Tamales de Elote (Sweet Corn Tamales) are an easy and delicious Mexican treat that are perfect for the holidays or any celebration! Made with only 9 ingredients and ready in 2 hours.
This post is sponsored by Mazola® Corn Oil. All opinions expressed here are my own. Corn oil is a cholesterol-free food that contains 14g of total fat per serving. See nutrition information on product label or at Mazola.com for fat and saturated fat content.
Tamale season is upon us and there’s no better way to celebrate than with one of the easiest and most delicious dessert tamales you’ll ever make!
I know how intimidating it can be to make tamales for the first time, but these sweet corn tamales are made with easy-to-find ingredients and are quick to prepare when compared to other varieties like Red Pork Tamales and Green Chicken Tamales. They’re perfect for beginners and are even fun to make!
What are Tamales de Elote?
Tamales de Elote (or Sweet Corn Tamales in English) are Mexican dessert tamales made from fresh corn that’s blended and mixed into a sweetened tamale dough.
There are many variations of this recipe that differ depending on the region in Mexico. Some recipes call for using fresh uncooked corn right off the cob, some use cornmeal in addition to traditional masa harina, and others don’t use any masa harina at all.
Some recipes differ in the sweetener that’s used in the dough – either granulated sugar or sweetened condensed milk.
Yet another variation is the fat that’s used – either oil, lard, or butter.
But one thing that all the recipe variations have in common is this: corn is the star ingredient!
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe requires only 9 ingredients that are super easy to find in most grocery stores nowadays! In addition to a few staples like baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract, you’ll also need the following:
- Masa Harina – You’ll need some masa harina for this recipe, also called instant corn masa flour. It’s the same ingredient used for making corn tortillas and is usually located in the international food aisle in most grocery stores.
- Mazola® Corn Oil – Many recipes for Tamales de Elote call for lard or butter, but this recipe uses Mazola® Corn Oil instead. Not only does using corn oil compliment the corn flavor we’re trying to achieve, but it’s also low in saturated fat and even makes these tamales vegetarian and vegan friendly! My family has used oil instead of lard in all their tamale recipes for as long as I can remember, and the flavor is amazing! The dough is soft and tender without being too greasy.
- Canned Corn – Instead of using fresh corn on the cob which isn’t always in season, this recipe calls for 4 cans of sweet kernel corn instead. This is easy to find any time of year and also requires less work to prepare.
- Granulated Sugar – To sweeten the tamales, you’ll need some granulated sugar. The amount used in these tamales makes them sweet without being overly sweet.
- Corn Husks – You’ll need 24 corn husks (about 1/4-1/3 pound). Dried corn husks can be easily found in most hispanic grocery stores or online.
How to Make Tamales de Elote
To make the tamale dough, mix the masa harina with Mazola® Corn Oil, baking powder, granulated sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. I like to mix it with my hands so I can feel the texture of the masa. It should look and feel like wet sand.
To prepare the corn, first drain and rinse the kernels, then add them to a large blender. Pulse and blend it until it’s finely ground. It should look like a chunky puree – it won’t be completely smooth, but there also shouldn’t be any whole pieces of corn left.
Add the blended corn to the bowl of masa harina, add in a little vanilla extract, and mix everything together with a fork until well combined.
The sweet tamale dough should resemble a thick paste.
Next, it’s time to assemble the tamales! This is super easy because it doesn’t require spreading the dough like many other varieties.
Just scoop a heaping 1/4 cup of dough into the middle of each softened corn husk, close, and fold.
When all the tamales have been assembled, place them open side up in a large steamer pot that’s been filled with water and topped with a steamer insert.
(If you don’t have a specific tamale steamer pot, you can also use any large pot that you have and a steamer basket.)
Steam the tamales for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then remove them from the pot, and let them cool for 10 minutes.
That’s it! All that’s left to do is unwrap them and enjoy! They’re delicious for breakfast alongside a hot cup of coffee or café de olla, or an after dinner dessert with some Mexican hot chocolate or champurrado.
- Prep the corn husks: Add the corn husks to a large bowl or pot. Pour enough hot water over the corn husks to cover them completely. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and let them soak for 1 hour to soften them up. Meanwhile, blend the corn and make the sweet tamale dough.
- Blend the corn: Add the corn to a large blender. Pulse until the corn is medium to finely ground. It won't be completely smooth, but there shouldn't be any whole kernels in the mix. Set aside.
- Mix the masa harina: In a large mixing bowl, add the masa harina, granulated sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Mix together to combine.
- Add the oil: Add the corn oil and mix together with your hands, working the dough through your fingers until everything is well combined and incorporated. The dough should feel a little crumbly, almost like wet sand, and should lightly hold its shape when pressed together.
- Add the blended corn: Add the blended corn. Mix together with a fork until fully combined.
- Finish prepping the corn husks: Drain the water from the corn husks and pat them dry. Remove and discard any corn silk that may be on the husks. Lay the husks flat onto a baking sheet for easy access.
- Fill the corn husks: Grab a large corn husk and identify which is the smooth side and which is the side with ridges. Place the smooth side face up on a plate. Scoop a heaping 1/4 cup of the tamale dough into the middle of the softened corn husk.
- Fold: Fold together the long edges of the corn husk like a book, and then fold it once more. Fold the pointy edge over so that only one side of the corn husk is open and exposed. Place in a bowl with the open end facing up, making sure to lean them against the side so it doesn't fall down. Repeat until all the tamales have been filled and assembled.
- Prepare the steamer pot: Fill the bottom of the steamer pot with water and cover with the steamer insert. Place the sweet tamales in the steamer with the open end facing up, making sure to lean them against the side of the pot so they don't fall down.
- Steam: Cover tightly with the lid and place the steamer over high heat. Bring the water in the steamer pot to a boil (you should be able to hear it bubbling), then reduce the heat to low, and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Rest and serve: Carefully transfer the tamales to a baking sheet or serving platter and let them sit and cool slightly for 10 minutes. They may be a little squishy when you first take them out of the steamer, but will quickly firm up once they have time to cool. Serve and enjoy!
- The sweet tamale dough can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
- To freeze, place cooked and cooled tamales in an airtight container or zip-lock bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
- To reheat, steam them for 15 minutes in a steamer pot, heat them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes on high.