Roasted Root Vegetable Vegan Tamales

vegan tamales

When I went to Wanderlust in July, I tasted the most amazing vegan tamales ever! I was so obsessed that I vowed to develop a recipe for some as soon as I got home. Ok, so it took me a few months to get around to it. But I did, and I’m super excited about it. Like I usually try to do, I put my own twist on it. Instead of using something like jackfruit or tempeh to create a meaty texture, I made mine unabashedly plant-based and ended up with roasted root vegetable tamales.

roasted root vegetable vegan tamales

A few weekends ago we took my dad and his girlfriend to my favorite local vegan restaurant, Sage, and had these really delicious roasted root vegetable tacos. This was definitely the inspiration behind these tamales. That, and I happened to have a ton of beets, carrots and sweet potatoes lying around.

roasted root vegetable vegan tamales

I’m so glad my husband reminded me that we wouldn’t need to go to the store  last week since we were going out of town to visit friends for San Fransisco Beer week(he’s super into craft beer!). I normally do my grocery shopping for the week on Sundays, but last week I took stock of everything that was perishable in the fridge and devised a plan to use it all before we left.

This was the first time I’ve ever made tamales and it was surprisingly easy. It does require a couple ingredients that I had to specifically seek out, like corn husks and masa harina, a flour made from corn. I was originally wondering if I could just use corn meal, but once I opened the masa harina package I realize it was the same consistency of a wheat flour and clearly much finer than corn meal. So definitely go out and find the real thing! I couldn’t find any organic masa harina in the stores around me but I did see that they have it amazon so I might purchase my next bag there.

roasted root vegetable vegan tamales

Making these tamales was very easy but it is definitely time-consuming. It’s a good idea to plan ahead when making these. You could roast the root vegetables ahead of time, for instance. Prepping the tamales takes a little time, but one they’re in the corn husks you can save them for dinner later in the week or even freeze them. They also take an hour to steam before they’re ready to eat. But I promise – all of this is very, very worth it!

You can serve these as an appetizer or as a full meal with rice and beans. Top them with ranchero sauce, guacamole or pico de gallo. Enjoy!

Download a beautifully formatted PDF version of this recipe.


vegan tamales

Roasted Root Vegetable Tamales
Yields 8
A plant-based version of a classic Mexican dish.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
For the roasted root vegetables
  1. 1 cup chopped carrots (I used purple)
  2. 1 cup golden beets
  3. 1 cup chopped sweet potatoes
  4. 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  5. 1 clove garlic
  6. 2 tsp cumin
  7. 1/2 tsp paprika
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1/2 pepper
  10. 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the tamales
  1. 2 cups masa harina
  2. 2/3 cup earth balance
  3. 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 8-10 corn husks (it's good to have extras in case so are too small or rip)
For the roasted root vegetables
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel and chop the vegetables.
  3. Combine with the olive oil, garlic and spices in a roasting dish.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15.
For the tamales
  1. Soak the corn husks in hot water to soften.
  2. Melt the earth balance and combine with 1 cup of the vegetable broth.
  3. Add the masa harina, baking powder and salt and combine, adding more broth as needed to create a spongy dough.
  4. Take a softened corn husk and shake off excess water.
  5. Spread the tamale masa harina mixture on top of the corn husk about 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Be sure to flatten it out completely. If there are little folds in the husk, it can cause the tamale break open when you try to remove it.
  7. Spoon about a quarter to a third of a cup of the root vegetables on top.
  8. Fold masa harina mixture in half, covering the vegetables, pressing the edges down to seal the vegetables inside.
  9. Trim excess corn husk off and fold the edges under, enclosing the tamale sort of like a burrito.
  10. At this point you can either store them in an airtight container for later or cook them right away.
  11. To cook, place them in a steamer for one hour.
  1. Serve with rice and beans. Top with salsa, ranchero sauce, guacamole or pico de gallo - or all of the above!
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