Butternut Squash and Corn Tamales

Makes 16
For many, tamales are a holiday must. And the time it takes to do it right is part of that tradition. Here’s how to make a non-traditional but tasty vegetarian batch with butternut squash and corn filling. Get the whole family in the kitchen to help, and make some memories! If you can’t do it all at once, follow our prep tips to break the process down over a couple nights.


  • 1 6
    oz package dried corn husks
  • For the Dough/Masa:

  • 4

    cups masa harina (find it in the baking aisle)

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder
  • 1

    teaspoon salt

  • 1 ⅓
    cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 10

    oz vegetable broth 

  • For the Butternut Squash and Corn Filling:

  • 2

    tablespoons olive oil

  • 2

    cups finely diced butternut squash

  • 1

    cup fresh corn kernels

  • 1

    teaspoons cumin

  • 1

    teaspoon coriander


    Kosher salt, to taste


    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • For the Chile Sauce:

  • 2

    dried chile pods
  • 2

    chipotles in adobo sauce

  • 2 ½

    cups water

  • 1-2

    teaspoons kosher salt, to taste


  • 1

    Make the sauce. Place chile pods and chipotle sauce in a small saucepan with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the sauce into a bowl, season with salt to taste.

  • 2 While your sauce simmers, make the vegetable filling. In a deep sided sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced butternut squash and lightly season with a bit of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add corn. Season with cumin, coriander, and about 2 tablespoons of the prepared chile sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • 3 Make the dough by whisking together the masa harina with baking powder and salt. Beat in vegetable shortening or lard until it becomes crumbly, like pie dough, using an electric mixer, a bowl with a wooden spoon, two forks, or a pastry cutter. Add the broth gradually until you have a nice dough (you may not need all the broth).

    Tip: If making masa in advance, transfer it into a Ziploc® brand bag and refrigerate or freeze until ready to assemble the tamales. 

  • 4

    Before assembling the tamales, soak the dried corn husks in hot water for 20-30 minutes. 

    Tip: This is easy to do in a Ziploc® brand bag. Simply put the husks in, add water, seal, and allow to sit. Once the corn husks are pliable, remove and lightly dry them with a kitchen towel.

  • 5 Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the masa over the corn husks about 1 ½ inches from the narrow part of the husk. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough, making it about ¼ inch thick. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the filling in the center, then fold or roll the corn husks into the center. If you wish, use a strip of corn husk to tie in place.
  • 6 Steam in a steamer for 1 hour, checking periodically to make sure that there’s always water at the bottom of the pot. Heat water in a kettle so you can add more as needed.
  • 7

    Once cooked, remove the husks and serve with a drizzle of the reserved chile sauce, and enjoy!

    Tip: You can also refrigerate or freeze cooked and cooled tamales in Ziploc® brand bags for another time, or for gifting to friends and family. Tamales can be reheated in the steamer or microwave.