Authentic Mexican Tamale Recipe with a Vegetarian Twist

Oh dear reader, do you find yourself craving the warm, savory embrace of a perfectly made tamale? Look no further, for I have a recipe that will make your mouth water and your taste buds sing with delight!

This recipe is not just any tamale recipe, it is a vegetarian Tex-Mex tamale recipe. Filled with black beans, cilantro, and lime crema, wrapped in masa and topped with fresh red peppers and Monterrey Jack cheese – this is one dish that cannot be missed.

As an articulate assistant for a vegan chef, I can assure you that this recipe will satisfy even the most discerning palate. Plus, it’s vegetarian-friendly and can easily be made vegan by making a few simple substitutions.

Get ready to impress your friends and family with these homemade tamales that are full of flavor and tradition. So why wait? Let’s get started on this delicious journey together!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales #RSC
Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales #RSC

My dear friends and fellow foodies, allow me to introduce you to a dish that will tantalize your taste buds and satisfy your hunger cravings like no other. This vegetarian Tex-Mex tamale recipe is a true masterpiece, perfect for vegans and meat-eaters alike.

Why do I love this recipe, you might ask? First and foremost, it’s incredibly flavorful. With ingredients such as black beans, cilantro, lime juice, scallions, and cumin, every bite is bursting with robust flavors that will transport your palate straight to Mexico. And let’s not forget about the Monterrey jack cheese that adds a creamy and indulgent touch to every bite.

Not only is this tamale recipe incredulously delicious, but it’s also made with wholesome ingredients. The masa dough is wrapped around a savory black bean filling that’s loaded with fresh vegetables such as fresh corn kernels and tomatoes. You can feel good about eating these tamales because they are packed with nutrients and plant-based protein.

Another reason why I adore this dish is its versatility. It’s perfect for a cozy family dinner or a festive gathering with friends. The savory version is lovely for lunch or dinner, while the sweet tamale option is an excellent choice for breakfast or dessert.

Furthermore, this recipe is easy to make thanks to step-by-step instructions that are included in the following section. Even those who have never made homemade tamales before will find this recipe approachable and uncomplicated.

Overall, this vegetarian Tex-Mex tamale recipe offers many reasons why it should be part of your culinary repertoire. From its phenomenal taste to its nutritional benefits to its versatility in serving options, it’s a must-try for anyone who wants to expand their culinary horizons while nourishing their body with quality ingredients.

Ingredient List

 Can you handle the heat? These Tex-Mex tamales pack some serious flavor.
Can you handle the heat? These Tex-Mex tamales pack some serious flavor.

Let’s gather the necessary ingredients for this mouth-watering vegetarian Tex-Mex tamales recipe. Be sure to have enough counter space as well as pots and pans while prepping your ingredients. Below is a list of the things that you need to prepare before we dive into the recipe to make it much easier for you to follow:

Masa dough:

  • 4 cups of masa corn flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2/3 cups of butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups of vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk


  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh corn kernels (optional)
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese (vegan cream cheese works too)
  • Handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


  • Cilantro Lime Crema sauce (recipe follows)
  • Fresh red peppers and poblano peppers, sliced and roasted
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or vegan substitute)

Corn husks:

You’ll also require dried corn husks; they can be picked up at any Mexican or Latin grocery store. Remember that the amount will depend on the size of the tamales. A package will usually contain at least two dozen husks because they come in different sizes. It’s a good idea to soak them in hot water for about two hours before using them so that they become pliable.

Now that you have everything that you require let’s create some delicious vegetarian Tex-Mex tamales!

The Recipe How-To

 Don't be fooled by their size - these tamales are mighty tasty.
Don’t be fooled by their size – these tamales are mighty tasty.

Now that we have gathered all our ingredients, it’s time to get down to the fun part- making the tamales! Follow this step-by-step guide to create your own delicious Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales.

Step 1: Preparing the Corn Husks

First things first, we need to get our corn husks ready. [^1]Soak them in a large bowl of warm water for about 30 minutes until they soften. Make sure you weigh them down with something so they stay fully submerged.

Step 2: Making the Filling

Let’s prepare the savory filling for our vegetarian tamales.

Step 2.1: Sautéing Vegetables

In a separate pan, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add diced onion and garlic. After a minute, add sweet corn kernels, diced tomatoes, cumin, and black beans. Stir for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.

Step 2.2: Adding Flavor

Add chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste to your vegeables mixture.

Step 3: Making the Tamale Dough

It’s time to make our tamale dough (called masa).

Step 3.1: Mixing Masa Dough

In a large mixing bowl, cream room temperature butter with masa harina, baking powder, and salt until it is combined nicely.

Step 3.2: Adding Liquids

Gradually pour in warm vegetable broth while beating the dough mixture with an electric mixer until you get a thick but spreadable texture.

Step 4: Assembling the Tamales
Step 4.1: Filling Masa Wraps

Lay one corn husk flat on your work surface and place about two tablespoons of masa on it, spreading it out with a spoon or spatula until it is about 1/4 inch in thickness. Add a line of filling down the center of the masa wrapper.

Step 4.2: Wrapping Up Tamales

Carefully fold one side of the corn husk over filling till it meets the other side without pressing down on the masa filling inside.Roll tamale gently till masa seals around filling completely.Save empty corn husks when building tamales to use as support when steaming them later on.

Step 5: Steaming Tamales

It’s almost time to enjoy those scrumptious homemade tamales!

Step 5.1: Preparing Steamer Pot

Place steamer insert in pot over boiling water; place prepared tamales fold-side down in steamer basket(s).

Step 5.2 Covering Pot With Lid

Cover steamer pot with lid and steam until cooked through, about (n) minutes depending on how many tamales you are cooking at once.

Serve hot with some fresh *

Substitutions and Variations

 Perfect for a cozy night in, these vegetarian tamales will warm you from the inside out.
Perfect for a cozy night in, these vegetarian tamales will warm you from the inside out.

My dear readers, while this recipe is a true gem, let us not forget that there are always substitutions and variations to be made to spice things up! If you’re feeling adventurous, here are some ways you can adapt this vegetarian Tex-Mex tamale recipe:

– Don’t fancy using black beans? Try kidney or pinto beans instead! They will add an exciting new texture and flavor.

– If cilantro isn’t your favorite herb, you can easily switch it out for parsley or even basil. And if you’re feeling really daring, why not try a combination of herbs?

– For those who aren’t a fan of spicy food, feel free to leave out the cumin and red pepper flakes. You could also swap the Monterey Jack cheese for a milder option such as mild cheddar or Colby-Jack.

– If you’re looking for a vegan tamale, swap out the cream cheese and butter with vegan substitutes. And instead of using an egg in the dough, use a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water).

– Vegetarians can rejoice – this recipe is already vegetarian-friendly! But if you’re looking for extra protein, consider adding some tempeh or tofu to the filling mixture.

– Looking for some fun flavors to mix in? Try adding some diced jalapenos or roasted poblano peppers for a bit of heat. Or mix in some sweet corn kernels for an unexpected burst of sweetness.

Remember darlings, cooking is an art form – so do not be afraid to get creative with your ingredients and make this recipe your own. Bon appétit!

Serving and Pairing

 Whether you're vegan or not, these tamales are a must-try.
Whether you’re vegan or not, these tamales are a must-try.

Dearest reader,

Now that you’ve made these delightful Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales, it’s time to serve them up in the most delicious way possible! These versatile tamales are perfect for any meal of the day, as well as for snacking or party appetizers.

I recommend pairing these tamales with a fresh tomato and cilantro salsa. The tangy lime juice and refreshing cilantro flavors will perfectly complement the savory black bean and cheese filling of the tamales.

If you’re looking for something heartier, try serving these tamales alongside a crisp salad of mixed greens, topped with roasted corn kernels and scallions, dressed with a zesty cumin-lime vinaigrette. The crunchiness of the salad and the savory texture of the beans will create an explosion of flavor in your mouth!

As for drinks, I suggest serving these tamales with a refreshing jug of iced hibiscus tea or crisp white wine. Both beverages offer just the right balance of sweet and sour to complement the bold flavors in this dish.

But truly, there are so many ways to enjoy these delectable little bundles! Let your creativity be your guide – you can even top them with jalapeño peppers or drizzle with sour cream for added zest.

Remember, food is not only about satisfying our hunger; it’s also about sharing moments of happiness and joy with loved ones. Hence, I encourage you to invite your closest friends and family over to share this unique culinary experience with you.

Bon appétit!


Your Vegan Chef Assistant

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Who needs a restaurant when you can make your own delicious tamales at home?
Who needs a restaurant when you can make your own delicious tamales at home?

After making a batch of these delicious Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales, you may find yourself with some leftovers. Luckily, tamales are an excellent make-ahead dish and can even be frozen to enjoy at a later time.

To store the tamales, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in an airtight container. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When it’s time to reheat, remove the tamales from the refrigerator or freezer and let them thaw for about 30 minutes. Once they have come to room temperature, they can be reheated in several ways.

One option is to use a microwave by placing the tamale on a microwave-safe plate and heating it for 1-2 minutes for a single tamale or up to 5 minutes for multiple tamales. Be sure to cover them with damp paper towels to prevent the masa from drying out.

Another great option is steaming which results in warm and moist tamales. To steam, fill a pot with a few inches of water and bring it to a boil. Place the tamales in a steamer basket, cover with a lid and steam for 10-15 minutes until heated through.

No matter which method you choose, before serving, be sure to top the tamales with some of your favorite garnishes like diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro and lime crema for added flavor.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Get ready to impress your taste buds (and your guests) with these Tex-Mex tamales.
Get ready to impress your taste buds (and your guests) with these Tex-Mex tamales.

Making tamales is an art. It might take time to master it, but with these tips, you’ll have perfect results every time. Here are some things to keep in mind when making vegetarian Tex-Mex tamales.

Firstly, make sure you soak the corn husks in hot water until they’re pliable. This will help them wrap around the filling without tearing or breaking. Also, rinsing the husks is crucial as it removes any dust or debris that may be present.

When preparing the masa dough, make sure it’s not too dry or wet. Add masa harina gradually until you have a soft and smooth texture. It should not stick to your fingers nor break off when you spread it on the husks.

To avoid your tamale unraveling while cooking, tie each end of the husk with thin strings or strips made from soaked husks before steaming.

Another tip to ensure perfect results is to evenly distribute the filling on top of the masa dough. If it’s not distributed evenly, it can cause uneven cooking and create hot spots inside the Tamale.

Be careful not to overstuff your tamale as it might cause them to burst during cooking, making a big mess in your steamer.

In addition, avoid overcrowding your steamer. The tamales need enough space to cook properly and don’t stick together.

Lastly, once your tamales are cooked, let them rest before serving for around 10 minutes before unwrapping them. This will let the dough settle and firm up a bit- making unwrapping easier.

By following these tips and using quality ingredients from Trader Joe’s {insert “or another veg-friendly store”}, you’ll have amazing results every time you make Tex-Mex vegetarian tamales!


Before you embark on making these delicious Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales, it’s important that we address some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Making tamales can seem daunting and intimidating but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here are some common queries with the answers to help guide you through the process.

Can vegetarians eat tamales?

Tamales have commonly been prepared using lard, which goes against the principles of vegetarianism. However, in my family, we have always opted for vegetable oil, specifically canola oil, as a substitute. This alternative makes tamales a suitable option for vegetarians. Moreover, since masa is prepared with corn, tamales are also gluten-free.

How many calories are vegetarian tamales?

This particular Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Tamale, which is filled with cheese and green salsa, has a nutrition profile that includes 14 grams of total carbohydrates, 12 grams of net carbs, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and a total of 180 calories per serving.

Are Trader Joe’s black bean tamales vegan?

Trader Joe’s offers several types of meat-free tamales, including a classic corn tamale, a black bean tamale, and a sweet potato tamale, all of which are vegan and made with non-GMO corn.

How to make tamales corn husks?

Before using dried corn husks for tamales, it is important to soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes. This will make them flexible and prevent them from tearing or breaking when folding them around the masa. To save time, I usually begin soaking the husks as soon as I start preparing to make tamales. By the time I am ready to form them, the husks are properly soaked and ready to use.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this vegetarian Tex-Mex tamale recipe is a fantastic addition to any meal. With the perfect combination of savory black beans, fresh cilantro and lime juice, and creamy Monterrey Jack cheese, this recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Making tamales might seem daunting, but with this recipe and our helpful tips and tricks, you’ll be making delicious and authentic tamales in no time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fillings or variations, such as sweet corn tamales or green chile tamales.

Not only are vegetarian tamales delicious, but they are also a healthy option. With only 12g of carbs per serving, you can indulge in these tasty treats guilt-free.

So head to your local grocery store, grab some masa corn flour and dried corn husks, and follow our step-by-step instructions for the best vegetarian Tex-Mex tamales you’ve ever had. Your taste buds will thank you!

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales #RSC

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Tamales #RSC Recipe

Ready, Set, Cook! Reynolds Wrap Contest Entry. These veggie tamales have a sweet fresh corn masa wrapped around a filling of savory black beans, cilantro lime crema, fresh red peppers, and Monterrey Jack cheese. They are relatively quick and easy to prepare (as tamales go), and make a great portable lunch or appetizer. Serve them with extra crema on the side.
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Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Servings 4 tamales
Calories 851.1 kcal


  • 3 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears of corn)
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup masa corn flour (harina de maiz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese (grated)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 -4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 -2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons ranch dressing
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Reynolds Wrap Foil (Non-Stick)


  • Make the masa dough for the tamales: Beat one stick of butter with 2 tablespoons sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixture is smooth.
  • Place the corn kernels in a food processor or blender with the buttermilk and the salt and process until smooth. Add corn to the butter/egg mixture and beat until well blended.
  • Stir the baking powder into the masa (harina de maiz). Add dry ingredients to the corn/butter mixture, mixing until well blended. Stir in 3/4 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese. Set aside.
  • Place olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add chopped tomato, chopped scallions, and 1 teaspoon garlic salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until tomatoes are softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add can of black beans (including liquid) to the skillet with the tomatoes. Continue to cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with more garlic salt to taste if desired. Remove beans from heat and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the softened cream cheese with the ranch dressing, lime juice, and minced cilantro.
  • Assemble Tamales: Place a 7 by 12 inch rectangle of Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick foil on the counter, with the non-stick side facing up.
  • Spread about 1/3 cup of the corn masa dough into a 3 x 5 inch rectangle in the center of the foil. Spread 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on top of the masa. Place 1/4 cup of the beans on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon grated Monterrey Jack and 1 tablespoon chopped red pepper over the beans. Top with another 1/3 cup masa, and spread it to cover the bean and cheese filling.
  • Fold one short end of the foil up over the filling. Fold the two long sides in over the filling. There will be one end that is still open. Lift the tamale with the open end facing upwards and twist foil to close that end.
  • Make 3 more tamales in the same way.
  • Place tamales in a steamer basket, and place the basket over a pot with 2 inches of simmering water. Tamales should not touch the water. Cover tightly with a lid and steam tamales for 1 hour, checking water level from time to time.
  • Let tamales cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve with extra cream cheese mixture on the side.
  • Tamales can be made ahead and reheated in the oven or in a steamer. Unwrap tamales before reheating them in the microwave. This recipe makes 4 large tamales, but you can use the ingredients to make 8-10 smaller tamales, if you prefer, or even 16 appetizer size tamales.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 409gCalories: 851.1kcalCarbohydrates: 76.1gProtein: 24.4gFat: 53.8gSaturated Fat: 25.7gCholesterol: 152.6mgSodium: 1057.4mgFiber: 12.1gSugar: 17.6g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Black Beans, Grains, Lunch, Reynolds Wrap, South American
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