steamed and smoked tamales in dutch oven on holiday dinner table

Holiday Tamales

Holiday Tamales

Category Holiday Season Regional Christmas Thanksgiving Cinco de Mayo
Servings 10
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes

Tamales have a long, storied history and, along the way, a connection formed between the dish and special occasions. It's believed that this is how making and serving tamales became a holiday tradition in many households. Made with masa and a flavorful pork filling, tamales are then wrapped in corn husks and steamed in the Pit Boss Dutch Oven. This tamale recipe is the perfect addition to your holiday dinner table, with just the right hint of smoke to take them up a notch.

Pit Boss Kitchen
steamed and smoked tamales in dutch oven on holiday dinner table


  • 3 1/2 lb. pork shoulder or 3 1/2 lb. pork butt, trimmed and cut up
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 3 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups red chili sauce
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 6 cups masa
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 50 dried corn husks (about 8 inches long)

Special Tools

  • Stand Mixer
  • Steamer basket


  1. First, add pork shoulder, water, onion, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to a 5 qt Dutch oven, and bring to boil. If using a grill, ensure your sear plate is open for direct flame access,
  1. Next, cover the Dutch oven, and simmer on low heat for about 2 1/2 hours, or until meat is very tender.
  1. Once the pork is tender, remove it from the broth and allow both meat and broth to cool. Note: Chilling the broth will allow you to easily remove the fat if you desire to do so.
  1. Next, shred the pork shoulder using 2 forks and discard any fat.
  1. Strain the broth, reserving 6 cups.
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the red chili sauce, add the shredded pork shoulder, and cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  1. Next, prepare the masa: Beat shortening on medium speed in a large bowl for 1 minute.
  1. Then, in a separate bowl, stir together masa harina, baking powder, and 2 teaspoons salt. Alternately: Add masa harina mixture and broth to the shortening, beating well after each addition. (Add just enough broth to make a thick, creamy paste).
  1. In the meantime, soak corn husks in warm water for at least 20 minutes; rinse to remove any corn silk, then drain well.
  1. To assemble the tamales, spread 2 tablespoons of the masa mixture on the center of the corn husk. Each husk should be 8 inches long and 6 inches wide at the top. If husks are small, overlap 2 small ones to form one. If it is large, tear a strip from the side.
  1. Then, place about 1 tablespoon of meat and sauce mixture in the middle of the masa, carefully fold in the sides of the husk, and fold up the bottom.
  1. Place a steamer basket in the Dutch oven, then mound extra husks or a foil ball in the center of the steamer basket.
  1. Lean the tamales in the basket, ensuring the open side is facing up.
  1. Add water to Dutch oven just below the basket, then bring water to a boil.
  1. Reduce heat, cover, and steam for 40 minutes, adding water when necessary.
  1. Remove the heat, serve, and enjoy!