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Vegan Tamales with Colorful Beans and Spices from Mexico

vegan tamales

From Mexico
Tamales come from Latin America and are made of a corn-based masa dough, which is then boiled or steamed in a leaf wrapper of corn husk or banana leaf.

We are exploring a very tasty version of vegan tamales with two kinds of beans and spices that will surprise even your cheese-loving friends with it's rich and satisfying taste.

This recipe serves 2 and is borrowed from The Accidental Vegan cook book, which has many great ideas for vegan tamales, soul foods and any other dish you would like to veganize.

Serves: 4 / Ready in: 1.5 hrs

Great for: heart healthy, low cholesterol, vegan, gluten-free


  • 6 ears of fresh corn - save the husks for the tamales wrappings
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil or vegan margarine
  • 3 cups masa harina (you can find this in a Hispanic food store, or otherwise use yellow grits instead)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can organic pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups of fresh corn kernels, shucked from the ears
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large organic tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 Serrano chilis, minced
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, freshly chopped
  • 3 green onions, cut into chunks
  • black ground pepper to taste


  1. Mix the water, salt and olive oil in a large bowl and slowly mix in the the masa or grits until a thick dough forms. The dough should be moist and sticky, so add water or masa as required.
  2. Form the masa into 2-inch balls and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Shuck the corn and wash the husks - keep them as wrappers for the tamales later. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and set aside.
  4. Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic. Then add the serrano chiles, tomato, green onion, corn kernels, all beans, cilantro, and spices. Cook until the beans are hot and the corn has just a little bite left. Set aside.
  5. Place one masa ball in the center of a corn husk and push a little dent into the middle. Fill one tablespoon of bean mix onto the top and then wrap the husk tightly around the masa and the filling. You don’t need to tie it, just tug-in the edges and place the small tamal package into a bamboo steamer. Repeat until you have one layer of tamales in your bamboo basket.
  6. Use a wok or bigger pot and fill the bottom with water, bring to boil. Place the bamboo steamer over the water and cover it. Steam the tamales for about 30-40 minutes, until they are done but still soft..

Alternatively you can steam your tamales over boiling water in a large crockpot or even in your oven, with a roasting tray set over a bottom filled with boiling water. Wrap your tamales tray tightly with aluminum foil and steam in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Unwrap your yummy vegan tamales and discard the husk wrappers. Enjoy them with a side dish of roasted sweet potatoes, avocado slices, or sautéed zucchini and squash.

Go back to top of Vegan Tamales page or look at our delicious Vegan Chile Relleno.