Ground Beef Tamales (tamales de picadillo)

Those ground beef tamales are generously filled with a delicious meat and vegetables mixture flavored in a chili sauce. Super fluffy and moist, those warm tamales are perfect to serve at any gathering pairing with a traditional champurrado or cafe de olla.

Ground beef tamales, aka tamales de picadillo placed in a grey plate.

What are beef tamales?

This recipe is a delicious version of the famous Mexican tamales. The dough is almost the same as used in red pork tamales but the difference resides in the filling. Ground beef tamales are made with a mixture of ground beef and vegetables simmered in a flavorsome red guajillo sauce.

A beef tamale half eaten.

In Mexico you’ll find those types of tamales with the name of tamales de picadillo. The recipe might vary from state to state and from family to family, some use guajillo peppers to make the sauce, some uses also tomatoes, while others uses a mix of different dried chilies.

In my family, my grandma Elvira used to make this recipe using olives, raisins and pine nuts, specially if she was making beef tamales for Christmas, as she will use the turkey stuffing leftovers to make some tamales aswell, something many families do.

Tamales de picadillo (ground beef tamales).

The Step By Step Recipe

Make the filling

Clean the guajillo chilies discarding first the stems, then cut them with scissors longwise and remove the seeds. Place chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water from 20 to 30 minutes.

Guajillos peppers soaking in a bowl.

After the resting time and when chilies are very soft, add them to a blender with garlic, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and oregano. Add 1 cup of water and blend until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside.

Guajillo sauce strained in a bowl.

Heat oil in a medium pan, add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Now, add the meat and cook, breaking it with the back of a spoon, until browned (about 10 minutes).

Browned ground beef in a pan.

Add carrots, potatoes, peas and olives, then mix to combine.

Sautéed beef and vegetables in a pan.

Pour in the guajillo sauce and add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, mix well and bring to a boil.

The meat, vegetables and sauce just starting to boil.

Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat or until vegetables are almost cooked through. Rise the heat to high and allow the liquids to evaporate (about 5 minutes). Adjust with salt, remove from heat and allow to cool down.

Cooked beef tamales filling in a pan.

Make the dough

Place lard in a mixer bowl and add 1 tsp of salt. Mix at high until lard will become smooth and puffy. NOTE: If you using vegetable oil, you can add it with masa harina and beef stock altogether.

Lard mixed attacked to the whisk.

Add masa harina, then set the mixer to the lowest and add beef stock slowly while mixing until both are fully incorporated with the lard. Adjust salt to taste and mix at high for 2 more minutes to achieve an airy dough.

Tamales dough attached to the mixer paddle.

Make tamales

Drain the corn husks and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Use two husks to make the strips needed to tie tamales.

Pat drying the corn husks and making some strips from them.

Place a generous scoop of tamales dough in the middle of a husk and spread it well.

Spreading tamales dough on a corn husk with a spatula.

Spoon in the beef mixture, be generous, we want tamales to have lots of filling.

Adding the filling in the middle with a spoon.

Now fold the husk to cover the filling and secure the dough and filling inside.

A collage showing how to fold a tamal.

Next, take the narrow end of the husk and fold it towards the center, as in the picture below.

Folding the pointy edge of a tamal towards the middle.

Last, with the strips you made before, tie the tamal but make sure is not too tight as tamales will puff while cooking.

Tying a tamal.

Repeat all steps until all dough is used. TIP: If you end with some picadillo filling leftovers, don’t worry! You can make our delicious sopes de picadillo or serve beef tamales with more filling as topping.

Cook

Prepare your steamer or large stock pot with a steamer basket/rack and add water just before it touches the basket. Place beef tamales in layers, or you can also arrange them standing up.

Ground beef tamales arranged in a steamer.

Bring the water in the steamer to a boil, cover the pot and cook the tamales for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking occasionally and adding more water when is needed.

How To Store Tamales

Ground beef tamales leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container or in the freezer, wrapped in cling film (with the husks on) for up to 3 months.

How To Reheat Tamales

  • Microwave: Unrwap the tamales and reheat in the microwave in 1 minute intervals until heated up.
  • Stove top: Heat a little bit of oil in a non-stick pan and heat tamales until slightly crispy on the outside.
  • Steamer: By far the best way to reheat tamales is using the same steamer where you cook them. Don’t need to unwrap, just place tamales and heat them up for about 10 minutes.
  • Grill or griddle pan: Place them with the husks on until the husks have charred marks and tamales are heated through.

Watch How To Make Tamales de Picadillo

Looking for more tamales recipes?

If you loved this recipe, why not try a sweet version of this traditional Mexican dish? Pineapple tamales and Sweet corn tamales are just as amazing good and easy to make.

Ground Beef Tamales

Super fluffy and moist, those ground beef tamales are perfect to serve at any gathering pairing with a traditional champurrado or cafe de olla.
PREP 30 minutes
COOK 1 hour 15 minutes
TOTAL 1 hour 45 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 12
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 3 ½ cups masa harina
  • 1 ½ cup lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 12 corn husks (soaked in hot water for 30 min.)
  • salt (to taste)

For the filling

  • 1 lb minced beef
  • ½ cup onions (chopped)
  • cup potatoes (diced)
  • cup carrots (diced)
  • cup peas (frozen)
  • ½ cup olives (pitted)
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 guajillo peppers (stem and seeds removed)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled)
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ Tbsp oregano

Instructions

Make the sauce

  • Place guajillo chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water from 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Add chilies to a blender with garlic, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and oregano. Add 1 cup of water and blend until smooth.
  • Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside.

Make the filling

  • Heat the oil in a medium pan, add onion and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add meat and cook, breaking it with the back of a spoon, until browned (about 10 minutes).
  • Add carrots, potatoes, peas and olives. Mix to combine.
  • Pour over the guajillo sauce and add about 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water, mix well and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat or until vegetables are almost cooked through.
  • Set heat to high and allow the liquids to evaporate (about 5 minutes).
  • Adjust with salt, remove from heat and allow to cool down.

Make the tamales dough

  • Place lard in a mixer bowl and add 1 tsp of salt. Mix at high until lard will become smooth and puffy (read note 1).
  • Add masa harina, then set the mixer to the lowest and add beef stock slowly while mixing until both are fully incorporated with the lard.
  • change the paddles, adjust salt to taste and mix at high for 2 more minutes to achieve an airy dough.

Make tamales

  • Drain the corn husks and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Use two husks to make the strips needed to tie tamales.
  • Place a generous scoop of tamales dough in the middle of a husk and spread it well.
  • Spoon in the beef mixture, be generous, we want tamales to have lots of filling.
  • Now fold the husk to cover the filling and secure the dough and filling inside.
  • Next, take the narrow end of the husk and fold it towards the center.
  • Last, with the strips you made before, tie the tamal but make sure is not too tight as tamales will puff while cooking.
  • Repeat all steps until all dough and filling are used.

Cook

  • Prepare your steamer or large stock pot with a steamer basket/rack and add water just before it touches the basket.
  • Place beef tamales in layers, or you can also arrange them standing up.
  • Bring the water in the steamer to a boil, cover the pot and cook the tamales for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking occasionally and adding more water when is needed.

NOTES

  1. If you using vegetable oil, you can add it with masa harina and beef stock altogether.
  2. You can also use parchment paper to wrap your tamales. Check up the video where I show you how!
  3. I made 12 large tamales, but if you want smaller tamales, with this recipe you can make up to 18.
Nutrition
Calories: 478kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 196mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1627IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 4mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Omg! Those tamales look really scrumptious!!!!! The stuffing seems amazing, I must make them, I am tired of dry tamales from those big sites that don’t know a thing about mexican food, but I’m sure your beef tamales are delicious. I’ll let you know.