Slow-Roasted Shredded Beef Tamales

pulled pork tamales

 Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 hrs
Total: 10 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 20 to 40 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
391 Calories
20g Fat
40g Carbs
17g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20 to 40
Amount per serving
Calories 391
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 47mg 16%
Sodium 233mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 14mg 68%
Calcium 51mg 4%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 497mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tamales are a common and popular food in all Hispanic cultures. They're usually made with a corn dough which is then filled with meat and/or vegetables. A succulent slow-roasted shredded beef is the star of these tamales, and although making them is time-consuming, you will be rewarded with rich, flavorful tamales that will become a family favorite. Serve with fresh pico de gallo and sliced avocado on the side.

Making tamales is easy once you get the hang of it; after a couple of practice tamales, you'll be assembling them in no-time. And although this recipe has many steps, it's divided into sections to make planning and preparation easier.


For the Beef Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 pounds chuck roast

  • Optional:

    1/2 teaspoon annatto paste

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

  • 1 onion (chopped into 1/4 inch pieces)

  • 2 cups water or beef broth

For the Masa Harina Dough:

For the Wrappers:

  • 40 corn husks

Steps to Make It

Make the Beef Filling

  1. Gather the filling ingredients.

  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the cooking oil, swirling it around to coat the bottom of the pan.

  3. Sprinkle the flour over the roast. Rub it evenly over the surface.

  4. Brown the roast by carefully placing the meat in the hot pan and cooking 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until it's browned nicely.

  5. Place the roast in a slow cooker.

  6. If including the annatto paste, use a spoon to smear it over the top.

  7. One spice at a time, sprinkle over the ground cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, cocoa, and salt.

  8. Add the chopped green chiles and onion to the pot.

  9. Pour the water or beef broth into the bottom of the crockpot; it should come about an inch up the sides of the roast.

  10. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. The beef should be fork tender and fall apart easily. There shouldn't be much liquid left in the bottom of the pot, and what is left should be of a gravy consistency.

  11. With the help of two forks or a slotted spoon, remove any large chunks of fat from the roast. Shred the beef by pulling it apart into chunks or strands.

  12. Mix the liquids and beef together until it is well combined. Set aside.

Prepare the Corn Husks

  1. Clean and remove any debris or corn hairs.

  2. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces. Use the larger and medium-sized husks to wrap the tamales and the smaller pieces for tying them.

  3. Place the husks in a large bowl.

  4. Cover the husks with warm water and keep them submerged with the help of a heavy item for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  5. Remove the husks from the water and pat dry.

  6. Place in a covered dish and cover with a wet, clean kitchen towel, or place in a large plastic bag to prevent them from drying out.

  7. Cut strips off of the smaller, non-usable husks by cutting or tearing 1/4 inch lengths. Reserve for the ties.

Make the Tamale Dough

  1. Gather the tamale dough ingredients.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the masa and warm water or broth until combined.

  3. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften.

  4. With an electric mixer (or vigorously mix with your hands), mix on low speed until a dough forms.

  5. Gradually add the salt, cumin, and onion powder by sprinkling them over the dough as you mix it.

  6. In a separate bowl, whip the lard for about 3 minutes or until fluffy.

  7. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time, mixing well until combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If it seems too sticky or dry, add a little extra water or harina as needed until you achieve the desired consistency.

Assemble the Tamales

  1. Lay a husk on a flat surface. It should take the shape of a fan; arrange it so the narrow end is at the bottom.

  2. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of dough onto the husk (depending on the size of the husk) placing it toward the top.

  3. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread the dough, leaving a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end and about 2 inches from the broad end (the top).

  4. Spread the dough approximately 1/4 inch thick, making sure to leave space on either side.

  5. Spread a couple of spoonfuls of filling down the center of the dough, leaving at least 1 inch of dough around the sides.

  6. Lift up the tamale, bringing the sides of the husks toward each other so the edges of the dough meet.

  7. Fold the husk to one side, around the back, so it's neatly enclosed.

  8. Flip over the tamale.

  9. Fold the broad end down, to enclose the top.

  10. Fold the longer narrow end up, covering the top fold.

  11. With the strips of husk you previously cut, tie the tamales crosswise. (If the tamales are small enough, you can tie them lengthwise as well.)

Steam the Tamales

  1. Set tamales upright in a steamer (or use a pot with boiling water and a colander on top to hold the tamales). The water should not touch the tamales and the pot should have a tight-fitting lid.

  2. Cover the pot and steam for about 90 minutes.

  3. Let the tamales cool for 1 hour, without taking them out of the steamer. This allows the dough to firm up.

  4. Enjoy the tamales with your favorite table sauce, pico de gallo, lime, and fresh avocados.


You can use kitchen twine instead of the husk strips to tie each tamale.


You can fold the tamales to keep the top open. Skip the step of folding over the broad end and make sure to place the tamales in the steamer with the open end up.