Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (2024)

Published: by Kelly Anthony · 58 CommentsThis post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

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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!

Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (1)

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


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.

Love an easy, Tex-Mex sauce? Try our Green Enchilada Sauce next!


  • 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!

Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (2)


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!

Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (3)


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 afuss-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 Enchiladasfeatures 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.

4 from 168 votes

Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (4)


Tamale Sauce

Cook Time

12 mins

Total Time

12 mins

An easy, cheesy Tamale Sauce that reigns supreme with its Tex-Mex flare and kick of spice. The perfect consistency for drizzling over tamales and more!

Course:Main Course


Keyword:Tamale Sauce

Servings: 6 Servings

Calories: 71 kcal

Author: Kelly Anthony


  • 2tablespoonsunsalted butter
  • 3tablespoonsall-purpose flour
  • 2cupsunsalted beef broth
  • 2tablespoonsadobo saucefrom chipotles in adobo
  • 2teaspoonstaco seasoning
  • 4slices (3 ounces)American cheese


  1. Place a skillet over medium heat, and add the butter. As soon as it has melted, sprinkle over the flour.Whisk until a paste has formed and stir for 1-2 minutes more.

  2. Begin adding the beef broth a splash at a time, whisking well after each addition, until it resembles a pudding-like consistency. Once this consistency has been achieved, begin streaming in the broth, whisking all the while. Allow the mixture to simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the adobo sauce, taco seasoning and American cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and remove from the heat.

  4. Top your tamales with the Tex-Mex Tamale Sauce, serve and enjoy.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Recipe makes enough sauce for 12-14 tamales.

Nutrition Facts

Tamale Sauce

Amount Per Serving

Calories 71Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value*

Fat 5g8%

Saturated Fat 3g19%

Cholesterol 11mg4%

Sodium 1190mg52%

Potassium 171mg5%

Carbohydrates 4g1%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 2g4%

Vitamin A 130IU3%

Vitamin C 0.3mg0%

Calcium 14mg1%

Iron 0.4mg2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (5)

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

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Reader Interactions


  1. Lauren Kleiman says

    Everyone loved it. My husband said he could put this sauce on everything!


  2. Pam says

    I had no idea there was cheese in the sauce for tamales! I've never tried making it myself before, but this looks so easy.


  3. Rosa says

    This sauce is amazing! Tried it on taco salads last night, so flavourful!


  4. Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says

    I am definitely going to be giving this recipe a try, the sauce sounds so flavourful and tasty.


  5. Beth Pierce says

    This was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy! Full of flavor and perfect over our tamales for dinner last night! Delicious!


  6. Suzy says

    This makes tamales ten times better!


    • Sweet says



  7. Lemmonee says

    My daughter gave me some pork tamales. This was the perfect sauce easy, tasty and I also topped with fresh lettuce and tomatoes...yum. Thank you for some terrific sauce ideas.


  8. Joan Dachsel says

    Can the Sauce be frozen or stored in refrigerator? I live alone and have a good bit of the tamale sauce left over. It was delicious. Would be nice if I could freeze it for another meal later on.

    Jazz Lady


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Hi, Joan! I would think this sauce would freeze and reheat well 🙂 Enjoy!


  9. Trying this week! says

    Hi- is yellow American cheese slices use or white American?

    Thank you!!


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Yellow! We use Horizon Organics American Cheese Slices, but you could also use Kraft Singles.


  10. John says

    Incredible taste and so easy. i went very easy on the chipotle and adobo and it was quite smoky without being overpowering. Will make again!


  11. Rose says

    I only could fine the Chipotles in Adobo Sauce but didn't realize the sauce was so spicy. I noted another reviewer said they went light on the sauce so I tried 1 Tbls and that seemed ok. Following the directions was easy however when I added the cheese it didn't melt completely so there were unappetizing looking little cheese lumps in it. How can I prevent that next time?


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Hi Rose! I'm glad you found an adjustment that worked well for you! As far as the cheese being lumpy, try setting it out for 15-20 minutes before adding it to the sauce next time. This will allow the cheese to come to room temp and (likely) incorporate a little smoother for you. Hope this helps 🙂


    • Steven Wright says

      Usually I put some enchilada sauce from a can on my tamales but I discovered your recipe just in time for dinner tonight. Could not believe how easy this was to make and how delicious it was. Never going back to the old sauce, even put a little bit on my refried beans.


      • Kelly Anthony says

        Thank you, Steven!


  12. Pam says

    Would the shredded Mexican blend cheese work?


    • Kelly Anthony says

      American is best, but the Mexican blend should melt fine!


  13. Mike Burningham says

    Our tamales always seemed to be missing something and needed a sauce. This sauce hit the mark and my whole family loved it. One caution, I used adobo sauce from canned chipotles and a little bit goes a long way! I would recommend that you go with a tablespoon first before adding more to taste.


  14. Mari @ Once Upon a Plate says

    Kelly~ Oh my goodness! Thank you!! On my hunt for a sauce for homemade (bought) Tamales yours looked like the most promising one (plus I was out of dried Chilis--usually a staple in my pantry for Enchilada Sauce.)
    This recipe is excellent, just as good as my husband's Mexican Grandmother's from long ago. It's a keeper for sure. I halved the recipe for a smaller amount and reduced the Chipotles (I used La Costena brand in a jar--these had less sauce because they are diced, so some bits of the tender peppers were included in my measurement). It worked out beautifully!
    Thank you so much, I'll think of you each time I make it!


    • Kelly Anthony says

      That's awesome! Thank you so much, Mari!


  15. Amanda says

    Tamales are one of my favorites, and this sauce is perfect! It definitely makes the best tamales, and it's so simple to make. Love it!


  16. Sharon says

    This sauce has me craving a big pile of tamales right now! Spicy and cheesy, the perfect topping.


  17. Pam Greer says

    This really is the best tamale sauce!!! I've tried other recipes and they don't even come close to how good this one is!


  18. Anna says

    Sounds like a perfect combination of sweet and spicy! And I can see myself pouring this sauce on almost anything!


  19. Veronika says

    I never tried tamale sauce but it looks so delicious! Definitely need to put it on my saved recipes list to make some time soon


  20. GUNJAN C Dudani says

    What a coincidence! I have been wondering to make tamale tonight and I came across your recipe. Love all the ingredients in it so this is up my alley tonight.


  21. kita says

    I am having a moment of WHY have I never had tamale sauce? my love of tamales is legit and I don't think I have ever had this sauce. I need to fix that asap!


  22. Debbie says

    I had Tamales in the freezer and I made this awesome Tamale sauce today. This makes tamales a millions times better. Now my family is spoiled and they will never have tamales naked again, LOL.


  23. Tammy says

    I have actually never made my own before :O but its so easy and looks so good! I definitely need to give this a try sometime. Saved for later 😀


  24. Candice says

    I've never had tamale sauce with my tamales before this recipe, and don't think I ever want to experience them differently. So yum, so easy, and so necessary.


  25. Anita says

    I never knew I am missing this sauce to eat with my tamales! The sauce is not only easy, it absolutely makes my tamale eating experience so much better. Now I can't go back to the way I used to enjoy my tamale. 😀


  26. Irina says

    Oh, I think I was missing a lot... I have never heard about Tamale Sauce till the moment I read your recipe. Well, this is the time to give it a try. It sounds amazing!


  27. Tara says

    This tamale sauce sounds incredible! I love how easily it comes together too with just a handful of ingredients.


  28. Noelle says

    This is a great recipe, so simple and tons of flavor!!


  29. Emily Liao says

    Made this last night and it was perfect for my tamales! Family favorite now 🙂


  30. Vanessa V. says

    This was delicious and so easy. It will be a regular from now on in my recipe file. Thank you!


  31. Marji Overgaard says

    When I was little there used to be an authentic Mexican restaurant here, in my hometown, that we used to go to. Sadly it was demolished as the city opted for a gas station and a McDonald's instead. The only thing I ordered there, as a kid, was a dish of "gravy" and some flour tortillas. This took me right back there! I served it to my family over tamales but I went straight to dipping my flour tortillas in this sauce. SO good! Thank you for this!


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Aw! I love that! Thank you, Marji!


  32. Sharon M Stephenson says

    This sauce is AWESOME!!!! I added a little bacon grease along with the butter. It will be good with so many Mexican dishes ... it is Tex Mex...flavor is wonderful! I made have the recipe and only used one slice of cheese. You know I bet ground beef and Rotel tomatoes would be great in this sauce for burritos or enchiladas!!


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Thank you so much, Sharon! You should try these Tex-Mex Enchiladas next! It's a similar sauce, and I think it'll be right up your alley with the ground beef! 😉 https://www.theanthonykitchen.com/texmex-beef-enchiladas/


  33. Doug H. says

    Wonderfully executed recipe. Consistency is perfect. Great balance of spices (I used my own taco seasoning mix ). Beef broth ties really well into beef and pork tamales. Flavor compliments and doesn’t overwhelm the distinctive taste of the masa. Super easy to do well and versatile to boot. Cheers.


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Thank you so much, Doug! This is one of my favorites!


  34. Steven, UT '77 says

    I whipped the tamale cheese sauce limited by the fact I did not have enough adobo or any taco seasoning. I added cumin to the sauce, used only 1T of chili powder, because of my significant other, and chopped up 1 adobo jalapeno into it.
    We were both delighted with the outcome. I had no idea it was going to come out so cool spicily, and have such an earthy taste. It sure improved the tamales 100% after I got the bright idea to add them to the top of the rice cooker for some steam.


  35. Steven, UT '77 says

    After tasting your tamale sauce, I realized whas a great base it would be for a chili-cheese soup


  36. Debbie says

    Oh my goodness!!! This sauce is amazing. We were gifted with two dozen tamales and I was looking for suggestions for serving when I came upon this recipe. So glad I did!!!! Simple to put together and so delicious. I did add a little extra adobo sauce and a few dashes of some of our favorite hot sauce. We like things spicy!!! Will become a staple whenever we have Tex-Mex (which is quite often)!


  37. Priti says

    Hi Kelly,
    I want to make this tonight. Can I use vegetable broth instead of beef broth?


    • Kelly Anthony says

      It will change the flavor of the tamale sauce, but not the consistency 😉


  38. Melissa says

    This is totally delicious!! Will use from now on!! Thank You!!!


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Thank you, Melissa!


  39. Kim says

    Thank you for this easy recipe! I did not have time to use dry chilies for the traditional sauces so this was awesome to find and delicious. Can’t wait to try your other recipes!


    • Kelly Anthony says

      It's one of our faves too! Thank you, Kim 🙂


  40. Brenda says

    Can I add ground beef to this sauce? I was thinking of serving ground beef and sauce over corn tamales.


  41. Susan says

    The sauce was delicious and easy. My family loved it. Plan on making it again. Thank you for a wonderfully authentic recipe.


    • Kelly Anthony says

      Thank you, Susan!


  42. Cindy says

    I substituted a spoonful of “better than bouillon” Smokey chipotle seasoning paste for the adobo and followed the rest of the recipe. So outstandingly good and easy!


  43. Rosie Bergstrom says

    I needed a quick sauce for tamales we were having for lunch. This one was great! There are only 2 of us eating them, so reduced recipe in half thinking there would be leftovers. As I'm tasting it waiting on the tamales to get done, I'm sure there isn't going to be any. Tamales are done and gone, and so is the sauce!


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Tamale Sauce Recipe (Tex-Mex Style) - The Anthony Kitchen (2024)


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