Vegan tamales are a hug your mouth gives your belly. Anyone who’s ever attempted to make them at home knows this isn’t a dish to be taken lightly – and if you make tamales, you do it from a place of love.
So I was super stoked to have the opportunity to check out Dora Stone’s new book,Vegan Tamales Unwrapped: A Step-by-Step Guide to Savory and Sweet Tamales, and share this recipe with you.
If you’re lucky enough to live near an international market, you should be able to find young jackfruit in brine, Masa Harina and corn husks pretty easily (jackfruit is often with the Asian food, corn husks with Mexican ingredients, and masa harina could be with Mexican food, or you might find it in the baking aisle with other Bob’s Red Mill products).
If these items are tricky for you to find locally, though, welcome to the Internet! You can find them here:
It probably shouldn’t come a surprise to you that this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase I might receive compensation. Thought I’d mention it anyway though.
Before we get into this I should mention that tamales aren’t a small undertaking – my friends whose families make them usually do so for special occasions. A lot of times they’ll get together with aunts and cousins and make a huge batch and divvy it up. Everyone works together in an assembly line. So maybe grab a few friends and have a tamale party.
Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales Recipe:
Yield: 18-24 tamales
Time: 2-3 hours
Guajillo Chile Sauce
- 20 ea.(4 oz.) Chile guajillo, dry, seeded
- 3 – 4 Arbol chiles, seeded
- 6 Garlic, cloves
- 1/2 Onion, white chopped
- 2 cups Chile soaking liquid
- 4 Garlic, cloves, minced
- 2 cans (20 oz./ea) Green jackfruit
- 1 ½ cups Guajillo chile sauce
- 1 cup (8 oz.) Coconut oil, room temperature
- 4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz.) Masa Harina
- 1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
- 1 ½ tbsp. Salt, kosher
- 1 ½ tbsp. Cumin, ground
- 3 ½ cups Vegetable broth or stock
- 1 ½ cups Guajillo chile sauce
30 Corn Husks, dried
1. To prepare the corn husks: Soak the corn husks in hot water, in a large pot or in your
kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely
submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
2. To make the sauce, place the chiles in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Bring to a
simmer over medium-high heat and let cook for about 10 minutes. Drain the chiles and
reserve 2 cups of the soaking liquid. Place the chiles, garlic, onion, and soaking liquid in
the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and strain. You should
end up with about 3 cups of sauce.
3. To make the filling: Drain the jackfruit. Rinse, and pat with paper towels. Cut out the
core of the jackfruit (tip of the triangle pieces), and cut pieces in half. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil
in a large sauté pan set to medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring
often. Add the jackfruit and cook for 3 -4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Pour 1 ½
cups of the guajillo chile sauce and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer for 20 minutes
or until jackfruit begins to break down and the sauce has thickened slightly. Use a fork to
shred the jackfruit as it cooks down. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.
4. To make the dough, beat the coconut oil, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer
for 1 minute. Add the baking powder, cumin, salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate
into the coconut oil.
5. Add half of the masa harina to the bowl, pour in half of the vegetable stock, and beat to
incorporate. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of masa harina,
vegetable stock, and 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile puree. Beat at low speed, until
thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary, add
more vegetable stock until you reach that consistency. Taste the dough, and add more salt
if necessary. It should be a little bit salty.
6. For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove
the dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it
7. Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks
to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
8. To set up your steamer, fill the bottom with water making sure the water is not touching
the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
9. To wrap the tamales, pull 24 pencil thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a
husk and dry off the excess water with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with
the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp.
of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3 – 4 inch square. Leave a
border of at least 3/4 inch on each side of the square.
10. Place 1 ½ tbsp. of the filling in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the
corn husk together, this will cause the masa to surround the filling, and roll them in the
same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides
towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty
tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the
tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
11. Place the tamal in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the pot, with the open
end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the
steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty
spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down
to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales, when they separate easily from
the corn husk it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and
12. Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool
for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they
will firm up.
If you would like to make these with fresh masa, replace the masa harina with 2 lbs. of
fresh masa and use only 3/4 cup of vegetable stock. To substitute the coconut oil, you can
use 8 oz. of vegetable oil or vegetable shortening. For tamales without fat, use 8 oz of
cooked, unsweetened pumpkin.