Making tamales



  • 500g Tamale masa/corn flour – make sure it is the type suitable for tamales! 250g solid vegetable shortening
  • 250ml liquid vegetable stock
  • Corn husks
  • Salt
  • Plus whatever fillings you decide to use!

Makes approximately ten tamales/serves three or four people


For the dough/masa

  • In a large bowl or saucepan, soak corn husks in very hot water for about 5 minutes
  • In an electric mixer, use the flat beater/dough hook attachment at a high speed to soften the shortening for a few minutes until it is very smooth
  • Reduce speed and add the Tamale flour
  • Slowly pour in the vegetable stock and add the salt
  • If needed, add some extra water to get the right consistency in the dough. You want the dough to be sticky but not too sloppy

To make the tamales

  • Take a softened corn husk and spread approximately two tablespoons of dough in a flattened patty in the centre
  • Add your fillings (approximately 1 tablespoon) on top
  • Gently roll the edges of the corn husk over the fillings and fold the end over to enclose
  • Tie the tamal together either with strips of corn husk or pieces of string

Cooking instructions

  • Steam the tamales either in a pressure cooker or a traditional steamer. In a pressure cooker, they will take approximately 30 minutes or 11⁄2 hours in a traditional steamer.
  • Once cooked, allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before opening – they will be very hot inside!

Filling suggestions

In Mexico, tamales are filled with a seemingly endless combination of ingredients, but common vegan tamales are:

  • Spinach and huitlacoche (a type of edible corn fungus)
  • Mushroom and salsa verde
  • Black beans with salsa verde and vegan cheese

Note – this is a recipe for savoury tamales but sweet tamales are also very popular. This requires a sweetened dough so look out for a future video for sweet tamales!

Recipe and photo remain property of Sean O’Callaghan and Julio Alcantara and may not be reproduced without permission. ©

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Written by fatgayvegan

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