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Close up image of beef tamales with an olive

Beef Tamales

The easy way to make traditional homemade beef tamales! So delicious!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 30 Tamales
Calories 145kcal
Author Ana Frias


  • Electric mixer
  • Steamer


To Make The Beef

  • 2 pounds beef shoulder roast or chuck roast cut in 2 inches squares and most of the fat removed
  • 1 onion cut in half
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of red chile sauce more as necessary

To Make The Masa

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound lard
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 punds fresh masa
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red chile sauce
  • Optional fillings:
  • 2 potatoes sliced in long strings par cooked
  • Olives 1 per tamal, cut in half


  • Shredded Beef
  • In a large pot add the beef, onion, garlic, oregano, salt & pepper. Cover with enough water to cook the ingredients.
  • Cook until the meat is fork tender and comes apart with no resistance, about 2 hours. When done, remove the roast to a platter to cool, reserve the beef broth.
  • Hand shred the meat
  • Add the red chile sauce and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Masa
  • Using an electric mixer, beat together the salt, lard and baking powder until light and fluffy. With the mixer still running, add the masa bit by bit, adding a little stock when it seems too thick, until all the masa and stock are fully incorporated and well mixed and no lumps remain.
  • To Assemble The Tamales
  • Start by soaking the dried corn husks in hot water for a few minutes to soften them.
  • Scoop some masa onto one large or two overlapping smaller husks and smear it with a spoon.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of shredded beef, 1 potato slice & olives.
  • Roll the husk to enclose the masa. Shape it by gently squeezing it. Fold up the bottom (the narrow end), leaving the top open.
  • Wrap each shaped tamal in a small sheet of foil. This helps the tamales retain their shape during steaming and keeps them most until you're ready to serve them.
  • Using a large steamer, put the wrapped tamales standing up, with the water in the bottom of the steamer not touching the tamales. Note: do not over pack the steamer with tamales since it may affect how the tamales cook.
  • Cover and steam about one hour.
  • To test whether tamales are done, remove one and gently pry it out of its husk.
  • The dough should pull away from the husk easily and should hold together. The texture of a fully steamed tamal is bread like but very fine-grained and moist.


Serving: 1Tamal | Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 740mg | Potassium: 2mg | Fiber: 1g