Tamal de Cazuela

Tamal de Cazuela

Tamal de Cazuela

Don’t make it because it’s easier, make it because it’s great! Tamal de cazuela is a “tamale casserole” with all the fabulous flavors of our favorite Mexican tamales baked in a cast iron dish.

Labor-intensive traditional tamales are steamed individually in corn husks or banana leaves, resulting in a fluffy masa. Here, the masa is simply spread in a pan, filled with a meaty mixture, capped with more masa, then baked. It has a denser texture more like a sope, the process makes a terrific pie crust.

I often use leftover meat for my tamales. Have you tried my Hanukkah Tamales made from frozen brisket? This pie is made with my leftover braised short ribs (recipe here). For the filling, you can use any shredded meat (beef, pork, chicken) or even vegetables and beans to make a delicioso tamal de cazuela!

Tamal de CazuelaOnce the tamal de cazuela is baked, let it cool slightly then slice into wedges. Serve the pie slices on plates and let guests garnish with lots of toppings of their choice:

  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • shredded cabbage
  • cotija cheese
  • sliced jalapeños
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • crema Mexicana
  • guacamole
Tamal de Cazuela Recipe

Tamal de Cazuela Recipe

Cazuela Filling

  • 2 1/2 c. cooked shredded beef, pork, or chicken (my short ribs recipe here)
  • 3 to 4 chile de arbol, seeds removed, charred in oil, chopped
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 3/8 c. green olives, pitted, rough chopped
  • 3/8 c. golden raisins, rough chopped
  • 1 c. broth or sauce (my sauce from the short ribs includes carrots)
  • salt to taste

Warm the shredded meat in a pot. Add chile and herbs. Stir to combine. Add olives, raisins, broth, and salt to taste. Cook briefly to meld the flavors then chill mixture in refrigerator while preparing the masa. It is easier to spread masa over the chilled meat to form a great crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Olive Oil Tamale Batter (no lard or shortening)

Batter Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 c. masa harina
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. Kosher salt
  • 2/3 c. olive oil, partially frozen
  • 3 c. chicken stock, warm

In a large mixing bowl, blend the dry ingredients with a hand mixer. Add olive oil a spoonful at a time. Then stream in 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Use the last 1/2 cup of stock if needed to achieve a hummus-like texture.

Note: Batter recipe adapted from Terry Hope Romero.


Spoon just under 2/3 of the masa into a greased 10″ cast iron pan. Spread the masa evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Spoon the meat mixture into the pan and spread out over the masa. Top with the remaining masa (may not need all of it) and smooth to form a crust. Bake for about 55 minutes until the crust turns a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 25 to 30 minutes before slicing.

Tamal de Cazuela

It’s a casserole fantastico that’s great for a party and goes surprisingly well with tequila. Salud!

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