Treatment Guide

Daring Cooks Make Tamales!

Gluten Free Works Author Heather

gluten free tamale recipeImagine my excitement when I read that this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge had a Mexican theme! You know that I have a love affair with all things cullinarily Mexican. Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess with the mostest! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!

I found it interesting that our local Whole Foods, which tends to carry produce from around the world, much of which I’ve never even heard of, did not carry dried corn husks. Before freaking out and making a trip to the city to check the International Market, I thought about the ethnic diversity of the people in my town.  I teach at an elementary school where 27% of our students are hispanic.  Surely, these families do not shop at Whole Foods to get ingredients for their ethnic dishes.  Where do they go?

Kroger.  Thank you, Kroger, for having a WALL of corn husks above the various fresh peppers in the produce section.

My corn husks, made in Mexico, even had a special addition.  I’ll let you guess what this is.


A small price to pay for authentic tamales.

I loved that I only needed to purchase a few products, aside from the corn husks. Everything else was fresh produce.

I started with Maranda’s suggested Vegan Tamale recipe and altered it with some delicious suggestions from Natalie of Tasty Kitchen, because I just can’t resist the combination of Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes!

First I soaked the corn husks overnight.

The next day, the tamale making began.  I broiled two poblano peppers.

After removing the skins and chopping up the peppers, I roasted them with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, green onions, and green, yellow, and red peppers.

I added the roasted veggies to black beans and tomatoes.

Mixed together with cumin, the house soon smelled divine!

While the veggies cooled, I prepared the masa dough.  It was quite simple using the Kitchen Aid.

Masa harina, chili powder, cumin, salt, olive oil, and veggie broth quickly mixed into a dough that was easy to work with.

Spreading dough on the corn husks was made easier by pressing it firmly with a sandwich baggie.  Just a spoonful of filling and a quick wrap of the corn husk, and that’s all it took.

For ONE.  But I found it easier to assemble two at a time.

Yes, it took quite a while to roll 28 tamales.

Since I didn’t have the correctly-sized steamer, I placed a round cake pan at the bottom of my large spaghetti pot so my tamales would stay above the water line.

I peeled away the corn husk having no idea what to expect.  What a pleasant surprise to find that the tamale stayed together perfectly!  And the flavor was delicious.


Vegan Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Adapted from Squidoo and Natalie of Tasty Kitchen


  • 1 – 8 oz. bag dried corn husks, soaked


  • 2 poblano peppers, broiled, peeled, and chopped
  • 4 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 3 peppers (one yellow, red, and green), finely chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 – 15.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 14 oz. can diced tomato, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 c. chopped cilantro

For the masa dough:

  • 6 c. masa harina (I used Maseca instant masa mix.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 3/4 – 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt


Prepare corn husks:

1.  Soak corn husks overnight.

2.  Take 3 large corn husks and tear them into 1⁄4 inch strips. Keep them in water until you are ready to use them to avoid breakage.

Prepare filling:

1.  Cut poblano peppers in half and seed them.  Brush with olive oil and broil until black spots form, 3-5 minutes.  Flip and broil the other side for 3-5 more minutes.  Peel skins off, and then chop the peppers.

2.  Combine chopped poblanos, sweet potato cubes, 1-2 c. of the tri-colored peppers, mushrooms, and the green onions.  Coat in 1 T. of olive oil and roast at 425 for 25-30 minutes on a foil-lined jelly roll pan.

3.  In a large wok or skillet, warm 1 T. olive oil over medium heat and saute garlic until it begins to brown.  Add black beans, tomatoes, roasted veggies, and cumin.  Stir in cilantro and remove from heat.

Prepare dough:

1.  Combine masa harina, salt, chili powder, cumin, and olive oil in an electric mixer on medium speed.

2.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add vegetable broth.  After 3 3/4 cups, test the consistency of the dough and add more broth if needed.

Prepare tamales:

1.  Lay two corn husks on a flat surface.  Place 1/4 c. of dough at the top of a husk and flatten it.  Pressing down with a plastic bag will prevent your fingers from sticking to the dough.

2.  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough.

3.  Roll the corn husk so it wraps snuggly around the dough and tie it with a corn husk strip.

4.  Stand the tamales up in a steamer.  Add 2 inches of water to the bottom of the pot and steam for an hour or until the dough pulls easily away from the husk.

5.  Share with LOTS of friends!

Makes 25-30 tamales

Great challenge, Maranda!  I look forward to seeing all of the creative tamale recipes that my Daring Cooks Friends come up with!

Other Mexican recipes you may enjoy:


Reader questions:
  • Have you ever made tamales?
  • What is your favorite Mexican dish?

These tamales are also shared at:


Author Information Heather, Nashville, TN
Heather is a gluten-free blogger by night and a  Kindergarten teacher and fitness instructor by day.   She writes  about healthy, gluten-free living and shares gluten-free recipes, product  reviews, and restaurant reviews on her blog.

About Heather

Author Information: Gluten Free Cat Heather is a gluten-free blogger by night and a Kindergarten teacher and fitness instructor by day. She writes about healthy, gluten-free living and shares gluten-free recipes, product reviews, and restaurant reviews on her blog. Location: Nashville, TN Website: Email: Twitter: Facebook:
  • Grew job! In all my years eating tamales, I’ve never tried to make them, but you’ve definitely inspired me now. The filling sounds delicious, and Im sure I can’t rack down some corn husk wrappers, bugs and all :-). Thanks for the inspiration!

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