The humble tamale has set many hearts on fire (and mouths if they’re spicy enough). Simple ingredients of meat, chiles, and masa along with some aromatics and seasoning creates a Latin fusion of delicious soul food. Here we use beef brisket and enchilada sauce to make a “red” tamale. This is actually a variation of a recipe that’s been in my family for a long time. We’ve definitely changed it to our liking. You do the same and make it your own!

Making tamales make such a great collaborative experience (a perfect CollabKitchen recpie!). Definitely make these around the holidays… Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years. Make sure you allow yourself a good amount of time to make these – at least an entire afternoon! Get some friends and family to help you. I’ve made these with my husband, friends and family and it’s a fun bonding/laughing experience.

P.S. Be on the lookout for our even tastier pork “green” tamale recipe coming soon. You may cry at how good it is (if I do say so myself).

Beef Tamales

Serving Size: 10


  • 1 Bag of corn husks
  • 3 lbs beef brisket
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups Masa Harina (fine corn flour)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups enchilada or red chili sauce (Las Palmas is the best!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt
  • Bonus Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 container of sour cream
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • A few dashes of Cholula hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a medium braising pot, simmer beef in 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 3 cups water for 1 hour or until meat can be shredded with a fork. Shred beef and cool completely.
  2. Soak 24-30 corn husks in water (in a large bowl or clean sink) for at least 30 minutes to soften.
  3. Mix 2 cups masa, 2 cups water, 1 cup milk, melted butter and salt (to taste) into a thick paste. Mixture should be easily handled but not a watery consistency.
  4. In a medium saute pan add oil, shredded meat and chopped onion. Fry on medium high for 3 -5 minutes, adding garlic in the last minute or two. Fry until meat is crispy. Reduce heat. Add enchilada sauce and bay leaf. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf after simmering.
  5. Apply approximately 5 tablespoons of masa in center of one corn husk. Push mix to 1-inch of the side of husk. Add 2 tablespoons of meat to center, fold 1 edge of side of husk to center and then fold the other side to cover entire tamale contents. Fold pointed end over by 2-inches. Repeat with other husks and ingredients.
  6. Place a colander in a large pot of *boiling water, but not touching water. Place tamales in colander with folded end down and open end up. Allow steam to rise to top. Steam tamales 30-40 minutes, covered.
  7. *Check water level every 15 minutes or so. Add hot water to bottom of pan if water level gets too low, making sure not to add too much water.
  8. Bonus sauce!
  9. In a bowl mix 1 container of sour cream, 1 lime zested and juiced, 1 minced garlic clove, a few dashes of Cholula hot sauce, 1-2 TBS chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. This is an awesome sauce to serve with the tamales!
  10. Variations & Ideas:
  11. You can make tamales with chicken and green chili & tomatillo sauce. Just look in the enchilada sauce section for green enchilada sauce.
  12. You can add a small slice of cheddar or pepper jack cheese into each tamale. Yumm..Queso!!
  13. Make these around the holidays... Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years. You MUST!
  14. These tamales are a great fund raiser! Sell them around Christmastime to help support your favorite ministry/non-profit! 🙂