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Green Pork Tamales are so SO good.
My favorite types of tamales are Red Pork Tamales and Birria Tamales.
These are up there, though. I’ll take any tamal I can get my hands on. lol!
Must be served with plenty of salsa verde, or try adding some sour cream for some richness.
We are making a basic salsa verde. Yes, you can buy store bought sauce to save yourself some time. I recommend THIS ONE.
Pork butt or pork shoulder – whichever one you prefer is fine. For a leaner, less fatty cut use pork loin.
Pre-made masa bought from a local Mexican market is fine to use. Or, make Masa for Tamales from scratch.
How to Cook the Pork
Instant Pot Instructions:
- Chop down the pork into big chunks.
- Add water, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
- Cover and seal the instant pot.
- Press Meat/ Stew button, or Pressure Cook for 45 minutes.
Stove Top Instructions:
- Add the pork, water, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper to a large pot.
- Cover and cook for 2 ½ hours.
Whichever method you decide is fine, but be sure to skim the fat and reserve the pork broth.
- Shred pork.
- Set aside.
Tamales are not hard. They are simply time consuming.
Do yourself a favor and make the filling ahead of time.
You can even freeze the cooked pork and thaw when ready to assemble tamales.
How to Make Salsa Verde
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse.
- Add the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos (or serranos) to cook.
- Blend the salsa ingredients.
Tamales can be an all day event if you do them all at once.
Do everything in stages!
Two days before, make the filling.
The day before, make the sauce.
Soak the corn husks the night before.
Buy pre-made masa.
That way, the day of, all you have to do is assemble.
Masa for Tamales
Making masa is very simple. It only requires a handful of ingredients, but it can be tricky and it’s one extra step.
For those of you newbies, buy pre-made masa.
Once you understand what the texture of masa should be and you have made tamales a few times on your own, then try making your own masa.
Why are tamales so bad for you?
Traditionally, masa is made with lard which is bad for you. Nowadays, you can find masa with oil that is much better for you.
Soak the corn husks in hot water for 20 minutes.
Older corn husks that are very dry will need more time to become pliable.
That’s why I suggest doing this overnight.
Then the day of, discard the water and submerge in water until ready to assemble.
Add the shredded pork, salsa verde, and pork broth to a large stock pot.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Swap out the pork for chicken.
In that case, you’ll be making Chicken Salsa Verde Tamales.
How to Assemble Tamales
- Smear a thin layer of masa on a corn husk.
- Add some of the filling to the center of the husk.
- Roll and set aside.
Corn husks come in different sizes. Perfect for fun corn husks crafts.
Use your best judgement as to how much masa and filling to add.
Continue until you are out of corn husks, filling, or masa.
What do you cook tamales in?
A steamer pot like this one is the most traditional way to cook tamales. You’ll see people line the bottom or the top with more corn husks. That is totally optional.
Can you bake tamales instead of steaming them?
Yes, but you will not get the corn husk flavor when steamed. To bake, preheat oven to 325. Wrap the tamales in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the tamales after 10 minutes.
The first batch, I cook in the instant pot. See Instant Pot Chicken Tamales and Instant Pot Pork Tamales for more instructions. As they are cooking, I fill up my regular steamer pot. When we are done filling up the second pot, the instant pot tamales are ready. There’s no waiting hours to eat tamales.
More Mexican Tamales:
Another Pro Tip:
If the masa is still mushy after 2 hours, add more water to the pot and steam for another 30 minutes.
Still not completely done? Leave them in the pot with the lid on and the heat turned OFF. Sometimes, just leaving them alone, they will come together.
Green Pork Tamales (or Tamales de Puerco en Salsa Verde) are ready when the tamal peels away from the husk easily.
Serve with more salsa verde and enjoy!
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Did you make this recipe? Please rate the recipe below!
Green Pork Tamales
For the Pork:
- 4 lbs Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder (chopped into pieces)
- 1 garlic head
- 1 onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp pepper
- water (see below for exact amount)
For the Masa:
- 1 1/3 cups shortening (or lard)
- 4 cups masa harina
- 2 1/2 tsps salt
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 3 1/2 cups pork broth
For the Salsa Verde:
- 24 tomatillos
- 1 onion
- 8 jalapenos (or serrano peppers)
- 4 garlic cloves
- water (enough to cover the tomatillos)
- cilantro (handful)
- juice of 2 limes
- salt (to taste)
- 45 corn husks
- water for soaking and steaming
For the Pork:
- Rinse and chop up the pork.
- Place the pork, garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
- For Instant Pot: Add enough water to cover 3/4 of the meat. Cover with lid, move valve to sealing, press Stew/ Meat button. Quick release the valve.
- For Stove Top: Add water. About 4 inches above the meat. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours, or until fork tender.
- Skim the fat off the top of the broth.
- Remove the meat and let it cool down slightly.
- Reserve the broth.
How to Make Masa for Tamales
- Beat the shortening with your mixer until smooth for about 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, salt, and baking powder.
- Add the dry ingredients in small batches to the mixer.
- Alternate with the broth until completely mixed.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as need.
- Look for a smooth texture in the masa.
For the Salsa Verde:
- Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapeno in a stock pot.
- Cover with water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cook for 8 minutes.
- Discard the water and let ingredients cool slightly.
- Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and cilantro in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
How to Make the Filling:
- Add the shredded pork, salsa verde, and 2 cups pork broth in a stock pot.
- Cook for 20 minutes. Set aside.
For the Corn Husks:
- Separate and remove any debris like hair and bugs.
- Submerge in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Overnight is best.
How to Assemble Tamales:
- Make a workstation – masa, corn husks, pork filling.
- Spread a thin layer of masa on a corn husk, except for the pointy top.
- Add a generous amount of the pork filling to the center of the masa.
- Fold one of the sides of the corn husks to the center.
- Fold over the other side of the husk in.
- Take the point top of the corn husk and fold to the center.
- Place upright while assembling the rest of the tamales.
- Repeat until there are no more ingredients.
- Add water to the pot. Just above the steamer insert.
- Place all the tamales upright into the steamer pot.
- Cover with the lid.
- Cook for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
That salsa sounds unreal! I love those ingredients all together!!
Happy to hear you liked it.
These are so tasty! Yum!
Yes, very yummy. 🙂
thanks for the easy instant pot recipe! super tasty!
Im new to using corn husk and this recipe is so interesting, I love learning new recipes
Glad to hear that. Thanks for your comment.
Easy to make and so flavorful!
Thanks for your comment.
Green pork tamales looks delicious I would love to try it.
I hope you do. I know you’d enjoy them!
These are always my favourite at the farmers market. Now I can make them at home and they’re even better! Thanks
Yes! They are not hard to make, just time consuming.
I l love all your tamales recipe s
Thank you! So do I. 🙂
Do you take the seeds out of the chiles
Whether or not to remove the seeds from the chiles depends on your personal tolerance for spiciness and your taste. Leaving the seeds and veins will make the dish spicier, while if you remove them, the level of spiciness will be lower. I recommend removing them if you are not used to spicy food.
First time making tamales on my own (assembled tamales with my mother-in-law a couple of times but she did all the cooking/prep). This was my daughter’s first time at assembling; took a bit of trial & error until she got it 👍.
We made beef, chicken, pork, jalapeño & cheese, AND sweet tamales. It took about 20 hours to assemble them all (I prepared all the meats in crockpots while I made the masas and soaked the cornhusks). I cheated & bought prepared masa for the pineapple ones. I’ll make my own next time, store-bought didn’t turn out like expected–masa needed to be sweeter and more flavorful.
Thank you for the “water test” for the masa! I only had 1 batch I needed to add about 1/2 cup more lard before test piece floated; I beat the store-bought until it was a good consistency and the test piece floated.
Substituted pepper jack cheese for 1/2 of the jalapeño & cheese, and extra-sharp cheddar for 1/2. My daughter & I like ’em HOT!
All turned out wonderfully! My daughter & grandsons loved them! The boys kept exclaiming how much better ours were compared to what they get at school! And they had no idea tamales could be made so many different ways, especially sweet ones!
I wish I had been there to try your tamales. They sound wonderful!
#2 I didn’t have the ingredients to make my own salsa verde or the time to go shopping so I cooked down several 30oz cans of green enchilada sauce (that I had in my pantry) until thickened and used it for the pork & chicken tamales and both kinds turned out fine!
Congrats! I’m sure they were DELICIOUS!