Tamale Cups

tamale cups garnished with cilantro
Tamales are one of my favorite things, and if you have been with me for a while – then you know that every Christmas Eve I make tamales.  I absolutely crave them throughout the entire year.  Even though my method of making tamales is less labor intensive than the traditional recipe since it incorporates the help of the crockpot, it still takes a good bit of time to spread the masa on the corn husks, roll them up, and steam them.  Obviously, they are worth the time it takes to get them done – out of this world good for sure.  But, some days I want them – like right then.  And, I don’t have the spare time regular tamales require.
Tamale Cups

That’s where these come in.  All the flavor of a tamale in a fraction of the amount of time – and served to you in a cute little cup.  And you know that is most beautiful of all?  You can make these with LEFTOVER shredded meat.  (You can also use my Mexican Style Meat for this!) Oh yeah.  I used beef this time – but don’t be afraid to use leftover shredded chicken or pork.  It all seasons up and works out fantabulous.

tamale cups
tamale cups - some on a plate, some in the muffin pan


Tamale Cups


For the masa cups:

  • 2 cups masa corn flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 1/3 cups beef broth
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening like Crisco, melted

For the Meat Filling or sub my Mexican Style Meat:

  • 2 cups shredded beef chicken, or pork
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • a few splashes of hot sauce

For the Garnish (optional):

  • crumbled Queso Fresco Mexican crumbling cheese
  • cilantro
  • salsa


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions. Cook until translucent. Stir in the shredded meat and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, taco seasoning, & water. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until all the liquid has rendered out. Stir in however much hot sauce you desire.
  • Mix 2 cups of masa with the baking powder, salt, and taco seasoning. Add the beef stock and mix to a crumbly consistency. Pour in the melted shortening and mix by hand until smooth.
  • Spray your muffin tins with non stick cooking spray. Roll the masa into golf ball sized balls. Place each ball inside of each muffin opening. Using your fingers, press the masa ball to form the inside of the muffin tin – making a cup.
  • Fill each masa shell with the meat mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Allow the tamale cups to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before removing them from the tins. To remove, use a small knife to lift one side, then gently lift them out with your fingers.
  • Garnish with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro. Serve warm.

Tamale Cups - tamales cooked in muffin cups. Easiest tamales ever and they're yummy!