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Mayan Tamales - Mayan Smoky Red

Mayan Tamales

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder or beef roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 4 cups masa harina (corn flour)

  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening

  • 2 cups warm chicken or beef broth

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 20-25 dried corn husks, soaked in hot water for 1 hour

  • 1 1/2 cups red chili sauce (store-bought or homemade)

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon No. 78 Mayan Smoky Red Spice Blend


  1. In a large pot, place the cubed pork or beef with onion, and Mayan Smoky Red Spice Blend. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours until the meat is tender. Shred the meat using two forks and mix with red chili sauce. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Add the lard or vegetable shortening and mix with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the warm broth, mixing until a soft and spreadable dough forms. Cover and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

  3. Drain the soaked corn husks and pat them dry. Lay out a corn husk on a clean surface with the wide end facing you. Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the masa dough evenly onto the husk, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

  4. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the meat filling down the center of the masa. Fold the sides of the corn husk inwards, overlapping each other, and then fold the narrow end over the wide end to enclose the tamale. Repeat with the remaining corn husks, masa dough, and meat filling.

  5. Set up a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 inch of water. Arrange the tamales in the steamer, standing them upright with the folded end facing down. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and steam the tamales for 1.5-2 hours, or until the masa pulls away from the corn husk easily. Add more water to the pot as needed during cooking to prevent it from going dry.

  6. Remove the tamales from the steamer and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. To serve, unwrap the tamales and discard the corn husks. Enjoy your authentic Mexican tamales with your favorite salsa or toppings.


  1. To make homemade red chili sauce, soak dried guajillo or ancho chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Blend the softened chilies with garlic, Mayan Smoky Red Spice Blend, and a bit of the soaking water until smooth. Strain the sauce to remove any seeds or skin and use as needed in the recipe.


  1. Make sure to keep the corn husks submerged in hot water while soaking by placing a plate or heavy object on top of them. This will ensure they become pliable and easy to work with.

  2. Don't overfill the tamales with masa dough or meat filling, as they may burst open during cooking.

  3. If you can't find masa harina at your local grocery store, you can also use corn masa mix (like Maseca) as a substitute.

  4. To keep the tamales moist while steaming, you can place a damp kitchen towel or a few soaked corn husks over the top of the tamales before putting the lid on the pot.

  5. Make sure the water in the steamer doesn't touch the tamales, as this may cause them to become soggy.

  6. Check for doneness by pulling a tamale out of the steamer and letting it cool for a few minutes. If the masa is firm and easily separates from the husk, the tamales are done.

  7. Leftover tamales can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, steam the tamales for a few minutes until heated through, or microwave them wrapped in a damp paper towel.


  1. Tamales can be made with a variety of fillings, such as shredded chicken, cheese, or vegetables. You can also make sweet tamales by using sweetened masa and filling them with fruits, nuts, or chocolate.

  2. You can use green chili sauce instead of red chili sauce for a different flavor. To make green chili sauce, blend tomatillos, green chilies, garlic, and Mayan Smoky Red Spice Blend until smooth.

  3. For a vegetarian option, substitute the meat filling with a mixture of cooked vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, and corn, or use cheese and roasted poblano peppers.

  4. To make tamales with a different type of dough, try using blue corn masa harina, which will give your tamales a unique color and slightly nutty flavor.

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