Tamales de elote (corn sweet tamales) are a traditional recipe from Mexico. A fluffy, buttery, and sweet tamal made with fresh corn and perfect to serve as breakfast or dessert.

You know that we Mexicans love tamales, they’re an essential meal for any occasion. Some classics like pork tamales or chicken tamales verdes are a big deal and making them is often a whole family affair!

Tamales de elote are sweet, buttery, and moist. They don’t contain any filling and are usually wrapped in fresh corn leaves which gives them a delicious and particular taste.

My abuela Elvira was from Michoacán where those tamales are known as Uchepos. Her tamales have been a staple in my family for generations and I grew up helping her to make them and enjoying them often for breakfast.

So I am happy to share with you this tamales de elote recipe with lots of useful tips to help you achieve the perfect sweet corn tamales ever!

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

Ingredients

  • Elotes (fresh corn on the cob): Traditional tamales de elote are made with Mexican white corn, but a good substitute is yellow sweet corn which is easier to find outside Mexico.
  • Flour: You will need corn masa harina (Maseca) and cornmeal to add some texture.
  • Butter: At my home, we always use butter or lard for making those tamales. However, this can be substituted with vegetable oil or shortening.
  • Sugar: A bit of granulated sugar is added to enhance the sweetness of the corn.
  • Baking soda: For some fluffiness.

How To Make Tamales de Elote

Step 1. Cut the corn

Start by cutting off the two ends of each corn cob. This is to make it easier to remove the husks for wrapping the tamales.

Remove the fresh husks and silk strands. Wash the leaves, pat dry them, and set aside.

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.

Step 2. Make the sweet corn dough

Working in batches, put the corn kernels in a food processor or blender and grind them.

How finely you grind the corn will affect the texture of the tamales, I don’t puree it until it’s completely smooth; I prefer a rustic texture to make them fluffier after they’re cooked!

Fresh corn kernels blended to make tamales de elote.


Place the blended corn into a large bowl. If you notice that the mixture is too runny, place it in a colander and let it drain for 10 minutes before proceeding to the next step.

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 blended fresh corn, and mix in the cornmeal and corn flour until everything is combined.

The dough for tamales de elote.

Step 3. Assemble

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.

Step 4. Steam

Arrange the tamales in the rack of a steaming pot, making sure they are standing up with the open side upwards.

Steam for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until tamales de elote are done. Make sure to check the steamer and add more hot water when necessary.

Mexican sweet corn tamales on a cutting board and some fresh corn ears on the side.

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

So the best way to test 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

  • To prevent the corn kernels from spilling out all over your counter when you cut them, place a small bowl inside a large bowl and cut the corn as you normally do on a cutting board. The large bowl will catch up all those little kernels!
  • If you notice the dough 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 dried husks as wrappers, just make sure to soak them in hot water to make them pliable.

Recipe Variations

In Mexico, there are lots of variations of tamales de elote. Some are made differently, and they also go by different names.

In Michoacán, they are known as Uchepos, while in Chiapas they are called picte.

In some states like Zacatecas, they also include a filling made with chile poblano, pork, and tomato sauce.

They can include also other ingredients to make the dough, such as piloncillo, pork lard, zucchini, epazote, and chile ancho.

How To Serve

In Mexico, we love tamales for breakfast and these tamales de elote are perfect to eat with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee in the morning.

My abuela Elvira, loved to serve them freshly made with lots of butter, or drizzled with crema and crumbled queso fresco on top. The combination of sweet and salty is truly delicious!

Since they’re sweet, those corn tamales are perfect as a dessert too, try them drizzled with cajeta or condensed milk.

Store & Reheat

Tamales de elote can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. Once cooled completely, transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate.

For freezing, individually wrap each tamal with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. They can stay frozen for 2-3 months.

Reheat

The best way to reheat tamales is with a steamer. If they are frozen, allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight, then place them in your steamer for 10-15 minutes or until you see they are again fluffy and soft.

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

More Tamales Recipes

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Tamales de elote recipe.

Tamales de elote (sweet corn tamales)

12 tamales
Those tamales are made with fresh corn, butter, and sugar. Soft and fluffy, the sweet corn tamales are perfect to enjoy as breakfast or dessert.
prep 30 minutes
cook 1 hour 20 minutes
total 1 hour 50 minutes

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Mixer
  • Steamer

Ingredients 

  • 2.2 pounds 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 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon 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.
  • Mix the butter with the sugar until fluffy and white.
  • 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 1 hour and 30 minutes or until tamales are done. Make sure to check the steamer and add more 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 to test 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
Serving: 1 corn tamal | 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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23 Comments

  1. Maravillosa y deliciosa receta!!! Una pregunta, en lugar de CORNMEAL, puedo usar POLENTA? O es demasiado gruesa la textura…?

  2. This is probably a dumb question, But could these be eaten for dinner as well? Not just breakfast or a snack.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    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. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.