Tamale Sauce | Family Cuisine

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with corn masa dough wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, boiled, steamed or baked. The dough is then filled with meat and/or vegetables while it is still warm. Tamales

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How to make tamales sauce

If presents won’t bring people together come the holidays, tamales most definitely will. This traditional Christmastime staple is best served alongside a savory Tamale Sauce…but let’s not serve it with just any Tamale Sauce. Serve them with the absolute best Tamale Sauce! And, while we’re at it — let’s not reserve them for once a year either.

This is a quick-fix, cheesy Tamale Sauce that reigns supreme with its Tex-Mex flare and kick of spice. It’s the perfect consistency for dipping or drizzling over tamales, but can also be used for enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and more!

Reading: how to make tamales sauce

A spoonful of tamale sauce pouring over a plate of stacked tamales surrounded by pico de gallo and cilantro.

You’ll also love our Tex-Mex take on Tamale Pie! Bookmark the recipe and add it to your dinnertime lineup!


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Tamales can be served with any number of condiments — ranchero sauce, guacamole, and sour cream — just to name a few. But, the most popular of them all is the traditional red chili sauce, not to be confused with the aforementioned ranchero sauce.

Traditional Tamale Sauce is made from red, dried chilies, garlic, and cumin. It begins by roasting peppers briefly in the oven, followed by a soak in water. Then, the chilies and water are blended into together with spices. The recipe is then moved to the stovetop where a roux then comes together, and the chili puree is added. The sauce thickens on the stovetop and it’s ready for serving.

This is not that Tamale Sauce. No. This Tamale Sauce, on the other hand, will be much, much easier. Not to mention, a whole lot more flavorful thanks to a little Tex-Mex flare.


  • Butter – Butter adds a richness to the sauce, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can sub in avocado or canola oil.
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Beef Broth – Beef Broth gives this Tex-Mex Tamale Sauce and extra savory note. Make sure you use low-sodium/unsalted beef broth to avoid an overly salty sauce.
  • Adobo Sauce – Adobo sauce is a red sauce that consists of paprika, garlic, salt, oregano, and vinegar. If you’ve ever bought canned chipotles, you’ve probably noticed the peppers come free-floating in this very sauce. There is more than enough adobo sauce in a can of chipotles, so if you can’t find just Adobo Sauce, know you can always go with a can of “Chipotles in Adobo.” In either case, you’ll find it on the international aisle of your grocery store. If you have leftover adobo sauce, you can use it up in this easy Chipotle Sauce Recipe!
  • Taco Seasoning – You can use either store-bought taco seasoning or this Homemade Taco Seasoning.
  • American Cheese – Surprising as this may seem, American cheese is somewhat of a staple in Tex-Mex dishes thanks to its melty nature and creamy consistency, as well as a flavor profile that lets you know there’s definitely cheese in there…without completely overpowering the dish. And, (as one might imagine) makes for an excellent addition to Tex-Mex Tamale Sauce!

A bowl of tamale sauce with a ladle next to it and tamales in the background.


This Tex-Mex Tamale Sauce is very simple to make and it comes together in just over 10 minutes, making it the perfect addition for quick-fix dinners and, of course, entertaining.

  1. Melt the butter, sprinkle in the flour, and whisk to combine.
  2. Slowly add the beef broth and allow to simmer.
  3. Add adobo sauce, taco seasoning, and slices of American cheese.
  4. Stir until melted and serve right away!

Read more: how to make white sauce for chicken cordon bleu | Family Cuisine

A plate of tamales smothered in sauce with a bowl of tamale sauce in the background.


Serve tamales and Tamale Sauce with side dishes, tortilla chips and salsa for a full-on Mexican feast!

Traditional side dishes like Spanish Rice and Mexican Pinto Beans would complete any Mexican meal!


  • Rotel Dip with Ground Beef is a fuss-free appetizer you’ll serve again and again! In this easy dip, Velveeta cheese gets a little sprucing up thanks to simple additions like Rotel canned tomatoes and chiles and hearty taco-seasoned ground beef.
  • Easy Ranchero Sauce is easy to make and comes together in less than 20 minutes! It’s healthy, flavorful and perfect for topping all of your homemade Mexican creations!
  • Tomatillo Avocado Salsa is a 5-minute dip that comes together crazy easy in a blender! A few ingredients and a few minutes are all you need for this stellar Tex-Mex dip.
  • Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas features a foolproof enchilada gravy and a flavorful beef enchilada filling smothered in cheese and baked to perfection!
  • Homemade Beef Chimichangas are loaded with a savory ground beef filling and topped with quick and easy stovetop queso! Plus, tips for frying to perfection and more.

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Sources: Food & Wine | What is Adobo Sauce?, Genius Kitchen | Red Chili Sauce

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