Tamales De Elote (sweet corn tamales)

Soft and fluffy, these tamales de elote (sweet corn tamales) are so easy to make and perfect for breakfast or dessert. Get to know all about this traditional Mexican recipe.

Tamales de elote, aka sweet corn tamales, unwrapped on a plate.

What are Tamales de Elote?

Tamales de elote (corn sweet tamales) are a traditional recipe from the states of Michoacán and Guerrero in Mexico. The dish consists of a tamal prepared with fresh corn, sugar, and sometimes dairy in the form of butter and milk.

The main difference between tamales de elote with other types is the use of fresh corn instead of masa harina.

The taste is sweet, mostly from the corn itself. The texture is very soft and fluffy and, unlike many other types of tamales, this has no filling at all.

It is normally served for breakfast, merienda (snack), or dinner. But in recent years it has become popular as a dessert, served with cajeta or condensed milk on top.

Tamales de elote unwrapped and placed on a place with a glass of milk and fresh corn ears on the background.

Although these tamales originate from the aforementioned states, today they are popular and consumed throughout the country.

Variations

There are many different types of tamales de elote across the country. Besides being prepared a bit different, some of them are also known by different names, those below are the most popular:

  • Michoacán: They are known as Uchepos and are served drizzled with hot salsa, queso fresco, and Mexican crema.
  • Zacatecas: The tamal is stuffed with chile poblano strips, shredded pork, and tomato sauce.
  • Nayarit: The dough is mixed with blended zucchini (calabacitas), butter, and baking powder.
  • Puebla: In the Sierra Norte corn tamales are made by the curanderos (native healers) as an offer to Mother Earth.
  • Guerrero: It includes egg yolks, milk, and sugar; and is used mostly as an accompaniment to eat a traditional dish called chilatequile.
  • Chiapas: Is known by the name of Picte and is traditionally made with pork lard and wrapped in dried corn husks.
  • Oaxaca: There are a few versions of sweet corn tamales in this state. In Juchitán is one of the most traditional breakfasts and is served with cream and cheese. In San Pedro Ixcatlán is made stuffed with pork or chicken seasoned with epazote and dried chilies.
  • Tabasco and Campeche: It can be found sweet with raisins, butter, and cheese. And is also prepared in a salty version with pork meat, ancho chilies, and tomatoes.
  • Veracruz: The corn tamales are stuffed with chile ancho, fried pork, tomatoes, and epazote.
  • Sonora: Made with blended zucchini, requesón cheese, clotted cream, evaporated milk, other types of cheese, and roasted chili peppers. Indigenous people like Mayos and Yaquis make a simpler version with only sweet corn, piloncillo, and pork lard.
Mexican sweet corn tamales on a cutting board and some fresh corn ears on the side.

The Ingredients

Our tamales de elote recipe includes only a few ingredients, all of which are easily available in many countries. Take a look at what you will need:

  • Fresh Corn (elotes): Traditional tamales de elote are made with Mexican white corn, a type that is not too easy to find outside the country. So we recommend using fresh corn available where you live.
  • Flour: You will need corn masa harina (Maseca) and cornmeal to add some texture, please read the notes for more info about it.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter or substitute with vegetable oil like canola, corn, or sunflower.
  • White Sugar: We recommend tasting the tamale dough first and adjusting the sugar to taste, as some type of fresh corn is sweetener than others.
  • Baking soda: For some fluffiness.

How To Make Tamales de Elote

Cut off the two ends of the corn cob. This is to make it easier to remove the husks for wrapping the tamales.

Cutting the end of a fresh corn ear with a knife.

With a sharp knife, remove the kernels. Cut from the base downward with a gentle sawing motion.

Cutting the corn kernels with a knife.

If it is easier for you, do this operation in a large bowl so that the fresh corn kernels won’t spill all over the counter.

Working in batches place the fresh corn in a food processor or blender and grind them lightly. The tamales texture depends on how finely you grind the corn, so pay special attention to this step.

Fresh corn kernels blended to make tamales de elote.


Place the corn into a large bowl. If you notice that the mixture is too runny, place it in a colander and let it drain for a couple of minutes.

Next, beat the butter with the sugar until fluffy and almost white. Make sure the butter is at room temperature and softened, so it will be easier to do this step.

Butter and sugar beaten until fluffy to make sweet corn tamale dough.

Add the butter to the bowl with the fresh corn, and mix in the cornmeal and corn flour until everything is combined.

The dough for tamales de elote.

Put about three tablespoons of the corn mixture in the middle of a husk. Fold the left side of the husk over the right side to form a tube. Last, fold the bottom up to secure the tamal.

Assembling tamales de elote.

Cook and Enjoy

  • Arrange the tamales in the rack of a steaming pot, making sure they are standing up with the open side upwards.
  • Steam for 80-90 minutes or until tamales are done (read below). Make sure to check up the steamer and add more hot water when necessary.

Check if they are fully cooked

Once cooked, the tamales have a very smooth consistency, it almost seems that they’re undercooked.

So the best way for testing if they’re ready is to carefully open one, take a little bit, and put it on a plate.

Let it cool for about 2 minutes then taste it to check out the texture, it should be firm and spongy. And the tamal should separate easily from the husk.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • You can use only one type of flour to make the batter.
  • If you notice the corn batter is too runny, adjust the consistency by adding 2-3 tablespoons of cornmeal or masa harina.
  • If you want an extra flavor and aroma, add to the dough a pinch of cinnamon powder and 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  • If the corn husks are too small, use two or three to wrap each piece.
  • You can also use a strip of husk or kitchen twine to tie and secure the tamales.

How To Serve

Tamales de elote can be served and eaten in different ways, here are a few options:

  • On its own: Warm, preferably paired with a glass of cold milk.
  • Michoacán-style: Drizzled with salsa verde, Mexican crema, and lots of queso fresco on top.
  • With soup: As bread, with your favorite soup on the side, we love this Mexican vegetable soup.
  • With a stew: Try them with chile rojo beef on the side, the combination of lightly sweet, spicy, and salty is truly delicious.
  • As a dessert: Serve them as a dessert or sweet snack drizzled with cajeta or condensed milk.

Storage And Reheating Recommendations

These Mexican corn tamales are can be time-consuming to make, so you might want to make a large batch and store them for later. Here’s how you should store them:

  • FRIDGE: Allow the tamales to cool down, then transfer them (with the husks on) to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • FREEZER: With the husks still on wrap each tamal with cling film and place it in a bag or freezer-proof container. Store for up to 3 months.

REHEAT:

The best way for reheating tamales is with a steamer. If they are frozen, allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight (even if they don’t thaw completely), then place them in your steamer for 10-15 minutes or until you see they are again fluffy and soft. Don’t unwrap them until you’re ready to eat them.

Another way is using the microwave, but you will need to remove the husks. Reheat in 1-minute intervals.

I don’t recommend using the oven for reheating tamales, as they dry out easily. But this is just a personal preference.

Tamales de elote recipe.

Tamales de elote (sweet corn tamales)

author Maricruz
Soft and fluffy, these tamales de elote (sweet corn tamales) are perfect for breakfast or dessert. If you don’t know the sweet version of tamales, this might be the recipe for you.
prep 30 minutes
cook 1 hour 20 minutes
total 1 hour 50 minutes
serving 12

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Mixer
  • Steamer

Ingredients 

  • 2.2 lb corn kernels (about 5 or 6 corn ears)
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup masa harina (Maseca or any other brand)
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Cut off the two ends of each corn ear.
  • With a sharp knife, remove the kernels. Cut from the base downward with a gentle sawing motion.
  • Working in batches place the corn kernels in a food processor or blender and grind them until you will have a paste.
  • Place the corn into a large bowl. If you notice that the mixture is too runny, place it in a colander and let it drain for a couple of minutes.
  • Using an electric or manual mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until nicely fluffy.
  • Add the butter, masa harina, and cornmeal to the bowl with the fresh corn.
  • Mix until everything is well combined.
  • Put about three tablespoons of the corn mixture in the middle of a husk.
  • Fold the left side of the husk over the right side to form a tube. Last, fold the bottom up to secure the tamal.
  • Arrange the tamales in the rack of a steaming pot, making sure they are standing up with the open side upwards.
  • Steam for 80-90 minutes or until tamales are done. Make sure to check up the steamer and add more hot water when necessary.

Notes

  • You can add both flours or only one type, whatever you decide just make sure the dough is not too liquid, so, if necessary add a little bit more flour.
  • Once cooked, the tamales have a very smooth consistency, it almost seems that they’re undercooked. 
  • The best way for testing if they’re ready is to open one (carefully, they can be very hot), take a little bit with a fork and place it on a plate, then let it cool for a couple of minutes. If the tamal has a firm, yet spongy texture, it is done. 
Nutrition Information
Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 484mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 386IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
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FAQ

What are sweet corn tamales made of?

Fresh corn kernels, sugar, butter, and sometimes milk. Some recipes might include cinnamon powder and vanilla extract for extra flavor.

Are you supposed to eat corn husk on tamales?

No. You should always remove the husks on tamales before eating them.

Do you eat tamales with sauce?

Yes. You can drizzle tamales with some salsa verde or tomatillo red salsa.

Are sweet corn tamales vegan?

No. Our recipe includes butter which is not a vegan product. If you want to make them vegan-friendly you can sub butter with coconut oil, canola oil, or corn oil.

Can I use canned corn instead of fresh corn?

You can, but take in mind the consistency and flavor will change. I suggest you try at least once using fresh corn and compare the difference.

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Recipe Rating




17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I always wanted to make tamales by myself, and I recently purchased a steamer, so I was very happy to try this recipe! They turned out so good. Perfectly sweet and fluffy, and even my husband who normally doesn’t care for tamales enjoyed them. Thank you for the great recipe, and I’m going to make again soon.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you so much, the recipe is very straight forward and I could finally make tamales de elote with the ingredients I can find here in Poland. They were soft and very tasty, we ate them for dessert with caramel drizzle over.

  3. No había comido tamales de elote en muchos años, pero después de haber visto esta receta me animé a hacerlos yo mismo. Resultaron absolutamente deliciosos, afortunadamente aquí en Illinois donde yo vivo el elote es super dulce, un poquito de exceso de líquido pero los pude dejar escurrir un rato y el resultado fue espectacular. Después de haber colectivo varios miles de huitlacoche un buen tamalito de elote como postre me hizo sentir como en mi bello país México,
    Muchas gracias Maricruz de ahora en adelante seguire tus recetas
    Salvador Islas

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.

    1. Hi Martha, yes, you can use frozen corn but you need to thaw it before blending it. If you give it a try please let us know how they came. :)

  5. You say this tamale consists of fresh corn milk and butter but i dont see milk in the recipe card. Is milk used in this recipe?

    1. Hi Janie, I meant the traditional recipe is usually made with those ingredients. Our recipe doesn’t use milk.

  6. 5 stars
    Your recipe has been my favorite ever since you posted it in Spanish many years ago! I love how you take the time to explain how to substitute ingredients that aren’t easily available in other countries. Thank you so much for sharing this tamales de elote recipe, can’t wait to send the link to all my friends here in Germany so they know why I love so much those corn tamales, and why not? maybe they will also make them!