How To Make Vegan Tamales – 2 Ways!

December 23, 2017

Holiday

By: Jasmine Briones 

How To Make The BEST Vegan Tamales! #tamales #vegan #howto #christmas #holiday #tradition #mexican #cheese #chili
overhead image of tamale on a plate cut with fork.

This post is sponsored by our friends over at Bob’s Red Mill.

Today we are sharing with you a step-by-step guide on how to make vegan tamales this holiday season.

Not only are these fairly easy to make, but they are also packed with flavor and will definitely impress your friends and family! Growing up, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season was tamales. We never made them ourselves, but our generous neighbors and friends at church always shared them with us.

Jasmine in front of the Christmas Tree holding a basket of tamales.

Since going vegan, I have not been able to partake in the tradition and honestly have missed tamales, so I decided this year that I would change that and make some of my own. We partnered up with our friend’s over at Bob’s Red Mill to bring you this recipe and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome!

Measuring masa harina and adding it to a large glass bowl.

The key to good vegan tamales, in my opinion, is the quality and flavor of the dough — and we couldn’t have achieved that without the Masa Harina we used! 

gif of mixing of masa for tamales

In our home, we say that the key to our hearts is through food and we always make it a point to share our creations with our friends and family. We hope you love these vegan tamales as much as we do and do the same!

gif of filling tamales and wrapping them in a corn husk.
3/4 angle of tamales in a basket with styled background.
straight forward image of dressed tamale cut with inside filling showing.
a large basket of tamales held by jasmine.

Make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of our recipes, we love to see your photos!

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How To Make The BEST Vegan Tamales! #tamales #vegan #howto #christmas #holiday #tradition #mexican #cheese #chili

How To Make the BEST Vegan Tamales – 2 Ways! Potato & Pinto Bean + Green Chili & Cheese


  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: About 25 tamales

Description

A step-by-step guide on how to make the BEST vegan tamales this holiday season. Not only are these fairly easy to make, but they are also packed with flavor and will definitely impress your friends and family!


Ingredients

Tamale Dough

  • ~25-30 corn husks
  • 4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina
  • 33 1/2 cups vegetable broth (+ more as needed)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional, for color)

Potato & Pinto Bean Filling

  • ~1/4-1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Anaheim pepper, finely diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 medium russet potato, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Green Chili & Cheese Filling

  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 bag Vegan mozzarella cheese (we used Follow Your Heart)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Toppings of choice, such as:

  • Pico de gallo
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream

Instructions

  1. Separate the corn husks and soak them in a large bowl of hot water for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until pliable. Drain. 
  2. For the potato and pinto bean filling: In a medium pan over medium heat, add in about 1/4 cup vegetable broth. Once heated through, add the onions, garlic, and Anaheim peppers, and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add in the Roma tomatoes and russet potatoes, along with 1/4 cup vegetable broth, cumin, and chili powder. Allow it cook, stirring often, until the potatoes have softened. Mix in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using a potato masher or fork, roughly mash the mixture into the consistency of refried beans. It does not need to be completely smooth, it is up to you. 
  3. For the green chili and cheese filling: In a medium pan over medium heat, add in about 1/4 cup vegetable broth. Once heated through, add the onions, garlic, and Anaheim peppers, and sauté until the onions are translucent and everything is fragrant, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. For the dough: In a large bowl, add in the masa harina, baking powder, salt, and turmeric. Mix together until uniform, then pour in 3 cups of vegetable broth (to start) and the 1/2 cup of olive oil. Mix until well combined, adding more liquid as needed so that the dough is spreadable (we added 1/2 cup more).
  5. To assemble each tamale, spread about 3-4 tablespoons of the masa mixture on the center of the corn husk to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness (depending on your preference). Place 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center*.
  6. Fold in and overlap both sides of husk and fold up the bottom. Rip one or two of the corn husks into thin (1/4″) strips and use these to tie the tamales shut. Refer to images above if needed.
  7. Place the tamales open side up into a large steamer basket. Add water to a large steamer pot, just below the basket, and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Steam the tamales for 1 hour, being sure to add water to the pot when necessary to prevent burning.
  8. Remove tamales from husks and add toppings of choice.*

Notes

  • For an oil-free version, find the recipe here.
  • The amount of filling you place the dough will depend on the size of the corn husk. As you go, you will get a feel for how much you need.
  • We typically only use one filling or the other. You may need to make more masa if you make both.
  • To freeze the tamales: leave them in the husks and place them in freezer safe bags. To reheat, place the tamales in a steamer for about 10-15 minutes, or until softened.
  • If you cannot find Anaheim peppers, you can opt for a mix of green bell peppers and jalapenos or even canned green chiles.
  • Instead of sauteeing the Anaheim peppers in the green chile and cheese filling, you can roast them. There are two ways of doing so. The first is broiling them in the oven, and you can find all of those directions here. Secondly, if you have a gas stove, you can roast them directly on the stove top. Turn a burner to medium-high heat and set your pepper directly above the flame on the grate. Use a pair of tongs to turn the peppers often until the skin is completely blackened. Flip often to prevent too much char/burning. Place the peppers in a heat-proof mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or foil. Allow it to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap/foil and then begin to remove the skin from the peppers. You can do this with a paper towel or under running water. Try your best, it is okay if there are still little bits left. Cut the top off of the pepper and remove the seeds. Dice the peppers and set them aside. In a medium pan, sauté the onions and garlic until cooked through. Once finished, remove the pan from heat and mix in the diced peppers.
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Category: Entree, Christmas
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican, Vegan, Gluten-free

Keywords: Tamales, Vegan, Entree, Christmas, Mexican, Gluten-free

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill, but all opinions remain our own. This page may also contain affiliate links, thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. Hey! Where do you guys recommend getting the corn husks?

  2. Pippin says:

    Hi! Do you know if any oil substitutes would work in this recipe???

  3. Kat says:

    Is there a way to use less oil without sacrificing quality and flavor? I don’t do so well with fatty and oily foods, my skin breaks out pretty bad.

    • Hi Kat! The oil is for the consistency of the dough, not so much the flavor,but I have not tested this out without oil/with less oil, so I am not sure about how it will turn out. You could try to sub in something like applesauce or even a neutral nut butter, but I cannot guarantee it will yield the same result.

    • Ana Sandoval says:

      I made them with no oil and came out great

  4. Daniella says:

    Can I make this oil free? I am hclf

    • Hi Daniella! I have not tested this out without oil, so I am not sure about that. You could try to sub in something like applesauce or even a neutral nut butter, but I cannot guarantee it will yield the same result.

  5. Frankie Leftwich says:

    How much water and how much oil?? The recipe combines water and oil into 3 cups. Confusing to me.

    • It is 3 cups of broth and all of the oil (1/2 cup). Then you add the additional 1/2 cup of vegetable broth as needed to get the dough to a spreadable consistency. I hope this helps!

  6. Christina says:

    Hey thanks for the recipe! Did you have to mix the masa in heavy duty stand mixer (like traditional tamales) or did u just mix the masa by hand?
    Thanks again!

  7. Cathy says:

    Wonderful recipe. You make it look so easy! Have you tried sweet potatoes instead do russet. If so do you recommend different spice. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jamie says:

    My family is tamale obsessed so I was so excited to see this! The six of us made an assembly line and made a ton of these, we really loved them! Thanks for introducing me to the Bob’s Red Mill masa, I liked how the bag wasn’t huge and it was resealable. I usually get a huge bag from the international aisle from a brand I know nothing about and it isn’t resealable and I never use it all.

  9. Kandrien says:

    So excited to make this for me and my boyfriend! Since going vegan 4 years ago, I have MISSED tamales! Here goes nothing!

  10. […] These Potato and Pinto Bean vegan tamales are also filled Anaheim peppers and tomatoes, spiced with a touch if cumin and chili powder. The masa is made with extra-virgin olive oil. You can find the recipe HERE. […]

  11. brenda says:

    As far as cooking the tamales, I have a rice cooker and a crock pot.. I dont have a stovetop steamer.. What would you recommend? I would prefer to not have to buy a new pot for this.

  12. […] tamales, a dough is made from masa harina, a little oil or vegetable shortening, and seasoning, then spread […]

  13. […] tamales, a dough is made from masa harina, a little oil or vegetable shortening, and seasoning, then spread […]

  14. Sara Escamilla says:

    What brand or recipe do y’all recommend for the vegan sour cream?

  15. […] Tamales Easy Black Bean Tamales Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tamales Black Bean and Corn Tamales Tamales: Potato & Pinto Bean or Green Chile & Cheese Potato Adobo Tamales Corn & Lentil […]

  16. Bonnie MacEvoy says:

    My filling: 1/2 tub firm crumbled tofu, 1/2 diced onion, 1/2 c diced mushrooms, 1 diced tomato, 1/2 cup corn, 1/2 cup diced cooked or frozen shredded potato, 1/2 c frozen spinach, 1/4 c shredded cabbage, 2 T diced cilantro, 1 T lime juice, 1/2 tsp each salt/cumin/chili powder. Saute all until soft and mostly dry. Makes about 2 cups filling. Added strip of soy cheese inside each.

  17. Hi! thank you for posting the oil-free version of it! Made it for a second time. It is our new favorite. The guests went nuts for it at our party.We made a huge vat of it. We were asked who the caterer was who made it. I said “I did!” The complement goes to the creator of this post. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Deidre says:

    Delicious tamales!!
    I made these and your vegan conchas yesterday (took me most of the day) for a plant-based, Mexican-themed potluck. They were a hit!! This recipe was easy for both the filling and the batter…no endless whipping required. Thanks for the amazing recipes and the videos that take out all of the guesswork.

    I used peruano (AKA canary/mayocoba/Peruvian) beans for my filling. Do you ever use them? They are the BEST!!

    CHEERS!

  19. […] The filling can be poblanos, pork, chicken, or vegetables. But in this article, we’ll be making vegan tamales adapted from a recipe at sweetsimplevegan.com. […]

  20. Angeline says:

    Personally, I prefer coconut oil! It hardens when cool and softens when warm, just like lard that my family uses in traditional Mexican tamales. Gives it a closer texture to traditional ones 🙂

  21. Dawn says:

    My daughter and I made the bean & potato tamales today. We followed the recipe as written and they came out perfect! This recipe is a definite keeper, thank you !

  22. Doina says:

    This was my first attempt at making tamales and they came out delicious. I’ve been buying plant based tamales at the super market, but at $3 each it’s a bit pricey. I’m glad I can make these and have one every day for lunch. I added ground “meat” and corn to the vegetables. Even my son in law who grew up with his family making tamales all the time said these were very good. I did add an extra cup and a half of vegetable broth to the flour mixture because mine was kind of dry and difficult to spread. After that it was perfect! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  23. Shae says:

    What do I set the oven to?

  24. Sofie says:

    Made these as written except used 1/4 c. vegetable shortening instead of oil and filled half with jackfruit, sautéed onion and Serrano peppers seasoned with chili powder and cumin and the other half with sweet potatoes and black beans. Both are delicious. We are looking for to sharing these on Christmas Eve. Thanks for a great vegan alternative.

  25. Lesa Miller says:

    Thanks Jasmine for such a delicious recipe. Best vegan tamales we’ve ever had. Our family and guests loved them too.

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