Homemade vegan jackfruit tamales 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 in no time! Steam them in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop. Instructions for both are included!
Making tamales may not sound as easy as pie, 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!
What you need to make vegan tamales
There are 4 main ingredients to these jackfruit tamales:
Dried Corn Husks They can be found at most grocery stores or online here.
Young Green Jackfruit (in brine or water) is what you will need. Its neutral flavor is perfect for taking on the flavors of the seasonings. I use Trader Joe’s jackfruit, but most Asian 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.
Corn Masa I prefer organic masa which I’ve been able to find on the Vitacost website. But it’s also available on Amazon here.
As always, you can choose non-organic without any changes to the recipe.
Coconut Oil I use refined oil to keep the tamale flavor neutral. If you don’t have coconut oil you can use any neutral oil on hand.
Now that we’ve gone over our main ingredients….
LET’S MAKE SOME VEGAN TAMALES!
• • •
Start with prepare the jackfruit filling
Pulse the jackfruit a few times in a food processor. This will perfectly shred the jackfruit as seen in the photos above.
Sauté the onion and bell pepper (if using) then mix in the jackfruit and seasonings. Allow the jackfruit to “marinate” in the seasonings for about 5 minutes. This will help it absorb all the flavors.
This jackfruit filling can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. In fact, preparing the filling in advance allows the flavors to really come together.
If you have any leftover jackfruit these street tacos are a great way to use it up!
• • •
How to prepare the corn masa
Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Then mix in the oil until it’s well incorporated. Slowly mix in the liquid (water or broth) until the masa resembles a thick hummus-like texture. Not too dry and not too wet.
Tip: 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.
• • •
How to assemble vegan jackfruit tamales
Before you start assembling the tamales, make sure everything is in close reach ––soaked corn husks, masa mix, seasoned jackfruit, salsa (if adding inside) and corn husk strips for tying.
Add a scoop of corn masa to a presoaked corn husk.
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 to the inside of the tamales.
Close the tamales up by bringing the masa and corn husks together as pictured above. Then, fold the corn husk flaps to the side of the tamale and fold up the tail.
Use a corn husk strip to tie the tamale closed.
Now it’s time to steam them.
• • •
How do you steam tamales in the Instant-Pot?
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.
How do you steam tamales on the stovetop?
For this method, you will need a large stockpot with a deep steamer basket ––like the one below.
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.
Top your jackfruit vegan tamales with
- tomatillo salsa
- hot salsa
- pico de gallo
- red sauce
- diced avocado
- vegan sour cream
And serve with a side of Spanish rice for the perfect Mexican-inspired vegan meal!
For more Mexican-inspired Recipes try one of these:
We’d love to hear from you!
If you loved this recipe, please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card and share your thoughts in the comments below. Also, if you snap a photo be sure to share it with us! We love to see your creations! You can find us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
- 1 lb. package dried corn husks*, soaked
- Tomatillo salsa, or salsa of choice
- 6 cups masa herina
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt, or salt to taste
- 1 and 1/2 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 vidalia or yellow 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 2/3 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.
- Now, sauté the onion and bell pepper with 2 Tablespoons oil in a large pan or skillet until translucent. Turn off the heat.
Now you can cook the jackfruit using one of 2 methods. I now prefer the first method!
- Method 1 -Baked: Add the jackfruit to a large bowl. Mix in the seasonings and set aside for about 5 minutes to marinate.
- In the meantime preheat your oven to 400ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the jackfruit into an even layer on the pan. Bake at 400ºF for 25-35 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: Add in the jackfruit, seasonings, and 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan of cooked onion. 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 until the jackfruit is cooked and easily separates. (about 30-45 minutes) You’re looking to create a drier look and texture. 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 adding inside) 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 to the inside of the tamales.
- Close the tamales up by bringing the masa and corn husks together.
- Then, fold the corn husk to one side of the tamale and fold up the tail.
- 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 your 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 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.
- Due to the lower oil content the fresh masa may slightly stick to the husks. Once the tamales are completely cooled and reheated the masa should easily separate from the husk.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 servings Serving Size: 1 tamale
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72 Total Fat: 3g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 181mg Carbohydrates: 10g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Protein: 2g