These vegan cheese and jalapeño tamales are tender warm pockets of corn filled with vegan cheese and pickled jalapeño slices. They are spicy, creamy, and perfect.
This post was created in partnership with Primal Kitchen Foods and may contain affiliate links.
History of Tamales
Tamales were called tamalli in náhuatl, meaning wrapped. There are mentions of tamales in historic documents since the beginning of the XVI century. The indigenous people of Mexico filled tamales with various stews and wrapped them in corn husks, just like they are today. They were a communal meal prepared for celebrations and social events. With the arrival of the Spanish, they began to be filled with pork and made with lard.
Making vegan tamales is actually quite easy. For this version, we are using Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil instead of lard! The avocado oil is a great substitute for the lard, because of its richness but mild taste, this results in a fluffy masa that makes super tender tamales.
This oil is perfect for high heat cooking, whole30 approved and non-GMO verified. For the filling, you can practically use anything you want, like these potato adobo tamales and red chile jackfruit tamales. The best part of all of this is that they are easy to make. If you are looking for more tamal recipes check out my ebook Vegan Tamales Unwrapped.
Primal Kitchen Foods
I’m always on the lookout for new vegan-friendly products and brands, especially if they help me get dinner on the table quicker. I’ve recently found some that have become a part of my weekly grocery shopping. My absolute favorite is the Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup which is sweetened with balsamic vinegar, but I also love the Garlic Alfredo Sauce and the Buffalo Sauce.
Primal Kitchen also has a line of oils that I use often like the Avocado Oil that I used for this recipe organic extra virgin olive oil, California extra virgin olive oil. Use the code DoraPrimal to get a discount and try some of my favorite primal products.
The Recipe: Vegan Cheese and Jalapeño Tamales
There’s one thing you have to know about tamales, they are easy to make but incredibly time-consuming. This is why usually they are made with friends and family. In Mexico, we have tamal making parties called tamaladas!
- 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.
- 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.
- Letting the dough rest results in fluffier tamales.
- If you want to save some time you can make this recipe in 2 days. Day 1 you make the masa, then leave it overnight in the fridge. The following day you add veg stock to get it back to the right consistency them spread and cook the tamales
Vegan Cheese and Jalapeño Tamales
- 1 cup (8 oz) Primal Kitchen Avocado oil
- 4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz.) Masa harina
- 1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
- 1 tbsp. Salt
- 4 cups Vegetable stock or broth, warm
- 10 oz Vegan cheese (I used Field Roast Chao Slices)
- 1 can (12 oz.) Sliced pickled jalapeño peppers
- 30 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 filling, cut the cheese into 1 inch strips, and get your jalapeños ready.
- To make the dough, beat the avocado oil, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Add the baking powder, salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the oil.
- Add half of the masa harina then add half of the vegetable stock. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of masa harina and vegetable stock. 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.
- 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 two strips of the cheese and one jalapeño slice. 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 folded part of the tamal on the bottom. 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.