Tamale Bites Recipe

Easy to Make Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com Easy “cheater” tamales that are perfect for sharing. This zesty Tamale Bites Recipe is a sure-hit for all your game-day gatherings and holiday parties!

Zesty "Cheater" Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

Time, my ultimate love-language.

Some women want gifts or sweet talk. Those things are nice, but all I really crave is ample time with the people I love.

Time is what I consider my greatest asset. I give it freely to loved ones, yet become stingy with my time when it’s under attack. If someone isn’t valuing my time, wasting my time even, it makes me crabby. Just being honest.

Making Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

Faith, Family, Friends, Workouts, Travel, Cooking/Blogging… These things envelop my time. If a task doesn’t fit under these parameters, it usually falls to the wayside. If it fits under these parameters, but is “busy work” (meaning I think it’s a waste of time) it still usually falls to the wayside.

To only spend time on valuable people and efforts is my constant goal. Sometimes I feel like the bad guy when I have to say no to a person or opportunity, but you have to protect your assets.

How to Make Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

I like to consider myself charmingly efficient rather than difficult. *wink*

Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely. ~Kay Lyons

Awesome and Easy Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

Today’s Tamale Bites Recipe is a time saver on two levels. Do you know how excited that makes a person like me?

1) Compared to traditional tamales, this recipe cuts the time in half! The prep work is much quicker and so is the cooking time.

2) This recipe starts with cooked shredded meat. That generally mean leftovers from another meal, such as a beef roast, pulled pork, grilled chicken, or even take-out! So when you prepare one meal during the week, you are actually getting a head-start on the Tamale Bites Recipe as an appetizers for your weekend gathering. Isn’t that EXCITING!?!

Zesty and Fast Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

For further appeal, these cute little tamale bites are slightly spicy, hearty, and perfect for cool weather. Every time I take my Tamale Bites Recipe to an event and they disappeared in no time.

Easy Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

Make sure to add this Tamale Bites Recipe to your Halloween party or game-day menu this year. They will save you time so you can spend it on the people you love.

Zesty "Cheaters" Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com

Tamale Bites Recipe

Yield: 40-48 bites

Prep Time:15 minutes

Cook Time:35 minutes

5 / 5 (5 Reviews)
Did you make this recipe?   Leave a review »

Tamale Bites Recipe – An easy “cheater” tamales recipe making perfect little party size tamale appetizers.


For the Filling:

  • 1 pound cooked shredded beef (or pork or chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons masa (corn flour)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, + extra for garnish
  • 1-2 canned chipotle pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

For the Masa Shell:

  • 2 cups masa (corn flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/3 cups beef stock
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening, melted
  • Crumbled Queso Fresco to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon butter for 2-4 minutes. Add the shredded meat, masa, tomato paste, cumin, thyme, and chopped chipotle peppers. Stir well and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer. Simmer until all the liquid in rendered out–approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, Mix 2 cups of masa with the baking powder, salt, and cumin. Add the beef stock and mix to a crumbly consistency. Pour in the melted shortening and mix by hand until smooth.
  3. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop the masa mixture into small 2 teaspoon balls using a small cookie scoop and place in the muffin tins. Use a round teaspoon (or pestel) to press a deep indention in the center of the masa balls. Once the beef mixture has rendered out the liquid, stir in the sour cream and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Fill each masa shell with the meat mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow the tamale bites to cool 5-10 minutes before extracting them from the muffin tins. Use a small sharp knife to loosen the tamale bites from the muffin tin. Then lift one side with the tip of the knife and gently lift each tamale bite out with your fingers. Garnish with crumbled queso fresco and thyme leaves. Serve warm.

NOTES: Tamale Bites can be served warm or at room temperature. They can also be rewarmed once they are out of the muffin pans.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 40-48 bites, Serving Size: 1

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 67 Calories
  • Total Fat: 4.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.4g
  • Cholesterol: 10mg
  • Sodium: 55mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.1g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Sugar: 0.2g
  • Protein: 3.5g
All images and text ©

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89 comments on “Tamale Bites Recipe

  1. japanese dog breedsposted October 27, 2016 at 10:43 am Reply

    This one’s my all time favorite!

    Rating: 5
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  4. Angie | Big Bear's Wifeposted October 14, 2015 at 11:32 am Reply

    I’ve never been a good Tamale  maker but I love this “cheater” version! 

    Rating: 5
  5. Gaby Dalkinposted October 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm Reply

    these look addicting!! definitely a great game day snack

  6. Nutmeg Nannyposted October 12, 2015 at 8:19 am Reply

    I wish I had more time with my family. I love far away so it’s sad how I just sorta get used to not seeing people. If we were able to all get together I think these little bites would be perfect. So simple and totally packed full of flavor. 

  7. Patty Kposted October 12, 2015 at 2:06 am Reply

    Love this idea! Like an open face tamale!

  8. Laura Nemecposted April 25, 2013 at 9:29 am Reply

    Has anyone made these ahead of time? Can you make the tamale bites 2 days before and then bake them or should you bake them and then reheat?

    • Sommerposted April 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm Reply

      Hi Laura, You can make them ahead and bake them when you need them. Just make sure to wrap them really well before refrigerating so they don’t dry out. :)

  9. Tezposted September 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm Reply

    Wow, you have a ton of comments but I couldn’t find any from people who have actually made these!

    I MADE THESE! Yesterday. And they were AMAZING. So easy, so delicious. My only change was to use melted butter instead of shortening, and it was delicious. One batch I made half butter/half olive oil, and it was delicious too (tasted the same, actually). I also used a vegetarian “beef” broth because I made several fillings and some of my guests were vegetarians. The masa was the best part. So delicious I had to stop myself from eating it raw. I made bigger ones (regular cupcake size) and they took about half an hour, I just waited until I could smell them. I did a shredded beef using your recipe and I can’t believe how good it is—I’m not usually a fan of beef unless it’s a t-bone.

    All in all, EXCELLENT recipe. I will be making these well into the future. Also, I had some leftover masa and I fried it up in a skillet this morning and ate it with eggs! Amazing!

    Rating: 5
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  11. Lea Annposted November 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm Reply

    What a wonderful idea and recipe. Beautiful photos. I hope you have an extra bedroom, because I'm coming to live with you. I'll even do dishes. :-)

  12. FamilySpiceposted November 5, 2010 at 3:13 am Reply

    These look amazing! I love Mexican food but hate the fatty recipes. I could totally chow down on a few of these. Bookmarking it!

  13. Spicie Foodieposted November 1, 2010 at 2:01 am Reply

    I have to tell you as a Mexican girl who also feels like there is never enough time this tamalitos look perfect! When I make tamales it is usually a 2 or even 3 day process for me alone to make them. But I always say that the effort is so worth it. With your recipe and technique I could still have the same taste presented cuter and prepared in a lot less time. This is such a brilliant idea!
    THanks for posting a YBR badge and for joining us. I do hope to see you on next month's YBR as well. Have a great week.

  14. Tasty Eats At Homeposted October 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm Reply

    What a great idea! I love this version!

  15. sweetlifeposted October 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm Reply

    oh dear..what a time saver…my mom would adore this as she works her tail off each year making tamales…me, I make small batches…lol great time saver, I agree time…is always my downfall..


    Rating: 5
  16. Karenposted October 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm Reply

    I LOVE this idea…the time-saving aspect, the presentation, the flavors and spice…perfect! These little tamales are a big winner!

  17. M @ Betty Crapperposted October 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm Reply

    They look beautiful. What a great appetizer for a Mexican themed party. I love those canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I dunk my tortilla chips in that leftover sauce. MMMMMMMMM

  18. Jason Phelpsposted October 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm Reply

    I learned a good lesson about how long tamales take earlier this year. They are worth it, but you really do HAVE TO HAVE THE TIME!!!

    This twist makes sense and should work well for holiday entertaining.


  19. denise @ quickies on the dinner tableposted October 21, 2010 at 12:17 am Reply

    Charmingly efficient I think ;) These are smart and they have to be yummy! Thanks for a great idea – I will have this in mind, next time I'm staring at roast leftovers…

  20. Kristenposted October 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm Reply

    I agree, time is a precious commodity that I certainly could use more of.

    What delicious little tamale bites…and so much easier than making the old fashioned kind!

  21. Gourmet Gadget Galposted October 20, 2010 at 9:30 pm Reply

    I was thinking about these today and thought what a great basic idea this is to work with to update the party quiche thing. You could probably convert the idea easily to vegetarian too with a savory sweet potato filling or even a soft cheese and roasted chili mixture.

  22. almondposted October 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm Reply

    This looks like lots of fun! I´m mexican and have never seen a "tamal" like this.

  23. lacasitainspiradaposted October 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm Reply

    Mmmm… tamales are a family tradition for me. What a great take on the classic! Love that they can be made fast and are good for serving at parties!

  24. Black22posted October 20, 2010 at 11:36 am Reply

    great article, just stumbled onto this blog and looks good so far

  25. Nirmalaposted October 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm Reply

    Sommer, I love this and how easy it is to make! Full of flavors, I'm sure they were a hit. I hear you on the time. It's precious.

  26. Pacheco Pattyposted October 20, 2010 at 3:02 pm Reply

    These are perfect party fare, very creative, full of good flavors and great looking. I'm planning my Halloween feast as well, thanks for sharing;)

  27. Devakiposted October 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm Reply

    Perfect for a party Sommer! Excellent for the season and I love the quote and your perfect answer via these tamale bites!

    Ciao, Devaki 2 weavethousandflavors

  28. thelonelyradish.composted October 20, 2010 at 5:03 am Reply

    Great idea. They look so good.

  29. Lawyer Loves Lunchposted October 20, 2010 at 4:56 am Reply

    These are adorable and look so darn tasty! They'd make fabulous appetizers for a party I plan on throwing soon (as soon as I unpack my mini muffin pans) :) Congrats on Top 9! :)

  30. Adelinaposted October 20, 2010 at 4:40 am Reply

    ooh la la… I love these budles… I am saving this for my next fiesta.

  31. Kim - Liv Lifeposted October 20, 2010 at 4:01 am Reply

    An excellent post! My neighbor is having a fairly large Halloween party as well and these just night be the perfect treat! Thank you so much!

  32. Trey Moranposted October 20, 2010 at 3:34 am Reply

    I'm stealing this idea. lol I like the tamale cup idea. I do plantian cups every once in awhile for ceviche. Good job!

  33. The Mom Chefposted October 20, 2010 at 2:06 am Reply

    I saw the chipotles in adobo and fell in love. They are SO good. I heap them on forgetting how hot they really are! Looks fantastic.

    FYI, there's an award for you on my site. Hope you'll pick it up. I think you're awesome.

  34. Eileenposted October 20, 2010 at 1:49 am Reply

    I think those would be perfect for a party. Hearty, but easy to handle. Oh yeah….

  35. A SPICY PERSPECTIVEposted October 20, 2010 at 12:50 am Reply


    I've made these a couple times…
    The first time, I placed a large pan of water on the rack below. The masa cups came out very moist and very similar to the texture of real tamales. The only problem was that they were hard to extract from the muffin tins without damaging the cup. The second time I tried it without the pan of water. The texture of the masa was definitely different from traditional tamales, but much easier to handle. I preferred the second batch. The flavor was on, even if the texture was a bit different!

    • Connieposted December 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm Reply

      I’ve tried a similar idea, buying freshly made grocery store tamales and scooping out the filling then using the masa in muffin tins, adding the filling, topping with a bit of chili,minced onion, and shredded cheese…when I tried to removed them from the muffin tins they fell apart…maybe if I use this recipe to make the masa the results will be better…and then I could top each with a dab of chili (I think tamales need that or they are too dry)…anyway thanks for the inspiration!

      • Connieposted December 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        btw…my blog is cookingalone.blogspot.com

  36. Stellaposted October 20, 2010 at 12:46 am Reply

    Hey Sommer, time is a mystical thing (smile). Sometimes it goes so fast and sometimes so slow. Either way, I'm inefficient, so I can't get grumpy about it;-)
    These tamales are beautiful by the way. I have a feeling I would eat a lot of them if they were in front of me!

  37. Rosa's Yummy Yumsposted October 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm Reply

    Those tamale tartlets look so good! What a great idea.

    Time is precious so that is a wonderful and generous gift.



  38. Lori Lynnposted October 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm Reply

    Terrific idea I am about to make tamales. I must try this. I posted quesadillas last week, used the same brand as you I see from the photo.

  39. meltingbutter.composted October 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm Reply

    Great post, thanks for sharing this :0

  40. Evan @swEEtsposted October 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm Reply

    What a fabulous recipe! I love that they're just little bite size portions..

    Rating: 5
  41. Emily Zposted October 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm Reply

    I am the same way with my time. I give mine freely and willingly to family and friends but tend to withdraw it from people who aren't respectful of my efforts. It's nice to feel appreciated!

  42. blackbookkitchendiariesposted October 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm Reply

    this looks so appetizing:) i love the bite size version of tamales.. yum! thank you for sharing this.

  43. Chantel Beauregardposted October 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm Reply

    Absolutely gorgeous! I love tamales!

  44. Carolynposted October 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm Reply

    Fantastic! I love tamales, what a creative way to make them!

  45. Claudiaposted October 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm Reply

    This is a winner Sommer – perfect nibbles for a fall eve.

  46. coolbloggerposted October 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm Reply

    Yummy dish. pretty cute.

  47. briarroseposted October 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm Reply

    So cute!

  48. Hyosun Roposted October 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm Reply

    Great pictures and lovely little bites! Definitely saving it.

  49. [email protected]posted October 19, 2010 at 11:50 am Reply

    Oh wow! These are awesome! My husband will die for these tamale bites – which kills two birds with one stone – yummy cooking and time with him! And maybe some friends too- I love good party food. I agree… it's always tough to make enough time!

  50. Cherineposted October 19, 2010 at 8:23 am Reply

    Wonderful!!! Love the idea. Bookmarked!!

  51. Lynneposted October 19, 2010 at 5:01 am Reply

    This is a great way to use up leftover meat and I love anything made with masa. I'll definitly have to use this clever idea. I appreciate your step-by-step photos, too.

  52. Diannaposted October 19, 2010 at 4:38 am Reply

    Having made tamales before, I am curious as to the baking process. It takes a long time to steam tamales. I love this idea but is the masa done enough in baking it for a relatively short time? Does it get tough? Is it similar to a tamale in texture? It really is a ingenious idea if the masa texture is good because we all like more filling than the average tamale provides!

  53. Carrieposted October 19, 2010 at 4:07 am Reply

    Hey came to follow but don't see the box. Hmmm. Check out my blog when you get a sec. I usually write sarcastic stories about my everyday mom life but every so often I also feature people and places that are inspiring, neat, and relevant to life.


  54. Shirleyposted October 19, 2010 at 4:06 am Reply

    The first time I had tamales, I was at a wedding and forgot exactly what they were and bit into it — leaf wrapper and all. It cracked up my friends the bride and groom. Yours looks delicious, and possibly more my speed. ;)

  55. Julie M.posted October 19, 2010 at 1:55 am Reply

    Very creative Sommer! I love the look of these and I already know that they are going to be perfectly delicious!

  56. A Little Yumminessposted October 18, 2010 at 11:58 pm Reply

    These look great for a cocktail party. Problen is I would eat them before the party starts.

  57. Priya Sreeramposted October 18, 2010 at 11:32 pm Reply

    hey lovely thoughts about TIME !very nice pics and recipe!

  58. BakingWithoutaBoxposted October 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm Reply

    Great advice. Good looking food. Gorgeous photos!

  59. Magic of Spiceposted October 18, 2010 at 10:15 pm Reply

    These are so creative…love the idea :) Most defiantly charmingly efficient!
    I will try to come with something to enter for you, can it be a former post?

  60. She's Cookin'posted October 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm Reply

    I love tamales but often there is just too much masa. These are perfect!

  61. Victoria K.posted October 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm Reply

    How adorable! I love these!!

  62. Katerinaposted October 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm Reply

    This is such a great way to use leftovers. And they are very elegant and impressive.

  63. Marisaposted October 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm Reply

    These little tamale bites are a truly genius idea! I really like this recipe and am so jelous of everyone who gets to go to your Halloween party! I agree with you about time. There is definitely not enough of it in a day!

  64. Torviewtorontoposted October 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm Reply

    lovely pictures

  65. Susiposted October 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm Reply

    I love your "time philosophy" and it sounds like a great way to weed out time wasters :o)
    Your recipe is simply awesome, my husband loves tamales but I don't care much for them since a lot of times the ratio of masa to meat is off. These little bites look like the perfect solution to this dilemma! Brilliant :o)

  66. Island Vittlesposted October 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm Reply

    these are a great appetizer for the party season that is coming up fast! Great idea that I'll definitely have to use…Theresa

  67. claireposted October 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm Reply

    I agree with you… There aren't enough hours in the day!
    wow! i LOVE tamales, but have never made them myself… These look so delicious!

  68. apiciusapprenticeposted October 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm Reply

    Que LINDO, Sommer! These are so beautiful and sound absolutely delicious!

  69. JillyAnposted October 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm Reply

    Oh wow Sommer…that is so clever. We absolutely adore tamales but I never seem to find the time to make them the traditional way. This is awesome! Thanks for posting the recipe.

  70. Rubyposted October 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Cute little bites – I'd help them disappear quickly! I also love the quote about time – so true!

  71. Suchitraposted October 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm Reply

    really innovative and great dish- love it!

  72. cutekittypunkposted October 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm Reply

    i'VE got a bag of masa and have been wanting to make tamales for some time – but i'm afraid they won't turnout – thank you so much for suggesting this idea – tamale cups – wow- genius… i like it! you rock!!

  73. Dimahposted October 18, 2010 at 11:01 am Reply

    These sound and look awesome!

  74. Cake Duchessposted October 18, 2010 at 10:41 am Reply

    Meant to type so darn good;)

  75. Cake Duchessposted October 18, 2010 at 10:40 am Reply

    Hi Sommer- these look son darn good I want one now for breakfast! Time does fly by so quickly. This is fantastic b/c it is all homemade and quick.:)

  76. Gitteposted October 18, 2010 at 10:32 am Reply

    I love these! They look delicious and so adorable. I totally agree about how precious time is. There never seem to be enough hours in the day. This post was time well spent. Thank you for that.

  77. Wheels and Lollipopsposted October 18, 2010 at 8:59 am Reply

    These look delicious, I love tamales but when done like this its definitely more accessible. I just found corn flour here in France this weekend so will definitely give this a try.

  78. Gourmandeposted October 18, 2010 at 7:53 am Reply

    That really looks great ! Invite me to your party !
    Like you, I will take the time if that's worth it, I don't mind doing a bread over 4 days (not full time, it's more about planning), but if I can do something quicker, I don't hesitate.

  79. My Kitchen in the Rockiesposted October 18, 2010 at 5:22 am Reply

    What a time saver. Fantastic. I have thought about making my own tamales. We could buy them at the farmers market until two weeks ago, but now we are almost out. Thanks, Summer.

  80. Angie's Recipesposted October 18, 2010 at 4:51 am Reply

    Oh yep…these would make a great party food! The queso fresco atop has brightened up these beauties.

  81. Monetposted October 18, 2010 at 4:42 am Reply

    Could these look any more appetizing? I think not! You are so skilled with your camera…and of course in the kitchen! I'm consistently impressed. I want one of these little guys right now. Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog…they are so appreciated during this difficult time.

  82. penny aka jeroxieposted October 18, 2010 at 4:40 am Reply

    Great quote! Love the party idea as well :)

  83. Chow and Chatterposted October 18, 2010 at 3:18 am Reply

    they look like perfect party food and your right time is so precious

  84. Belinda @zomppaposted October 18, 2010 at 3:11 am Reply

    These are precious. Time is well spent eating these!

  85. imwaytoobusyposted October 18, 2010 at 2:51 am Reply

    "To only spend time on VALUABLE efforts is the goal. "Just Say NO" is a real challenge, isn't it? Sometimes I feel like the bad guy saying no, but you have to protect your assets."

    Fantastic quote! Time is our greatest commodity and is not to be wasted. I completely agree! I get a lot crammed into one day by being efficient. :)

    Thank you for your logo feedback! :)

  86. lauraposted October 18, 2010 at 2:50 am Reply

    Definitely charmingly efficient! I love it when I can make something out of leftovers, and these look perfect and delicious, Sommer. I completely agree about time – I absolutely love finding time saving tricks that still give amazing results. ( : XO