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Tamale Bites Recipe

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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

Easy Tamale Bites Recipe on ASpicyPerspective.com
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5 from 8 votes
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Tamale Bites Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Tamale Bites Recipe - An easy "cheater" tamales recipe making perfect little party size tamale appetizers.
Servings: 44 bites


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
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

For the Masa Shell:


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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


Serving: 1g, Calories: 82kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 59mg, Potassium: 78mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 70IU, Vitamin C: 0.8mg, Calcium: 19mg, Iron: 0.9mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Author: Sommer Collier

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104 comments on “Tamale Bites Recipe”

  1. Has anyone use muffin liners: if so does it work?

  2. I loved this recipe! I filled mine with homemade hummus I did also let mine bake for a few minutes more to get a better crisp to it. Once they were done I topped it off with homemade avocado cilantro lime sauce and they were amazing. 

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  4. These were a huge hit! I’m back to make them again and had to let you know. So much easier, great appetizer! 

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  6. Can you make the masa ‘bowls’ ahead of time and freeze  them?

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  8. Has anybody used the premade masa for this recipe??

  9. How can I adjust the recipe for full size muffin tins?

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  12. Amazing – my family cannot get enough of these! I sub the beef stock with chicken or vegetable stock. Use shredded chicken thighs. Sub out the sour cream with homemade cashew sour cream.

  13. I am in the middle of making these and realize the recipe doesn’t say when to add the sour cream and lime juice to the filling mixture. After the added water is cooked out? Am doing a double batch with chicken and another double batch with beef for a big event tonight. Usually I test run a new recipe before the event day! This will teach me! :)

    •  Never Mind! Now I see it! Perhaps I should have gotten a bit more sleep last night or have more coffee!  Sorry!

  14. This one’s my all time favorite!

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

  18. these look addicting!! definitely a great game day snack

  19. 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. 

  20. Love this idea! Like an open face tamale!

  21. 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?

    • 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. :)

  22. 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!

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  24. 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. :-)

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

  26. 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.

  27. What a great idea! I love this version!

  28. 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..


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

  30. 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

  31. 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.


  32. 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…

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

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

  36. 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!

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

  38. 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.

  39. 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;)

  40. 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

  41. Great idea. They look so good.

  42. 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! :)

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

  44. 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!

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

  46. 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.

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

  48. Dianna~

    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!

    • 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!

  49. 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!

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

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



  51. 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.

  52. Great post, thanks for sharing this :0

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

  54. 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!

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

  56. Absolutely gorgeous! I love tamales!

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

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

  59. Yummy dish. pretty cute.

  60. So cute!

  61. Great pictures and lovely little bites! Definitely saving it.

  62. 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!

  63. Wonderful!!! Love the idea. Bookmarked!!

  64. 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.

  65. 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!

  66. 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.


  67. 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. ;)

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

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

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

  71. Great advice. Good looking food. Gorgeous photos!

  72. 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?

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

  74. How adorable! I love these!!

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

  76. 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!

  77. delicious
    lovely pictures

  78. 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)

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

  80. 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!

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

  82. 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.

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

  84. really innovative and great dish- love it!

  85. 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!!

  86. These sound and look awesome!

  87. Meant to type so darn good;)

  88. 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.:)

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

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

  94. 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.

  95. Great quote! Love the party idea as well :)

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

  97. These are precious. Time is well spent eating these!

  98. "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! :)

  99. 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