Sweet Potato Black Bean Tamales

We are now looking at more flavors to try!

After some testing, the classic but extremely flavorful combo won. Say hello to your go-to vegan tamale flavor: sweet potato black bean! Just ten basic ingredients are required. Let’s get started!

What are Tamales?

The origin of the Tamales is Mesoamerica, which includes Mexico and Central America. The masa (corn-based) shell is wrapped with a flavorful filling, which can be vegetarian, vegan, or meat and then steamed.

Vegan Tamales: How to Make Them

In our inspired plant-based recipe, we start by baking sweet potatoes until they are tender and sweet. You can do this whole or in halves. To save time, I prefer to half extra-large potatoes and bake them cut-side down.

Then, black beans with cumin and sea salt are cooked with chipotle, cumin, and sea salt to create a filling that is smoky and packed with plant-based protein and fiber.

Add a spoonful of each mashed sweet potato and black bean, then fold the right edge over the filling and tuck it in.

Continue rolling until seams meet. Fold the corn husk’s narrow edge up and over in order to hold the fold before placing it upright into a dish.

Steaming is the best way to cook tamales. Please place them in an upright position in a steamer in a large pot or Dutch Oven and add a little water. Cover and steam the masa for approximately 1 hour or until it has hardened. That’s it!



  • 3-4 medium-large sweet potatoes


  • Two cups of masa harina (not cornmeal //The masa harina is cooked, soaked in a lime-water solution, and then ground into flour).
  • Half a cup of water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • Avocado oil 2 1/2 tbsp (substitute dairy-free butter, organic dairy butter, or dairy butter as tolerated).
  • Use 2/3 to 3/4 cup vegetable stock (warm water is best).


  • Water – 3-4 Tbsp (or substitute oil and reduce the amount by half).
  • 1/4 cup diced red or white onion
  • One 15-oz black bean can, slightly drained
  • 1 chopped chipotle in adobo adobo pepper sauce
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of adobo (or reduce the amount for less heat).
  • Add more salt to taste.
  • Half a teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp coconut sugar (optional)


  • One package of dried cornhusks soaked in water for 30 minutes


  • Plain Culina yogurt or sour cream (we like plain Culina).
  • Hot sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Lime juice


  • Place sweet potatoes whole on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). To let steam escape, poke sweet potatoes with a fork a few times. Bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes or 1 hour until they are tender. NOTE: For a faster bake time, half-sweet potatoes and rub them with oil. Bake cut-side down until tender.
  • Add the masa harina and water to a large bowl. Mix well. It may appear to be a little dry, but that’s fine. Rest for 15 minutes.
  • Add the dried corn husks into a large bowl of water at room temperature. Submerge the corn husks with something (such as a small pan). Set aside for at least 15 minutes and as much as an hour.
  • Meanwhile, warm a saucepan on medium heat. Once the water (or oil) and onion are hot, you can add them. Stirring occasionally, sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and slightly brown.
  • Add the black beans that have been slightly drained, the chopped chipotle, the adobo (either omit it or reduce its heat), cumin, salt, and coconut sugar.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add more salt if needed. You can also add cumin to give it a smoky flavor, coconut sugar for balance, or adobo for heat. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.
  • Let baked sweet potatoes cool down to the touch. Peel off the skin and transfer it to a shallow dish or mixing bowl. Mash with a potato mashing tool or a fork. Set aside.
  • Add the avocado oil, baking powder, and salt to the masa mixture that has been soaked. Stir. Add broth (warm or at room temperature is best) little by little until you achieve a thick paste. The paste should not be liquid or crumbly. (See photo). Stir well to ensure that it is fully mixed. Set aside.
  • Removing corn husks and blotting them dry is important (if water remains, masa may not adhere to the husks). Take one husk and place it in your nondominant hand. The wider/broader end should be facing you.
  • Spread the masa mixture using the back of the spoon from the center bottom of the husk (see photo) to the right side. Spread the mixture into a thin, even layer between 1/8th and 1/4 inch thick.
  • Add 1 1/2 tbsp mashed sweet potato to the center of the masa, and then top it with 1 tbsp beans (see picture). The right edge of the corn husk should be tucked over the bean mixture at the left edge of the masa. Continue rolling until the seams are met. Fold the corn husk’s narrow advantage over the seam, and place it in a dish or loaf pan that will hold your tamales up. Continue making tamales until all the masa mixture and filling is used (the original recipe says 24).
  • Add a Steamer Basket to a large pot or Dutch Oven. Fill the pot with water up to the bottom of the steamer basket. Add the tamales and try to keep them standing up (see photo).
  • Once the tamales are boiling, turn down the heat, cover them, and simmer them for approximately 1 hour. When the masa is cooked, you’ll know that they are done. You can test one tamale if you’re not sure. Remove it, let it cool for a couple of minutes, then unwrap and check. They’re ready for eating if they are cooked through. If not, continue to steam for another 5-10 minutes or as long as necessary.
  • After cooking, remove the lid for a couple of minutes and let the steam escape. Enjoy! Add desired garnishes. The hot sauce was delicious with the cilantro, lime, and dairy-free yogurt. (We prefer Culina Plain, but vegan soured cream is also good).
  • Tamales can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in a microwave or a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop.
  • To freeze, allow the tamales to cool and then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in one layer. Transfer to a container that is well sealed and freeze until solid. They should last at least a month, but often longer. Let the frozen food thaw and then heat in the microwave or a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop until hot. You can microwave for one minute, then remove the husk and continue heating either in a microwave or a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop.

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