Hormel Tamales

Brandon MorganCanned Food22 Comments

Hormel Tamales

If there’s one thing I absolutely love, it has to be a Tamale!  Delicious steamed masa, filled with beef, chicken, fruits, you name it, wrapped and served in a corn husk (or banana leaf in some parts of Central America).

The tamale may seem like a simple fare, but the one ingredient that matters most in a tamale is love.  In many countries such as the US and Mexico, Tamales are handmade and shared among family and friends during celebrations such as Christmas, the Day of the Dead, Las Posadas, La Candelaria Day, and Mexican Independence Day.

With such pain staking labor and love that goes into the tamale, could it easily be factory replicated and canned for easy consumption? While primarily known for their assortment of canned chili, Hormel believes so, and has for some time packaged a tamale product that has sold on shelves in American stores.

Hormel Tamale Can

Inspecting the can, Hormel offers 2 methods for heating the tamales.  Since stovetop is first on the list, I’m going to choose that method for this review.  Hormel also offers a recipe for CasserÓLE on the can. This cleverly placed recipe not only servers as a way to spice up your Hormel Tamales, but also to sell you Hormel’s beans.

Hormel Tamale Can Inside

Inside the can were 6 individually wrapped cigar shaped tamales.  Each tamale was wrapped in wax paper instead of corn husk or banana leaf.  My assumption with this is that the tamales were also in a chili sauce that may have disintegrated the corn husk, eliminating the preferred wrapper from the steaming process when these cook.

Hormel Tamale in Pan

From here, I put all the tamales in a pan, and per the instructions, brought to a simmer for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally.  The tamales cooking didn’t offer much in terms of pleasant or unpleasant smells.  There was a light chili smell, but nothing to get excited over.

Hormel Tamale Plated

Once done cooking, I transferred to a plate, removing the tamales from their wax paper wrappers, and drizzling what sauce I could scrape out of the pan onto the tamales. The masa in the tamales did not hold well together, and was only able to successfully transfer 4 out of the 6 without completely destroying them.

Hormel Tamale Plated 2

Flavor wise, sadly, there’s not much to say.  Maybe because Hormel was targeting the white suburban American market, they dulled down any flavor the tamales may have had.  The masa didn’t have the sweet corn flavor, the beef inside was boringly unseasoned, and the sauce had no kick.  So boring.

But maybe we could find something inside this factory made mess that could replace the most important part of a tamale… Love…

Alas, this tin can needs a journey to a wizard before we’d find love in these tamales.

  • Execution
  • Appearance
  • Taste


The Hormel Tamales weren’t horrible… but they weren’t great. In fact, they weren’t much of anything, except maybe disappointing. I could see why Hormel would want to push it’s chili along with the tamales. It might actually rescue the tamales by hiding their severe blandness in beans and meat.

22 Comments on “Hormel Tamales”

  1. Sorry i’m a bit late to comment here. Do try these can tamales again though. But next time, show a little love, just a little. They unwrap easily right out the can. Microwave in the sauce, without the paper, few dash of Tabasco. Cover the dish while cooking for the sake of sauce splatter.

    From can to mouth in just over 5 minutes. No kidding here. Embellish with sour cream, black olives, pico de gallo, etc… A super cold can of Miller Lite put things right over the top.

    Give the can tamale another chance. Prep and clean up time is minimal. Great comfort food on a cool, quiet evening at home.

  2. The only acceptable way to eat these is in that very same casserOLE! recipe you mentioned…. and you must be either drunk or hungover. It’s hard to believe, but it’s damn good. My friends request I make the day after we tie one one. Crappy, delicious and comforting!

  3. Hormel beef tamales are very good topped with Dennison’s Hot Chili Con Carne (with beans), freshly grated block cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped green onion and Huy Fong brand Sriracha. They aren’t as rich or spicy as they were when I was a child, but the taste can easily be punched up to restaurant level if you know how to do it.

    Dennison’s thick, hot chili is the only canned one I like. It’s also good on buttered white rice, topped with Huy Fong Sriracha.

  4. I think they’re great, the only thing that I found is that, The tamales do not come out uniformly round. There’s always one or two that are crunched up. I respectfully, suggest a little bit larger can . Check some of them when they come off the line. I buy a dozen cans at a time, to make sure I don’t run out I love them. Especially, with the chili that I make. That has come in first place Four times in chili cook off. I am 88 years old the first can tamales I ate where High-Power tamales. Don’t know what happened to them, one day they were no longer on the shelves. Question, do y’all know what happened to them? Respectfully, Paul Silvio

  5. “…the white suburban American market…” Phrases like this do not serve you well. Do you really think that it adds to the review?

  6. Growing up (in the 60’s) my Mom made a casserole with these tamales, ground beef, onion, can hormel chili, can enchilada sauce, sour cream and cheese. To this day, if I want comfort food, that’s what I make. I love it!

  7. I have tried a number of the Hormel canned Mexican products. Although I agree with you that they may not be of gourmet quality, they are decent. More importantly, when someone on a ‘food stamps -food pantry’ budget needs a tasty, cheap meal, they are not bad. I especially enjoyed the tamales that were not wrapped in paper as well as Mary’s Chili Verde. AS much as I am a foodie and would like nothing more than to dine on all homemade-with-love meals, I have learned to accept what I can afford. Thank you, Hormel for stepping up to the plate for those of us on fixed incomes that don’t equal or taste for good food.

  8. These tamales taste pretty good right out the can. By the way, these tamales are packed with plenty of sauce and are not wrapped in wax paper. You would already know that if you ever open a can yourself. In fact, when you nuke these rascals, better put a lid over the dish or you will be cleaning red splatter from every nook and cranny of the microwave. Average size microwave will
    heat em through to a boil in five minutes.

    Would love to have tried the High-Power tamales Paul Silvio mentioned. PJ’s on to something with his Dennison’s Hot Chili Con Carne and Huy Fong Sriracha – dude! Patricia, Alison, they know. And Hugh – oh yea, this guy knows! SevinPaul is right about Tabasco. I’m into the smoked chipotle Tabasco I can relate.

    I myself like these tamales cooked in the sauce (unwraped first while cold) then using a spatula, drop them over Frito’s corn chips. Put a lil more of the sauce on top but not too much – dont want to make the Frito soggy now do ya?!

    Hormel tamales are pretty awesome and I know of no other can tamales. Thankfully they are not expensive either. I get a can of 8 here in the New Orleans area for less than 4 bucks at any major retailer or mom n pop store. I keep one to show, one to go – always have at least a can on hand.

    1. We’ve eaten Hormel beef tamales since I was a child ages ago. They were much better quality then, but they’re still good if properly jazzed up. They’re around $3.00 per can here.

      I left our cooking method on several blogs. If done right, it delivers restaurant-quality at a much lower cost. A comparable restaurant plate here is $15.00 to $20.00. Taxes and tips add $5.00+ to that.

      We smother the Hormel tamales in a top quality, canned hot chili with beans. When fully heated, they’re topped off with freshly grated, block cheddar cheese. Not the pre-grated, waxy stuff in a bag! Before plating, chopped onion and sriracha or hababero pepper sauce are added.

      If you’re not in a rush, a slow cooker set on High will do everything in an hour or so and it won’t burn the gravy.

      To keep the calories down, serve with an easily made lettuce, tomato and avocado salad in a Mexican-style dressing, sprinkled with finely grated Mexican or Parmesan cheese and salsa. If calories aren’t an issue, add good canned refried beans, quick-cooking Mexican rice, guacamole and tortilla chips with salsa picante.

      Complementary drinks: Coca-Cola, tropical fruit punch (carbonated or still), iced tea or hot tea.

  9. The only way I have found these edible is by topping them with pico de gallo and guacamole. I tried their casserole idea and it was a mushy mess. So to keep from wasting them I’m loading them with toppings and powering through. Never buying them again. Waste of money.

  10. Hormel canned Tamales are great! Put tomatillo green salsa and Fresco Queso cheese on them …and you have a good snack! We love them.

  11. IS an easy and delicious meal just add a few extras my kids and even husband love them. Economical also.used to buy them in Florida but could only find the chicken tamales that I do

  12. Once you remove the tamale wrappers, this is a cinch to prepare and quite satisfying to eat for a quick lunch. Add a piece of fruit and a beverage – keeps you going until dinner. For dinner to expand it for the family, use them as a surprise for Taco Night . I have also used them as a filling for burritos – plenty of lettuce and cheese to complete. A great convenience product

  13. I enjoy Hormel Chile and now I am also hooked on there Beef Tamales. Hormel has always been a Name I can trust to give a good product. I am glade to see Walmart home delivery is now using these Hormel products, and I hope they add more Hormel products soon.

  14. These aren’t bad at all for the price and convenience.

    I will be the first to admit they are nothing like homemade tamales but who has the time to deal with that?

    There is a small hispanic owned and run store in Richardson, Texas that sells them handmade and they are amazing but not everyone is close to a store like that.

    These tamales serve the purpose when you can’t get to “real” ones.

  15. People must eat these drunk and crying. Good meal to cram down your face on a 10 minute break when you truly have no time. Straight out of the can no heating when you want to put a little variation and jazz up your 10 minute feed break. Then say never again. As far as “budget friendly for people on “fixed income”. Where Im at 2 dozen real tamales is going to run you about $6.50 in ingredients to make them if you work from a whole chicken and bag of masa flour. I could probably cram 1 tamale into this can. so at $3 a can it’s no steal when 27 cents will get you the same amount of food that tastes like a tamale if you have the time to make tamales. No clue how someone can be both broke and have no time to spare.

  16. As a resident of UNESCO City of Gastronomy, The Old Pueblo of Tucson, I must admit to some trepidation when I call into question some of your assertions regarding Hormel Tamales in a can.

    First and foremost, it is not Mexican fare at all, but then again neither is what you get at any of the national chain restaurants with the word “Taco” or the name of a chili pepper in the corporate logo.

    The Tamale is quite regional in its filling, the only common item being the Masa. Tamales come sweet or savory meat or vegetarian spicy or mild. The only fly in the Tamale might be the Hot Tamale of the Mississippi Delta, but those are not Mexican fare either.

    Traditionally, at least as far as what a Tamale would have been when Cortes landed in Central America in search of gold, wouldn’t have had a Beef or Pork filling. Turkey or Rabbit might have graced the inside of the Masa as would have Duck or Goose what we commonly see in central American food today came to the continent with the Conquistadors and other European settlers. Many spices we equate with Mexican or Central American food came from the Orient (after all, that’s why Columbus was looking for a back door to the Spice Trade in the first place).

    I will, without protest, eat Hormel Tamales, you can find them on grocery store shelves in Tucson…but Why? I can go to any number of world class Mexican regional restaurants (Yes, there is regional cuisine in the E.U. de M.) and purchase Tamales of such variety as to make a Gringo from other parts of the United States’ mind boggle. Tamales Camarones (Shrimp), Green Corn Tamales (One of my favorites), Green Chili Tamales…etc. ad inebriavi.

    I shall leave this for now. All of this Tamale-Talk has me ready for lunch and Mr. Pavlov is ringing his darned bell again.

    I remain,
    The Old Soldering Gunslinger

  17. If you combine these with Hormel No-Beans Chili yon get a very reasonable facsimile of Cupid’s chili, which is famous and great on hot dogs.

  18. I’m gobsmacked that these passed muster with the FIFTEEN commenters Jesus H, the death of the palate has arrived, next-Armageddon.
    They taste strongly of CAN, tinned and, well, bloody.
    They’re akin to a regurgitated, excuse me “deconstructed” and wickedly reconstructed Chef Boyardee ravioli, only worse.
    Crumbly beef (?) iotas that bring to mind a mouthful of cat litter, the limp “masa” that’s more wheat pasta than corn and the sauce, (assuming we can define sauce loosely enough to accommodate melted Velveeta) which could use some seasoning, any seasoning, it could even use some Velveeta, turn it into the perfect nightmare.
    I had to rinse my mouth after spitting a bite out, it clung to my chompers, like a food dingleberry wrought by Satan himself.
    My partner eats these SOBERLY and without chewing, preferring to hork them down a la goose if you will and I truly think it’s to avoid actually TASTING or FEELING them. Y’all are crazy, and to the writer…the whole suburban white people thing IS a bit rude since this most likely isn’t the key demographic, and as someone else mentioned, white people like flavor too.
    I’m also supremely disappointed these rated a 2 just like brown bread in a can which is flipping delicious.
    I think your palate is way way off and despite a fantastic premise for food blogging your descriptions are not aligning with my expectations.
    I will keep reading though.

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