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10 Irresistible Tamale Recipes You’ll Crave

If you’re a Mexican cooking enthusiast, you already know that tamales are their very own special sort of recipe. The steps of assembling and wrapping tamales almost necessitate a large extended family to help bring the meal together. But don’t let that scare you off! The steps are actually quite simple, making it easy for first timers to pull off. And these creative tamale recipes allow you to give your tamale-making party it’s own unique flavor. Better still: We’ve also got weeknight tamale-inspired meals that you can prep all by yourself in next to no time.

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10 Delicious Tamale Recipes You’ll Devour

1. Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls

Love the idea of tamales, but hate the hassle of packing each individual corn husk? Tamales served burrito bowl-style allows each family member to customize their own bowl with toppings like guacamole, tomatoes, cheese and more. We love Tieghan Gerard’s idea to go vegetarian by swapping the meat for beans or lentils. Photo and recipe: Tieghan Gerard / Half Baked Harvest

2. Carnitas Tamale Pie

The beauty of this casserole-style recipe is it’s easier prepare, but you’ll still get the same tasty crunch in the cornmeal crust. Pinch of Yum’s carnitas tamale pie uses leftover slow-cooker carnitas with enchilada sauce, green chiles, creamed corn and cheese. Thanks to a host of canned ingredients, prep time for this meal is just 10 minutes. Photo and recipe: Lindsay Ostrom / Pinch of Yum 

3. Pulled Pork Tamales

Got pulled pork from another recipe? Remix your leftovers with this tamale recipe. To prepare the tamale wrappers, you’ll need masa harina, which is a traditional Mexican flour that you can buy at any grocery store. Before you start assembling the fillings, soak the corn husks in hot water for at least 30 minutes to get them brown and crisp on the grill. Photo and recipe: Janette Fuschi / Culinary Ginger

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4. Vegetarian Nuevo León Style Tamales

If you’re looking for a lighter and more nutritious recipe in place of the usual meat-filled tamale, this vegetarian alternative is just the ticket. Fiber-rich portobello mushrooms, green olives and raisins make a meaty and satisfying filling that’s rich in flavor. Prepare in advance for a delicious on-the-go lunch that you can easily reheat. Photo and recipe: Michael Natkin / Herbivoracious

5. Tex Mex BBQ Chicken Tamale Pie

Your traditional Mexican tamale gets a southwestern twist with barbecue sauce and Monterrey jack cheese. Instead of guacamole, this recipe calls for a barbecue jalapeno salsa made with scallions, red onions and fresh cilantro to offset the heat. Photo and recipe: Anetta / The Wanderlust Kitchen

6. Easy Tamale Taco Soup

The secret ingredient in this taco soup recipe is canned tamales — yes, canned. They’re surprisingly low-calorie and free of terrifying additives. Mix together a can of black beans with corn, a can of tomatoes with green chilies, tomato paste and chicken broth. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro for satisfying flavor. Meal prep tip: Prepare a big batch so you can cook once and eat twice. Photo and recipe: Pamela Reed / Brooklyn Farm Girl

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7. Vegan Tamales Recipe

Take your Meatless Monday one step further with a fully vegan recipe for tamales. This recipe uses mushrooms, sweet potatoes and black beans for a hearty protein-packed filling. (Nope, you won’t even miss the meat!) Meanwhile, pickled jalapenos, green chiles, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper infuse the wraps with taste-tempting spices. Photo and recipe: Lauren Cosgrave / The Salty Tomato

8. Chipotle Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Black Bean Tamales

Vegetarian tamales get a hit of smoky-sweet flavor thanks to adobo sauce. Spinach adds an extra nutritional boost with vitamins A, C, E and K, while sweet potato offers a hearty dose of beta carotene. Instead of using butter or shortening as seen in traditional tamale recipes, coconut oil keeps the masa harina dough moist. Photo and recipe: Erin Alderson / Naturally Ella

9. Dessert Tamale Recipe

Dessert. Tamales. Need we say more? We love the idea of hosting a tamalada featuring a pick-your-own filling dessert bar! With options like brown sugar rum raisin, guava and goat cheese, and caramel and sea salt, your tamale-making party is a guaranteed success. Play around with food combos, like strawberry and dark chocolate, or almond butter and caramelized bananas. Photo and recipe: Katie DeNero / Butterlust

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10. Roasted Pineapple Tamales with Riesling-Poached Raisins

They say you eat with your eyes first. Even before seeing these little beauties, you’ll be drooling from the name alone. When the first step is to insert vanilla beans into a pineapple and then roast it in juice, how can the outcome not be pure heaven? Photo and recipe: Brandon Matzek / Kitchen Konfidence

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