Sweet Pumpkin Tamales

Pumpkin tamales are a delicious fall treat for the season. Packed with hearty flavors and pumpkin spice aromas, those tamales are for sure also a delicious dessert to serve for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Sweet pumpkin tamales served with condensed milk and chopped pecans.

I made those tamales using zucca Italiana (Italian pumpkin) which is very common during fall and winter season here. I love its bright and intense orange color and decisive flavor. But if you don’t care about the color, you can definitely use any winter pumpkin to make the recipe.

Pumpkin tamales are not a traditional Mexican recipe, but they’re still as delicious as you can imagine, filled with autumn flavors and a perfect idea to celebrate Día de Muertos.

Pumpkin spice tamales piled on a plate.

My favorite way for eating those tamales is with atole de elote or with champurrado in the evening, or with a glass of milk in the morning. If you want to serve them as a dessert I suggest drizzling some homemade condensed milk, melted butter, or some delicious cajeta on top, so delicious!

Pumpkin Tamales Ingredients

  • MASA HARINA: You can find this type of flour at any Mexican store and also in Amazon. There are many brands available, the most known is Maseca.
  • PUMPKIN PUREE: We’re making our own puree with fresh pumpkin, feel free to swap it for canned puree.
  • PUMPKIN SPICE: I am using a mix of spices that you can easily replace with store-bought pumpkin spice.
  • BUTTER: Butter gives a nice texture to tamales, if you want a vegan version of this dish swap butter for vegetable oil, corn oil is a good substitute.
  • PECANS: I’m using chopped pecans for this recipe, is an optional ingredient and you can replace it with your favorite nut or leave it out if you want.
  • SUGAR: Brown sugar adds not only a fabulous flavor to sweet pumpkin tamales, but also a nice dark color.
  • BAKING POWDER: This helps tamales to be a little bit more soft and fluffy.
Sweet pumpkin tamales ingredients labeled and displayed on a concrete surface.

The step by step recipe

*If you using fresh pumpkin, start by making the puree, otherwise go to the next step.

BEFORE STARTING: Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes to soften and make them pliable. Remove from water and pat dry thoroughly (read notes).
Also, prepare a Mexican steamer (vaporera) or a large stock pot with a steamer basket. I personally use the last with a folding petal basket.

A collage with corn husks and a steamer.

MAKE THE PUMPKIN PUREE: Place pumpkin in a pot, add the cinnamon stick and anise star. Cover about half inch with water and boil until tender (about x minutes). Set aside and allow to cool down.

Showing the cooked pumpkin with a slotted spoon.

Remove pumpkin from the pot and add it to a food processor or a blender. Blend until pureed and set aside.

Pumpkin pureed in a food processor.

MAKE THE DOUGH: Place masa harina, pumpkin puree, brown sugar and melted butter in a mixer bowl. Add the spices and baking powder.

All ingredients on a bowl.

Mix at low speed for 3 minutes. If you using canned puree you will need to add a little bit of water, start adding a few tablespoons then add more if needed.

Mixing the dough with an electric hand mixer.

You have to achieve a slightly sticky masa dough, but somehow firm that allows you to make a ball.

Showing the masa texture with a spatula.

Add the chopped pecans and using a spatula, mix to combine. You can also add any other extras you want here (read notes).

Mixing in pecans.

MAKE TAMALES: Spread about 1/3 cup of pumpkin tamales dough onto the middle of a corn husk and spread it a bit.

A hand holding a husk with tamales dough spread in the middle.

Fold the husk to close, then fold the pointy edge towards the center.

Folding a pumpkin tamal.

Place the tamal in the steamer standing with the open side up, use some aluminium foil to fill some gaps and help tamales to stand up. Repeat the steps until all dough is used.

A steamer pot filled with pumpkin tamales standing up.

COOK: Cover the pot, and steam the pumpkin tamales for about 1 hour and half, checking occasionally and adding more water when is needed.
To check out if pumpkin spice tamales are ready, take one from the pot and open it in a plate, allow to cool down slightly then taste. If they need more time just return the tamal to the pot and keep cooking until ready.

A cooked pumpkin tamal opened in a plate.

Useful Recipe Notes

  • Don’t worry about the pumpkin puree being too watery, as we need some moisture to make tamales anyway, so boiling is a good option in this recipe.
  • If you using canned pumpkin puree, you’ll need also some liquid to make the masa, so add first about a few tablespoons of water or milk then add more if needed.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have corn husks available, you can also use parchment paper to make those pumpkin spice tamales, just cut some paper into 8×6 inch (20x15cm) rectangles and use those instead corn husks.
  • You can also add some extra ingredients to the dough such as raisins, chopped pineapple or chopped apples.
Sweet pumpkin tamales with overlay text.

How To Store Tamales

Believe it or not, many people wonder how to store tamales. Should they have the husk off? should I leave them? Well, you can do both, but leaving the husks on helps to keep those pumpkin spice tamales moist and prevent them from drying out quickly.

So, place your tamales in an air-tight container or zip locked bags and store in the fridge up to 3 days. Otherwise, wrap them individually with cling film (again, husks on) and freeze for up to 2 months.

Uncooked tamales piled on a concrete surface.

Hot To Reheat Tamales

  • There are various ways to reheat sweet pumpkin tamales, for instance you can just unwrap them and reheat in the microwave.
  • Or you can also melt a little bit of butter in a non-sticking pan and slightly fry tamales.
  • If you want to reheat tamales with the husks on, you can do so in a steamer, which is the best way for reheating, or you can also heat them up in a grill or a griddle pan until the husk have charred marks and pumpkin tamales are heated through.

Watch How To Make It

IF YOU LIKED our sweet pumpkin tamales recipe, please don’t forget to share it and rate it in the comment section below!

Sweet pumpkin tamales recipe.

Sweet Pumpkin Tamales

Packed with hearty flavors and pumpkin spice aromas, those tamales are for sure a delicious treat and dessert to serve for your family and friends.
PREP 30 minutes
COOK 1 hour 30 minutes
TOTAL 2 hours
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 12 tamales
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • ¾ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 12 corn husks (read note 1)

For the pumpkin puree

  • 1 ½ fresh pumpkin (rind removed, cut into chunks. Read note 2)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 anise star

spices

  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ¼ tsp whole cloves powder
  • ½ tsp allspice

Instructions

  • Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes. Remove from water and pat dry thoroughly.

Make pumpkin puree

  • Place pumpkin chunks in a pot and cover with water.
  • Add cinnamon stick and anise star and boil until tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Drain pumpkin and add to a blender or food processor.
  • Process until pureed and set aside.

Make the dough

  • In a mixing bowl add masa harina, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, butter, spices and baking powder.
  • Mix at low speed for 3 minutes (read note 3).
  • Add the chopped pecans and using a spatula, mix to combine (read note 4).

Make tamales

  • Spread about 1/3 cup of pumpkin tamales dough onto the middle of a corn husk and spread it a bit.
  • Fold the husk closing both sides, then fold the pointy edge towards the center.
  • Place the tamal in the steamer standing with the open side up (read note 5). Repeat the steps until all dough is used.

Cook

  • Cover the pot, and steam the tamales for about 1 hour and half, checking occasionally and adding more water when is needed.

NOTES

  1. Or use parchment paper cut into 8×6 inch (20x15cm) rectangles.
  2. You can also use 1 -15 oz can of packed pumpkin puree instead.
  3. If you using canned pumpkin puree, you’ll need also some liquid to make the masa, so add first about a few tablespoons of water or milk then add more if needed.
  4. You can also add some extra ingredients to the dough such as raisins, chopped pineapple or chopped apples.
  5. Use some aluminium foil to fill some gaps and help tamales to stand up.
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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Heavenly recipe! I’ve used parchment paper, there was no way I could find corn husks now – and honestly had no idea they could work like this – and everyone loved it, so fall-like and sweet. It was just as good the next day!