to the Instant Pot.
 
Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set  to high pressure for 60 minutes.
 
Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to naturally release.
 
instant pot filled with tamale filling ingredients ready to be cooked to make instant pot tamales
 
Carefully transfer the roast to a large bowl and pour or ladle the liquid into a measuring cup.
 
Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and press down on the chilis and garlic to force out as much liquid as possible.
 
Set aside both the liquid and meat until they cool enough to handle.
 
Once the meat has cooled some, remove any large chucks of fat and discard.
 
Next, use two forks to shred the pork.
 
Finally, add in salsa and mix it well with the shredded pork.
 
shredded pork filling being mixed in a large bowl for instant pot tamales

How to Make Masa Dough

In a medium mixing bowl or your stand mixer bowl, combine masa flour, baking powder, and salt.

I find it is easiest to use an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but if needed, you can use a hand mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine equal parts chicken broth and drippings from the pork roast so that you have 3.5 cups.

Add the liquid mixture to the masa flour along with the remaining oil.

Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the dough on high for about 10 minutes.

Around halfway through, scrape the bowl’s sides down.

masa meal mix shown being spread on soft corn husk for instant pot tamales

How to Fill the Tamales

To begin, measure the tamales to make sure they fit in your Instant Pot.

You’re going to place the tamales vertically on the steamer rack, so each tamale should be no more than 6 inches tall. 

You’ll need to set aside a small bowl of warm water in your work area.

Once you are ready, start by putting the pointy end of one corn husk so it faces you. It will look like a capital V.

Next, scoop a generous amount of the masa onto the husk about 3 to 4 inches from the bottom of the point.

Wet your fingers in the bowl of warm water and  then use them to spread a thin layer of the masa from the center to the edges and about 1 inch from the top of the husk.

The spread masa should resemble a square when done.

Once you have a thin layer of masa, add the pork following a straight line from the bottom to the top.

Make sure to leave enough room at the top and bottom to seal the tamales.

You should be able to wrap the sides completely around to seal it.

Building the Tamales

Before building the Mexican pork tamales, take an additional husk or two and cut about 1 inch thick ribbons lengthwise.

Set them aside to tie the tamales with.

Once the tamales are filled, you will need to seal them.

To do this, hold the husk on either side and fold in so the right and left sides meet.

Make sure that both sides of the masa are touching and then begin to pull the left side of the husk away.

Then wrap the right side over the masa,

Next, take the left side of the husk and wrap it so that it goes over the right side.

Put the husk seam down with the point of the V still facing you and fold the bottom tip up towards the seam.

Use the shredded long pieces of husk to tie the tamales while making sure to hold the folded tip in place.

Put the steamer rack into the Instant Pot.

Add one or more cups of water to fill the base of the Instant Pot until it comes to the bottom of the rack.

Carefully place the tamales in the Instant Pot vertically with their open side up.

If necessary push the tops of the tamales down a little bit in order to allow the lid to fit.

Close the lid to the Instant Pot.

Set it to manual pressure and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.

When the timer goes off, do a quick release.

Serve immediately with salsa, chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and sour cream.

pork tamales stacked on a white serving plate

Storing Leftovers 

You can store left over tamales in your fridge for about 3 to 5 days.

To store them, I often just leave them fully assembled and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.

You could also store them for about 6 months in a freezer safe container.

To reheat, you can microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes or until they are warmed through.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t over stuff the tamales. You need to leave some room so you can seal them fully.
  • Use water to help keep the masa from sticking to your fingers when you make the tamales.
  • Make sure to sear the pork before pressure cooking it. The sear will create a good flavor and help keep the juices in the meat.
  • Don’t like pork? You could make this with beef or chicken as well. Just adjust the cook time accordingly.

pork tamales stacked on a white serving plate

Other Mexican Inspired Recipes You Will Love

These Mexican pork tamales are one of my favorite treats to whip up when I am in the mood to take my time in the kitchen and cook myself and my family something truly memorable and delicious.

Looking for quicker Mexican recipes to try? These are some of my favorites:

If you’ve tried these MEXICAN PORK TAMALES, or any other recipe on the site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

pork tamales stacked on a white serving plate

Mexican Pork Tamales

Mexican pork tamales are a delicious, authentic tasting recipe you can make at home. Don't wait to get your tamale fix until the next time you go out to eat! Follow along with my step by step guide and you'll be making delicious tamales at home like a pro.
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Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex Mex
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 16
Calories: 230kcal

Equipment

  • Large pot w/ lid
  • Instant Pot w/ streamer rack
  • Large bowl
  • Large measuring cup
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Electric mixer w/ mixing bowl
  • Paddle attachment
  • Small bowl

Ingredients

Pork Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP oil
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder roast
  • 6 garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 dried ancho chile pods remove stem and seeds
  • 2 dried New Mexico chile pods remove stem and seeds
  • 1 tsp oregano Mexican
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C Salsa Select a salsa with as little liquid as possible

Masa Dough Ingredients:

  • 4 C masa harina
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 C chicken broth chicken broth and pork roast juice should equal 3 1.2 cups
  • 1/2 C oil

Additional Ingredients:

  • 14-18 corn husks Mexican food section
  • Warm water for assembling tamales

Instructions

PREP

  • Add corn husks to a large pot. Add warm water to the pot for at least one hour. (The corn husks can be soaked overnight.)
  • Use the lid of the pot to weight the corn husks down.(This will make sure that all of the husks are equally soaked).

Pork Filling Directions:

  • Set Instant Pot on Saute mode. Add oil. Heat.
  • Coat both sides of the pork roast with salt. Add the pork
  • roast to the Instant Pot. Sear the roast on both sides until the sides are browned. (About 5 minutes on each side)
  • Add garlic, chile pods, oregano, and water to the Instant Pot. Seal the lid of the Instant Pot. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 60 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release when it has been on for 60 minutes.
  • Transfer the roast to a large bowl.
  • Transfer the cooking liquid into a measuring cup.
  • Pour it through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Press down on the chiles and garlic to force out as much liquid as possible.
  • Set aside both the liquid and meat until they cool enough to handle. ( Pull out the fat chunks and disregard.)
  • Add in salsa.

Masa Filling Directions:

  • Using an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment on low) combine masa flour, baking powder, and salt in the mixing bowl.
  • Combine chicken broth and the drippings from the pork roast to equal 3 1/2 cups. Add the cups of liquid to the masa flour. Add the rest of the oil (the 1/2 cup). Use the paddle attachment whip the masa mixture set on medium high for about 10 minutes. (Stop half way through the 10 minutes to scrape the sides of the container.)

Filling The Tamales

  • Measure to make sure that the tamales fit in your Instant Pot. (You will place the tamales vertically on the steamer rack.) Each tamale should be no more than 6 inches)
  • Before you start making the tamales set aside a small bowl of warm water in your work area. Start with one corn husk by putting the pointy end of the corn husk is facing you. (This will look like a capital V)
  • Scoop a generous amount of the masa on the husk. Wet your fingers in the bowl of warm water. Make a thin layer of masa in the shape of a square. ( Starting about 3-4 inches from the bottom of the point (the bottom of the V) spread a thin layer of the masa extending to the edges. Continue to spread the masa to about one inch from the top of the corn husk.
  • Filling the corn husk in a straight line in the middle of the husk with the pork. Stop to allow enough room at both the top and bottom of the corn husk so that you can seal the tamale. Add enough filling but leave room so that you can wrap the sides completely around to seal it.
  • Additional prep: shred long pieces of an extra husk to tie the folded tips in place.

Building The Tamales

  • Hold the husk, grab both the right and left sides bringing them together until the sides meet. Check to make sure that both sides of the masa are touching begin to pull the left side of the husk away. Wrap the right side over the nasa, Next, take the left side of the husk and wrap it over the right side. Put the husk seam down, with the point of the V still facing you, fold the bottom tip up towards the seam.
  • Using the shredded long pieces of husk to tie the tamales holding the folded tip in place.
  • Put the streamer rack into the Instant Pot. Add at least one cup of water (or more if room will allow)to fill the base of the Instant Pot until it comes to the bottom of the rack.
  • Carefully put that tamales in the Instant Pot vertically, open side up. (If necessary push the tamales down a little bit in order to allow the lid to fit.)
  • Close the lid.
  • Cook of high pressure for 20 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Garnish with salsa, chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and sour cream.

Nutrition

Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 688mg | Potassium: 338mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 128IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3mg

 

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