Chicken and Turkey, Instant Pot Cuban Recipes

Instant Pot Easy Cuban Tamales with Pork

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If I had to choose one food that is the exact opposite of fast, easy, and uses readily available ingredients, it would be Tamales. Just about every Hispanic and Latin culture has a form of tamales, but most people are most familiar with the delicious Mexican Tamales which are a corn mixture stuffed with a filling and wrapped like origami in a corn husk and then steamed for hours. They are a labor of love, emphasis on labor.

However, Cuban Tamales, even though originally brought to Cuba from Mexico, are much easier, quicker, and just as delicious. Specifically, my Great Grandmother Teadora’s recipe that was passed down to me by my father Carlos Horruitiner. he actually came over and helped me make the Tamales in this blog, so you are getting instructions straight from the master himself!

When my great grandmother came to the United States, she made a few adjustments to her recipe (because if you know anything about the Cuban people, we know how to adapt and use what we got!). First, she realized that the type of corn they grow in Cuba and the Caribbean is very different from the corn grow in the States. In Cuba, her recipe used nothing more than pureed corn for the masa and she corn husks to wrap them in. However, when she came to the States she added Instant corn masa mix to thicken the corn puree and she used foil to wrap the tamales.

In this recipe I am going to include both the foil wrapper method as well as the corn husk method. The Cuban way to wrap the tamales is very easy as well. You use kitchen twine and wrap them like a package. This way you do not have have them standing upright in the Pressure Cooker because they don’t have an opening in the top. This way you can stack a lot more and no balancing act.

Another reason that makes these tamales easy is that the meat is mixed into the corn mixture instead of stuffed and folded into the middle of the tamal. So this way you just mix and scoop. ( Tip* You can also use any  cooked meat or vegetable mixture you have on hand. You can even use leftovers! Picadillo, Rotisserie Chicken, Pork, whatever! Experiment and go crazy.)

Watch my Step by Step video…

Instant Pot Easy Cuban Pork Tamales

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez, Carlos Horruitiner,  and Abuela Teadora Martinez 

Pork Mixture: (You can combine the ingredients listed for the pork ahead of time and cover and place in the fridge to marinade for 4 to 24 hours.)

1 1/2 lbs Pork cut into 1 inch chunks (use a fatty cut, I like the boneless Country Ribs which are very inexpensive)

1 1/2 Tbl Garlic Powder

1 1/2 Tbl Onion Powder

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Ground All Spice

1 Tbl Salt

6-8 Grinds of Black Pepper

1 1/2 cup Chicken Broth

Corn Mixture:

2 lbs Fresh Sweet Corn Kernels (Since corn varies in size, I like to use weight. However, it’s approximately 6-7 cups of kernels which is about 8 ears of corn. You can also use frozen sweet corn kernels if that is all you have. Just thaw them first.)

1 cup Reserved Liquid from Meat (This will be explained in the recipe)

3/4 cup Vegetable oil

1/4 cup Sugar

1 1/2 Tbl Salt

3 Cup Maseca Instant Corn Masa Mix

18-20 Squares of Foil, cut 10×10


40 Large Corn Husks

20 pieces of 24 inch long Kitchen Twine

Hot Tap Water to Soak Husks


-First thing to do is rinse and put the corn husks to soak. I like to use a 9×5 baking dish and adding enough water to cover them. Soak for at least 20 mins until soft.


-If you are making the pork from scratch and not using  leftovers or your own meat mixture, it’s best to cook the meat early enough that it will have time to cool. You do not want to add hot filling to the corn mixture.

-Cut the pork into 1 inch pieces and place in a bowl or you can use the Instant Pot pot. (I am going to continue the recipe as if you do not have time to marinade the pork ahead of time. However, it comes out much better if you pour all the ingredients over the pork and let marinade for 4 hours or even overnight. )

-Add the 1 1/2 Tbl Garlic and Onion Powder, 1/2 tsp Cumin, 1/2 tsp Allspice, 2 tsp Salt, 6 Grinds of Black Pepper, and 1 1/2 cup Chicken Broth to the Pork.


-Place the Pot with the Pork in the Instant Pot. Lock the Instant pot lid into place and make sure the valve is set to Sealed. Pressure cook on High for 20 mins and Natural Release for 15 mins.

-Strain the pork and keep the liquid in a separate bowl to use for the corn mixture. Use a spatula and cut up the pork into whatever size pieces you want in your Tamales. Set both the liquid and pork aside to cool. 20180523_103303

-Time to start the corn mixture and the first thing to do is husk the corn. This used to be one of the things I hated to do because I could never get all the corn silk off. However, my father showed me the trick he learned in Cuba to shuck the corn in seconds. I am including a video of this here in case, like me, you are a terrible corn shucker.

Easy and Quick Way to Shuck Corn

-Once you have shucked all the corn, remove the kernels. My father’s tip is to set a small bowl upside down in a baking dish. Stand the ear of corn on the dish and making sure to keep your fingers clear, use a chefs knife to slice the kernels off the ear of the corn from top to bottom. Go all the way around. Be careful not to cut too deep in to the ear of corn.  ( You can also use a mandolin.)20180523_100536

-Once you have cut all the kernels off the ear. Place 2 lbs of Corn Kernels into a blender. This is about 6-8 cups. 20180523_104736

-Add 1 cup of the cooled  liquid you saved from cooking the pork. (If you are using leftovers and don’t have reserved liquid, you can use chicken broth or half chicken broth and half milk.) Also add 3/4 cups Vegetable Oil, 1/4 cup Sugar, and 1 1/2 Tbl Salt. Blend for 30 sec to 1 minute depending on the blender you have. It should look like a watery corn smoothie. 

-If you have a stand mixer, pour this corn smoothie into the bowl of your mixer and attach the paddle. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can do this by hand. Then with your mixer on low, slowly add 3 cups of the Masa Mix until you have a mixture that looks like wet porridge. It should be just thick enough to keep a spatula standing up. 


-Now add the pork or whatever meat or vegetable mixture you want. Again, unlike Mexican Tamales where the mixture is folded in a way to create a stuffed tamal, in Cuban Tamales you stir the meat into the entire corn mixture. Just make sure to gently fold it into the mix so you don’t break up the pork any more than it is. 20180523_112603


-Now it’s time to wrap them up.

Instructions for Using Foil Including a Video

-Get all your 10×10 foil squares and the 20 pieces of twine together where you can reach them easily.

-Using a standard ice cream scoop, take one scoop of the tamal mixture and place it toward the bottom middle of the foil square.

-Fold the bottom edge of the foil over the mixture and pull towards you. Then roll the foil like a cigar. Twist one end tight and then twist the other end. Fold down the edges. You know what? Just forget this and watch the video of my dad doing it. It’s so much easier then I make it sound.

Instructions for Using Corn Husks Including a Video

-Take the corn husks that you have been soaking out of the water and slightly dry them with a paper towel. You want to pick out the largest husks that have no tears. If you have a few smaller ones you can just double them up.

-The folding is really easy to do, but hard to explain so I think I’ll just let my dad show you how it’s done in the following video.

-Now you should either have about 18 foil or corn husk Tamales ready to cook!


-Place the trivet in the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water. Place the Tamales on top of the trivet. You can stack these laying down and on top of each other. If you made both foil and corn husk Tamales, you can cook them at the same time.

-Lock the Instant Pot lid into place and make sure the valve is set to Sealed. Pressure Cook on High for 30 minutes and Natural Pressure Release for 15 minutes. You can eat them right away or store in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a month. The best way to reheat is to steam either in the Instant Pot for 1 minute or on the stove top. Enjoy with hot sauce, Queso Crema, ketchup, or may favorite (because I’m weird) Honey!20180523_170342

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Andrea C

This looks amazing. I’ve done tamales the Mexican way and — whew! Delicious but a TON of work. I have just finished making your recipe for Yucca con Mojo. Cooking yuca in the IP was WAY easier than I do it (used to do it, that is), and it turned out delicious. So I can’t wait to try this one AND the Cuban beans. Please keep it up!


Oh my gosh you made my day! Thank you so much. The IP makes cooking yucca do much easier for sure. No boiling all day watching the water level. I am so glad you like my recipe. ❤🇨🇺

Andrea C

I’m glad I made your day. By the way — an additional plus that deserves mention is that all three of these recipes are gluten free and dairy free (assuming people are careful with their source of spices, for instance). Might be worth a mention, to attract people searching. Keep cooking! I’ll definitely tune back in. -From MN.


Brilliant! You are absolutely right. Im going to add that. Thank you.

Carla H

Could these be made with leftover pork shoulder roast? Perhaps by simmering leftover vubes with the dpices til soft enough t o shred?


Absolutely! You could just chop it fine and add it. That would be amazing!

Carla H


Carla H

Made these last night with the leftover pork shoulder roast previously mentioned. Simmered the pork cubes with the spices and broth. Got 2 thumbs up from the hubby! Do you have any other recipes using the tamal masa mix? Its just the two if us and the 4.4 lb bag will be a long time getting used up if I just make tamales.


Yay! That sounds delicious and I’m so glad it came out great. As of now I don’t have another recipe yet but I’m working on Tamal en Cazuela which is a Cuban tamales casserole. ❤

Dawn T

I’ve made these exactly as this recipe, and I loved them. My boyfriend bought me a 5lb bag of frozen corn meal in homestead fl, I’ve never used this before, is this mixture the same as what you call the “corn smoothie”. How would I use this in your recipe? Thank you, Dawn


I’m so glad you like them!❤ I’ve never used the frozen corn meal so that’s a great question. I’ll ask my dad if he had and get back to you. If it says on the bag that it’s masa for tamales then I expect it should cook the same.

Cathy Dimaria

can you make with chicken


Absolutely! I make it with chicken for my daughter and they are so good. You could even use leftover chicken too.

im so glad you shared your story on the instant pot community on facebook. i read it yesterday and was making brisket at the time and told everyone i was going to use your recipe and make brisket tamales . ive never even made tamales …they are all mixed up and in my instant pot now… used the foil method… fingers crossed.. i can say i saved the juice from the brisket and i tasted the mix before i scooped it into the foil and omg it was good…have 8 people waiting on them to see if i can really… Read more »

Oh my word brisket tamales sound amazing!! Thank you so much for your kind words and im so glad you loved reading my blog. I live sharing my family stories and recipes with everyone. Please let me know how they turn out. ❤


This recipe is sooooooo delicious! Thank you! My kiddos loved it too! A real winner 😊


Oh my goodness, thank you so much for trying it out and I’m so glad your family liked them! ❤


I made these tonight. Made a lot!! I really liked but next time I’m gonna use less foil 😂
Love that you included the reheated directions and the fact that they can be frozen is a huge plus!! Recipe is a keeper! Thank you!

Lisa Hill

Do you reheat from frozen or thaw first? We made these & froze half. Amazing!

Lisa Hill

One more quick question…lol. Can these be made & wrapped one day and then steamed the next or does it all need to be done the same day? We’ve made several of your recipes now and are thrilled with them. Thanks!

Sandra Davis

I am making tamales your way very soon. I’ve been looking for a recipe for a while. Yours look so easy! Thanks so much for this recipe!❤️❤️


I’m heartbroken! Most of mine exploded. What did I do wrong? Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!



The foil….did I maybe put too much? I am just devastated. I was so hoping I did it right. I put 24 in my pot then did them for 30 minutes.


I did the foil. Put 24 in my pot for 30 minutes. Maybe did I fill them too full? I’m just devastated. Thank you for all the help!


Your amazing!!! Thank you!


What’s the name of your FB Group?


Have you tried freezing the Cuban Tamales after preparation and then cooking from frozen in the Instant Pot? If so, how long?


Can I use plain Maseca instead of the Masa Mix? Or maybe they are the same?? I live in Canada & the only place in our city to purchase ingredients hadn’t heard of the mix. Thanks.


I Love the way you tell how to cook the tamales. You give concise instructions without going on and on about the same thing for 5 minutes. You are very clear about everything, most of all about being able to use different types of ingredients for seasoning and for the marinade, and also the masa.