I’d like to intro­duce our first Guest Grillin Fool — Arthur Aguirre has been blow­ing up the Grillin Fools Face­book page late­ly with pic­tures of great stuff he has done on the grill, so I asked him if he would like to do a post for the site.  He agreed and offered to share his awe­some tamale recipe made with pulled pork with us.  I’ll hand it off to Arthur so he can explain exact­ly how he did it…

***Editor’s Note ~ Arthur has start­ed his own blog and I’m more than hap­py to pro­mote him on mine.  His new site is called Major​League​Grilling​.com***

So I final­ly did it, I made tamales. These tasty treats are filled with spicy shred­ded pork and wrapped in steamed corn dough called masa. Some peo­ple may be intim­i­dat­ed to make them, I was.  Oth­ers may have a neigh­bor­hood tamale ven­dor just around the cor­ner. If you nev­er had them or if you eat tamales out of a can, you don’t know what you’re miss­ing. I’ll show you how to make authen­tic Mex­i­can tamales with a twist….using smoked pork. My Dad’s orig­i­nal recipe calls for boil­ing pork until ten­der, but I pre­fer to let the meats’ own juices cook itself by using the low and slow process. This way, the pork is smoky, ten­der and has plen­ty of fla­vor. The ingre­di­ents are a short list of pantry sta­ples and spe­cial­ty items


3lbs of cooked pork
2 bags of dried pep­pers
1 bag of corn husks
5lb of pre-made corn masa
2tsp cumin
1tsp minced gar­lic
1tsp salt
2tsp oil
2tsp flour
**Makes 50 tamales

The pork was easy for me, I used left over pork from pre­vi­ous meals. Two pounds came from a 10lb smoked pic­nic that was used to make pulled pork.

Anoth­er pound came from spare rib trim­mings from a par­ty I had.

They were stored in freez­er bags and kept in the ice box until ready to use.  I thawed the meat in the refrig­er­a­tor and chopped it into small pieces with a knife. This was quick and easy.

If I was mak­ing the pork for tamales, I would start with a 6lb Boston butt with the bone in. Add some BBQ rub or your favorite Mex­i­can sea­son­ing to the meat. Place the Boston butt on the smok­er. If you don’t have a smok­er, don’t wor­ry because I don’t either. I have a ver­sa­tile Grill Man­u­fac­tur­er That Shall Not Be Named. My ket­tle is set up with a smok­ing acces­so­ry.

There are var­i­ous ways to dupli­cate this set up using dif­fer­ent mate­ri­als. This is just one way to achieve BBQ results on a ket­tle. The sur­face grill temp is set to reach 225 degrees. The pork is tak­en off at 190 inter­nal temp and the bone can be clean­ly pulled from the meat. Total cook time is around 8 hours. It is pulled after it sits for an hour under a loose sheet of foil.

Dried pep­pers, corn husks and masa are spe­cial­ty ingre­di­ents that may be found at your typ­i­cal gro­cery store. If they are not avail­able there, try the Mex­i­can gro­cery store. The var­i­ous dried pep­pers such as New Mex­i­co, ancho, but pasil­la pep­pers are com­mon in mak­ing tamales. One bag should yield 14 dried pep­pers. I used New Mex­i­co pep­pers for this recipe, they are more spicy than pasil­las, though still con­sid­ered mild.

The masa can either be pre-made or in pow­dered form. It is eas­i­er to find the pow­der masa in the typ­i­cal gro­cery mar­ket, the most pop­u­lar brand is Mase­ca. Fol­low the instruc­tions on the pack­ag­ing to pre­pare it. How­ev­er, try to find the pre-made masa, it can be found in the freez­er box at the Mex­i­can gro­cery store in a 5lb con­tain­er. Thaw the masa in the refrig­er­a­tor. This will save you a lot of time dur­ing this long process.

The corn husks should be soaked in water for 1 hour, the longer they soak the eas­i­er it is to fold them.

Dur­ing this time, roast the pep­pers by hold­ing them over a burn­er on high heat, don’t burn them. The heat releas­es the sweet aro­ma of the pep­pers. Next, cut the stems off all of the dried pep­pers and de-seed them. Soak them in a large pot of warm water for 30 min­utes. After that, place the pep­pers in a blender along with 5 cups of the water the pep­pers were soak­ing in. In addi­tion, add the cumin, gar­lic and salt. Blend all the ingre­di­ents until smooth. Then turn on the stove to med-high heat. Place a large pot on the stove, add the oil and flour in the pot and mix togeth­er. Set aside 1 cup of the pep­per mix­ture for the masa. Add the rest of the pep­per mix­ture into the pot. Let it heat up a lit­tle bit then add the pork to it. Sim­mer the pork until it has absorbed the pep­pers. Turn off heat, let it cool until it is warm enough to han­dle.

This next step would ben­e­fit great­ly from some vol­un­teers in assem­bling tamales. First you want to take the corn husks out of the water, make sure to rinse off any dirt on them and shake off excess water. Emp­ty the con­tain­er of masa into a large bowl. Next, mix the reserve pep­pers into the masa.

Take a spoon­ful of masa and spread it on the inside of the curved corn husk. Spread the masa all the way to the wide edge of the corn husk and leave about a half of a fin­ger length at the nar­row end of the husk.

The masa should be spread to the thick­ness of a tor­tilla. Add a spoon full of meat to the cen­ter of the masa. Roll up the tamale, the shape should result in a rec­tan­gle pock­et.

Just before assem­bling all the tamales, fill the tamalera or tamale steam pot with water just below the rack. The tamale pot is a gal­va­nized iron pot made to steam the tamales. It has a rack on the inside to keep the tamales above the water. My Dad gave this one to me because he bought a big­ger one. It could hold about 70 tamales.

You can find a tamale pot at the Mex­i­can gro­cery store too. Turn the stove on high heat and fin­ish assem­bling the tamales.

Final­ly, load the tamales in the pot.

Put on the lid and let them steam for 1 hour or until the masa is no longer doughy.

Since you made a lot, you can store them in the freez­er. Or, give some to your cowork­ers, neigh­bors and friends. You can reheat the tamales in the microwave by cov­er­ing them with a damp paper tow­el. And if you want to serve your tamales the right way, top it off with a fried egg:

These turned out fan­tas­tic. Smok­ing the pork made a big dif­fer­ence. And the heat was just the right amount for me because it doesn’t over­pow­er the sweet­ness of the pep­per or the masa. If I had to change any­thing, I would lay the masa on a lit­tle thick­er. Deli­cioso!

***Editor’s note ~ Deli­cioso indeed Arthur.  These look fan­tas­tic.  Thanks for shar­ing with the Grillin’ Fools.  We look for­ward to see­ing your future grilling endeav­ors.  I think I heard men­tion of camp­fire fish tacos with chipo­tle slaw.  I can’t wait***

If you have any ques­tions, leave a com­ment below or shoot me an email and I’ll pass it on to Arthur.

If you would like to see oth­er pork recipes on the grill click here.

Also, fol­low the Grillin Fools and post your own grillin pic­ture on Face­book like Arthur did or keep up with us on Twitter@GrillinFool (no S)

Arthur Aguirre
Major League Grilling’s founder, Arthur Aguirre, is a BBQ enthu­si­ast with a pas­sion to cook any­thing on the grill. Before reach­ing the lev­el of pit­mas­ter, Arthur spent years of hope­less­ly under cook­ing and over­cook­ing var­i­ous cuts of suc­cu­lent meats. With the help of inter­net forums such as the BBQ Brethren, Char-Broil, and the experts from the GrillinFools, Arthur’s grilling exploits soon fol­lowed.
Arthur Aguirre
Arthur Aguirre
Arthur Aguirre

Latest posts by Arthur Aguirre (see all)



These look amaz­ing and they are going on the “Must-Do” list on the frig! As for your com­ment “Or, give some to your cowork­ers, neigh­bors and friends.” I’m going to ignore that and stick with the freez­ing for left overs. Can not wait for the post on camp­fire fish tacos and chipo­tle slaw! — Thanks for the great post!!



Arthur just sent me the pics and the write up for the fish tacos. Looks great. I hope to get it up on the site in the next cou­ple of days. Very busy with the tod­dler and the new­born at home and catch­ing up at work so, it may be delayed a bit but it will be worth the wait…


Two thumbs way up Arthur!
A must do soon!


Thanks Brass!

Give the tamales a try, you won’t be dis­ap­point­ed. I agree with you now that all my tamales are gone. I’m ignor­ing my own advise.


Thanks Webert!

I’ve got anoth­er good post to share in the near future.


Oh man these tamales make my mouth water. We usu­al­ly make them with chick­en, but I have nev­er made them with pork, let alone pulled pork. My mom makes the best slow roast­ed pork loin that falls apart, so I am going to print this recipe out and have her do it with pork next time.

Thanks fo such detailed instruc­tions with the pho­tos and all!



Thank you for the com­ments. You can use any type of meat for tamales…heck, you can have fruit stuffed tamales too! I made these again recent­ly with dif­fer­ent chiles (gua­jil­lo) and a Mex­i­can spice rub that turned out fan­tas­tic too. This recipe is total­ly cus­tomiz­able.


Ok, I have to admit… out­side of bacon, I’m not that big of a pork fan. I rarely eat it these days. But, using smoked pork in tamales does peak my inter­est. Espe­cial­ly, since I haven’t eat­en a batch of good tamales in awhile. I may actu­al­ly try this one.


Yum I love tamales, a bit of green sal­sa would do it for me. I’ve nev­er tried to cook them myself, always thought it would be too dif­fi­cult, but the pho­tos make the recipe look easy (nice touch), think I might give it a go this week­end.


I did these with left­over pulled pork from our BBQ they are great. Well worth the time it takes to make them.


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