Tamale Time!

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December 15, 2016 by Virginia

Nothing says Navidad quite like tamales. In a Mexican household, it is a holiday staple. IT’s just not Christmastime without them.

People have teased me “tamales are the best! too bad YOUUUU can’t have any because you’re veeeeeeeeeegan πŸ˜› “

-So I decided I’d vegan-ize it! Seriously, sometimes I think people tease me regarding food just to see if I can make a vegan version of it. In any case… Challenge Accepted!

I made some lentil and sauce tamales in early November and they were delicious! I went to buy the masa UNPREPARED and just added vegetable oil to take place of the lard that’s usually in prepared masa. this was quite simple. But I decided for christmas I’d make my own. It’s actually not difficult. Literally just mix the ingredients together.


This recipe makes roughly four dozen tamales.To make more (you’re going to want to), it’s easy to just double or triple the ingredients.


  • 4 cups masa harina (flour for masa)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


  1. Pour all the ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Mix the ingredients together to create a dough that’s sort of the same texture as cookie dough.

I usually start mixing with a spoon, and switch to mixing with my hands when the dough starts to hold together. Those with a mixing machine + dough hook could use that, but to really make sure you get the texture just right it really is better to use your hands. You want it to be slightly sticky and not dry. add a little more oil or flour to get the balance right.

Prepping the Husks


Soak the husks overnight and wash them carefully, making sure the little hairs left over from the corn are all gone. Soaking with warm water is best. If you forget to soak overnight, it typically takes at least 1-2 hours of soaking to get them soft enough to bend as needed.

Fillings and Variations

  • My favorite filling is mashed lentils with garlic. Simply cook lentils as you normally would on stovetop -then mash them and mix them up with tomato sauce. separately, toast some minced garlic and toss it into the lentil mixture when done.
  • Soyrizo mixed with olives, onions and chives make another delicious filling!
  • Another favorite is simply chopped up JalapeΓ±oΒ chiles with vegan mozzarella cheese (earth~balance is my favorite brand and works best for melting).
  • For a sweet tamale, mix in some pumpkin puree or cubed pumpkin with pumpkin pe spices, cinnamon, brown sugar, agave and a bit of baking powder. Sub with Sweet potato if you like.

There are so many different ways!

Cook Time


Once the tamales are wrapped in the husks and ready to go, make sure and prep your steamer! A small steamer can get the job done, but for bigger batches you’ll need a bigger pot (obvs!). Fill water to maximum level and lay out some extra husks on the steamer basket, leaving room open to pour more water in later, if needed. place tamales standing up (opening end up) and cover with more husks. Place lid and let steam for at least 2 hours. Tamales are ready when husks lift from the masa easily and don’t look sticky. It sort of takes a long time for these babies to burn… so just keep an eye on your water level and make sure you keep adding water if needed.

I hope you enjoy your tamales as much as I did!


Much Love,



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