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Vegan Pork Tamales with Jada Brands "Meat"

Recipe by Vegan Recipes and Vibes (@veganrecipesandvibes) - Not Sponsored

Vegan Pork Tamales with Jada Brands "Meat"
Vegan Pork Tamales with Jada Brands "Meat"

Yield: 12 servings | Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 1 hour 15 min | Total time: 3 hours


Let me start off my saying that I am from an Italian background and do not have much experience cooking Mexican food, though it's one of my favorite cuisines to eat! And when I stumbled upon dried corn husks and corn masa flour at Walmart, I was instantly inspired to tackle the task of making homemade tamales... from scratch.

I absolutely LOVE tamales but unfortunately vegan tamales are hard to come by, since typically they're filled with meat and the dough is made with lard. There are a few vegan frozen brands out there but they are way too expensive in my opinion (sorry but I'm not paying $3 for a tiny tamale). So I thought making my own would be a better alternative, and making a lot to keep in the freezer for when I get hit with a craving.

After a lot of research and some trial and error, I believe the recipe below is pretty solid. I chose to use the Jada Brands Plant-Based Porkless Lightly Seasoned Mix for the filling, but you can really use any filling you want. Try your favorite version of plant-based meat, rice & beans, jackfruit, zucchini and corn, or other veggies. Though keep in mind if your filling is too wet, the tamales will take longer to cook and might be more difficult to unwrap. Try this fun tamale recipe when you have a few free hours and want to make an impressive meal. Or make the masa and filling ahead of time and have a DIY tamale bar with your friends and family!

Cookware needed:

  • 1 large baking dish

  • 1 medium mixing bowl

  • 1 large mixing bowl

  • Electric mixer (optional) or large spoon/spatula

  • Frying pan

  • Steamer basket

Tamale Ingredients:

  • 24 large dried corn husks + 2 husks for using as ties

  • 3 cups of instant corn masa flour (I used Maseca Nixtamasa Instant Corn Masa Flour)

  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 tsp salt

Filling Ingredients:


  • Start by hydrating the corn husks.

  • Place all 26 of the husks in the large baking dish and cover with hot water. Set aside for 15-20 minutes to soften while you prepare the filling and dough.

  • Next, make the filling.

  • Pour the Jada Brands Porkless Mix into a medium size mixing bowl. Follow the instructions on the box to rehydrate the pork mix (add 1 cup of water & 1 tbsp of oil into the mix, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes).

  • Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and cilantro.

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.

  • Add the onion and 2 tbsp of oil to the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.

  • Add the pork mix, salsa, and cumin to the frying pan.

  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until the pork mix begins to look browned.

  • Remove from heat, mix in the cilantro, and set aside to cool.

  • Now that the filling is done, make the tamale dough (masa).

  • In a large bowl, combine the instant corn flour, vegetable broth, oil, and salt.

  • Use a large spoon/spatula or electric mixer to evenly mix the dough and make sure to work out any lumps. The consistency should be very thick but smooth and easy to stir. If it's dry and crumbly, mix in 1 tbsp of oil. If it's still dry, add 1 tbsp of water at a time until you get to the right consistency.

  • Continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes.

  • Now you are ready to assemble the tamales.

  • Take 2 of the smallest corn husks and dry them with a kitchen towel (keep the rest of the husks in the water so they don't dry out).

  • Rip the two husks into long shreds, about 1 cm wide, to use for tying the tamales. Set them aside.

  • Take 1 husk out of the water and dry it with a towel.

  • Using a small spatula, spread about 2-3 tbsp of the dough on the top half of the husk, leaving some space empty on the edges.

  • Spread 2 tbsp of the pork filling in the center of the dough in a vertical line.

  • Wrap the tamale by folding one side of the corn husk over the center almost to the other side, making sure the dough completely folds over the filling. Fold the other side of the corn husk over the center, then bring the bottom of the husk up and over the center of the tamale. The top will stay open.

  • Lay out one of the shreds from earlier and place the tamale on top. Tie the shred into a knot, securing the bottom of the tamale over the center. You can use two ties if needed.

  • Close the dough at the top of the tamale using your finger or a small spoon, spreading the dough over the filling to seal it shut.

  • Repeat with the rest of the corn husks (you will get faster with practice). If you have any leftover husks, remove them from the water and dry them to use in the future.

  • Once the tamales are all folded, it's time to steam the tamales.

  • Use a large steamer pot and fill the bottom with about 3-4 inches of water. Place the steamer basket inside.

  • Place 2-3 corn husks on the bottom of the steamer.

  • Then place the tamales in the steamer basket standing up (it's okay if they lean on each other). If not all of them fit, you can do them in separate batches.

  • Cover and steam them for 45-60 minutes over medium heat.

  • Check them at 45 minutes - remove one of the tamales to check if it's done. If it begins to unwrap easily from the corn husk, they are done. If the dough is still mushy, steam them for another 15 min or until the dough looks cooked through). You will most likely need to steam them closer to 60 minutes if there are a lot of tamales in the basket.

  • Once they are done steaming, remove them from the heat.

  • Let them cook for 5 minutes.

  • Serve, unwrapping the tamales from the corn husks and topping with your favorites (try salsa, avocado, guacamole, cilantro, or enchilada sauce).


Tips and Tricks:

  • There are many different types of corn flour masa you can buy, but I read from many articles and recipes that the Maseca brand is the best. I chose the Maseca Nixtamasa Instant Corn Masa Flour from Walmart. If you cannot find instant corn flour, you can still follow this recipe but may need to mix the dough for up to 10 minutes to get the right consistency.

  • If you can't find the Jada Brands Plant-Based Porkless Lightly Seasoned Mix, you can use any plant-based pork or meat mix your favorite veggies. Just follow the recipe as instructed above.

  • If your filling is too wet, the tamale dough may take longer to cook and they may be more difficult to unwrap.

  • You can make the filling and masa ahead of time to make this a faster recipe. Store the filling in the fridge, and keep the masa coverd at room temp.

  • Store the leftover tamales in their corn husks in an air-tight container in the fridge. Reheat them by unwrapping a tamale from the corn husk, microwaving it for 1 minute, and enjoy. You can also reheat them in the corn husk, they just might be a little difficult to unwrap.

  • These also freeze well. Store them in an air-tight bag or container in the fridge. Reheat them by microwaving the tamale for 30 seconds, then unwrapping it from the corn husk, then microwaving it for another 1 minute or until the center is warmed through.

Nutrition & Servings: (calculated by MyFitnessPal)

  • Servings: 2 tamales (yields 24 tamales / 12 servings)

  • Calories: 237

  • Total Fat: 11g

  • Carbs: 27g

  • Protein: 10g

^ Nutrition facts include the ingredients listed above for the tamales only. Nutrition facts may change slightly if different quantities of ingredients are used or added.

Tag me on Instagram @veganrecipesandvibes


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