Sweet Fruit Tamales


Delicious Sweet Fruit Tamales- Gluten and Dairy Free! 

When I was a junior in high school I had the privilege of living for a year in Mexico on an exchange. It was a once in a lifetime experience! I got to attend a local high school, be immersed in the Spanish language and learn about the local food customs. 

One of the greatest things was that there were many delicious foods to try. I loved how there were many street food vendors, and everyone in town knew who had the best foods and the times that those vendors would be on a specific corner, or outside a specific church to sell tamales or other amazing treats. 

I remember quite often that our first host family would go to a specific lady selling tamales. She would have both savory and sweet tamales. The sweet tamales had raisins in them and were sometimes dyed pink. I remember enjoying those tamales both for an evening snack and sometimes for breakfast. 

    Forming a sweet fruit tamale in the corn husk. 


Forming a sweet fruit tamale in the corn husk. 


I have not been able to find anything like that around my area here in Oregon, so I decided to create my own sweet tamales. They bring me back to the search along the street for the most wonderful food vendors. 

I love that these tamales are cute, small and delicious. I decided to make three different flavors: cranberry, mango coconut and cinnamon raisin. I am quite pleased with the tamales! They are so yummy and they take me back in time. 

I hope that you enjoy making these as much as I did. They are great because they are gluten and dairy free. 

They are a project and take some time, but it is fun to make these with kids or as a family project. 

    Tamales ready to steam in my pressure cooker/steamer I rigged up. 


Tamales ready to steam in my pressure cooker/steamer I rigged up. 


Sweet Fruit Tamales: 

Makes about 14 small tamales

Allow about 3+ hours for this cooking project

14 dried corn husks (soaked in hot water for about 2 hours) + extras for lining the steamer (about 5-6)

3/4 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 3/4 cups dry masa harina mix (I used PAN brand which I found at a local Latino market. However, in the future I would use Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina because it is non-gmo) 

1 1/4 cups water (to mix with the masa harina)

1 cup water 

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup each: chopped dried mangoes, raisins, dried cranberries

You can add 1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut to the mangoes if you wish. 

I added 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the raisins after soaking

Boiling water

Steamer kettle or vegetable steamer to steam tamales in batches

1. In a 13x9 pan put the 14 dried cornhusks in. Cover them with hot water (I used water I simmered in a hot pot) and cover them with a couple of plates to weigh them down. Let them sit to hydrate for about 2 hours.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the 1 3/4 cups dry masa harina with the 1 1/4 cups water. Mix well until it is combined. I often use my hands to mix the masa dough. 

3. Make the "honey broth": In a small saucepan place 1 cup water and 1/2 cup honey. Simmer for a few minutes and stir, making sure the mixture is thoroughly combined. Take off the heat and allow to cool. 

4. In a stand mixer beat the coconut oil, salt and baking powder on medium-high speed until light, about 1 minute. Add the masa dough in three additions, beating between each one. Lower the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of the honey broth. Beat in more broth until the mixture is like a soft cake batter (it shouldn't be runny). If there is too much liquid, this may be remedied by adding a small amount of dry masa harina one tablespoon at a time until the mixture thickens up. 

5. Place plastic wrap on top of the mixer bowl after it is mixed. Place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour to ensure a light texture to your tamales. 

6. Meanwhile, place each of the fruits in a separate small bowl, cover them with boiling water and let sit 5-10 minutes. Then, pour off the water. This will ensure that the fruit is plump and moist for the fillings. 

7. Once an hour has passed, take the masa mixture out of the fridge. Beat the mixture in the stand mixture until it is light and fluffy. 

8. Steaming: There are three choices you can make as far as steaming the tamales: 

  • You may steam them in small batches using a collapsible vegetable steamer set in a large, deep saucepan. 
  • You may make a large steamer by placing a round metal rack on top of coffee cups or ramekins inside a large kettle with water on the bottom. 
  • I used a large pressure-cooker with a rack that has holes in it & elevated the rack with 4 small coffee cups. I didn't seal the lid on the pressure cooker, but just used it as a regular steamer. 

Place several extra  corn husks on the steamer rack so that the tamales are protected from the direct steam. Make sure you put plenty of water in the bottom of your steamer before you put in the steamer basket/corn husks.

9. Time to form the tamales! Take a soaked corn husk out of the water and place it on a plate with the narrow end facing you. Place 1/4 cup of the masa mixture on the corn husk. Spread it out with your fingers so that it forms a 4" square. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fruit filling of your choice in the middle of the tamale. Pinch the sides together and roll it closed. You may tie it together with strips of corn husk as I did, or use lengths of string. 

10. Place the tamales in the steamer on top of the corn husks you lined it with. Steam the tamales for 40 minutes to 1 hour. The tamales are done cooking when the husk peels away from the masa easily. 


If this post made you hungry for tamales, then pass it on to a tamale loving friend! Happy tamale making!