What Is Guajolota?

A. Leverkuhn

The guajolota is a specific type of Mexican tamale sandwich where a tamale is placed in between some bread. This sort of sandwich, also called a tamale torta, is popular in Mexico City and the surrounding areas. It uses specific kinds of Mexican bread, or just a simple hotdog bun or bolillo.

Chopped tomatoes and onion are common additions to a guajolota.
Chopped tomatoes and onion are common additions to a guajolota.

A tamale is a piece of meat with cornmeal coating. Chicken, beef or pork can be used. The cornmeal covering gives the tamale a unique texture and flavor profile.

Chili may be poured over the guajolota.
Chili may be poured over the guajolota.

A combination of tamale and bread means that the guajolota is a food that is relatively high in carbohydrates. Some people have described this type of entrée as “starch on starch,” critiquing not only the texture of the dish, but also its overall nutritional value. Other culinary audiences appreciate the accessibility of the dish, which is often served as street food by vendors, and enjoy putting additional toppings on it to balance out the texture and food value.

Different vegetable fixings can be added to the sandwich. Lettuce, tomato and onion are common additions. Various cooked or raw hot peppers can also be added to the guajolota in order to give it an even more spicy flavor. Tamale meat generally has some spices, but the additional vegetables can give the food even more flavor and a more varied texture.

In addition to vegetables, cooks can put various condiments onto the guajolota. Many versions of this dish include chili poured liberally over the hotdog bun or other bread. Ketchup and mustard can also be added to the sandwich. Other Mexican type condiments may be added.

Though the specific guajolota type of sandwich may have originated in Mexico, tamale sandwiches have become popular in other parts of the world. For example, in the fast food culture of Chicago, a major Northwestern city in the United States, a familiar sandwich is called the “mother-in-law” sandwich. This tamale sandwich is largely similar to the guajolota, but known commonly under the other name.

In its most common presentations, the guajolota is what’s known as “finger food.” Rather than a sit-down meal, this sandwich can be enjoyed on the go. It’s a popular alternative to the hot dog or other processed meat choices. In the guajolota, the relatively unprocessed meat of the tamale is held in place by both the cornmeal covering and the surrounding bread.

Beef is a common ingredient in guajolota.
Beef is a common ingredient in guajolota.

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