Sweet Potato Tamales with Pecans and Chipotle are a perfect sweet potato dish for a vegetarian entre or a side dish for your holiday or any day of the week.
This spin on Authentic Mexican Tamales is sure to please the vegetarians in your life but, shhhh... no one else will know.
Who says sweet potatoes must be smashed into a casserole dish and covered in toasted marshmallows? Try rolling the sweet potatoes into tamales with toasted nut filling and smokey chipotle seasoning.
The chipotle and Southwest spices go so well with the sweet potato tamales that you might decide to use them in other sweet potato recipes. And don't forget the pecans - or hazelnuts - in the center!
Tamales have a reputation of being hard or time consuming to make. Well, they can be BUT they don't HAVE to be.
The key to making quick work of tamales is to have all of your ingredients ready BEFORE you begin. Most of the tamale ingredients can be made a day ahead.
Prepare the Ingredients for Sweet Potato Tamales with Chipotle and Pecans
- First, get your cornhusks rinsed of and soaking in water. The have been cornhusks dried then, packaged for sale. You will need to rinse them off and remove any of the dried corn silks that have been trapped during the drying process. Soak the cornhusks in enough water to cover them all for at least 2 ½ hours so that they are soft and plyable.
- Second-, it's time to make the sweet potato masa. Start by cooking your sweet potatoes. I think the best way to cook your sweet potatoes is to roast or bake them. I cut the potatoes in half and brush with oil then place them on a baking sheet and bake until fork tender.
- Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potatoes are very good in this tamales recipe.. The high temperature gives a nice flavor to the sweet potato and the flesh of the sweet potato is dryer and fluffier than boiled sweet potatoes.
- You can always boil the sweet potatoes by peeling them and chopping the sweet potatoes into large chunks. Add the sweet potatoe chuncks to a large pot of boiling water and cook until fork tender. Seet potatoes that have been boiled will have a lot more liquid. So, drain the sweet potato and return them to the dry pot. Cook and stir the sweet potatoes in the dry pot until the excess water is gone.
- When the sweet potatoes a done, allow them to cool enough for you to handle them.
- Mash the sweet potatoes with the other ingredients.
- Finally, toast the nuts of your choice (I prefer pecans or hazelnuts)
How to Assemble Sweet Potato Tamales:
- Rinse corn husks in cold water and soak for at least 2 hours.
- Mix Sweet Potato "Masa" as directed.
- Spread masa on the corn husks evenly.
- Leave at least one to two inches of corn husk all around the masa to create a border. This border will allow the corn husk to seal in the masa when the corn husk is wrapped around the filling and steamed.
- Add Nut filling to the center of the Sweet Potato Tamales.
- Bring the sides of the corn husks together and seal in the masa.
- Fold the bottom of the corn the corn husk up to seal the bottom
- Tie with a strip of corn husk, if desired.
- Place tamales upright in a steamer over steaming water.
- Cook as directed.
Fillings for These Vegetarian Tamales:
Toasted Nuts-These Sweet Potato Tamales with Chipotle are filled with toasted, diced pecans or hazelnuts. Toasted walnuts are another good choice. The nuts go well with the savory flavors of chipotle and cumin.
Cinnamon and Sugar Nuts- For a "savory-sweet" taste, toss the toasted nuts with a little brown sugar and cinnamon before filling the tamales.
Dried Fruit- Dried cranberries or other chopped, dried fruits go very well with sweet potato tamales. Finey dice the dried fruit and stir in just enough mascarpone cheese to hold the dried fruit together. the Cheese will melt away while steaming the tamales.
Print the recipe for Sweet Potato Tamales with Pecans and Chipotle Below
Donna's original recipe posted Nov 24, 2009 and has been a favorite ever since. I have adapted her recipe for vegetarians and updated it on Dec 11, 2017 and Feb 19,2024
I hope you love this recipe! If you give it a try, be sure to leave me a comment here on the blog or on Everyday Southwest's Facebook Page. I would love to hear from you!
- 1 - ½ pounds sweet potatoes
- A little canola oil spray
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 - ½ cups dried instant masa flour
- 2 tablespoons tapioca powder
- 1 - ½ tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 ounces diced pecans or hazelnuts, toasted
- Corn husks for wrapping, soaked in water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut sweet potatoes in half and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Spray with a little oil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove skins and mash finely with a potato masher or food processor. You should have 2 cups mashed sweet potato flesh. Place in a mixing bowl.
- Bring to a boil the butter, sugar, broth and salt. With mixer on medium, mix in the broth mixture with the sweet potatoes until smooth. With mixer running, add in chile powder, cumin, masa, tapioca and baking powder a little at a time. Mix until fluffy, about 10 minutes on high speed. Let sit 10 minutes on counter to make sure masa is fully hydrated.
- Spread ⅓ cup of masa mixture in center of a corn husk, spreading in a square until a little thicker than ¼ inch. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of nuts in center. Roll tamale in hands until masa mixture surrounds the nuts. Fold corn husks up at bottom.
- Steam tamales until firm, about one hour.
- Serve immediately.
Serving Size1 grams
Amount Per Serving Unsaturated Fat 0g