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Mexican Tamales served on top of plantain leaves on a white plate.
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4.75 from 8 votes

Amazing Beef Mexican Tamales

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. 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Mexican Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 makes 16 small tamales
Calories: 381kcal
Author: Mexican Appetizers and More


  • 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.

Red Sauce

  • 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.

Corn Husks

  • 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.

Making Tamales

  • 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.

Cooking Tamales

  • 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.

Serving Tamales

  • To serve, open tamales onto a plate and serve with remaining red sauce, salsa verde or any good hot sauce.


If you do not have a steamer just take a smaller pot and place inside a bigger pot. Place tamales in the smaller pot standing up. Add the water to the bigger pot and cover with lid. Cook the same way as with a steamer. Remember to check water periodically to make sure water has not evaporated.
If you're not planning on having all the tamales right away, place in a ziploc bag and freeze.


Serving: 8g | Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 284mg | Potassium: 241mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 3.2mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 0.8mg