Red chile jackfruit tamales in a white and green tea towel
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These red chile jackfruit tamales are made with spicy guajillo chile seasoned jackfruit and masa, stuffed inside corn husks and steamed to perfection. What makes these so good is that the masa is spiced with guajillo chiles, coconut oil, and cumin. They are so delicious and 100% vegan and gluten-free.

Jackfruit simmering in red chile sauce in a cast iron pan

These are the first tamales I ever learned how to make. Back when I didn’t know how to make tamales, my dad invited me to the family restaurant to learn. Over the years we had helped on several occasions with the spreading of the masa on the husk and the folding, but I had never done the whole process from start to finish. Tamales rojos are very typical of the northern Mexico, they are usually filled with pork and are very small in size, but with a pretty equal ratio of masa to filling.

Masa for tamales in a silver bowl

The thing about learning how to cook in a restaurant is that you learn how to make huge quantities of food. That day we must’ve made more than 200 tamales! Believe me, it was a few years before I decided to make tamales again all by myself. When I became vegan, I was very sad at the thought of not having good tamales again, and frankly the thought of tamales filled with veggies didn’t appeal to me at the moment.

Tamales wrapped in corn husk on a blue back ground

However, after some experimentation with jackfruit, I decided to veganize this recipe from the family restaurant. The result was shockingly similar to the original ones. So much so, that my omnivore husband was tricked into thinking that the tamales weren’t vegan!!

Tamales arranged in a steamer pot

This recipe is part of my ebook Vegan Tamales Unwrapped. After making these red chile jackfruit tamales I became so obsessed with making vegan tamales that I decided to make my obsession into an ebook. It has 50 detailed pictures on how to make vegan tamales from making the masa to spreading and wrapping.

vegan tamales ebook

Every possible aspect of tamal making is explored, the type of fats, wrappers, fillings, cooking methods. There’s even an option for oil free tamales. It includes both savory and sweet tamal recipes such as:

  • Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales
  • Mole Tamales
  • Salsa Verde Jackfruit Tamales
  • Chocolate Tamales
  • Strawberry Tamales
  • Lime Tamales

It is available for purchase on Amazon for $6.99. Sadly it is only available in ebook format, but if you don’t have a kindle you can also purchase it on itunes to read on your mac devices. I am so proud of this book and I know you will enjoy it too!

Red chile jackfruit tamales in a white and green tea towel

The Recipe: Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales

  • Masa harina is dried nixtamalized corn flour. It is used in Mexico to make tortillas, tamales, sopes, etc. The brand most commonly found is Maseca, but the only non-gmo organic one I’ve found is Bob’s Red Mill
  • I found coconut oil to be the most flavorful fat to use in this recipe. I recommend you use refined coconut oil so the coconut flavor doesn’t affect the tamales. If you use unrefined coconut oil you will get a coconutty flavor.
  • If you have a hard time finding jackfruit, (I find mine at Trader Joe’s) you can use mushrooms instead.
  • 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.

Red chile jackfruit tamales in a white and green tea towel
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5 from 8 votes

Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales

These red chile jackfruit tamales are made with spicy guajillo chile seasoned jackfruit and masa, stuffed inside corn husks and steamed until tender.
Pin Recipe Print Recipe
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: vegan mexican recipes, vegan tamales
Servings: 18 - 24 Tamales
Calories: 91kcal
Author: Dora S.


Guajillo Chile Sauce

  • 20 (4 oz._ Guajillo chiles, dry, seeded
  • 3-4 Arbol chiles, dried, seeded
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 White onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Chile soaking liquid


  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (20 oz.) Green jackfruit in brine
  • 1 ½ cups Reserved guajillo chile sauce


  • 1 cup (8 oz.) Refined 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 Reserved guajillo chile sauce
  • 30 Corn husks


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.

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.

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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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 had before.
  • 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.

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.

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.
  • 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.
  •  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 check again.
  • 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.


Calories: 91kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 498mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 2g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 0.9mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @dorastable or tag #mexicangonevegan!

16 replies
  1. Lili
    Lili says:

    I just attended a Tamale Festival in the Inland Empire in CA. It was so much fun. Happy to say that there were some Vegan and Plant Based versions, but definitely not enough. I was looking for a version without Oil, no luck. Do you have tips on how to prepare Plant Based Faux Pork Tamales w/ Chile Rojo, but WPB and OIl Free?

  2. Shaley Whitnah
    Shaley Whitnah says:

    Excellent tamales!! I will be bringing these to my family’s Thanksgiving this year!! Thanks so much! <3

  3. Brooklynne Molyneaux
    Brooklynne Molyneaux says:

    I was really nervous to try making my own tamales for the first time, but have been obsessed with some that are at my local farmers market for $4 each (crazy!!). This recipe was recommended to me and it has exceeded my expectations BY FAR! these are literally better than the ones at the farmers market. thank you so much!

  4. Karla
    Karla says:

    Have made these before and they are superb. I add thi slices of carrots, calabasita, potato, and pitted green olives to the tamales on top of the jackfruit filling and then I wrap them. This is how my husband, who is from Sinaloa, likes them because they remind him of tamales from back home. Thanks for the EXCELLENT recipe!!!

  5. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I made these last year and will be making them again this week! Delicious! Question: is it okay to make the masa today for assembling and steaming tomorrow?

  6. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    These were so good! I’m from New Mexico so I used hatch red chili pods to make the sauce. My family loved them! They were amazed that they were vegan. These tamales have earned a place on the table next to their chicken and pork tamales.
    Thank you!

  7. AJ Gest
    AJ Gest says:

    Dora, I loved your recipe, I have been on again off again when it comes to tamales. Usually found the masa dough to thick, and lacking in flavor. I have never tried making tamales before, but gave gave your recipe a go. So glad I did, the texture, color, and flavor of the masa dough are great. The spicy filling topped it off perfectly. I will be making these again soon. Love your site and the vegan retrofitting of many of my favorite Mexican dishes. Bravo!

  8. Valeria
    Valeria says:

    Making your own tamales is pretty daunting. This recipe is amazing and totally doable! Everything came out perfect and the recipe is so fun & easy to tweak to your liking making these tamales into whatever your favorite flavors or fillings might be. Dora, you have changed plant based eating in a huge way making the world’s MOST favorite food accessible maintaining all of the beautiful flavors, spices, fresh ingredients and all of the cultural richness that is delicious Mexican food! I am constantly sharing all your recipes turning many nonbelievers in to your biggest fans. What an impact you are having on this world making it a better planet for all! Bless your heart, my dear Dora!


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