Smoked Pork Tamales Recipe


A traditional Mexican treat, these smoked pork tamales are filled with melt-in-your-mouth smoked pork, wrapped in masa and steamed in corn husks. While it takes a fair amount of work, it’s a labour of love and a great way to spend the day making memories with friends and family.


Pulled Pork

1.4 kg pork shoulder
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
handful oak and apple wood chunks


24 dried corn husks
6 cups hot water
3 tablespoons tamale dough
1 tablespoon pork and tamale sauce

Tamale Sauce

2 guajillo peppers
2 ancho chillies
2 tomatillos
1 white onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
4 cups water
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Tamale Dough

170 g shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ pounds fresh masa


  1. Combine brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium-size bowl. Rub the pork shoulder with the spice blend on every side.
  2. Preheat your smoker to 135°C and toss a handful of wood chunks onto the hot coals. Place a pan with 1 cup of water on or under the grate.
    HOT TIPUsing a water pan to add moisture to the smoke chamber is optional and can increase condensation under the smoker lid. Adding spices, beer or wine to the water pan can be used to infuse an added layer of flavour into your food.
  3. Place the pork shoulder in your smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 95°C, about 4 hours.
  4. In a large baking dish, submerge the dry corn husks in hot water. Let soften for 4-6 hours.
  5. For the tamale sauce, add peppers, chillies, tomatillos, onion and garlic to boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes. Transfer all vegetables to a blender and add 3 cups of the boiling liquid, cumin, salt, pepper and oregano. Blend for 2 minutes.
  6. To make the tamale dough, whip the shortening with a hand mixer for 5 minutes in a large bowl. Add baking powder and salt. Mix for another minute. Add fresh masa and mix with a wooden spoon until well-combined.
    HOT TIPMasa flour is available at most grocery stores, but it’s a long process to make fresh masa at home. You can purchase pre-made, fresh masa at local Latin markets.
  7. When the pork shoulder reaches its targeted temperature, remove from the smoker, cover and let rest for 1 hour. Shred the pork shoulder completely using meat claws or two forks. Discard all bones and sizeable chunks of fat. Mix the tamale sauce with the shredded pork.
  8. To form the tamales, lay each softened husk flat and spread tamale dough starting from the centre and moving out to the edges, covering the whole husk. Spoon the meat and tamale sauce mixture onto the centre of the dough. Roll the husk so that the dough completely wraps around the meat. Fold the bottom of the husk to form a pocket and tie with butcher twine.
  9. Stack the tamales in a steamer and steam for 45 minutes. Remove from the steamer and let rest 15 minutes before serving.
  10. Unwrap tamales and serve with salsa verde.

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