Holiday Recipe: Tamale Poppers

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as a participant in the Walmart Moms Program.

tamale poppers

One of my favorite things to eat during the holidays is Tamales! This year I wanted to make them to include them in our holiday party but I knew that making large size tamales would clash with the typical dinner my husbands family has during the holidays.

Making Tamale Poppers as an appetizer was the best idea ever! I mean who wouldn't love tiny tamales easy to pop in your mouth and be gone in a few bites?
They are small and still very savory! The perfect size to fulfill my holiday recipe craving!

Tamale poppers    prep+cook Time 2.5hrs   Yields 50-56 poppers

tamale poppers set up station
I made 2 different types of tamales- red pork and cheese with poblano chile slices.
All of my ingredients were easy to find at Walmart.
What I love best about this recipe is that you can prepare these tamales ahead of time and store in the freezer raw until the day of the event. So made a batch for now and a batch for laters fiestas!

Before you get started put your dried corn husks in a pot of warm water. Leave them to soak while you prepare you fillings and masa.

For Red Sauce Pork Tamales:
pork loin roast  tamales

  • Pork loin roast 2lbs can make about 60 tamale poppers I found a great size roast at Walmart for less than $5.
  • half a white onion 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2tbs of salt 
Red Sauce- I used the same sauce and steps from our turkey birria

  • 5 of dried Ancho chiles

  • 5 of dried Guajillo chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoons of ground ginger
  • 1.5 large tomatoes
  • 1.5 large white onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon of  ground cumin
  • 4-6 cups of chile and pork broth

  • Directions:
    1. Cook pork loin with onion and garlic cloves 
    2. Remove from broth and  save broth.
    3. Make red sauce instead of just chile broth  use half chile broth and half pork broth you will need about 2-4 cups of each. (Do not cook sauce or add to a pot pour directly onto your meat)
    4. Shred pork and pour red sauce over it until fully coated to your liking. You will have sauce left over.
    For Queso con Rajas tamales/ Cheese and Poblano Chile Slices:
    queso con rajas tamales

    • Monterrey Jack cheese 
    • 2 Poblano Chiles
    1. Cute cheese into small pieces no longer than 1 inch
    2. Cook poblano chiles like I do for my green enchiladas
    3. Once chiles are cooked and cleaned slice in similar size as cheese

    Tamale Masa
    tamales masa
    Ingredients Yields: 25-28 Tamale poppers double to make 50-56 poppers

    • 2 cups of Maseca Tamal 
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2/3 cups of bacon grease- it asks for lard but using bacon grease gives more flavor to your tamale masa
    • 2 cups warm pork broth
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Directions as per Maseca packaging

    1. Combine the dry ingredients
    2. Mix bacon grease and pork broth until light and combined
    3. Combine together until masa feels soft and sticky 

    Make Tamale Poppers
    tamale poppers filling
    Spread  masa evenly onto your corn husk. Your masa should spread evenly across your husk but not spread down longer than 2.5 inches. You want these to be small in size gone with 2 bites.

    Add a spoonful of your pork or a good amount of cheese and chile filling.

    wrap and stack tamales for cooking
    Wrap over and under and tie with a corn husk strip. You can cut left over husk if it is too long. This worked better when it came to adding them to my steamer.

    I divided my tamales all my pork on one side and the cheese on the other. I filled the center of my steamer with corn husk to divide and help cook.

    cooking tamales

    Spread a layer of corn husks over your tamales and cover with your lid.

    Fill the bottom with water and add a lucky penny!
    My friend Nicole from Presley's Pantry taught me this trick. Your tamales can take 1.5-2.5 hours to cook at medium-low. To prevent from constantly checking them adding the penny at the bottom helps to let you know when the water is low so you can add more. If you hear the penny dance in your pot it's time for more water.

    How do you know when your tamales are done?
    At the 1.5 hour mark I took one tamale out. The masa was still stuck to the corn husk this is a clear sign it is not done. When it can be unwrapped away from the husk with no stickiness your tamales are done.

    serve and enjoy tamale poppers

    Serve on a platter with a little sour cream or salsa. These tamale poppers will be what is popping at your holiday party!

    Pin our recipe to save for later!


    1. These are the cutest and most clever idea! Good job!

    2. Yummy! I was just saying I want to make some tamales this week!


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