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This tamale masa recipe with oil is perfect for making healthy Mexican tamales. The distinct flavor is something to enjoy in each bite. Watch the VIDEO or follow the easy step-by-step pictures.
My little brother is a vegan. My dad happens to be “somewhat” of a vegetarian (like every other day). It’s a lot more often than just Meatless Mondays! Over the years, we have had to adapt several traditional Mexican recipes to fit their dietary needs, or we simply avoid serving them certain foods altogether. However, when it comes to our special holiday traditions, we can’t avoid tamales during Christmas. This tamale masa recipe made with oil is something my mom heard of through her network of friends. Since then, this is what she uses to make her tamales.
Making traditional masa with lard or shortening is easy (as easy as finding an abuela who speaks Spanish). I have to admit.. I actually think this tamale masa recipe with oil is even easier. Mix the dry ingredients first. Then add the wet ingredients. DONE. Seriously, whoever came up with this vegan recipe is an absolute genius!
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All tamale masa recipes start with masa harina. I have always used Maseca. That is the brand that I know and love. My little brother (our healthy conscious family member) has started to fork out for the organic masa harina you get at Whole Foods or you can also get it online. He will make completely organic and completely vegan tamales.
Baking powder is essential for making masa. It will help your tamales get bigger and poofy.
Aluminum-free baking powder is best so it won’t have that yucky metallic taste. You can easily find this at the store for relatively cheap.
Add the dry ingredients to the KitchenAid mixer, a bowl for a hand mixer, or you can also do this by hand.
Then slowly start adding the water. No torrential flooding here – add it little by litter. Remember: Water is vegan. Lol. Alternatively, you can use vegetable broth for some added depth of flavor. If you are not making vegan tamales, you can also use chicken broth.
This tamale masa recipe with oil is an olive oil lovers dream! It’s great for any time of day – even oily in the afternoon. 🙂 The masa will have a strong, very distinct olive oil flavor. You can also use canola oil or grapeseed oil. Some people have used coconut oil.
Note: If you are using coconut oil, you need to melt it slightly before adding to the mixture. That is, stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds. OR, cream the coconut oil with a mixer then add the corn flour. You want to fully incorporate whatever oil you use.
Do you see how creamy the texture is? Like the opposite of crunchy peanut butter. If your masa is not as creamy, add more water. It’s also very yellow in hue because of the olive oil. How easy was it to make this healthy tamale masa?!
Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and the bottom. Remember the tamalero’s motto: “We will leave no masa behind.” Or, “She works hard for the masa… So hard for the masa… She works hard for the masa so you’d better treat her right.” (Cue Donna Summer disco track for dancing in the kitchen).
This tamale masa recipe with oil spreads very evenly. I have even seen it sold premade at Gonzalez Northgate Market here in San Diego. The Mexican population often suffers from several different kinds of chronic health problems (like diabetes and heart disease) that can be helped with healthier diets. It makes me happy to see that we are starting to be more conscious of what we eat and offering more healthful options in authentic Mexican cuisine.
Now that you’ve got your freshly-made masa, gather your already soaked corn husks, fill them up with your favorite filling, steam for the regular time (1 ½ to 2 hours), and enjoy. There’s plenty of time to masa round. Get it? 🙂 I know. It’s kind of corny. (Rim shot). “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll be here all week.” Hope you enjoy!
Watch the Tamale Masa Recipe with Oil video
Tamale Masa Recipe with Oil
- 2 ½ cups corn flour or masa harina
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth or water
- ¾ cup olive oil
- In a mixer, add the corn flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Mix to combine.
- Slowly add the vegetable broth until fully incorporated.
- Slowly add the olive oil.
- Be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
For More Tamale Recipes:
Masa for Tamales
Red Pork Tamales
Tamales de Rajas con Queso, Pickled Jalapeño and Cheese Tamales
Instant Pot Chicken Tamales
Beef Tamales, Tamales de Res
Chicken Salsa Verde Tamales
Northern Style Bean Tamales, or Tamales de Frijol Norteños
Maggies these tamales look delicious. We have a recipe that is very similar to this in Jamaica called Duckunu only we use palm leaves to wrap the mixture.
That’s interesting! Hope you try this recipe!
I have been meaning to make tamales forever now! This will be such a great help when I get there this year. Can’t wait to try it!
I love this recipe. Hope you try it!
I love tamales but have never made them at home. Now I’m craving them and want to make them soon!!
Hope you try this recipe, It’s delicious!
Who knew tamale masa is soooo simple?! It’s tamale time!!! Love your recipes…thanks for sharing 🙂
Easy and delicious! Hope you try it
This looks so delicious and yummy! I can’t wait to make this recipe! So excited!
So good right? We love this one too
Approximately how many tamales will this recipe gives you? Thanks
It’s in the recipe card. It mentions that this recipe is for about 16 tamales.
Josefina Ramón Cháirez
I was skeptical about maki g tamales with oil but I found your recipe and decided to try it(small amount of ingredients-not so much waste if it didn’t turn out). I’m so happy I tried it!!! Made a batch if cheese and rajas using both poblano and pickled jalapeños(for more spice). The tamales were a hit with my extended Hispanic and non-Hispanic family. Thank you for moving making tamales into the healthy column!
Yum! Your tamales sound delicious. Glad you enjoyed this recipe!
Rachel L Miller
I had a pork loin I needed to use and thought that some tomales would do the trick. However I didn’t want to use lard;I wanted something healthier. I found your recipe using olive oil and put it with my go to filler and it was AMAZING! Thanks for sharing it!
Yay! Glad you liked it. I like the way the olive oil tastes too.
Hello! I can’t wait to try this recipe. You mentioned this is for savory tamales. Do you have, or how would you tweak this recipe, to use it for sweet tamales?
Use a neutral oil like vegetable oil or canola. Same amount. I say this tamales masa recipe with oil is for savory because I use olive oil.
Hi! I bought Double-Active baking powder. Is that okay to use?
No. It’s not the same thing. It’ll react different, and you’ll end up with a mess.
I would like to try this recipe, but I do have a question: is the masa beaten for any length of time, or just mixed til it comes together?
Beat the masa for tamales using oil until it comes together. Beat a few minutes more, if you are unsure. You can’t overmix masa. Regular masa uses lard or shortening, and you beat it to make sure everything is full mixed. Here, the oil is poured into the masa and it mixes in easily.
This is an amazing recipe. I put all the ingredients in my food processor at once and it came together like pie crust mixed in the processor does. So easy and so good!
Love it. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂
Thanks for creating this with OIL instead of LARD. Been making them for decades. However instead of Olive Oil (EVOO), try using Avocado Oil. The results will amaze you!
I’m glad to hear you appreciate the use of oil instead of lard in this Tamale Masa recipe. Thanks for the tip about the avocado oil, I’ll have to try it.