Smoky Fiesta Black Bean Tamales | Vegan Recipe

If you’re one of those people who’ve never made tamales…. Well, what on earth have you been waiting for? It’s time my friends.

The process is easier than it looks, the majority of the time goes into steaming these babies. Everything else comes together in a cinch. If you can wrap a burrito with the ends tucked in, you can make tamales.

portraitSmoky Fiesta Black Bean Tamales


  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet onion, diced small
  • 1 large carrot, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 can diced green chilies or 1 Anaheim pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1–2 teaspoons liquid smoke (depending on your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon mesquite powder (optional)
  • 1 cup cashews (soaked for 4–6 hours if you don’t have a power blender)
  • 1¼ cup water
  • 20 dried corn husks


  1. Place the corn husks in a large bowl of hot water. Cover with a plate so that the husks stay submerged.
  2. Next make cashew cream: combine cashews with the water and liquid smoke and blend until completely smooth to make a smokey cashew cream. Set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat, add onion, carrot, bell pepper, black beans, and Anaheim peppers (if using). I used a dry pan (you may need to add a bit of broth or water to your pan if it starts to stick) and stirred occasionally until the onions were translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and red chili flakes and heat for a minute or two more. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine masa harina, baking powder, sea salt, mesquite powder, and nutritional yeast with a wire whisk.
  5. Add the vegetables (including the canned green chilies) to the masa harina and stir to evenly distribute.
  6. Now add the cashew cream and mix all to combine into a nice, moist dough. If dough seems too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.
  7. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop the tamale dough onto a corn husk. Roll up tightly like a burrito, tucking in the ends as you go. My batch made 15 tamales, but a few of my corn husks were small, so I needed to use two husks to get it to roll up properly (which is why I included 20 husks).
  8. Next, put a steaming basket inside a large lidded pot, and add water, making sure the water doesn’t rise above the bottom of the steaming basket. Heat on stove until water is boiling.
  9. Add the tamales carefully to the steaming basket so they don’t unravel. Reduce heat to medium-low and steam, with the pot lid on, for 45–50 minutes.
  10. Tamales are ready when the dough is firm and holds together. Remove from heat and let cool for 5–10 minutes before serving.
I served our tamales with Mimi Kirk’s Raw Sour Cream, Shira’s Red Pepper Cheese Sauce and my Sriracha and Olive Salsa Fresca (using spanish olives this round instead of black).


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