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Do you want to learn how to make tamales step by step? And also you'll find out it's a lot easier than you think! In addition, this delicious homemade tamale recipe is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, healthy, versatile, meal prep, and freezer friendly!
You might think making tamales at home is intimidating but it's actually very easy and not as time-consuming. When you make a big batch at one time, you can also just freeze them and reheat them later.
Before we jump into the recipe, let's learn more about tamales so you can get some tips. You will also learn how you can make them at home step by step.
What is a Tamale
There are many different versions of tamales in Central and South America and also many countries have their own versions. This recipe is inspired by Mexican tamales so I used corn-based masa (dough). It's wrapped around a vegan filling and then steamed in a corn husk!
What is masa harina and where to buy it
Masa harina is a naturally gluten-free flour that is used to make tortillas and tamales. It's also different than cornflour or cornmeal. Since the corn is soaked in lime water, it has a distinctive flavor.
You can find masa harina in the ethnic aisle at most grocery stores or you can also order it online. Here is the one I get so I can use it to make tamales or corn tortillas.
How to make vegan tamales step by step
For the dough
You only need 4 ingredients to make the dough for these homemade tamales so it's really easy to make. Masa harina, baking powder, oil, and salt are all you need and then add hot water, rest for 30 minutes!
We'll be using corn husks to wrap these tamales so this is the kind I get online. You might think it's complicated but it really isn't and I'll show you how.
For the filling
I used my oil free refried beans recipe for these tamales so you only need canned pinto beans, onion, garlic, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or another seasoning of choice) and salt.
How to make the dough for vegan tamales
- First, in a medium bowl, you will add the masa harina, baking powder, salt, and hot water and then mix it well.
- Now, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
How to prep the corn husks
- In order to prep the corn husks for these homemade tamales, you just need to soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. You can also soak them while the dough is resting.
How to cook the filling
- Next, while the dough is resting and the corn husks are soaking, you can prep the oil-free refried beans according to this recipe. This recipe comes together so fast and also very versatile!
How to assemble the tamales
- First, take 2 or 3 soaked corn husks and gently tear thin strips lengthwise so you can tie the tamales before cooking. I suggest using skinny corn husks for this so you can use the ones that would be hard to wrap instead of wasting them.
- Next, lay the soaked corn husk on a flat surface and then grab ⅓ cup of the dough, roll it into a disk.
- Put the dough in the center of the soaked cork husk and then gently press it with your fingers and spread it closer to the edges. But keep the dough 2 inches away from the edges so it can give you room to tie the husks.
- Now, you can add 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the dough.
- Now, fold the one side of the corn husk in half so that the dough folds in half over the filling.
- Next, fold the other side over as well and slightly overlap the first side. Gently press down on the seam to seal the filling inside. Some of the fillings might squish out the ends but I find that turns out fine.
How to tie tamales
- Now you are ready to tie the corn husks. Just fold over one side of the corn husk and then the other side as well. While holding the corn husk with one hand (so it doesn't open), twist the end of the husk and then tie it with the strip you made earlier.
- And then tie the other end the same way by twisting it. Some people also fold the end of the husk and tie it around the tamale in the middle. Either way, as long as it's fully wrapped, it will be fine.
When you make a couple of them, you will get used to it so don't worry if they are not perfect (they are not supposed to be perfect!). But they will be delicious!
I ended up with 10 tamales but you might end up with less or more depending on the filling and the dough. Now, let's cook these delicious homemade tamales!
How to cook tamales on the stovetop
It is very easy to cook the homemade tamales, just add some water in a large pot, add a steam basket and then steam them for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
How to cook tamales in the instant pot
If you have an instant pot, you can cook these vegan tamales in 20 minutes by adding 1 cup of water, inserting the steamer basket, and then cooking on high pressure.
How to serve tamales
The best tamales are the fresh ones that just came out of the steamer so you can top them with:
- VEGAN AVOCADO CREMA (HEALTHY & EASY)
- BEST HOMEMADE GUACAMOLE RECIPE (EASY & HEALTHY)
- HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE (STEP BY STEP)
- VEGAN SOUR CREAM RECIPE (EASY & SOY-FREE)
- EASY HOT SAUCE RECIPE
How to store and freeze homemade tamales
These tamales will keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days in an airtight container, or in the freezer for up to 3 months!
To freeze them, you can place the tamales (don't remove the husks) into a reusable storage bag and then store it in the freezer.
How to reheat homemade tamales
It is very easy to reheat the tamales, so simply steam them for 15 to 20 minutes until warm and not frozen.
This vegan tamale recipe is a lot easier than you think. It's also:
- Gluten-free, soy-free and plant-based
- Meal-prep friendly
- Freezer friendly
- Made with pantry staples
- Filling and satisfying
More Mexican inspired plant-based dishes to try
- VEGAN BURRITO BOWL (EASY & HEALTHY)
- JACKFRUIT TACOS (EASY & SOY-FREE)
- VEGAN BURRITO (EASY & HEALTHY)
- VEGAN TAQUITOS
So, did you make this recipe? I’d love for you to leave a comment and rate the recipe. You can also share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest and tag me on Instagram using @avocadocentric or #avocadocentric! xo, SelinPrint
Do you want to learn how to make tamales step by step? And also you'll find out it's a lot easier than you think! This delicious homemade tamale recipe is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, healthy, versatile, meal prep, and freezer friendly!
For the dough
- 3 cups masa harina
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup avocado oil or olive oil
- 3 cups hot water
For the wraping
- ½ package dried corn husks
- Hot water for soaking
For the filling
Prep the corn husks
- Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl. Cover it with hot water for 30 minutes or until soft.
Make the dough
- In the mean time, in a medium bowl, add the masa harina, baking powder, salt, and hot water and mix it well. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Make the filling
- While corn husks and dough is resting, make the filling according to this recipe.
- Take 2 or 3 soaked corn husks and gently tear thin strips lengthwise to tie the tamales before cooking.
- Lay the soaked corn husk on a flat surface. Take ⅓ cup of the dough, roll it into a disk.
- Put the dough in the center of the soaked cork husk. Gently press it with your fingers and spread it closer to the edges. Keep the dough 2 inches away from the edges.
- Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the dough. Fold the one side of the corn husk in half so that the dough folds in half over the filling. Fold the other side over as well and slightly overlap the first side.
- Gently press down on the seam to seal the filling inside.
- Fold over one side of the corn husk and the other side as well. While holding the corn husk with one hand so it doesn't open, twist the end of the husk, tie it with the strip you made earlier. And then tie the other end the same way by twisting it.
- Add some water in a large pot, place a steam basket and add the tamales, cover and steam them for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove from the steamer and serve immediately.
Check out the post for detailed instructions and photos on how to assemble the tamales.
Instant Pot Instructions: Add some water and insert the steamer basket into the instant pot. Pressure cook the tamales for 20 minutes on high pressure.
- Serving Size: 10
- Calories: 251
- Sugar: 1.2g
- Sodium: 367.6mg
- Fat: 7.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 41.2g
- Fiber: 6.5g
- Protein: 7.1g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
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