Tamales de Legumbres Picadillos

For many, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without tamales!

You’ll love this recipe for Spicy Sautéed Veggie Tamales.

A guajillo chili is the dried form of mirasol chili and is the second-most commonly used dried chili in Mexican cuisine after anchos, the dried form of poblano chilies.


  • About 35 corn husks  
  • 1 ½ lb masa 
  • 2- 3 Tbsp salt 
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder 
  • 2 ½ tsp cumin 
  • ½ cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 ½ – 4 cups water, plus more for prep/cooking 
  • 3 oz dried ancho or guajillo peppers, about 7-10  
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 6 cloves garlic 
  • 2 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 ½ cup zucchini, cut in small dice  
  • 1 ½ cup potato, cut in small dice 
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, cut in small dice 
  • Pepper to taste 
  • Optional: Baking string 


Soak 30-35 corn husks in warm water 15-20 minutes to soften. Rinse each one and remove “hairs.” Set aside. 

Prepare sauce: Cook guajillo/ancho peppers; cover with water in a pot, bring to a boil and let simmer 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit about 20 minutes before blending. Using tongs, pull peppers from cooking liquid, put in blender. Add ¼ cup water (more as needed to blend) and 4 cloves garlic; blend until smooth. 

Prepare filling: Sauté onion in 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil, 5 minutes. Mince 2 cloves garlic and add to onion along with potato, carrots, 1 tsp cumin and oregano; keep cooking. When potato and carrot start to soften, add zucchini. When softened to your liking, add 2 Tbsp guajillo/ancho sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Move to bowl and let cool. 

Prepare masa: Combine masa harina, 2 Tbsp salt, baking powder and 1 ½ tsp cumin in large bowl; using hands or stand mixer, mix until distributed evenly. Add ¼ cup oil, 1 ½ cups water and guajillo/ancho pepper sauce; mix again. Slowly add more water until masa harina has absorbed all oil and mixture feels like wet sand. Dough should stick together, lightly hold shape when pressed together. 

Assembly: Fill small bowl with water to dip fingers in, to keep masa from sticking. Lay soaked corn husk on flat surface, smooth side up. Using spoon or fingers, spread about ¼ cup masa on husk in a rectangle shape large enough to enclose filling. 

Add 1-2 Tbsp filling to center of masa. Fold corn husk in half vertically, carefully so masa wraps around filling. Pinch together masa as needed. Fold corn husk completely over to one side so it’s a burrito/cylinder shape. Fold skinny end down and to the back, enclosing one end of tamale. One end will be exposed. Optional: Shred a few corn husks into long skinny strips to tie tamales together, or use baking string. 

Stovetop steaming: In large stockpot with strainer and lid. Add tamales to strainer; add 2 cups water to base of pot (or just enough water to reach strainer). Cover and steam on medium heat about 30-60 minutes, until masa separates easily from husks. Cooking time will vary depending on how full pot is with tamales. 

Instant Pot steaming: Add 1 cup water, strainer basket and tamales to Instant Pot. Cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, using quick release. Cook more time as needed, until masa separates easily from husks. 

Storing/Freezing: Cooked tamales will keep in fridge about 3 days, in freezer up to 3 months. Store in container/Ziploc bag with minimal air. 

Reheating: Steam about 15 minutes, wrap in foil and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until warmed through, or microwave with a damp paper towel on top for about a minute.