Sweet Corn Tamales

Tamales de Elote
Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 14medium-sized tamales


  • 2 large ears fresh sweet corn in their husks
  • 1pound (about 2 cups)fresh masa for tamales, OR about 1 3/4 cups masa harina for tamales mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water, then allowed to cool
  • 1stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch bits and slightly softened
  • 2tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1poblano chile, roasted, peeled and sliced
  • 6ounces melting cheese like Chihuahua, Monterey Jack or mild cheddar, cut into 3-inch sticks.


  1. The corn and husks. With a large knife, cut through the ears of corn just above where the cob joins the stalk. Carefully remove the husks without tearing, wrap in plastic and set aside. Pull of the corn silk and discard. Slice off the corn kernels and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process the corn to a medium-coarse puree.
  2. The dough. Add the fresh or substitute masa to the corn, along with the butter, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pulse the processor several times, then let it run for 1 minute, until the mixture is light and homogeneous.
  3. Form and steam the tamales. Set up a small steamer and line it with the smallest husks. Then use the batter to form 12 tamales (it will take about 3 tablespoons batter) filled with several strips of poblano chile and a stick of cheese and wrapped in the largest of the fresh husks (or use 2 overlapping husks if small). Set the tamales in the husk-lined steamer, top with additional husks, cover and steam for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the tamales come free from the husks.

For details on forming and steaming tamales, see recipe for Basic Tamales.


  1. my husband is latino and i am filipino,german,and english. i bought one of yor cook books. my husband loves every recipe i cooked from it. he says it taste like his moms food she use to cook for him.

  2. Hi, use coconut oil instead butter, corn+coconut better than peas+carrots. Movie theaters secret to strong popcorn aroma, pop in coconut oil. Now I fry corn chips in coconut oil, bake taquitos in it, even rub it all over my corny self. Enjoy! El Coco Loco aka El Queso Fresco

    1. We never tested with creamed corn from a can, so I would not have quantities to give you, but go for it! Give it a try!

      1. Really, Katy? Creamed corn would be a disaster! If you can’t get fresh, get fresh frozen; smaller kernels are naturally sweeter.

  3. I cant wait to make them….I had these homemade in Mexico with my husband’s family and couldn’t get enough….I want to know if they can be frozen from freshly made?

      1. Hey, thanx for the reply. I made them for the 1st time and husband loved them. Finishing off the ingredients tonight…yum!!! We eat them so fast, there isn’t even anytime to freeze them : – D

  4. I am trying sweet corn tamales today. I always trust your recipes. I will follow up with the results.

  5. Update: the recipe worked perfect. Fresh corn makes all the difference in the world. Just don’t stuff them with cheese. I trialed a few with roasted red pepper and string cheese (for lack of a white cheese substitute) and it was an epic fail.

  6. I just made these. I doubled the recipe and steamed them for 1 hour. They came out perfect, except to cut corners, instead of using a good melting cheese and strips of roasted poblano, I filled them with jalapeno Jack cheese, which I don’t recommend, as the cheese became rubbery and pretty much flavorless. They were still delicious though, to the point of being addictive (I ate 5 in 1 sitting)! The fresh sweet corn in the masa accounts for an indescribable texture that really makes these tamales stand out.

  7. I used the corn cobs to make a stock and then made a sauce starting with a roux and added cream cheese, sour cream, roasted hatch chiles, and the corn stock to make a nice smooth sauce to go over the tamales.

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