These Amazing Beef Mexican Tamales are exactly that, AMAZING! Made with a succulent beef mixture, surrounded by a fluffy, moist masa dough and topped with a red chile sauce or salsa verde. Absolutely delicious! A true Mexican staple and very easy to make! Easy to follow step by step guide with pictures.
Tamales Mexicanos de Carne
Amazing Beef Mexican Tamales
Friends, I’m not even sure were to begin talking to you about these delicious Mexican Tamales. Why? Because there is so much to say about them! Mexican Tamales is one of those foods that many of us love but are probably too afraid and hesitant to make because the idea of undertaking something that seems so complicated to make scares us off. But no worries my friends, I’m here to tell you that they are not! Prior to me ever making tamales, I felt the same way! I promise you, you will not feel that way after you make them especially after your first time! You will be surprised to see how easy they really are and wonder how could you have waited all this time to acquire the nerve to make these.
But before we get into all that, let’s talk a little bit about these delicious babies.
- Mexican Tamales originated from Mesoamerica which stretches from southern Mexico to Guatemala.
- Tamales trace back to the Aztecs and the Mayan people as far back as 5000 BC.
- They are made from masa which is a cornmeal flour and are wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves and steamed, baked or boiled. They are commonly served with either a red or green chile sauce (salsa verde).
- Mexican tamales can be filled with chicken, pork, beef and seafood. There are also sweet tamales or “tamales dulces” which may or may not have food coloring to give them that look of “sweetness.” (Here is a recipe from Muy Bueno Cookbook on Sweet Raisin Tamales.)
- Sweet tamales may have raisins, cinnamon, pineapple, coconut, prunes, jams, dulce de leche, guava, etc.
Mexican tamales have always been a comfort food for Mexico as well as a food of celebration. Very commonly served for Christmas, New Year’s and Day of the Dead. However, they are also a very common family affair for regular celebrations.
A step by step guide to making Mexican Tamales and recipe follows…
Carefully separate corn husks and soak in water for at least 40 minutes. I soaked mine in my kitchen sink.
In a saucepan heat chiles with onion and garlic with water for 15 minutes or until soft.
Once softened, remove stems and seeds.
After placing chiles, onion and garlic in blender, strain skin and any leftover seeds through strainer to extract sauce.
After beef has been cooked, shred into smaller pieces.
After chile sauce has been added to beef.
For masa I use Maseca brand, instant corn masa mix. You can find Maseca corn flour in most local supermarkets in the international aisle.
Your masa should look light and fluffy.
Spread masa on corn husk. Place masa towards the left and leaving about 3 to 4 inches masa free from the bottom.
Add beef mixture to center of masa. Optional: add olives cut in half.
Fold one side of corn husk over and then fold other side over to cover.
After both sides are folded, fold bottom up and tie with strip of corn husk.
Strip a small piece of corn husk and wrap bottom fold.
Here is an alternative if you do not have a steamer to steam your tamales. Use a big pot and place a smaller pot within it. Add tamales to smaller pot and add water to bigger pot. The point here is to have tamales not touch water, just like a steamer would do. Cook for 1 hour.
Once done unwrap tamale, add sauce and enjoy!
If you cannot find corn husks or dried chilis in the international aisle of your local supermarket, you can also purchase them through Amazon.
Amazing Beef Mexican Tamales
- 16 corn husks plus one extra husk to make "tie" strips
- sliced olives
- 2 to 3 Pounds beef chuck or beef roast cut into 2 inch cubes
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion quartered
- salt/pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 Cups masa mix I used Maseca Brand `
- 1 cup vegetable shortening or lard
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 Cups beef broth reserved from cooked beef
- 7 dry guajillo peppers
- 3 dry ancho chile peppers
- 4 dry arbol chile
- 1 onion peeled and cut into quarters
- 6 garlic peeled
- salt to taste
- broth from peppers
- Cut beef into cubes and season with salt and pepper. In a pot over medium heat add enough water to cover beef. Add quartered onion and 4 garlic cloves. Cook for about 2 hours until beef is fork tender. Remove beef and reserve beef broth. Shred beef with two forks. Set aside.
- Add dried peppers, quartered onion and 6 garlic cloves to a pot. Cover with water and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat until peppers have softened. Remove peppers from pot and reserve broth the peppers were cook in. Remove stems and seeds.
- Add all the peppers, onion and garlic to a blender with about a cup of the pepper broth. Blend until smooth. Strain leftover pepper skin and seeds through a thin colander into a bowl. (Refer to picture in step by step guide) Add salt to taste. When beef is done and shredded, add half the sauce to beef and mix well together. Set aside.
- Separate 17 husks (from package the corn husks came in) being careful not to break apart since they are fragile when dried. Add corn husks to lukewarm water for about 40 minutes to soften a little. (I put mine in the sink to soak)
- Add masa to a bowl. Add baking powder and salt. Slowly add beef broth and mix together with a spoon. Add lard to masa mix and beat with a hand mixer until it's a fluffy texture.
- Rinse and dry corn husks with a kitchen towel. Set aside on tray and top with a damp cloth to keep husks moist.Take the extra husk and peel 16 thin strips off with your fingers. These will be used to "tie" tamales.
- Place husk on a plate or place in your hand with the narrow end facing you.Place a thin layer of masa on husk and leave about 3 inches masa free from narrow end (bottom). Refer to pictures.
- Add meat to center and add sliced olives if using. Fold one side over and then fold the other side. (Refer to pictures)
- Fold narrow end up and tie with a thin strip of husk as shown in picture. Note: top side of tamale will remain exposed.
- Repeat same process until all tamales are done.
- Place tamales in a steamer standing up with the exposed side up. Add about 2 inches of water to pot. Cover with a lid. Cook for one hour over medium low heat.
- Tamales are done when masa separates a little from husk around exposed top side.
- To serve, open tamales onto a plate and serve with remaining red sauce, salsa verde or any good hot sauce.
So when are you going to make some Mexican Tamales?
Tom white says
Can you make ahead of time and freeze?
Yes you can make tamales ahead of time and freeze. You can make them and freeze them raw or precooked. To freeze them raw, just place them in a freeze tight container or freezer ziploc bag and cook them for one hour, the same way you ordinarily would when ready to make. Or you can make them, precook them, freeze them and when you’re ready to eat, thaw a little in the refrigerator and cook them in a steamer for about 20 minutes.
Also, tamales last about 4 months in freezer.
Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for stopping by!
These look delicious, however, we always use pork. We never use garlic though in any of our Mexican food. Our Mexican family does not use garlic either.
Also, there is a way to see if your masa is the right consistency. Make a little ball and set it in water. It should float. This way you know it is light enough to use.
One other thing, vegetable shortening is not lard. Lard is made from pork and it the best to use for tamales.
Yes these are pretty delicious!
Yes, I loveeee pork tamales, absolutely one of one favorites! I understand about the garlic, there are some people who love their “meat” flavored with garlic and others who do not. I know a few of my friends who use powdered garlic and some who use fresh garlic, I prefer fresh garlic.
Sorry!! I wasn’t suggesting that vegetable shortening was lard, I was suggesting “or lard.” A lot of my readers do not easily have pork lard available so I included vegetable shortening for this recipe. I guess it’s something I need to make clearer. Pork “lard” is actually on my calendar schedule of recipes, that I want to share with my readers so they also have that option which yes I absolutely agree, lard is best for tamales with the added flavor and deliciousness it offers.
I also know this tip for the “masa,” thanks for the reminder! I will add this to my post.
Thank you for your comment and input.
Anita @ Daily Cooking Quest says
Never thought of making my own tamales. And I love that they can be made ahead and freeze for several months. Thanks for sharing.
Yes Anita I love that also! Makes it so easy to have a tamale snack, lunch or dinner any time!
I LOVE Tamales but I have always been so scared to try and make them. I am saving your post so that I can finally give these a try! The mix of flavors that you have used in this sound so good!
Jessie you will be shocked at how easy these are to make! And so delicious! Let me know how it goes!
This looks great! We haven’t tried homemade tamales yet, but have already pinned to give this go. 🙂
Great to hear!
The bay leaf sounds like the perfect ingredient to bring everything together for this recipe. Wow it is so original, I love it. Will have to give it a go!
Veena Azmanov says
Delicious, flavorful and perfect. My family to relish it all.
Happy to hear this!
Not quite my family’s recipe, but these should be very good. The process takes longer than you might think. When my family makes tamales, it is a grand gathering and we use the “assembly line” technique. Admittedly we are usually making 10 to 15 dozen when we do this. The reader’s comment about testing masa in a glass of water is spot on.
Thank you Ema, yes these are quite delicious. I know exactly what you mean about the assembly line! 🙂 We are the same way when we’re making tamales or pasteles! I think this makes it so much more fun and obviously a ton easier. Better yet, once you’re done making dozens of tamales, then you get to feast! Love our traditions so much! And the masa trick is a classic for sure and forever timeless! YUM!