I love to grill in summer, despite the fact that I live in a state that has many days of over 100 degrees that feel even hotter with Louisiana’s humidity.  On most grilling days, I am immune to the heat when standing over a grill, but when it is just too hot outside even for me, my smoker saves the day. Using the smoker gives me many opportunities for leftovers. There is so much time and attention involved in smoking food that I always plan ahead to make plenty. There are so many ways I enjoy leftover pulled pork or smoked brisket–here is one of my favorites. No pork or brisket? Pull meat off ribs and chicken or grind leftover hot dogs and sausage in food processor.

This recipe came out of one of my leftovers; a sweet potato filled with BBQ meat and black beans combined with my love for hot tamales. I grew up in New Orleans where you could buy the best hot tamales on a street corner! I remember how tantalizing it was riding home with my dad as the smell of hot tamales wafted from the back seat floor board where the tightly bundled newspaper roll was beginning to drip lusciousness (that’s why the tamales always rode on the floor!). No telling just how many dozens of hot tamales we polished off over the years! The corner carts selling the original tamales are  gone from the streets of New Orleans. New Orleans hot tamales are different than regular hot tamales in that cornmeal is used instead of Masa Harina (dough flour) and are always wrapped in paper, which I think is not only easier, but more convenient. I always have cornmeal and parchment paper handy.

BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales: This recipe is so easy I’m sure it will become a standby for so many leftovers! Just plan a few hours of cook time. Cut parchment paper  into 6-7 inch squares. Make 20 squares. (Just in case an extra one or two are needed) Place them under something heavy to flatten them out. I use my butcher block.

Dice 1 small onion and 1 sweet potato. Add to skillet with 1/2 tsp olive oil. Season to your liking depending on the seasoning already in your leftover meat.SAMSUNG CSC  I add 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp cayenne pepper (hubby likes it a little spicy). tamales 3Saute over medium for five minutes then cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Put mixture into a bowl to let cool. When cool, add 1 cup of leftover pulled pork (or any BBQ meat) SAMSUNG CSC1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (could omit and add 1 can corn) and 1/4 cup cornmeal. Mix well.

Place a steamer basket into a pot. Place next to your work station. Lay out a parchment paper onto the work station. Add 1 tsp of cornmeal on end of paper closest to you. Put 2 TBSP of mixture on top of cornmeal. (I use my hands to form a log before putting down, but you could always shape it as you roll the tamale if you don’t like to get your hands messy!) Sprinkle 1 tsp more cornmeal on top of pork mixture. Fold up one side and roll up the tamale gently squeezing and forming tamale as you roll.

BBQ Pork cornmeal TamalesMake sure to get a tight roll. When done place seam side down into a steamer basket. BBQ Pork Cornmeal tamalesContinue rolling one by one until all the mixture is used.  This makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen tamales.  It is O.K. to stack the tamales. Pour water over the tamales into the pot. You want to have the papers wet. (Some people wet the papers before rolling, I find that to be too messy!) Fill with water just up to the steamer basket. Cover the pot. Bring water to a boil then turn heat down to low and simmer 2 hours. Be careful with the water level, scorched pots are no fun to wash! I always add some more water after an hour. Turn off heat and let sit 1/2 hour longer. Open the lid carefully, remove tamales. Unroll tamales. Drizzle with BBQ sauce. Enjoy. We like ours with corn and crackers, of course!BBQ Pork Cornmeal HotTamalesBBQ Pork Cornmeal Hot Tamales


Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What other meats could you use? Chopped chicken, (works well with leftover Rotisserie chicken, too!) brisket, pork tenderloin?  What other kind of mixture from leftovers could you use? Taco filling? fajita? dirty rice? meatloaf and veggies? What other kind of vegetables? Corn, of course, how about kale, spinach, or squash? How about an all vegetable tamales? What about toppings? Chili and cheese, tomato sauce? Don’t limit the flavors. Think Indian tamales or Italian tamales, just change seasonings, fillings, and toppings! You can cook the tamales in a sauce. too.

FOOD FUN: If  you didn’t believe me about Louisiana hot tamales, head to North Louisiana and check out the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, the second full weekend every October. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, October 8-10. Perfect your tamale rolling skills and enter the tamale making contest or perfect your tamale eating skills and enter the tamale eating contest. Either way  you can get your fill with tamales filled with just about anything, even a dessert tamale! Who doesn’t love a good hot tamale?

BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales
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Yield: 1 1/2 dozen tamales

BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to desired taste)
  • 1 cup leftover BBQ pork
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • Cornmeal for rolling tamales


  1. Add olive oil to a skillet. Add onion, sweet potato, and seasonings. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. When mixture is cool, add leftover BBQ pork, black beans, and cornmeal. Mix well.
  3. Cut parchment paper into 18 6-7 inch squares. Lay out parchment paper squares on a work station. Add 1 tsp of cornmeal on end of paper closest to you. Shape 2 TBSP of mixture into a log. Place on top of cornmeal. Sprinkle top with 1 tsp more cornmeal. Fold up one side and roll the tamale gently squeezing as you roll to get a tight roll.
  4. Fit a stockpot with a steamer basket.
  5. Place tamales seam side down into basket.
  6. Pour water over the tamales filling the pot just to the steamer basket. Cover the pot. Bring water to a boil. Turn heat to low. Simmer 1 hour. Open lid carefully, add more water. Simmer additional 1 hour.
  7. Turn off heat. Let tamales sit covered for 30 minutes.
  8. Open lid carefully and remove tamales.
  9. Unroll tamales. Drizzle with BBQ sauce

BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales
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2 thoughts on “BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales

  • June 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    WOW! Tamales….who doesn’t like hot tamales? This was usually a Sunday night meal growing up, even though we always had a special Sunday dinner (lunch in the South) with all of the trimmings, tamales would be a quick (50 cents a dozen) delicious meal at night. Great recipe Susanne. Never would have thought of preparing BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales….looks absolutely delicious….plus all of the other variations that you mentioned. I think that I could actually do this following your recipe…nice pictures too…..yum! 🙂

  • June 27, 2015 at 6:07 am

    Susanne, I have a big crockpot of pulled pork and beans ready for Supper Club tonight. I’m going to use the leftovers with the girls to make your tamales. A craft and a meal–doesn’t get any better–Thanks (again!).


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