5 Tamale Recipes from Traditional to Unusual for the Holiday Season

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Tony Maples Photography


Few things Texans can agree on include a love for the state and that Christmas tamales are an acceptable holiday alternative to ham or turkey. Though you can purchase them, if you have family at your home, you’ll have multiple people available to help you make homemade tamales. Check out these tamale recipes for a homemade holiday treat you won’t soon forget.

1. Beef Tamales

Tamale recipes beef tamales

Photo: Pinterest/Beef Loving Texans

Beef Loving Texans has a recipe for authentic beef tamales that starts with masa from a tamale factory, but if you’re not lucky enough to live near a tamale-making facility, you can prepare your own masa dough for the tamales. Hearty beef brisket spiced with ancho chiles and cumin fill these tasty tamales. Click here for the recipe from Beef Loving Texans.

2. Pork Tamales

Tamale recipes pork tamales

Photo: Pinterest/Veggie Balance

Though many Texans love beef tamales, pork is often considered more authentic. Veggie Balance has an accessible recipe for pork tamales that even first-timers can make. To cut down on the effort, make the filling in a slow cooker, which yields tender, flavorful pork without the need to constantly watch a pot on the stove. To add this easy dish to your tamale recipes collection and to see the tricks that make this such an easy recipe, check out Veggie Balance’s instructions here.

3. Pumpkin Pie Tamales

Tamale recipes pumpkin pie tamales

Photo: Pinterest/Kita Roberts

Though far from authentic, pumpkin pie tamales make a great addition to your holiday meal. Serve these as a dessert in lieu of or in addition to regular pies. These tamales from Kita Roberts of Pass the Sushi incorporate the flavors of sweet, custard-like pumpkin pie into traditional corn dough-surrounded tamales. Maseca (misspelled in the recipe as meseca) is a brand of dried masa mix that you can find at grocery stores or use any masa harina for tamales available. Find the recipe on Pass the Sushi, here.

4. Monterey Jack and Green Chile Tamales

Tamale recipes Monterey jack and green chile tamales

Photo: Pinterest/Pinch and Swirl

Not all tamale recipes have to have a meaty filling. For a meatless option, try these Monterey Jack and green chile tamales from Pinch and Swirl. Don’t worry about the texture or flavor because whole corn kernels contribute the crunch and the chiles add plenty of flavor. See the recipe here at Pinch and Swirl.

5. Potato Adobo Vegan Tamales

Tamale recipes jalapeno and cheese tamales

Photo: Pinterest/Healthy Slow Cooking

Though traditional tamale recipes use lard and have a meaty filling, these vegan potato adobo tamales from Healthy Slow Cooking don’t. Vegans at your holiday gatherings don’t have to be left out of the joy of eating tamales at Christmas if you have a batch of these vegan treats on hand. The potato adobo filling is both hearty and flavorful, even meat-eaters will enjoy these. Get the recipe from Healthy Slow Cooking, here.