Homemade Tamales

A traditional Mexican Holiday Treat…Homemade Tamales are made with a delicious beef flavored Masa and stuffed with shredded beef and steamed to perfection.

If you’ve ever visited my “About Me” page…you’ll know the birds at this Nest do not all look the same. We’re good with that. It’s who we are! (I think it’s who we should all be!) 

Years ago…I wanted our adopted Hispanic children’s heritage and traditions honored during the Holidays. I decided one way, to do that, would be to have a “Mexican Fiesta” the day before Christmas Eve.

I knew Tamales are considered a special Holiday dish so I wanted to learn how to make them. Thankfully I had a friend who knew how, she came over one year, and taught me. It’s one of my favorite memories.

Homemade Tamales on a plate, one broken open with the meat exposed

Truthfully they are not as hard as you would think! A couple of helpful tips before we begin…

  1. Have all the prep work done the night before.  (meat and husks)
  2. Find a friend who can help you, or put the kids to work!
  3. You’ll need a big steamer, or a big pot with one of those fold-able steamer inserts.

How To Make Homemade Tamales

Ready? Here we go…Remember…you are doing this part the night before.

You can use chicken, pork, or beef. We like beef.  I used 8 lbs of Costco Stew Beef, but any chuck roast will work. Place your meat in a slow cooker.

Add 1 can of beef broth, 1/4 cup dried onion flakes, 1 cup finely shredded carrot (this sweetens the meat a bit) and 1/8 cup diced green chili peppers. (More if you like it spicy. The heat scale is your choice.)

Beef, shredded carrots, dried onions, and beef broth for tamale filling

Cover and cook the meat on low for 8-10 hours. This is why I said to start the night before. If you do this during the night then you’re ready to go in the morning.

Beef in the slow cooker for tamale filling

Fill a large stock pot with hot water. Place 1 sack of corn husks into the pot. Cover and let sit over night. This will help to soften them and re-hydrate them.

Corn husks soaking in water

In the morning, when the meat is done…drain the meat, but reserve the liquid.

TIP: I place a large strainer inside a big bowl, then place the meat in the strainer and allow the juices to drip down into the bowl.

Using a fork shred the beef and remove any excess fat.

Shredded beef for tamale filling

I like to steam my husks while I’m preparing the Masa and assembly line.

With the lid still on the pot turn the heat to low. Bring to a low boil…turn heat off. Allow the husks to soak in the pan with the lid on, until you are ready to assemble Tamales.

Meanwhile…back at the Masa mill…let’s make the dough for the Tamales. I do not like “dry” dough tamales. The type where it’s like “corn bread” wrapped around meat. NO!

These Tamales are moist with a semi-thin Masa. They’re my favorite Tamales ever.

I’ll be honest…this is a tough recipe to write up because it’s a “texture” thing more than a “measurement” thing.

You’ll need 1 pound of soften butter. Place in your mixer, with the paddle attachment, and beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add 1 tsp salt, add 5 cups of Corn Masa…one cup at a time, mixing on low. Alternate with the left over beef broth, about 3 cups, until you have what resembles a very soft, sticky, corn bread dough.

Why are we using the beef broth? Because it adds a ton of flavor to the Masa!

Masa for Tamales

You want the dough more moist than that pictured above. If you don’t have enough reserved liquid add more canned beef broth a little at a time until you hit a good spreadable mixture.

It needs to stick to the corn husk and not fall apart.

That’s the next step!

For your “assembly line”…You’ll want your beef on the table, your Masa, and your softened corn husks. Place the husks on top of a towel to catch any excess water.

Grab a Husk. Lay the large end facing you. Using a spatula or knife, spread the masa from about half way down the middle of the husk towards the large end of the husk. Go all the way to one side edge, but leave about 1-2 inches from the other side edge. If the husk is too wide…tear it down to a more reasonable size. You’ll want to leave about 3-4 inches towards the narrow edge, or back edge, to fold under.

Masa spread on corn husks

Place the meat down the center of the masa. You can make them as full and big as you want. I tend to lean towards a smaller tamale. That’s because I also serve them with lots of other great Mexican side dishes…need room on that plate and in the tummy!

Meat filling on top of masa in corn husks

Time to Roll that Tamale. Take the outer edge where you have the Masa to the edge, and roll it towards the edge of the Masa on the side that has the 2-3 inches of empty husk. Roll the remaining “empty” edge over, fold the back under towards the seam.

Tear strips off a corn husk for ties. Wrap around the Tamale and tie in a knot.

Tamale rolled up and tied off with husk bands

Just keep spreading, filling, rolling, tucking, and tying until you have used all the beef and Masa dough. I did the spreading of the Masa. My daughter filled, rolled, and tied. It really helps move it along if you can have a Tamale Buddy!

Now you just have to steam them to cook the Masa.

I use my Turkey Fryer/Steamer. I realize not everyone has one. That’s okay. You can use a large pot and a steamer insert. Either method will work. You can either stand them up or lay them on top of each other. Again…both ways will work.

Place about 8 cups of water in the bottom of your pot, depending on the size of your pot…it’s okay if the Tamales are sitting slightly in the water.  Cover the pot and bring water to a low boil. Steam for about 30-40 minutes.

Beef Tamales in the steamer

Turn off the heat and allow them to sit for 30 minutes so you don’t burn yourself.  Remove from the pan and lay on a paper towel.

This recipe makes a LOT of Tamales. About 45. That’s perfect! If you’re going to all the trouble to make them…you may as well freeze a bunch. They reheat beautifully if you re-steam them!  (No I didn’t eat 45 Tamales!)

Can you see how moist the Masa is? The beef is packed with flavor and so tender. They are wonderful…truly wonderful.

Relish all your hard work and enjoy each and every mouthful!

Beef Tamales on plate with melted cheese

I love these Tamales.

There’s two reason for my deep love of them. One, they’re delicious. (kinda a no brainer there! lol) More than that though…they remind me how truly blessed I have been to have two wonderful women selflessly give the gift of children to me.

Learning to make Tamales and trying to honor their heritage is my very small way of saying “Thank You!”

I hope you’ll incorporate them into your Holiday Traditions. I’m pretty sure the birds at your Nest will love them as much as the birds at this Nest do!

Other wonderful Mexican Dish Recipes

This week I’ll be sharing a Lot of Holiday Recipes! Be sure to stop by. Remember to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for all the YUM! Have a Great Week!

Norine's Nest Signature

Yield: 35-45 Tamales

Homemade Tamales

Homemade Tamales

A traditional Mexican Holiday Treat...Homemade Tamales are made with a delicious beef flavored Masa and stuffed with shredded beef and steamed to perfection.

Prep Time 10 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 10 hours 30 minutes


  • 5-8 lbs of chuck roast
  • 1 can of beef broth
  • 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon green chili peppers
  • 5 Cups Corn Masa
  • 2 cups softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 - 4 cups reserved beef broth (you can use additional canned beef broth)
  • 1 package dried corn husks


The night before...

  1. place chuck roast, or roast beef, into a large slow cooker. Add 1 can beef broth, 1 cup finely shredded carrots, dried onion flakes, and green peppers. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours.
  2. Fill a large pot, with a lid, with water. Add dried corn husks. Cover and allow to soak over night.

The next day...

  1. Drain the cook roast beef, reserving the liquid for the Masa dough.
  2. Shred the beef. Set aside.
  3. Place the pan with the soaking husk on the stove top. Make sure there is enough liquid to bring to a low boil. Keep pan covered. Turn off heat and allow to steam for 20 minutes.
  4. In mixer, with paddle attachment, cream 2 cups of butter with salt.
  5. Add Corn Masa, one cup at a time, alternating with reserved beef broth, continuing mixing until a soft sticky spreadable dough forms. Add additional broth if necessary. Should be the texture of wet drop biscuits.
  6. Set up an assembly line of husks, Masa, Meat, Corn Husk Ties.
  7. Remove Corn Husks from Pan and set on a kitchen towel.
  8. Spread Masa down the corn husk, starting about half way down, towards the large end of the husk. Leave 2-3 inches along the left side of the husk empty.
  9. Fill with meat down the center of the Masa. Fold the filled edge towards the empty edge meeting Masa with Masa. Fold empty edge over the back. Fold the Tail under and bring towards the top of the Tamale.
  10. Tie with Husk strip.
  11. Repeat until all Tamales have been made.
  12. Place tamales in a steamer basket. Place in a large pot with about 3-4 inches of water. Cover. Steam for 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 30 minutes covered.
  13. Serve warm. Freeze remaining Tamales.
  14. To reheat place in steamer and steam for 20 minutes.

Nutrition Information:


40 servings

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:Calories: 1191 Total Fat: 79g Saturated Fat: 35g Trans Fat: 4g Unsaturated Fat: 39g Cholesterol: 401mg Sodium: 781mg Carbohydrates: 7g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 114g







  1. Jessica cordle | 4th May 19

    Loved this recipe however i was wondering do you remove the husk afternits cooked?

    • norine@norinesnest.com | 5th May 19

      Hi Jessica!
      I remove the Husks just before serving them. If you remove the husks immediately after they cook the Tamales will dry out. It’s also best to leave the husks on if freezing and for reheating later. It will hold the steam in the tamale during re-heating. Hope this helps. Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting with me. Sorry it took me a day to get back to you. I’m traveling back home from a conference and don’t have wi-fi all the time. Have a wonderful Cinco de Mayo!
      Happy Nesting!

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