Homemade Cheese Tamales with Roasted Tomatoes, Zucchini and Green Onions

The one thing I have always wanted to make- Tamales! Growing up my father would always bring home these huge tin cans full of plump, juicy, delicious tamales that a local woman use to make out of her house. To this day the word tamales brings a smile to my face watching my dad get plum giddy over his beloved treats. Remember my post about the oatmeal pies? Not only did my brother eat all my snacks but guess how many tamales the boy could scarf down in a single sitting? Try a whole tin (roughly 10-12). Yep, you know how many I would eat? Try 2-3!

I know what question you are asking yourself ( I am a mind reader after all) “Jessica, how did you have time for this? Where were the kids during all this time?” You see, tamales are extremely easy to make its just the assembly that is time consuming. It requires time and patience, both of which I don’t usually have! This particular day the moon and sun aligned and while my oldest was at mommy’s day out my newborn was sleeping peacefully (this is highly unusual) and I had tamales on my mind. What do you do when you have tamales on your mind? You certainly don’t go buy tamales- you make them yourself!

I have never done tamales before and as such I didn’t really have a single recipe to go by. I scoured the internet looking for the perfect concoction of cheesy, spicy and key word- EASY! To my dismay I couldn’t really find the ONE! So I did what I always like to do and I just combined different ingredients and steps from a variety of recipes to give you an incredible vegetarian tamale full of vibrant flavors with hints of spice like paprika and cumin and savory flavors found in the roasted veggies: tomatoes, zucchini, green onions.

If I have said this once I have said it a million times- If I, Kitchen Belleicious, mother to two adorable yet demanding little boys, can make homemade tamales than anyone can. I made the tamales throughout the day because the great thing about this recipe is your best friend is the refrigerator. The longer the masa dough sits the better, the longer the filling sits the better, the longer the uncooked tamale sits the better- do you see where I going with this. You can do the tamale recipe in bits and pieces in your own time and yet remain sane!

The recipe below is my own based on a combination of methods from the following sites: Tasty Kitchen, Saffron Lane, DeliciousDays.

Homemade Cheese Tamales with Roasted Tomatoes, Zucchini and Green Onions
  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 1 cups water ( must be cool )
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup shortening ( I used the stick version )
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½-1 tsp chili powder (depending on how much heat you want)
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cup shredded mexican cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • half of a package of corn husks
  • Filling:
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled and finely diced/chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  1. In a large pot, fill ¾ full with water and bring to a gentle boil. Add husks to water, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes or until softened and pliable. Rinse husks one at a time under cold running water. Pile husks on a plate and cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel while you make the dough.
  2. In a large bowl combine the masa, baking powder and salt. Roughly stir in the shortening, cilantro and spices until just combined. Slowly add in the vegetable broth ½ cup at a time until the dough begins to come together. Add in the cheeses and continue stirring until you have a smooth spreadable consistency- like you would with peanut butter.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Meanwhile, saute your garlic, tomatoes, zucchini and onions in 2 TBSP of butter until slightly tender- approximately 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool COMPLETELY!
  4. Now its time to assemble: Place 2 husks on a work surface, pointed end at the top. Spread them flat and spoon approximately ¼ cup of the dough into the center of each, leaving about a 1 – 1½ inch border on both sides. Now place a spoonful of the filling in the middle. Fold the wide end of each husk over the filling/dough to cover, then fold in the sides. Fold pointed end of each husk over to form a packet, trimming the end with kitchen shears, if necessary. Arrange, folded side down and set aside. Continue with the remaining husks using the same method.
  5. Arrange tamales in two pots on steamer racks/baskets with enough water to simmer (just below each basket). Stand the tamales up — like fallen dominos — ensuring the folded edge remains closed. Steam, covered lightly, until firm — about one hour.
  6. After 50 minutes, remove one tamale to check for doneness. If the filling is firm and separates easily from the husk, they are done. If not, place back in steamer for another 5-10 minutes.



  1. Val

    I’m very sad that I have never attempted to make my favorite mexican meal….Now, I have no excuses. LOOK AT THIS RECIPE. YUM YUM YUM

    1. kbelleicious

      Thanks friend!

  2. ATasteOfMadness

    I have never seen anything like this before! Definitely on my to-do list!!

  3. Kelli H

    How crazy they husband and I were talking about this woman who used to make them and had a stand in the park you could get a dozen for 2.50 and those were amazing. We dont know what haooened to her but she is there no more so our nect best thing is when we eat at Doe’s. I cant wait to try these. You are so creative and awesome I truly dont know what I would do without you girl. Glad the little one is sleeping better wonderful news!

  4. Salinda

    I love tamales! But…I’m not making my own! Being from Zwolle (home of the Tamale Fiesta) I get mind from some of our local ladies!

    1. kbelleicious

      Oh salinda! I bet you could make darn good tamales! !

  5. Erica

    I’ve never even tried one! And they look so darn delicious

  6. Torrie @ a place to share...

    it’s so funny… i’ve been craving tamales!! (and tacos, for that matter :)). we made them two years in a row (i had never made them prior to that) during christmas, a few years back. we were trying to start a new tradition. but, the last year we did it- we bought SO many supplies, and cooked soooooooooooo many, it was a bit overwhelming… and i think the tamales didn’t taste as good as the first year, in result. i’ve been wanting to make them again- on a much, much smaller scale, like you did- but since i’ve never actually made them on my own- i’ve been a little afraid. your post makes me realize that i can do it! 🙂

  7. Charles

    I’ve been seeing these recently – I’m not familiar at all with them… they’re not common at all in Europe but they look delightful and so much fun to make and eat. Thanks for the lovely post and sharing this.

    I wonder – can one make the corn husks yourself?

    1. kbelleicious

      Great question! You could dry the husks yourself from fresh corn or you could use banana leaves if you would rather.

  8. Tessa

    These look amazing! Love tamales! I have always wanted to make these at home too, but alas, I do not have a steamer. 🙁

  9. Reem | Simply Reem

    You know today I went to wholefoods n saw tamales there, I was so tempted to buy them but decided that i”ll make my own and now here I am in front of my lappy seeing this beauties…
    Thanks my dear, you gave me just the recipe I wanted…
    These look wonderful!!!

  10. Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef

    I’ve never seen corn husks here. Can you dry normal ones and then use those? I have no clue. It’s been ages since I had a tamale but these look great! I do have the masa 🙂

    1. kbelleicious

      You certainly could dry normal ones- it’s a process though. Or you could use banana leaves?

  11. Lisa

    Beautiful presentation with using the dried corn husks! I too have never attempted to make this. This will be on my to do list, come to think of it cinco de mayo is next week!

    1. kbelleicious

      Man! I forgot about cinco de mayo! I should have waited to post this on that day! Oh well! Can u tell my brain us tired! Lol!

  12. foodonfifth.com, Teresa

    Wow and double Wow! These look so fabulous. I have never, ever made homemade tamales. I always get them in restaurants but have never thought of making them. Your story and recipe are making me reconsider. Thanks.

  13. Kristy

    Holy cow! You go woman! I have never thought to even attempt a homemade tamale. They always seem so intimidating to me. My hats off to you. These look out of this world good and expertly crafted. 🙂 Glad the moon and sun aligned for you so we could all share this wonderful treat.

  14. Donna @ The Slow Roasted Italian

    Oh Jessica!!! These are beautiful. Perfectly wrapped packages, with an amazing treat inside. I love love love tamales and am going to buy the ingredients for when I have time to play with them. Veggie tamales would never fly in this house, but a great meat and cheese one… Mmmmm. Have a fabulous weekend!

    1. kbelleicious

      Donna. I barely pulled the veggie ones off too! Hubs would rather meat but I suckered him into it! Lol! Thanks for sweet comments!

  15. Shellie

    Your mother is seriously impressed…

  16. daphne

    i have to be honest- I have not seen this before BUT it looks sooo good and delicious! glad u tried it so now I know what it is!

  17. Mary

    SO clever – and delicious – healthy – I’m duly impressed – YUM
    Mary x

  18. sportsglutton

    I’ve never gone down that homemade tamales route myself, but this is a pleasant reminder to get my —– in gear and do it. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration Jessica.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  19. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Again I’m impressed! I know we all wonder how on earth can you do all that. Even you explained I’m like wow..you did it, Jessica! I have older kids yet have hard time finding making recipes needing a little extra step. Great job!! Looks fantastic.

    1. kbelleicious

      Always love hearing what you think! I bet a Chinese twist on these with certain spices would be amazing! Don’t you?

  20. Liz

    Oh, my gosh, these look perfectly done!!! And I would have taken a nap if I ever had a couple hours of quiet…you are amazing!!! Have a wonderful weekend, Jessica~

  21. Sandie

    Hey Jessica- love the tamales! good ones are nearly impossible to find
    On another note- are you still having spamming issues?? I got a comment from you and when I hit your name a different site than this comes up. Just letting you know….

    1. kbelleicious

      They are hard to find! Yep- my blog got hacked somehow and I am having to use my other login info in order to comment on blogs. Trying to get it worked out. The blog it sends you to us actually one I made for the women in the Sunday school class:)

  22. Bree

    I am impressed. I have never attempted tamales before, but it looks like you did an amazing job-Delicioso!

  23. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking

    Oh now I am really impressed!! I agree these look so wonderful. Really you always come up with the most amazing recipes.

  24. lena

    never heard of tamales! I think they look pretty cute wrapped this way! yeah, you are a mind reader..sometimes i do wonder where do you find the time the make all these with your 2 little boys around..and they look good to me! reminds me of those chinese pillow dumplings wrapped with glutinous rice that use lotus leafs instead, look very similar to how you wrap these!

    1. kbelleicious

      Oh I am thinking those Chinese pillow dumplings your referring to sound amazing! Hey let’s swap! I’ll make these for you if you make those for me? Deal! Lol!

  25. vianney

    So happy to for, YAY!! nothing beats homemade tamales..

  26. Veronica's Kitchen

    I’ve never heard of tamales, thanks for introducing this special food to me!

  27. Joanne

    yay! I’m so excited to see this! I love tamales but have never actually attempted them myself. You’ve made it sound so…doable. And delicious. Love!

    1. kbelleicious

      That was the plan! I wanted to see if they really are doable to someone who doesn’t have a ton of time on her hands! they were! Goal accomplished. I know you could make a fantastic version with all your creativity!

  28. yummychunklet

    These look great! They might rival the ones made by my secretary, who is Mexican.

    1. kbelleicious

      Oh thanks! I wouldn’t let her know that! Lol!

  29. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen

    Love tamales, but have never attempted them myself. Amazing.You’ve made them look easy even for a blonde like me (smile).

  30. Marina@Picnic at Marina

    What a great meal! It looks absolutely delicious! I was learning from someone how to make tamales today and for the first time actually tasted the real tamales.

  31. Jo-Lyn

    I have never mad tamales before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten tamales before….I may have to remedy this….

  32. Jo-Lyn

    I have never made tamales before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten tamales before….I may have to remedy this….

  33. Angie@Angiesrecipes

    I have never made tamales…and am totally impressed with those cheesy veggie tamales. Well done!

  34. Malli

    I’ve never tried veggie tamales– sounds absolutely delicious!! You have a gorgeous way of turning all these veggies into such a brilliant creation. I’ve made chicken filled tamales for my girls but now it’s time to make these veggie ones:)

  35. The Weekly Dish 04/29/2012 | Pippi's in the Kitchen Again

    […] Cheese Tamales with Roasted Tomatoes, Zucchini and Green Onions from belleicious […]

  36. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    I’ve never tried making tamales myself, I might have to give it a try now, you make it look easy!

  37. kitchenriffs

    These look terrific! I’ve never made tamales before, either. Yes I know they’re “easy,” but somehow they seem intimidating. Weird, because I’m not easily intimidated in the kitchen. Gotta do these sometime. I really like your filling – lighter and healthier than many traditional fillings. Good recipe – thanks.

  38. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

    These cheese tamales look amazing! You did a great job on them. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Sara@domesticallychallenged

    What if I admitted to never have even tried a tamale!?!

  40. Marina {YummyMummyKitchen.com}

    mmmmmm… this post makes me hungry! I’ve never made tamales. I’m so happy to have this gorgeous recipe!

  41. balvinder ( Neetu)

    I have never made tamales but I have used masa harina flour for something else and I do eat them when I go to a Mexican restaurant. Thanks for sharing a gluten free recipe.

  42. Baker Street

    I haven’t eaten tamales in ages!! Your post just reminded me how much I love them!

    Actually I’m going to give your recipe a try since I’ve never made them myself.

  43. Alli

    Seriously! I have always wanted to make tamales. I love them. I need the stars to align at my house so, I can try these. Yum!

  44. Jessica @ Cajunlicious

    Love these Jessica! My husband and I were on a tamale kick not to long ago and these would have been so light and delicious!

  45. Greg

    Wow, those look awesome. I had to share on Facebook!

  46. Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}

    the only tamales I have had were in Mexico couple of years ago. there was nothing spectacular about them so I never tried to make them at home or eat elsewhere. somehow, now i’m craving one of your cheesy tamales.

    1. kbelleicious

      That surprises me! I would bet ones in Mexico are great! However these are so amazing they would win you over for tamales in an instant!

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