Published by PETA.

Tamales are small packets of corn dough that are steamed until firm. They can be filled with just about anything—from savory to sweet—but you’ll often find them laced with peppers, corn, or some type of meat. Filling and dough are both held together in a corn husk that is easily removed once the tamale reaches the correct level of doneness. I know they sound simple, and they are, but they are also delicious.

Vegan tamales can be a little hard to come by—animal products are often used for the filling and lard is often used in the dough—so your best bet might be trying your hand at a homemade tamale. They aren’t exactly a quick meal to whip up on a weeknight, but the good news is that they’re not difficult to make, just time-consuming.

Tamales are common in many parts of Latin America, and you can definitely see the influence in the chilies and the corn in this recipe. Try these fillings, or add vegan chorizo, veggie burger crumbles, or sautéed mushrooms. Enjoy!


Roasted Chili and Corn Tamales

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  • 15 corn husks
  • 2 Anaheim chilies
  • 1 1/4 cups corn tortilla flour
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp.  salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh corn
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)
  • Tomatillo salsa (optional)


  • Submerge the corn husks in hot water, placing a weight on top of them to keep them submerged. Let soak for 30 minutes and then rinse. Cover with a damp towel and set aside.
  • Roast the chilies on medium-high heat until the skin is charred. Place the chilies in a plastic bag, twist closed, and let sit for 10 minutes. Gently remove the skins, the stem, and the seeds. Chop the pepper flesh and set aside.
  • Whisk together the corn flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the water, mix slightly, and then let stand for 5 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup shortening and mix together using a spoon or an electric mixer. Set aside.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of shortening over medium heat. Add the white onion and sauté until tender. Add the chopped chilies and the corn and cook for about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely before adding to the corn flour mixture.
  • When ready to assemble, stir the cooled vegetables into the corn flour mixture. Place one corn husk at a time on a flat work surface and scoop 1/4 cup of the filling into the center. Fold the narrow end up to the center, then fold both sides together to enclose the filling. Tie the tamales closed with strands of corn husk.
  • Stand the tamales up in a large steamer or colander with the open end up. Steam for 35 minutes, or until the filling is firm.
  • To serve, slice open the corn husk (or completely remove the husk) and top the filling with sliced red onions, fresh lime juice, and tomatillo salsa.

Makes 15 tamales

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