Red Chili Pork Tamales

Ready for the steam bath!
  • Servings: 40
  • Difficulty: I won't do it again
  • Print

I love tamales, so I thought I would cook them by myself and that my friends is a big NO NO! If you see the servings, prep, cook and difficulty section you will see I kicked my own a$$, but I did it and so can you. I highly suggest you ask for help from your family and friends. That is what I should have done. You will see that I cooked the pork in my pressure cooker, the stove top will take at least an hour and a half cooking time.

Please read all the notes, they might save you some time.

I love challenges and this recipe is tasty, but my wrapping is a work in progress. All-in-all, they turned out perfect to me.

Day 1 – Cook the pork and chili sauce

Pork Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3- to 3½-lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 dried bay leaves 
  • 1 Tbs. dried Mexican oregano
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 guajillo chilies stemmed and seeded
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice berries
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups water mixed with 2 tsp. chicken bouillon

Directions to prepare the pork filling in the Instant Pot:

  1. Place guajillo chilies in a small saucepot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and allow chilies to soften, about 15 minutes.
  2. Once the chilies are soft, remove from saucepot and place in blender.  Add garlic, oregano, cloves, salt, and fire roasted tomatoes, blend until you have a sauce.
  3. Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting and heat oil.  Once heated add the yellow onion and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Turn off the Instant Pot and add the pork, bay leaves, black peppercorns, allspice berries, bouillon water, and the ingredients in the blender.  Stir to combine.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, close the valve, set the pressure to high and cook for 40 minutes.  Once time has elapsed allow to natural release for 15 minutes. 
  6. Carefully turn your vent to open to release any steam left in the pot.  Once it is safe take the lid off and check to see that the meat is fork tender.  If not, repeat step five, but only cook for 10 min.  Repeat as necessary.
  7. Once the meat is done, remove the pork to another dish.  Using 2 forks shred the meat and set aside. Strain the broth to remove all the chunky stuff.  Keep the broth for the chili sauce.

Red chili sauce ingredients: *

  • 2 Tbsp. cooking oil, divided
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 guajillo chilies, stems removed and seeded
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3 (4 oz.) cans hatch chopped green chiles**
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 cups water mixed with 4 tsp. chicken bouillon***

Directions for Chili Sauce:

  1. Put guajillo chilies in a saucepot and cover with water, heat to boiling then turn off heat and allow chilies to soften, about 15 min.
  2. In a skillet heat oil to medium-high and add onion and garlic.  Sauté until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 min. 
  3. Remove the onions and garlic and place in a blender. To the blender, add the softened chilies, tomatoes, chopped green chilies, and ¼ cup broth.  Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the ingredients in the blender back into the skillet and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, allspice, ground cloves, salt, cinnamon, and 2 cup bouillon water. Simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring often.  The sauce will thicken up, get darker and be a smooth consistency.  Watch your sauce, you may have to add more broth if it gets too thick.  Add broth ½ cup at a time so you don’t thin it too much.
  5. Taste your sauce and add additional salt if needed.
  6. Divide the sauce in half.
  7. Add ½ of the chili sauce to the pork and stir to combine. The remaining sauce will be used when serving the tamales.

Masa Ingredients:

  • 1 package Maseca Tamal
  • Lard
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • 3 – 4 cups reserved pork broth*
  • Corn husks, previously soaked in hot water


  1. Make masa according to Maseca Tamal’s directions on package.  The only difference is they call for water and I always use broth.  You can use other brands but I prefer this one.
  2. Take one corn husk and feel it. (Some of the husks will not be great, but keep them for the steaming part of the recipe.) You want the rough side down as you will put the masa on the soft side.  Spread a thin layer of masa (about 2 Tbsp.) in a triangle shape, see image above.
  3. Take about 1 Tbsp. meat mixture and spread close to the center, see image #2 above.
  4. Fold one side over, and then fold the other side.  Then fold the bottom up.  Continue this process until done. See image above.
  5. Add water to the steamer, just below the steamer basket.  Take a few of the leftover cornhusks and put a layer on the bottom of your steamer, and stack/lean the tamales top side up.  Put another layer of leftover cornhusks on top of the tamales and steam for 1 ½ hours.  Take a tamale out and check for doneness, steam an additional 30 min. if needed.
  6. Allow your tamales to rest about 10 to 15 minutes so they set properly.


Prior to assembling tamales take 30 to 40 corn husks and soak in hot, hot water for at least 1 hour. 

*Cook the red chili sauce while the pork is cooking. The sauce is a double batch.  I combine have the sauce with the cooked pork and reserve the 2nd half to serve with the tamales.

**If you can’t find the hatch chilies, use regular green chilies.

***The broth is used throughout.  Use the broth from the pork 1st. You may need more broth, if so mix 1 tsp. chicken bouillon with 1 cup warm water.  Always add a little broth at a time because you can’t take it back. 

I used an angled cake spatula to spread the masa and it worked great. You can also use the back of a spoon, or whatever is easier for you!!

3 thoughts on “Red Chili Pork Tamales

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s