Canning Tamale Sauce and Taco Magic

Street tacos and Tamales are two of my favorite foods and I’m currently obsessing over mastering their creation. I don’t want to just make decent tacos for Taco Tuesdays. I want to make tacos that people would line up in gas station parking lots to purchase. I want to make tamales like the ones you purchase in the back of tiny tiendas. I want the real deal without having to leave my own kitchen, and I have recently made a huge step in that direction. I have created a sauce that transforms our tacos into authentic tasting Mexican street food of my dreams. It is made from roasted spicy peppers, sweet onions, and red and green tomatoes. The combination of tomatoes creates a unique flavor and color; not rojo, not verde. The color is more like Bob Ross burnt ochre. And when you taste it, you won’t care what color it is.

This sauce was created for tamales that I hope to be making soon, once our corn has been nixtalimized and transformed into masa. Making Tamales from homegrown corn is a 6 month long process. Hopefully I will be blogging about that entire process next month. But for now, I’m happy to report that we have the perfect sauce ready for those tamales…If I don’t use it all up on delicious tacos and enchiladas first.

The ingredients do require a bit of preparation. But, this recipe is far less time consuming than most of the tomato based canned goods we make. If you have a food processor use it to handle all of the chopping because the sauce will eventually be puréed anyways. The peppers and red tomatoes are roasted, this adds depth and richness. The sweet onions are caramelized to add sweet goodness. You could skip these steps, but please don’t. These are the steps that add love and layers that make this sauce amazing.

Roasted peppers

Recipe yields approximately 8 pints


  • 1 large sweet onion diced and caramelized
  • 8 cups green tomatoes that have been finely chopped (I use food processor)
  • 8 cups red tomatoes that have been roasted , peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 cups mixed peppers that have been roasted and chopped. I used jalapeño, jimmy nardelo, paprika, and maule’s red hot. You could also toss in serrano, sweet bell, habanero, or poblano in the mix. The heat of the sauce is determined mostly by your choice of peppers. If you taste the finished sauce and want more heat, just add your favorite hot sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • juice and zest from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce if needed


  • Dice and sauté 1 large red sweet onion until caramelized
  • Core and roast ripened red tomatoes (can include some yellow) on baking sheets in the oven at 400°F degrees for 15-20 minutes. I prefer to peel the ripened tomatoes after they have been roasted. But, peeling is not required. The ripened tomatoes can be diced or chopped in a food processor.
  • Core green tomatoes finely chop.
  • Roast assorted peppers under a broiler until they are slightly charred. Then finely chop them.
  • Add all ingredients to a large stockpot and simmer for 2 hours stirring frequently.
  • Turn off heat and allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes. Then Purée with an immersion blender or in a stand blender.
  • Bring the puréed sauce back to a low simmer to prepare for the canning process.

Canning Process

  • Clean mason jars and prepare water bath canner.
  • Remove from heat and immediately ladle into pint jars leaving 1/2″ headspace.
  • Clean jar rims and apply canning lids and rings.
  • Process in water bath canner for 15 minutes. Higher altitudes may need additional processing times. Please refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation Chart for adjusted times. Also note, the 15 minute processing times starts when the canner comes to a full rolling boil. For a step by step tutorial on water bath canning, visit .


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