Pork Tamales Pressure Cooker Recipe

Recipe Category: Meat


Pork Tamales Pressure Cooker Recipe


Makes 24 to 30 tamales, serves 8 to 16 – Cooker: 6- to 8-quart – Time: 20 minutes at HIGH pressure

  • 1 recipe Pork Carnitas Rapido
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages wide corn husks (hojas de maiz)


  • 2½ cups masa para tamales/tamale-grind masa harina (we like the Maseca brand)
  • 2 cups plus 3 to 6 tablespoons reserved cooking broth from the carnitas or chicken broth, simmering
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups water, for steaming


  1. The day before, prepare the pork carnitas filling
  2. If making a vegetable filling, the filling and assembly can happen on the same day
  3. After making, place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use
  4. Prepare the corn husks
  5. On the day you will be making the tamales, start by soaking the corn husks
  6. Carefully remove the brittle husks from their packages and separate the individual husks; there may be dust and grit
  7. You will usually be using 2 husks per tamale (plan on 3 to 5 tamales per person, depending on the size), so plan on a few extra in case some are too small
  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then remove from the heat
  9. Add the corn husks, making sure to submerge them underwater, and cover the pot
  10. Soak the corn husks for 30 to 60 minutes, until the husks have absorbed the water and are pliable
  11. They should be soft and flexible, and take on a deep beige color
  12. Drain the husks in a colander, reserving 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons of the cooking water, and lay out on layers of clean tea towels or paper toweling
  13. Tear a few of the husks into long, thin strips for the ties if not using twine
  14. Prepare the masa dough
  15. In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina with 2 cups of the hot reserved cooking water and mix well
  16. The masa should have the consistency of a stiff dough
  17. Cover and set aside to cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes
  18. It will soak up moisture as it sits
  19. In a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening until light and fluffy, about 1 minute
  20. On low speed, add dollops of the masa, slowly incorporating it
  21. Stir the salt into the extra broth and drizzle it into the dough
  22. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 3 minutes
  23. To test the dough, drop ½ teaspoon of it into a glass of cold water; if it floats to the top, it is ready to go
  24. If it sinks, continue to whip the dough for another few minutes
  25. Add tablespoons of the reserved broth to adjust the texture and the remaining masa
  26. On low speed, sprinkle in the baking powder
  27. You want to be able to make a masa ball of dough
  28. To assemble the tamales, place a corn husk lengthwise in front of you with the wide side closest to you
  29. Spread 2 tablespoons of the dough all over the bottom half (wide side) of the corn husk in an even layer, leaving about a 1-inch-wide border on the left and right sides
  30. You can use a piece of plastic wrap on your fingers to spread the masa
  31. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling lengthwise down the center of the dough
  32. Drizzle with a bit of cooking liquid
  33. Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and fold them into the center to unite them
  34. Allow the dough to surround the filling by pinching together the corn husk where the dough comes together
  35. Fold up the bottom
  36. Remember that the masa will not stick to the wet corn husk, so bring up the sides and pinch the masa so it touches the opposite side
  37. Next, roll the husk over the log shape and fold up the bottom
  38. Add a bit more masa to the end if the filling is exposed
  39. Fold down the empty top section of the husk
  40. You don’t have to tie the tamales, but it is nice
  41. Place a strip of corn husk under the tamal, wrap it around the middle (making sure that you have some of the tail underneath), and tie securely
  42. The tamal will be about 6 inches in length
  43. Repeat this process until all the corn husks and/or tamal dough are used up
  44. You will make about 24 to 30
  45. The assembled but uncooked tamales can be frozen up to 4 months
  46. When you are ready to serve them, steam them straight from the freezer for 35 to 40 minutes, twice the cooking time when not frozen
  47. Steam the tamales
  48. Place a trivet and steamer basket in a 6- to 8-quart pressure cooker
  49. Add the water
  50. Arrange the tamales standing up in the basket, top open side up, laying against each other against the side of the pot
  51. You can stand tamales in front of each other; just make sure that the open ends of the tamales are facing upward
  52. They can be laying a bit sideways, but not laying down
  53. Expect to steam in two batches
  54. Close and lock the lid
  55. Set the burner heat to high
  56. When the cooker reaches HIGH pressure, reduce the burner heat as low as you can and still maintain HIGH pressure
  57. Set a timer to cook for 20 minutes
  58. Remove the pot from the heat
  59. Open the cooker with the Natural Release method; let stand for 15 minutes
  60. Be careful of the steam as you remove the lid
  61. To test for doneness, quickly remove a tamale with tongs and replace the lid on the pot to continue the cooking
  62. Put the tamale on the counter for a few minutes and then carefully unwrap it
  63. The dough should be firm, no longer sticky or mushy
  64. The masa should be set; if it pulls away easily from the husk, it is done; if it sticks, continue to steam in 10-minute intervals without pressure
  65. Let the tamales rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to allow the masa to firm up
  66. For softer tamales, let them rest in the pot, uncovered, with the heat off
  67. For firmer tamales, let them rest out of the pot, covered with a cloth
  68. Transfer the tamales with a pair of tongs to a serving platter
  69. At this point, the tamale is the most tender and delicate
  70. Serve warm accompanied by Mexican crema, sliced avocados, salsa, Mexican rice, green salad, and refried beans
  71. The cooked tamales can be cooled in the steamer baskets, then stored in ziptop plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
  72. To reheat, place a whole tamale in its husk on a microwave-safe plate with a bit of water and microwave for 2 minutes
  73. Vegetarian Tamales: Combine in a bowl 1 (16-ounce) bag thawed frozen mixed vegetables; 2 steamed new potatoes, peeled and diced to make about 1 cup; 1 cup cooked black beans; and about 1/3 cup salsa to moisten the mixture slightly
  74. Use to fill the tamales in place of the pork filling

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