Tamales – with your crockpot’s help!

Every year for Christmas Eve dinner, I make homemade tamales – and I have done so for many years.  It took me quite some time to come up with that ‘perfect’ recipe.  I made different recipes I found in cookbooks & online, and even though they were quite good, they just weren’t the one.

These, however….this little gems are by far the one.  The best recipes come from trial & error – and baby, I had many errors before these came about. From a dry tamale to a tamale that the masa wasn’t cooked through on – heck, I’ve even ran people out of my house with tears pouring down their face with the bright idea of boiling dried peppers to add to the mix.  

My apologies to that poor cable man.

Now, these do take some work – but they make a lot, and once you taste them you will know that the time and effort that goes into these is well worth it.  If you have leftovers, please send them to me they freeze beautifully.  Making the meat in the crockpot takes away a lot of that work though. 

 Gotta love the slow cooker! 

Chicken Tamales – Just swap out the beef for chicken & use chicken broth

I like to make the meat the day before I assemble the tamales.  You can sub out the beef for chicken too.  The meat is SO GOOD, and it is great used in a variety of Mexican recipes – like tacos & enchiladas.  Don’t just limit the meat recipe to these tamales.  I don’t.

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5 from 2 votes

Tamales - with your crockpot's help!

Author Mrs Happy Homemaker


For the The Meat Filling:

  • 1 4 pound beef chuck roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 7oz cans diced green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 5oz bottles hot sauce (I like Franks)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • *water & 1 beef bouillon cube

For the Masa Dough:

  • 3 cups lard or vegetable shortening, although it won't be as moist
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 9 cups masa harina
  • 5 cups beef broth

For the wrapping:

  • 3 8oz packages corn husks


  • Salt & pepper the chuck roast on each side. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and brown the roast on each side. Place the roast in a slowcooker & top with the onion, green chiles, chili powder, garlic powder, & hot sauce. Pour in enough water to cover 1/3 of the roast & toss in the beef bouillon cube.
  • Cover & cook on high for 6 hours, checking to be sure there is always at least a small amount of liquid in the bottom. Reduce heat to low & continue cooking for another 2 hours.
  • Shred the meat, and let it cool. Taste it, and add more hot sauce if you want it spicier. I like mine plenty spicy. I refrigerate mine overnight & assemble the tamales the next day.
  • Soak the corn husks in a large container full of warm water & allow to soak for 3 hours.
  • Now, for the masa. Place the lard & salt in a large mixing bowl & beat on high speed until fluffy. Add masa harina & beat at a low speed until combined. Pour in beef broth a little at a time while mixing until the masa is the consistency of soft cookie dough.
  • Drain water from husks. One at a time, flatten out each husk, with the narrow end facing you, and spread about 2 tablespoons of prepared masa mixture onto the top 2/3 of the husk. Spread about 2 tablespoons of meat mixture down the middle of the masa. Roll up the corn husk starting at one of the long sides. Fold the narrow end of the husk onto the rolled tamale & tied with a piece of cooking twice or a small strip of corn husk.
  • Place tamales in a steamer basket in a stockpot. Steam over boiling water for 1 hour, or until masa is firm & holds it shape.
  • Make sure the pot doesn't run out of water!
Make sure the pot doesn’t run out of water!