Tamale Pie Recipe


There’s nothing more comforting than taking a few minutes off during your busy day to sit in your favorite spot and eat your favorite tamale pie recipe.  There are sweet pies made out of fruit and there are savory pies like the tamale pie.

In the beginning, Hispanics made and ate tamales. In today’s world, it’s not strictly for Hispanics alone. The traditional dish made of starchy corn-based dough that’s boiled or steamed in leaf paper evolved into a pie.

From its origins in Latin America, tamales were made including the whole family taking part on the cooking. A lot of time was used to prepare and make tamales.

Tamale pie origins are primarily American. Many say it appeared after WWII when meat was scanty and women prepared a baked meal made with cornmeal, cheese, peppers, tomatoes and olives.

Others say tamale pies originated with mainly in California, and it was basically a spin off the typical Mexican tamales.

Maybe you’re wondering how different these two dishes can be, I am speaking of tamale and tamale pie of course.

Basically, we cook and wrap tamales individually, in leaves of either corn or maguey, and make the dough from dried corn kernels processed with lime. To know more about the history and tradition go to my Tamale page.  In contrast, we make and serve a tamale pie in a casserole, and it can feed the whole family.

Making a Tamale Pie


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of white cornmeal
  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Another tablespoon of salt

How to Prepare:

1. When you’re making a tamale pie, you need to make use of the oven so preheat it to 350 degrees F.

2. You then grease your casserole dish lightly.

3. In a saucepan, boil water and add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

4. Add the cornmeal slowly and turn the heat to low. Cook this mixture for 5 minutes making sure you stir constantly.

5. Pour the hot cornmeal into the casserole dish.

6. In a frying pan, cook the ground beef making sure not to brown it.

7. Add the bell pepper and onion and cook for five minutes.

8. Add the undrained can of corn kernels, salt, tomato sauce, and chili powder.

9. When this is heated up enough, pour this into the mixture you have into the casserole dish.

10. Spoon this over with more cornmeal.

11. Put grated cheese on the top and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

This tamale pie recipe might seem complicated to you but when you try it out, you’ll find that it’s actually very easy to make. Set yourself up for a delectable treat with a slice any time of the day you have a craving for something delicious.

Tamale Pie TIPS

  • You can serve this meal any time of the year.
  • Use the cheese as an indicator because when it is brown and melted your tamale pie is ready.
  • You can make this tamale pie recipe hot by adding 1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper.

Other Tamale Articles You May Enjoy

Authentic Tamale Recipe
Chicken Tamale Recipe
Colombian Tamales
Puerto Rican Pasteles
Mexican Tamales

Sweet Tamales Recipe

Here I am again revolutionizing the art of making authentic Mexican tamales. This sweet tamales recipe is tasty and simple. Tamales hot or sweet are a traditional dish amongst Hispanics.

Today I am bringing you a delightful recipe that will make you appreciate the versatility of tamales.

Now you can make sweet tamales or some hot tamales for Lent or a Merienda. Lent or curesma are the 40 days before Holly Week. It is the period between Ash Wednesday to Easter.

Lent is a time of sacrifice for Jesus. Lent is the 40 days we use to prepare for the annual commemoration during Holly Week, when we remember the passion and death of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection. In Mexico we prepare tamales for this occasion.

Merienda is a light sweet meal taken in the afternoon. It is considered a simple meal between main meals, generally between lunch and dinner, but can also be between breakfast and lunch.



La Merienda often consists of a piece of fruit, cookies, yogurt, and other snacks paired with juice, chocolate, coffee, and other beverages.

But, how does it all tie together? Simple, you can use tamales for your merienda during lent. Here I am sharing a recipe for sweet tamales, and if you love hot tamales you will surly love sweet tamales.

You can make sweet tamales using a simple dough recipe. First choose some fresh fruits. I like apples, raisins, strawberries and pineapple. Add other complements such as cheese, pecans, walnuts coconut and chocolate.

How to Make a Perfect Sweet Tamales Recipe


  • 1/2 cup veg. oil
  • 4 cups of masa harina
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup pecans quarters
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 3 apples diced with skin
  • 1 can of pineapple tidbits without syrup
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 48 paper Husks or regular cornhusks soaked in water

Filling and Cooking

Place masa harina in a large bowl, add water and mix using a mixer. Mix together oil, cinnamon powder, sugar and salt until they dissolve. Add to masa and mix using a mixer on high for 2 minutes.

Add baking powder and mix on high speed for 5 minutes. Add remaining fruits, cheese and pecans and mix them using a large spoon. Let the masa rest for 10 to 20 minutes.

Place a quarter cup of dough in the center of each husk lengthwise. Spread the masa using the a tamale spreader and tuck using the Baby Tuck Tamales method. Place in steamer with open ends up and steam for one hour and 15 minutes.


Sandra Vasquez is an inventor and a Hispanic entrepreneur. You can get Tamale Spreaders from HEB Grocery Stores, Fiesta Marts, Supermercados Wal-Mart, Wal-Marts, Food City, Bashas, Super A Foods, MexGrocer.com, and many other Hispanic grocers.

Other Tamale Articles You May Enjoy

Authentic Tamale Recipe
Chicken Tamale Recipe

Pictures at the top by morrisey

Puerto Rican Pasteles

A Top Tradition in Puerto Rican Cooking

When I started thinking about this delicacy, I was determined to find a recipe for Puerto Rican pasteles easy enough I could cook, and representative enough of the Boricua Puerto Rican-American culture.

My first source? Rafael Bonilla, a true Boricua who immigrated to the U.S. in 1954. He is the father of my friend Denise who grew up in The Bronx, NY enjoying her dad’s delicious labor of love: pasteles.

Her dad came to the U.S. when he was 12 years old from Santurse, Puerto Rico to live with her aunt in Brooklyn, NY. He recalls the major event of Christmas: pasteles. His aunt used to make them. Watching her make them, engraved in his soul the secrets of this traditional Puerto Rican cooking dish.

Rafael invited Barbara, the Irish girl who stole his heart to his aunt’s house for pasteles. After marrying her, they embraced the Puerto Rican tradition themselves, and from there on, Barbara helps in the pasteles making and cooking process.


Puerto Rican Pasteles
by jasja dekker

I had the pleasure of sampling one of the pasteles that Rafael and Barbara make for Christmas when Denise brought one for me to our Spanish tutoring lesson. I went home and cooked the nicely wrapped tamale in boiling water for 1 hour…the result? Simply delicious.

Puerto Rican Pasteles Recipe – Receta de Pasteles

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Makes about 26 pasteles



  • 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 small jar of green olives
  • 1/2 small jar of capers
  • 10 sweet green peppers diced (called ajicitos dulces)
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 small piece of salt pork (tocino) diced
  • 1 pound of ham steak diced
  • 6 pounds of pork meat diced
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of cilantro finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of water

Masa Dough

  • 2 pounds of guineo verde
  • 3 pounds of yautia blanca (a tuber with elongated shape, bumpy, patchy, and brown skin.)
  • 5 green plantains
  • 1 small piece of pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • Achiote or achiotina
  • Wax paper with strings to wrap the pasteles (Hispanic supermarkets)


Making the Stuffing

Make the sofrito starting out with the salt pork (tocino) and then the ham, followed by the peppers, garlic, onions, olives, capers and cilantro. In a separate 6-8qt pot brown the pork, then add the sofrito to the portk followed by the water and the tomato paste. Stir and cook until the liquid cooks off and the mixture congeals.

Making the Puerto Rican Pasteles Masa Dough

In a large bowl, peel yautía, the guineos, and the green plantains. You can grate them or use your food processor. Rafael recommends using the processor to save time. Stir in the salt and enough achiotina to moisten the dough and give it some color. Set aside.

Wrapping the Pasteles

Prepare the paper by spreading a bit of achiotina to help avoid the masa getting stuck to the paper after cooking the pasteles. After letting the masa dough and the filling stay in the fridge overnight (it helps you manipulate the masa), take a piece of the masa, spread it on top of one sheet of wax/wrapping paper.

In the center of the masa place the desired amount of filling and close the pastel. Wrap the pastel starting by the longer side of the paper and continue with the one right across from it. End by folding the shorter edges. Tie with the string. You can freeze some pasteles at this point.

Cooking the Puerto Rican Pasteles

Fill a big pot with water and let it boil. Make sure there is enough water to cover the pasteles. Boil the pasteles for 1 hour. You can test if they are ready by unwrapping one and testing the masa to see if it is hard. It should be soft. If they are soft, your pasteles are ready to be enjoyed!

Making Mexican Tamales

The holidays are here, and that means it is time to enjoy foods and drinks from Hispanic culture. One of my favorite is Mexican tamales. Tamale or tamal is one of the traditional dishes of Latin America. It’s made of masa which is a corn based starchy kind of dough that’s steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper.

There are a variety of things that you can fill the tamale with and they can range from vegetables to small bits of meat, cheese, chilies and the like. To know more about tamales read my page on Tamale Pie and Tamales.

Mexican tamales originated in Mesoamerica during the civilizations of the Maya and the Aztecs. They used these foods as portable kind of foods to serve hunters, travelers and armies.

Mexican Tamales

Mexican Tamales
by Marcela Hede

In Hispanic culture, we make tamales using hominy dough. This dough is wrapped in plantain leaves. Inside the dough, you can have either a sweet filling or a savory filling. We steam the tamale in the tamale steamer until it is firm and we serve it warm as the main course.

In Mexico many restaurants serve tamales on Sunday nights and holidays like the start of the celebration of All Saints Day.

The type of corn Mexicans and many other countries of Central America use to make tamales came from the fields of corn treated with wood ashes in the olden times, to cal in modern times. These two additions to the fields of corn guarantee a softer and richer corn that helps the human body absorb more nutrients overall. This processing of the fields of corn is called Nixtamalization.

Mexican tamales differ from one region to another in the fillings and leaves used to wrap them. Here are some of the types you can find throughout Mexico:

  • In Culiacan, Sinaloa they use small sweet brown beans, corn and pineapple.
  • In Veracruz they use corn and pork seasoned with hoja santa.
  • In Oaxaca tamales are large and seasoned with black yellow and green moles.
  • Tamales in Monterrey are small and made with smooth or coarse dough filled with red chilies and strips of meat.
  • Tamales in Yucatan are seasoned with Achiote and are baked or cooked in a pit with chicken and pork fillings.
  • In Michoacan tamales are wrapped in corn leaves and have no filling.

The largest tamales come from North Western Mexico where they cook them in large pits or bake them in ovens. These tamales can be three or four feet long and use coarse masa filled with pork seasoned with red chilies.

If you have a craving for a Hispanic meal, you can make yourself some tamales.

Making Mexican Tamales

Lets Make Tamales, the real Mexican tamales. Here are some of my favorite recipes created by my friend Sandra Vasques. Enjoy!

Authentic Tamale Recipe

Chicken Tamale Recipe

Sweet Tamales Recipe

Cinco de Mayo Tamales


Quick Mexican Tamale Recipe


  • 7 lbs of fresh masa
  • 5 lbs cooked pork or beef
  • 1 1/2 lbs lard
  • 1 1/2 pts red chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 bundle of corn shucks


1. Cook the meat by boiling it in a large covered pot. Make sure that the water covers the meat completely.

2. Add a bit of salt to this and boil the meat slowly.

3. When it’s cooked, save the broth and allow the meat to cool.

4. When it’s already cool enough to work with, shred the meat and mix it in with chili sauce.

5. You then have to prepare the corn shucks. Soak these for two hours in the sink or a large pot filled with warm water. Your goal is to make the corn shucks soft.

6. Once they’re soft, separate them gently making sure you don’t tear the leaves.

7. With regard to the masa, you can make it by hand or with the use of a mixer. Mix the lard, salt, broth and masa. Turn the mixture into smooth paste by beating it. Get a small amount of the mixture and put it in a cup of cool water, if it floats, it’s ready. You can also buy the readymade masa from maseca, that you can find it here under tamales ingredients.

8. Spread this masa onto the corn shuck and put a small amount of meat in it and roll it up. Many people have a tough time spreading the masa. I recommend a masa spreader. It really makes the process really simple.

9. Tie the tamales up with wax string.

10. Fold the ends of the corn shucks and put these tamales on a rack for steaming. It is very useful to have a tamale steamer with large capacity where you can place many tamales at once. For my best recommendations on tamale steamers see my page.

11. With 1 to 2 inches of water in the steamer, steam the tamales for 1 1/2 hours. You might like to try putting other ingredients in your tamale like fried bean, chicken, etc.

They are now ready to enjoy. If you don’t have time but still want to enjoy Mexican tamales just buy them made through MexGrover. I have tried them myself and they are very tasty!

Tamale Making Tools

When making tamales think about owning a big and efficient tamale pot. Here are my recommendations:

Make Tamales

Time to Make Tamales With Expert Sandra Vasquez

Yes, it is the time of the year to make tamales, and to help us in the process is Sandra Vasquez.

Sandra is a tamale making expert who guides us in our Tamale section. She shared her secrets on how to make authentic tamales, her tricks and the evolution of tamales as we know them today.

Sandra is an admirable entrepreneur who created the tamale masa spreader 15 year ago! She has learnt her tricks through years of experience, and has taught many people at malls, libraries and fairs the art of making tamales. Sandra helps you keep Hispanic culture alive!

Hispanic Culture Online talked to Sandra to know about her passion for tamales and her ingenious invention. Here is what she told us.

Who Is Sandra?

She is a business woman and inventor of the Tamale Spreader. Sandra was born, raised, and educated in Corpus Christi, TX. and her heritage is Mexican. Her mother was born in Paras and raised in Sabinas Hidalgo in Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Her Childhood Memories of Tamales in Her Own Words…

My grandmother, Nepomusena, would make tamales for Christmas and for Las Posadas. Every year all my aunts, eight of them, would gather around the table to spread masa onto cornhusks to make tamales.

I still remember the huge mountain of masa, and that it would take all day to make 50 dozen of tamales. They were cooked outside in a large copper cazo kettle, over mesquite fire.

Eight hog heads were cooked the day before. We would use a molino grinder, to grind the meat and a molcajete, the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle tool, to grind the spices and chiles.

I love the aroma of fresh spices. Mixing the masa and kneading the dough took muscles. It was an all day family affair. Before the end of the day the tamales were done.

I was about 10 years old when I started to learn to spread masa, and didn’t master spreading unitl I was 16 years old.

Grandma passed, then we continued making tamales in Texas. My mom, dad and my aunt would knead the masa with their hand…Now we can use a mixer.

How the Idea of the Tamale Spreader Was Born

After the death of my mother I wanted to carry on the family tradition of making tamales during the Christmas holiday.

Knowing that the traditional art of making tamales required an entire day of preparation and cooking, I was always looking for a way to make the process easier and faster yet involving the family.

Using the back of a spoon it takes a master spreader one minute to spread 2 cornhusks. Right there I saw there was a real need to create a faster and more efficient way to spread the masa. Using the Tamale Spreader anyone can master spreading in just a few strokes. Then they can spread a dozen of tamales per minute.

The Tamale Masa Spreader is equipped with tracks and angles, which are instrumental features to an even spread. The tracks contain the masa and the angles gauge the thickness of the dough.

Using the front end of the spreader you just have to pick up masa, place it on the husk, lock in place, and slide down towards the end of the husk.

The amount of pressure you apply at the angles controls the thickness. It is no longer an all day affair if you have a Tamale Spreader and a good recipe.

The spreading which is the most time consuming part of the process is now easy and can be mastered in jus a few stroke…More tamales in less time.

How Sandra Keeps Hispanic Traditions Alive

By revolutionizing the art of making tamales, so that we can hold on to a tradition. TamaleSpreader.com will help all future tamale makers to hold onto the tradition of making tamales!

Sandra also raised her children bilingual in Spanish and strongly believes in Latino Leadership.

Tools for Making Tamales

Here are the most recommended tamale pots that i have seen in the market. Call me old fashion but I love the simplicity of the stainless steel or old style tamaleras. The best is the size of these tamaleras, plenty of space to steem many tamales at once.

Sandra Vasquez is an inventor and a Hispanic entrepreneur. You can get Tamale Spreaders from HEB Grocery Stores, Fiesta Marts, Supermercados Wal-Mart, Wal-Marts, Food City, Bashas, Super A Foods, MexGrocer.com, and many other Hispanic grocers.

Other Tamale Articles You May Enjoy

Authentic Tamale Recipe
Chicken Tamale Recipe
Sweet Tamales Recipe
Cinco de Mayo Tamales

Video at the top by Mex-Sales

Chicken Tamale Recipe

How to Make a Tasty and Easy Green Salsa Chicken Tamale Recipe

Hola, I am Sandra Vasquez your tamale ambassador trying to spread the word on Tamales. I am sharing today the best quick and easy Green Verde Salsa Chicken Tamale recipe.

Make these tamales for dinner and your guests and family surely will be delighted. The salsa verde is made from tomatillos, onions and cilantro. Tomatillos have a unique tangy citrus lime flavor and combined with chicken and rolled up in tamale dough you will please all tamale lovers.

How to Make Green Salsa Chicken Tamales

Tamale Filling

  • 3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded. Save stock for masa
  • 2-7 oz. cans of green verde salsa
  • 1 or 2 serrano peppers seeded and chopped
  • 1-cup mozzarella cheese
  • Prepare your filling by mixing all the ingredients together. Next, you will prepare the tamale dough.


Tamale Masa Recipe Makes 4 Dozen

  • 4-cups of masa harina
  • 4-cups of chicken broth or water or combination
  • 1-tbsp of salt
  • 1-tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1-cup of oil
  • 1-tbsp of baking powder

Place the broth in a large bowl, add masa harina and mix using a mixer. Next, mix the ingredients together in a bowl until dissolved: oil, garlic and salt. Add this mix to the masa and mix using a mixer on high for 2 minutes. Add baking powder and mix on high speed for 5 minutes. Let the masa rest for 15 minutes. Then spread the masa using the Mas Tamales Masa Spreader

Filling and Cooking

Place 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling on top of a husk or plantain leaf lengthwise, then fold husk over filling, find the tip of husk and roll it over. You can do the baby tuck, click here to watch the video.

Fill your tamale steamer with water just below the rack and place the tamales with the open end up and cover them with some cornhusks or paper towels. Steam cook them for one hour and fifteen minutes.

Sandra Vásquez is an inventor and a Hispanic entrepreneur. You can get Tamale Spreaders from HEB Grocery Stores, Fiesta Marts, Supermercados Wal-Mart, Wal-Marts, Food City, Bashas, Super A Foods, MexGrocer.com, and many other Hispanic grocers.

Other Tamale Articles You May Enjoy

Authentic Tamale Recipe

Perfect Steamers for Your Tamales

Hallacas or Hayacas

True Venezuelan “Tamal” Recipe

Hallacas are what we call tamale in many other Spanish speaking countries. They have different fillings from the typical tamale, for example the hallaca recipe calls for capers, raisings and “encurtidos” which are pickled vegetables.

Linda Bladholm talks in her book “Latin & Caribbean Stores Demystified” about the “hallaquitas,” which are “small tamales made from fresh creamed corn, either plain or stuffed with ground pork or peppers.”

A Bit of History About the Hallacas

Adolfo Ernst tells us that the word hallaca appears to have evolved from the indigenous “Guarani” tongue. Many think that
the word “ayuaca,” which means mixed things, evolved into “ayaca,” to become the term we know today as “Hayaca” or “hallaca.”

Role of the Hallacas in Cultural Life

Like in many other Hispanic countries, in Venezuela making hallacas means business. The process is long and involves
many family members who reunite to make a huge batch to eat throughout “La Navidad.”

Families work like an assembly line. Children clean the leafs, mothers make the “guiso” and fillings, the youngest put them together and eldest tie them.


Hallacas Venezolanas
by jlastras


by jlastras

Another interesting fact is that making hallacas is customary in all social strata, regions of Venezuela and among people of all religious backgrounds.

When talking about the incredible master piece of the Venezuelan cuisine everybody says “Las mejores hallacas son las de mi mamá” wich means: my mom makes

Colombian Tamales Best Recipe for Tamal Tolimense

In Colombia there are many kinds of tamales depending on the region of the country you are talking about. This Colombian delicacy is mainly filled with rice or yellow corn, but there are also Colombians in the Pacific region who eat the most unique tamales by filling them with green plantain dough and coconut milk.

For many families making tamales is a tradition not only for Christmas but also for special occasions other than “Navidad.” There is competition among families who want theirs to be recognized as the one who makes “the best tamales in town.”

When preparing Colombian tamales I have heard of families that add “panela” -a sweet ingredient from sugar cane, in the dough, many add vinegar to make it “sancochado,” others swear by filling the tamales only with hen or “gallina” while the majority of people say it is a matter of preference.

Did you know the most sought after Colombian Tamales are from Tolima (a state in Colombia.) They are filled with hen, beef, pork, peas, carrots, rice and hard boiled eggs. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare them because they have many ingredients, and each ingredient for the filling has to be made previously requiring different cooking times.

In Cauca state, Colombian tamales must have peanuts and “achiote” seeds from the Annatoo tree. “Achiote” has a mild, earthy flavor. In the capital region, “Bogotanos” eat tamales with hot chocolate, and in Chocó state, people eat them with ribs and rice.

Recipe for Tamal Tolimense


Tamal by dekker

Makes: 15


The specific leaf I recommend to wrap the Colombian tamales is the “hoja de plátano soasada.” This is a special leaf that comes from the plantain type called “cachaco” and grows in the south area of the department of Tolima. The “Pijao” Indians, who inhabit the region, started the cultivation of this plantain that continues to this day. But if you don’t have it use corn husks which are more available in the U.S.

  • 400gr of dried peas, soaked and cooked
  • 1/2 Lb of cooked rice
  • 400gr of white corn called “trillado or peto.” Leave it in water for 3 days. Throw away the water and make the corn dough in the food processor
  • 1 hen cut in pieces
  • 1 Lb of pork or “tocino” without the fat part cut in small pieces.
  • 2 Lb of cut pork ribs
  • Half Lb of sliced carrots
  • 2 Lb of uncooked potatoes peeled and diced
  • 4 hard boiled eggs cut in round slices
  • 1 Lb of scallions finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 Liters of broth (where you cooked the meat)
  • Salt, cumin, pepper and y saffron to taste
  • Plantain leafs “soasadas.” At least 15 big ones
  • String to tie them with
  • Season the hen with salt, pepper and cumin.
  • Cook the skin of the pork and the ribs in 2 1/2 liters of water for 20 minutes. Reserve the broth.
  • Make the “guiso” by mixing the onions, garlic and saffron frying them in the fat you removed from the pork. Mix the “guiso” with the rice, peas and corn dough. Let it sit for a while.
  • Prepare the leafs “soasadas” and greased. Put a bit of each ingredient in a bed of the corn dough. Place some corn dough on the top.
  • Make the tamales by picking up the corners and borders of the leafs tying them firmly on the top to avoid any water coming in contact with the tamale.
  • Cook them in low for 3 hours in the broth you put aside, covering them very well in a pot with a top. If necessary add more hot water.

Tamale Making Tools

Tamale Making TIP

If you want to make regular tamales and save some time you can use a traditional large steamer like the ones I recommend below. The best part is that they save lots of time. I can say that my favorite tamale steamers are made of stainless steel at a very good price. Using stainless steel guarantees efficient heating besides using a healthy material for making your tamales.