Corn and Bean Tamales

I tried tamales once at our favorite San Francisco Mexican joint, Gracias Madre, and immediately wanted to reproduce them…  Considering the fact that I wasn’t following any particular recipe, but chose whatever I felt right for the dish and combined it with whatever fridge content needed to be cooked, I wouldn’t completely rely on my unprofessional opinions here.  Nevertheless, these vegetarian tamales turned out delish!

My Russian interpretation of tamale is that they are just like tacos – masa dough + filling.  Except that the dough is not made into a pancake (tortilla) but steamed in a corn husk. Hence, I like my masa to be thinner – as I think the real delight is inside… 

Print this recipe




  • 1 cup corn (cooked)
  • 2 cups pinto beans (cooked)
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup seasonal vegetables, diced
  • salt, pepper, spices


  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
  • Kitchen twine
  • Sour cream and salsa for garnish

Yields about 12 tamales


Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes

Prepare the filling: mix all the ingredients

Prepare the dough: mix all the ingredients and let cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes

Make tamales: put two corn husks together, overlapping, so they make a plate.  Make a small ball out of the dough (size of a golf ball) and flatten it on the husks.  Place a large helping of the filling in the center of the dough and cover the filling with edges of the dough.  Wrap the husks around the tamale and tie the edges with the twine.  Repeat with the rest.

Make ahead: Once the tamales are assembled, they could be frozen for at least 3 months.

Cook tamales: Steam tamales for 30 – 45 minutes in a steamer.

Serve with sour cream and salsa.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:


  1. Petits repas entre amis says:

    I taste one 2 years ago in the SF Bay area ( when I lived in the south ) and I don’t remember, reading your post, if I enjoyed that or no ^^ I believe I liked cause if not, I should remenber today. Don’t you think ?!
    Maybe I should taste another and last time before leaving California and the USA and leaving to Russia. It will be more difficult there to eat mexican cuisine … maybe ? See you and have a great evening.

    • Anastasia says:

      It surely will be much harder to eat Mexican there, also, it will be much harder to find quality produce. The choices are limited (due to the short growing season), and everything imported is much more expensive than here, so enjoy the food while you can!

  2. flyfishbrat says:

    I love your take on a traditional California food. I’ve been making homemade tamales my entire life and really love how you simplified the process. Freezing them before steaming them? Steaming them for only 30 minutes or so? I’ll have to try that process as I just never thought about deviating from how I had been taught to make them. I love you filling and will have to give that a try in a tamale casserole. Thanks for the lovely recipe.

    • Anastasia says:

      Thanks for stopping by and the comments. Unlike the meat tamales – most ingredients in mine are already cooked, so the steaming is shorter. My Mexican friend taught me the freezing method :-) its handy when you have kids running around!

  3. frugalfeeding says:

    Those look great! I want to do tamales at some point for my Mexican series. I don’t know where I’d get corn husks from around here though.

  4. dianeskitchentable says:

    I always learn so much from you. I’ve never heard of that masa harina & have never made tamales from the dough on up. You are one ambitious & creative cook. I love your blogs!

Comments are closed.