Vegan Potato Adobo Tamales
Authentic, amazing vegan tamales. Recipe by Dora Stone from Vegan Tamales Unwrapped, used with permission, modified slightly for Cook for Good readers and with photos by Linda Watson. Serve these for Christmas Eve, birthdays, or any special occasion. Also
Servings Prep Time
18tamales 2.5hours
Passive Time
Servings Prep Time
18tamales 2.5hours
Passive Time
Adobo Sauce and Filling
  1. Soak corn husks in hot water in a large pot. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
  2. Make dough. Beat the vegetable shortening on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until it has doubled in size and is nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add baking powder and salt and then beat for 1 minute to blend.
  3. At low speed, beat in half the masa harina and half of the vegetable stock. When it is completely blended, add the other half of masa harina and vegetable stock. The dough should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If it doesn’t, beat in more vegetable stock. Taste dough and add more salt if necessary. It should be a little bit salty. For lighter and fluffier tamales, let dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator.
  4. Make the adobo sauce. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a covered medium pot. (You will use this pot later to make the filling, so do use a medium pot.) Put destemmed and deseeded chiles into boiling water. Turn heat down to low setting and let the chiles sit in the water for 10 minutes.
  5. Put garlic, onion, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, clove, and white vinegar into a blender. When chiles have finished soaking, add chilies and 1/2 cup soaking liquid to blender and process until smooth. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed. Save remaining soaking liquid in your broth jar to use in other recipes.
  6. Make filling. Place diced potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in the pot used to soak chiles and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low so potatoes barely simmer. Cook for about 6 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly tender. When potatoes are cooked, remove from heat and add peas to potatoes. Cover pot and let rest for 30 seconds. Drain broth into your broth jar. Stir adobe sauce into potato mixture.
  7. Assemble and steam tamales. Remove dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid so it resembles cake batter again.
  8. Remove corn husks from water and set on towels (clean kitchen towels or paper towels). Reserve largest husks to wrap tamales and small ones to line the steamer.
  9. Put a cup or so of water in the pot used to soak husks, then put in your steamer. Make sure water is not touching the steamer. Line the steamer and sides of the pot with corn husks.
  10. To wrap tamales, pull 24 pencil-thin strips off corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off excess water with a towel. Place husk in your hand with tapered side away from you and smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of dough, 1/4 inch thick, onto a corn husk, forming a square 3 to 4 inches across. Leave a border of uncovered husk at least 3/4-inch wide on each side.
  11. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of dough square. Bring the two long sides of corn husk together, causing masa to surround filling, and roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
  12. Place tamal in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the pot, with the open end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check to see if tamales are done. They should separate easily from the corn husks. If they don’t, steam for 10 more minutes and check again.
  13. Remove steamer from heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.
  14. Serve warm. Slide off the tie and remove corn husk before eating. Keeps refrigerated for four days and frozen up to six months.
Recipe Notes

Dora Stone’s Tips

  • To make tamales with fresh masa, replace masa harina with two pounds of fresh masa and reduce the vegetable stock to 3/4 cup.
  • Substitutions. Instead of vegetable shortening, use 8 ounces of refined coconut oil or 8 ounces of cooked, unsweetened pumpkin. Using pumpkin instead of shortening or oil makes for fat-free tamales. If you don’t have kosher salt, use a little less table salt.

Cook for Good Tips

  • To reheat frozen tamales, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. I then unwrap the bundles and microwave for a few minutes each until hot all the way through. You can also steam thawed, wrapped tamales as described in the recipe above.
  • I tried using pumpkin instead of oil and found the result not to be worth the effort. Instead, serve the filling with fat-free sides.
  • Masa harina is a flour made from lime-treated cornmeal used to make tamales, tortillas, and more. The lime makes it easier for us to digest the niacin in the corn meal. If you can find it, use the slightly more coarsely ground masa harina for tamales. Do not substitute regular cornmeal or cornflour.
  • The how-to grid photo above is from Vegan Tamales Unwrapped, used with permission.