Are Tamales Gluten Free? How To Make Gluten-Free Tamales?

How To Steam Tamales Without A Steamer?

Tamales are a delicious corn-based food that includes a dough filled with a combination of any meat, fruits, vegetables, and spices. They have been made famous because the dough and other ingredients combine wonderfully to make a highly nutritious and tasty food preparation. Although tamales have a high nutritive value, many people are wondering if they are gluten-free or not, and If they aren’t, is there a way to make gluten-free tamales. We’re here to answer to these questions.

Are Tamales Gluten-free?

However, with diet restrictions and lifestyle diseases, not many people are able to enjoy tamales because they can be gluten intolerant. Tamales are made from masa dough and then packed in the corn husks (or banana husks). Tamales can be gluten-free, but it largely depends on their corn flour. Store-bought tamales usually include gluten. Gluten-free products will be specifically labeled, not otherwise. Restaurants and specialty restaurants are the ones that will generally have gluten-free food items. Ingredients like quinoa and certain types of flour are the ones to look out for when avoiding gluten. To make gluten-free tamales, you will have to ensure that the meat, fillings, sauces, veggies, and dough are all gluten-free.

Gluten-free Tamales Recipe

Let’s understand the process of making gluten-free tamales.

List of Ingredients

For the Dough

  • Gluten-free masa harina – 3 cups
  • Gluten-free chicken broth (gluten-free) – 2 1/2 cups
  • Non-hydrogenated lard – 1 cup (you can also substitute with organic Spectrum vegetable shortening)
  • Chili powder – 1 1/2 tbsp.
  • Table salt – 1 1/2 tbsp.
  • Onion powder – 1 1/2 tbsp.
  • Cumin – 1 tbsp.

For the Filling

  • Any cooked meat which is ground or shredded (beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork, lobster or shrimp, etc.) – 2 pounds
  • Chicken broth – 2 tbsp. and gluten-free
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp.
  • Canned tomatoes cut and included with jalapenos – 1 whole can or around 14.5 ounces
  • Fresh cilantro – 1/4 to 1/2 cups finely chopped
  • Fresh jalapenos – 2 large (deseed them and finely cut them)
  • Large garlic cloves – 4 large ones which are diced
  • Table salt – 1/2 tsp.

For the Wrapper

  • Corn husks



Making the dough

  1. The first step is for the process that takes the longest, which is soaking the corn husks to make them soft and smooth. Soak all the corn husks in a large vessel filled with hot water. Ensure all the husks are well soaked in water. This will take around 2 hours. 
  2. Take a large bowl and empty the masa harina flour in it. First, pour chicken broth gradually and let it mix well to make the dough. Then add warm water to the mix. Stir all the contents well and then leave it for around 15 – 20 minutes, during which the masa harina will absorb all the liquid and become soft. The flour should be light and fluffy.
  3. Take another bowl and put all the spices in it. Use a mixer to mix all the contents well together, and then empty the bowl in the dough we made earlier. Beat the dough to ensure the spices and the cough are mixed well. 
  4. In another bowl, use a mixer to beat the lard. The result should be fluffy lard. If the lard does not get fluffy, increase the speed gradually to avoid spilling and splashing. Once done, pour this over the dough and beat the dough to mix the contents well.
  5. Now the dough part of the recipe is complete. If you want to make the tamales later, send this dough to the fridge for up to 24 hours. 

Making the filling for tamales

  1. First, collect the meat in a saucepan and let it cook over slow to medium heat to ensure the moisture is not lost over high heat. The meat should be ideally ground or shredded to ensure quick cooking and ease of use in tamales. 
  2. Then add all the filling ingredients to a mixer and combine them but do not over process. Then send the fillings to a saucepan and combine olive oil for around 5 – 6 minutes. Once done, set it aside to cool down naturally. The meat and fillings are ready. 

Making the tamales

  1. Take a husk, spread 1/4th cup of dough, and put 1 or 2 tablespoons of fillings in the middle. 
  2. Roll the sides of the husk over the dough and roll it to cover the dough and the fillings completely. Then roll both the husk ends over the center part and tie it with a thread. Do the same for the rest of the tamales. You can also tear thin strips of the corn husk as strings. 
  3. Add water to a large pot, place the steamer basket and let it come to a boil. 
  4. Place all the tamales in the steamer basket. Cover the lid and let it steam for 75 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on the heat. Check the steamer occasionally to ensure enough water for the steam; otherwise, replace it with hot water. 
  5. Once ready, take the tamales out and let them cool down naturally for about 15 – 20 minutes. 

The tamales are now ready to be served. You can store the tamales for up to a week in the fridge in an air-tight container and in the freezer for 6 months. Avoid storing the tamales longer than 5-6 months in the freezer to avoid burn. 

Jillian Noon

Hi, I am Jillian Noon, the owner of this beautiful cooking blog. I create this blog to share my passion for cooking and other kitchen & food tips. I hope you will enjoy it!

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