Appetizers & Snacks/

Pork-Red Chile Filling for Tamales

Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 2cups, enough for 16 tamales


  • 1/3cup top-quality chile powder without salt
  • 3/4teaspoons salt if no salt in chile powder
  • 1pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2tbspfresh masa or masa harina
  • 1/4cup raisins
  • 1/4cup roughly chopped green olives
  • Salt, if necessary


In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, whisk together the chile powder, salt and 3 cups water. Add the meat and bring to a boil over high heat. Partially cover and reduce the temperature to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer until the meat is fall-apart tender, about 1 hour. Let cool for a few minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove the meat. Pour 1/2 cup water into a small bowl and whisk in the masa or masa harina until thoroughly blended. Return the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Strain in the masa mixture, and whisk until the mixture boils and thickens slightly. Remove from the heat, taste and season with additional salt if necessary.

Use fingers or 2 forks to break the meat into coarse shreds. Scoop into a bowl and stir in the raisins and olives along with one cup of the thickened sauce. You can save the rest of the sauce, rewarm it and serve it over the tamales, if you wish.


  1. I’m a big Bayless fan and am ready to start making tamales. I wanted to read the reviews on my new smart phone but instead I gave this recipe two stars and haven’t figured how to undo..sorry.

      1. My tamales came out perfect! The hardest part was keeping my family away from the tamales until they had cooled and firmed up.

        This is an easy recipe for tamales.

  2. Am making these tamales now and the house smells wonderful. Tasted the birth the pork is cooking in, and it’s so good! Will post more in a few hours when done.

    1. lmao..the “birth”the pork is cooking in”!!! but i love Rick Bayless, his shows are the BEST, and his recipes always turn out perfect for us!!!!

  3. I use a couple of tablespoons of meat in my tamales. So 16 lbs eould not make thatmany in my house. Msybe 12-13 fozen.

  4. I am sooo happy to find this recipe. All others talk about using “prepared masa” which is what you can purchase from a grocery store or Mexican market. I don’t have any place that sells it here, so I have to start with the masa harina, which is the corn flour. It has to be reconstituted to become the masa… then you can follow the rest of your recipe to make your tamale dough. Even the bag of masa harina does not tell you how much liquid it takes to reconstitute it. So thank you so much!

    1. most stores now across the country carry masa harina. just ask! Kroger is one of the biggest chains in the country and they have a complete line of Mexican products.

  5. I love your recipes. They are the best. I get so many compliments from my family and friends. Thank you Rick! I love the show you did on the coco beans and how they are prepared. do you make your own vanilla and what beans do you use most often?

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