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 MajorLeagueGrilling.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


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

Arthur Aguirre

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 Grillin' Fools, Arthur’s grilling exploits soon followed.
Arthur Aguirre
Arthur Aguirre
Arthur Aguirre

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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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