Cuban Tamales made with Fresh Corn, Tamales Cubanos de Maiz Criollo Tierno

Juliann Esquivel


I found out today that the corn I use in this recipe is called Maiz Criollo and is only available in Florida. I was not aware of this. It is not easly found in the rest of the US. This corn is known as Field corn it is not as sweet as regular corn. You can ask your local growers if they grow field corn.You can order on website from Florida grower 305-246-1592 or You can order on web site frozen to make these tamales. Do not try to make with regular fresh corn. When I first married my husband I was introduced to Cuban Tamales, They are cooked in corn husks like the Mexican tamales but they are made from fresh corn that has been scrapped off the cob. The taste is totaly different then the Mexican tamale which is made from cooked dried hominy corn. Cuban tamales are delicious somewhat sweet but savory with pieces of cooked pork, onions, green peppers, garlic, and tomato sauce. They can be made two ways with fine dry corn meal if fresh corn is not available or the fresh corn from the cob. Both Mexican and Cuban tamales have two things in common for a most delicious tamale they have to be made with pork lard and they are cooked in corn husks. If a different shortening is used the tamales loose their incredible flavor. Here is my recipe for the fresh corn tamale. pictured are Cuban tamales with a little salsa on them. Enjoy


★★★★★ 1 vote

make 20 tamales
5 Hr
1 Hr 30 Min


  • 4 lb
    fresh corn scrapped from the cobs cut the corn kernals from the cob and weigh out about 4 lbs. grind corn in food processor after.
  • 3 large
    sweet vidalia onions or texas sweet onion diced small
  • 3 large
    sweet bell peppers diced small
  • 12 clove
    fresh garlic, smashed or put through a garlic press
  • 3 lb
    lean pork cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 4 small
    cans tomato sauce, i use hunts or delmonte, use pure tomato sauce nothing with corn starch.
  • 1 can(s)
    (2) fire rosted peeled red pimentos from the can, diced small, you can do your own or buy in a can. drain all water
  • 2 tsp
    scant not heaping over, of dried oregano
  • 2 tsp
    cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp
    ground bay leaves (powder)
  • 3 small
    packets of sazon goya seasoning, con culantro and achiote
  • 3 tsp
    salt or more to suit your taste
  • 2 small
    jalapenos, seeds and veins removed, diced fine (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp
    goya adobe seasoning (leval not heaping over)
  • 2 tsp
    ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 c
    pure white pork lard, or shortening of you choice, do not use any type of oil
  • 2 tsp
    garlic powder
  • 3 large
    bags of dried corn husks ( 5 lbs) opened, seperated and cleaned of the corn silk
  • 1 large
    spool or roll of butchers twine
  • 1/4 c

How to Make Cuban Tamales made with Fresh Corn, Tamales Cubanos de Maiz Criollo Tierno


  1. First open, seperate and clean the corn husks of the silk. Put all of the corn husk leaves into a very large pot and cover with very hot water. Let soak for at least a few hours. Leave in the water until you are ready to wrap the tamales.
  2. Cut you pork meat into small bite sized pieces season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heat a little of the lard about a 1/4 of a cup and add the pork meat brown on all sides. Do in small batches so meat browns if you do a lot of the meat together it will steam instead of browning. We are looking for a light golden crust on the meat, does not need to be cooked completely. Do not let the meat over brown or burn. After browning add about 2 cups of pork broth or chicken broth and cover with a tight lid and cook for over a medium flame for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is fork tender. Be sure to check that your broth does not dry out or your meat will burn add more broth as needed. When meat is tender shut off and set the meat aside. You can do this the day before. just ake out the meat and let come to room temp when ready to mix with the corn mixture.
  3. you should have at least 4 pounds of scrapped corn off of the cobbs. Put the corn into a food processor and give a qood process on grate ensuring that your corn is well ground into a thick mash. Do all of your corn like this work in batches until all is ground into a thick mash. Add 1/4 cup sugar and mix well Set aside.
  4. In a large heavy pot melt the rest of the lard and add all of the diced onions, peppers both sweet and jalapeno, garlic, and the diced red pimentos. Saute until all the veggies are limp and onion is translucent. Next add the tomato sauce; continue to cook over a medium flame. Careful not to scorch any of the sauce. Next add all of the dried seasonings, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, salt, pepper, sazon goya packets, goya adobo, and garlic powder and continue to cook over a medium flame. What you have made is a very large sofrito, Taste to see if your sofrito has enough salt and pepper, if you like a lttle heat you can add a little ground cayanne pepper, not too much. Cuban tamales are spicy and savory but should not have a lot of heat.
  5. Now pour your mashed ground corn into the veggie and tomato sofrito; mix very well making sure to incorporate all of the sofrito into the corn. Taste again for salt; at this point you may wat to add more of the same seasonings you added before to bring your tamale mixture to the right point of your taste. I know I always land up adding a bit more garlic powder or little more adobe powder until I find the right (Punto) just the right taste. Add your cooked meat stir well and continue to cook over a medium to low flame stirring and stirring until your mixture has somewhat thickend. This stirring process takes about an hour without leaving unattended. You may want someone to help with the stirring as my hand gets tired of stirring the thick mixture. Be sure to lower your flame so as to not scorch this mixture or the whole thing will be ruined. After cooking for one hour or so shut off the tamale mixture
  6. Take out your soaked tamale husks blot on a clean kitchen towel, You will need three large husks per tamale. Take one large wide husk, they are triangle shaped put about four (4) ounces of tamale mixture in the middle of the husk do not spread on the husk like is done with the Mexican tamale, just drop the mixture in the middle of the husk and fold each side over the the mixture overlapping one side over the other, then take the triangle top tip and fold down over both the sides; now take another large husk and put the tamale you just wrapped in the middle of that husk. The open end should be facing the top of the triangle tip fold both sides one over the other take the top and fold down over the two sides, Now take the last husk place the wrapped tamale into the husk fold over the sides one over the other and then fold the tip over the sides and tie and secure with butchers twine on both ends. See my picture above.
  7. Fill a large pasta pot half way with water; bring to a boil. When water starts to boil slowely slip in each tamale gently. Boil tamales in the water for about one hour and a half. Keep boiling hot water in a tea kettle or another pot to add to the pot when the water starts to evaporate. The trick is to keep the tamales boiling all of the time for one hour and a half. When done remove tamales into a large pan. Let cool until they can be handled comfortably. As they cool they will thicken and set even more. These tamles can be frozen now after throughly cooled or served warm alone or with a salad or Cuban meal. These tamles are a lot of work as are the Mexican tamlaes but well worth the trouble. I make both Mexican and Cuban tamales for the Holiday season. one pund of the corn mixture will yield about 6 tamales once you add the meat and veggies. I have 16 pounds of the corn mixture to make at least forty or fifty tamales this weekend. You can make the tamales in two days so as to not tire yourself. This is a two or three person job. Enjoy, Buen Apetito

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