Instant Pot Spicy Beef Tamales Recipe

Spicy beef tamales are a labor of love, but they're well worth it! Leah Maroney's recipe makes a massive batch of tamales (35!), so there's plenty to go around. Beef is braised in chipotle peppers for a spicy kick along with onions and garlic that melt into the gorgeous broth. Fragrant masa flour is mixed with the cooking liquid from the braised beef to form a fluffy, flavorful dough around the filling. They're cooked inside corn husks, which give even more flavor to the dish. If you can't find corn husks, you can use parchment paper. The Instant Pot is the perfect tool for steaming tamales. It shortens the cooking time and needs less supervision than a traditional tamale pot.

Maroney says, "Tamales are an ancient dish. They are often served at Christmas or other holidays, but they can't be eaten any time of the year and any time of day. They are delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner." We recommend making these tasty bundles of love with a large group (cue the holiday family gathering). Set up an assembly line, giving each person a job to complete. This makes the work go much faster and is lots of fun.

Gather your ingredients for these spicy beef tamales

Tamales start with the filling. Beef is marinated and braised. We cooked it right in the instant pot to speed up the braising time. The beef is then shredded and set aside. You can make this part up to 4 days in advance. Then the reserved liquid is whipped into the masa flour along with lard (but you can also substitute vegetable shortening). Corn husks are soaked to make them more pliable, this can also be done ahead of time. Then the tamales are filled with a smear of the masa and a scoop of the delicious beef. The tamales are folded closed and then steamed right in the instant pot. We tied them with corn husk string, but you don't have to. The sides of the tamales should pull away easily from the corn husks once they are slightly cooled. Serve them with your favorite sauces and sides.

Step 1: Season the meat

Add the stew meat, salt, pepper, Sazon seasoning, oregano, and olive oil to a bowl and toss to coat.

Step 2: Brown the meat

Heat the instant pot to saute and add the meat. Sear the meat until browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Step 3: Peel the onion and garlic

Peel the onion and cut it in half. Peel the garlic cloves.

Step 4: Add seasonings to the pot

Add the onion, garlic, chipotle peppers, beef bouillon, half of the enchilada sauce, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Stir.

Step 5: Cook the beef

Cook on the meat setting for 30 minutes and allow for natural steam release.

Step 6: Shred the beef

Remove the meat from the liquid and shred. Add ¾ cup of the liquid back to the beef and set aside.

Step 7: Add enchilada sauce

Add the remaining enchilada sauce to the broth and set aside.

Step 8: Soak the corn husks

Add the corn husks to a shallow dish and cover with warm water, weigh the husks down so they stay submerged.

Step 9: Make corn husk strings

Shred some of the husks into long strings, used for tying the tamales.

Step 10: Beat the lard

Add the lard to your stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until fluffy and less opaque, about 8 minutes.

Step 11: Add the broth

Add in the reserved broth and incorporate slowly.

Step 12: Add the masa

Add in the corn flour, baking powder, and salt and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. The dough should be sticky, so add flour if it is not.

Step 13: Spread the masa on the husk

Take out one corn husk and spread 1-2 tablespoons of the masa onto the husk. Do not go all the way to the top or the sides of the husk.

Step 14: Add the beef filling

Place about 1 tablespoon of the beef filling along the center of the masa.

Step 15: Seal the tamales

Fold the sides of the husk over the filling and join the masa together in the center, then wrap the husk around itself

Step 16: Fold the husk

Fold the end of the husk up.

Step 17: Tie the husks

Tie the husk with a piece of the husk string. Set aside. Repeat with remaining corn husks.

Step 18: Line the instant pot

Add a cup of water to the instant pot and place the wire rack in the bottom. Line the bottom of the pot with parchment paper poked with holes if you wish.

Step 19: Steam the tamales

Add the tamales to the pot with the open end facing up. Do not overcrowd the pot. This recipe makes 2-3 batches depending on the size of your instant pot.

Step 20: Release the steam

Cover and cook on the meat setting for 45 minutes. Manually release the steam.

Step 21: Allow to cool and remove from the husks

Allow the tamales to cool slightly and then remove them from the husks one by one when you are ready to eat.

Step 22: Serve

Serve with salsa and refried beans.

How do I store tamales?

Tamales are so good as leftovers! The flavors often get even better with time. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen. It's great to have them on hand for a quick snack any time of the day. You can freeze them right in the husks. This helps prevent freezer burn and holds in the flavor and freshness of the tamales. Once they have cooled, add them to a plastic storage bag and freeze for up to 6 months. 

To reheat, wrap each tamale in a wet paper towel and microwave until hot. This usually takes 2 to 3 minutes. The wet paper towel helps replenish any moisture that might be lost during storage. Just make sure to carefully unwrap them after heating. They will be hot! If you are looking to reheat a large batch, you can set up your steamer again and steam until hot. 

Can I make tamales if I don't have an Instant Pot?

Tamales are traditionally made in a tamale pot, which is basically a very large steamer. You can certainly set up a steamer within a large stock pot. If you have a mesh steamer basket, place it in the bottom of your pot. Fill with 1 or 2 cups  of water, place a lid over the pot and bring it to a boil. Then place the tamales into the pot just like you would the instant pot, cover again and steam. 

This process takes much longer than the Instant Pot since it does not have the benefit of pressurized steam. You're looking for at least an hour of cooking time with this method. Remember not to overstuff the pot with the tamales, as the steam will not be able to penetrate all of them and they will not cook properly. 

Instant Pot Spicy Beef Tamales Recipe
5 from 20 ratings
This tamale recipe features beef that is braised in chipotle peppers for a spicy kick along with onions and garlic that melt into the gorgeous broth.
Prep Time
1.5
hours
Cook Time
2.5
hours
Servings
35
tamales
spicy beef tamales
Total time: 4 hours
Ingredients
  • :::For the beef filling:
  • 2 pound beef stew meat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 package Sazon seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chipotle peppers
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon
  • 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce, divided
  • For the tamale masa
  • 1 pound lard
  • 4 cups Maseca (Masa Harina flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Corn husks
Directions
  1. Add the stew meat, salt, pepper, Sazon seasoning, oregano, and olive oil to a bowl and toss to coat.
  2. Heat the instant pot to saute and add the meat. Sear the meat until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Peel the onion and cut it in half. Peel the garlic cloves.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, chipotle peppers, beef bouillon, half of the enchilada sauce, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Stir.
  5. Cook on the meat setting for 30 minutes and allow for natural steam release.
  6. Remove the meat from the liquid and shred. Add ¾ cup of the liquid back to the beef and set aside.
  7. Add the remaining enchilada sauce to the broth and set aside.
  8. Add the corn husks to a shallow dish and cover with warm water, weigh the husks down so they stay submerged.
  9. Shred some of the husks into long strings, used for tying the tamales.
  10. Add the lard to your stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until fluffy and less opaque, about 8 minutes.
  11. Add in the reserved broth and incorporate slowly.
  12. Add in the corn flour, baking powder, and salt and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. The dough should be sticky, so add flour if it is not.
  13. Take out one corn husk and spread 1-2 tablespoons of the masa onto the husk. Do not go all the way to the top or the sides of the husk.
  14. Place about 1 tablespoon of the beef filling along the center of the masa.
  15. Fold the sides of the husk over the filling and join the masa together in the center, then wrap the husk around itself.
  16. Fold the end of the husk up.
  17. Tie the husk with a piece of the husk string. Set aside. Repeat with remaining corn husks.
  18. Add a cup of water to the instant pot and place the wire rack in the bottom. Line the bottom of the pot with parchment paper poked with holes if you wish.
  19. Add the tamales to the pot with the open end facing up. Do not overcrowd the pot. This recipe makes 2-3 batches depending on the size of your instant pot.
  20. Cover and cook on the meat setting for 45 minutes. Manually release the steam.
  21. Allow the tamales to cool slightly and then remove them from the husks one by one when you are ready to eat.
  22. Serve with salsa and refried beans.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 213
Total Fat 14.8 g
Saturated Fat 5.7 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 28.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Total Sugars 0.9 g
Sodium 171.1 mg
Protein 7.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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