Homemade vegan tamales are loaded with seasoned jackfruit and are easier to make than you may think! This step-by-step recipe will guide you through the tamale-making process with ease. So you'll be enjoying flavorful vegan tamales any time of the year! Steam them in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop. Instructions for both are included!
Jackfruit tamales may not sound easy to make, but if you grab a few friends the process will move along much quicker!
And who doesn't love a vegan tamale party? Especially when you get to finally eat them!
Vegan jackfruit tamales are made with 5 main ingredients and lots of seasonings.
- Corn Masa. I prefer organic masa, but use whatever you have on hand.
- Young Green Jackfruit. For best taste use jackfruit that is in water. Its neutral flavor is best for taking on the flavors of the seasonings. I use Trader Joe's jackfruit, but most markets should carry it.
I don’t suggest using fresh, mature jackfruit. It has a much sweeter “juicy-fruit” taste. Therefore, it’s often enjoyed alone as a snack.
- Dried Corn Husks. These can be found at most grocery stores or online.
- Diced onion. Use any variety you like. You can even add bell pepper for more flavor.
- Coconut Oil. This is used in the masa. Choose refined oil to keep the tamale flavor neutral. If you don’t have coconut oil you can use any neutral oil.
The remaining ingredients –seasonings, salt, and water– are listed in the recipe card.
Now that we’ve gone over our ingredients...
Let's make some Vegan Tamales!!
We're going to start by, prepping the jackfruit filling so it's ready to add to the tamales.
Shred the jackfruit
Pulse the jackfruit, in batches, a few times in a food processor. This will perfectly shred the jackfruit as seen in the photos above.
You can also shred it by hand or cut it with kitchen shears. But, the food processor is quick and easy.
Cook the Jackfruit
The jackfruit can be seasoned and cooked in the oven or on the stovetop.
Baking the jackfruit in the oven is the easier of the two methods. Simply toss the jackfruit with the seasonings until coated. Then, spread it out on a baking sheet along with the onion (and bell pepper if using), and bake.
To cook the jackfruit on the stovetop, sauté the onion (and bell pepper if using) in a large pan until softened. Turn off the heat and mix in the jackfruit and seasonings. Allow everything to sit for about 5 minutes. This will help it absorb all the flavors. Then heat the filling up to cook the jackfruit.
If you have any leftover jackfruit these street tacos are a great way to use it up!
Prepare the Corn Masa
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl until the oil is well incorporated.
Then, slowly mix in the liquid (water or broth) until the masa resembles a thick hummus-like texture, as pictured above. Not too dry and not too wet.
Assemble the Tamales
Before you start assembling the tamales, make sure everything is in close reach –soaked corn husks, prepared corn masa, seasoned jackfruit, salsa (if adding inside), and corn husk strips for tying.
Lay down a presoaked corn husk. Then add a scoop of corn masa on top. As pictured above.
Spread out the masa with the back of a spoon. Add a scoop of jackfruit filling down the middle of the masa. At this point, you can add salsa or any other filling to the inside of the tamales.
Close up the tamales by bringing the masa and corn husks together as pictured above. Then, fold the corn husk flaps to one side of the tamale and fold up the tail.
The top will be open as pictured above.
Use a corn husk strip to tie the tamale closed.
Now it's time to steam them.
There are 2 ways to steam cook these vegan tamales. In the Instant pot or on the stovetop.
Steam in the Instant Pot
Fill the Instant-Pot with 2 cups of water.
Add the trivet, or a raised steamer basket, to the bottom of the pot.
Arrange the tamales in the pot face up. Be sure they are raised up and not submerged in the water.
Set the Instant pot to high pressure for 15 minutes. Once the tamales are finished cooking they can be left for natural pressure release or you may quick-release the pressure after 10 minutes.
Carefully open the lid and let the tamales cool before removing them from the pot.
Steam on the stovetop
For this method, you will need a large stockpot with a deep steamer basket, like the one below.
Fill the pot with 2 cups of water.
Add the jackfruit tamales to the steamer basket and cover with the lid. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the masa is no longer wet and sticky and the tamales are fully cooked.
Allow the tamales to cool before removing them from the pot.
Serve jackfruit tamales with any of these toppings.
- tomatillo salsa
- hot salsa
- pico de gallo
- vegan cheese
- diced avocado
- vegan sour cream
- The jackfruit filling can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 1-2 days before making the tamales. In fact, preparing the filling in advance allows the flavors to really come together.
- The masa works well with both water and vegetable broth. I’ve tested this recipe with both and equally enjoyed the tamales. My only advice would be to adjust the salt according to the broth used.
- Other options that can be added to the filling are --black beans, corn, salsa, jalapeño peppers, vegan cheese, etc.
- Leaving one end of the tamale open makes tying up the tamale easier. If your corn husks are long enough, feel free to fold up both ends.
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- 1 lb. package dried corn husks*, soaked
- Tomatillo salsa, or salsa of choice
- 6 cups masa herina
- 1 and ½ to 2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt, or salt to taste
- 1 and ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup refined coconut oil, melted
- 5 cups warm water or vegetable broth
- 3 (20oz) cans of young/green jackfruit, (drained, rinsed, and patted dry)
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons refined coconut oil, divided
- 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 3 teaspoons ground paprika
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 and ⅔ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, or more to taste
- optional: 1-2 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
Prep the corn husks
- Cover the corn husks with warm water. Allow them to soak for at least an hour, or until they've softened. I like to keep the husks in the water while I use them. This keeps them from drying out.
- Once they have softened take a few longer husks and tear strips for tying the tamales.
Prep the jackfruit*
- Drain and rinse the jackfruit, then gently pat it dry.
- Pulse the rinsed jackfruit in a food processor to shred it. You may need to do this step in multiple batches.
Cook the jackfruit using one of 2 methods. I prefer the first method now!
- Method 1 -Baked: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the onion (and bell pepper) out on a baking sheet. Mix with a bit of oil to lightly coat the veggies. Bake at 350ºF for 5-10 minutes, just enough time for them to begin to cook.
- In the meantime, add the jackfruit to a large bowl. Mix in the seasonings and set aside for about 5 minutes to marinate.
- Remove the onion from the oven and add it to the bowl of jackfruit. Adjust the oven temperature to 400ºF. Evenly spread out the jackfruit on the baking sheet. Bake at 400ºF for 15-25 minutes. Halfway through give the jackfruit a stir. It should begin to darken and dry out. I like to take it out of the oven when the edges look "crispy".
- Method 2 -Pan cooked: Sauté the onion (and bell pepper) with 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large pan or skillet until translucent. Turn off the heat.
- Add the jackfruit, seasonings, and 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan. Mix everything together then allow the jackfruit to marinate in the seasonings for 5 minutes.
- Once the jackfruit has marinated, heat everything over medium-low heat for about 25-30 minutes. You’re looking to create a drier look and texture for the jackfruit. Taste, adjust seasonings, and allow more cook time if needed.
Mix the masa
- In a large bowl mix the corn masa, salt, and baking powder together.
- Then, mix in the oil until it’s fully incorporated into the dry ingredients.
- Slowly mix in the warm water or broth, adding a little at a time until the masa dough resembles a thick hummus-like texture. You may not need all of the water which is why it’s a good idea to slowly add it into the dry ingredients.
Assemble the tamales
- Make sure everything is in close reach–corn husks, masa, seasoned jackfruit, salsa (if using), and corn husk strips for tying.
- Place a corn husk down on your work area. Add a scoop of corn masa to the husk and spread it out with the back of the spoon.
- Add a scoop of seasoned jackfruit down the middle of the masa. At this point, you can add salsa, vegan cheese, or anything else you'd like, to the inside of the tamales.
- Close the tamales up by bringing the masa and corn husks together like a taco.
- Then, fold the corn husk flaps to one side of the tamale and fold the tail up.
- Use a corn husk strip to tie the tamale closed.
Instant pot cooking
- Fill the Instant Pot with 2 cups of water.
- Add the trivet or a raised steamer basket to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the tamales. Be sure they are raised up and not submerged in the water.
- Set the Instant pot to high pressure for 15 minutes. Once the tamales have finished cooking they can be left for natural pressure release or you may quick-release the pressure after 10 minutes.*
- Serve topped with tomatillo salsa or your favorite toppings.
- For this method, you will need a large stockpot with a deep steamer basket.
- Fill the pot with 2 cups of water.
- Add the tamales to the steamer basket and cover with the lid. Place over medium heat for 35-45 minutes or until the masa is no longer wet and sticky and the tamales are fully cooked.*
- Serve topped with tomatillo salsa or your favorite toppings.
How to store tamales
Cooked tamales can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Corn Husks- You will not need all of the husks, but I like to soak most of them to be able to choose the best ones for the tamales.
- The jackfruit filling can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. In fact, preparing the filling in advance allows the flavors to really come together. And, there's no need to heat before assembling.
- Due to the lower oil content, the freshly cooked masa may slightly stick to the husks after steaming. Once the tamales are cooled the masa should easily separate from the husk.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 servings Serving Size: 1 tamale
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 181mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
**Nutritional info is provided as an estimate based on the ingredients I used and for convenience and as a courtesy only.**
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