Instant Pot Black Bean and Corn Tamales – – Instantly Delicious

This recipe is not my own.  Full credit goes to my 11-year-old son. He has a sudden interest in cooking and has been watching old reruns of Good Eats on Netflix. My son is the sole vegetarian in our house, and sometimes I buy him special vegetarian treats. I recently bought him frozen corn and poblano tamales, and while he liked them enough, he asked if we could try making them better.  I told him yes, thinking (hoping) he would just forget about it. A week later he asked me to buy corn husks and masa.  I said sure, and threw them in a cabinet – out of sight.  The next day he came to the kitchen with a recipe written on graph paper and his kindle with Alton Brown’s tamale episode ready to show me. I knew he would not relent.
I LOVE tamales, but I always thought they were way to0 complicated to make myself.  My son clearly is unhindered by things like complicated recipes.  He was ready and ready NOW. So last night, with very little help from me, he made these AMAZING tamales.  They are vegan and gluten-free. They have a little bit of spice, but even my toddler liked them. I cooked these in the Instant Pot®, using the manual, high-pressure setting.  They were perfect after 20 minutes of cooking. I tied three tamales together with kitchen twine, like Alton Brown demonstrates.  This made them easier to stand upright on the steamer basket in the Instant Pot®. I am looking forward to making them again (maybe with pork for the carnivorous members of my family).
Instant Pot Black Bean and Corn Tamales
Makes about 15-18 

18 corn husks

1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups prepared black beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups water

3 1/2 cups masa harina
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening
2-4 cups  reserved cooking liquid (we used 3)


1. About 2 hours before you want to start preparing the tamales, place the husks in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water. Weigh them down with a heavy bowl or pot lid, so they are submerged.  Set aside.

2. Add the oil to a saute pan and heat over medium, until shimmering.  Add the diced onion and jalapeno pepper and saute until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic, and stir for another minute.  Add the seasoning, corn, black beans, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Strain the beans and corn and allow the cooking liquid to cool.

3 Prepare the dough by mixing the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the shortening and mix with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Start by adding two cups of the reserved cooking liquid. Mix thoroughly. If still dry, add more liquid, 1/2 cup at a time.  The finished dough should have the consistency of mashed potatoes.

4. WATCH ALTON BROWN’S VIDEO FOR THE BEST VISUAL INSTRUCTIONS – then read my instructions. Set up your assembly area.  Drain the husks. Start with the wider side of the husk facing away from you.  Add two tablespoons of dough about 1/2 inch from the top of the husk.  Pat down into a rectangular shape.  Add about 2 teaspoons of the corn and bean filling.  Bring the two sides of the tamale together and then tri-fold the wrap around the tamale.  Fold the bottom of the husk toward the top, and set aside until you have 3 prepared.  These can then be tied seam side together.

5. Add 1 1/2 cups water to the Instant Pot®. Add a steamer basket to the bottom and add the prepared tamales vertically, with the open end toward at the top.  Set the pot to manual – high pressure for 20 minutes.  Make sure the valve is in the sealing position.  When finished, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, before doing a quick pressure release.  Serve immediately, or wrap tightly and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. These also freeze very well for up to 3 months.

2/13/2017 01:39:37 pm

All I can say is YUM


2/13/2017 02:21:36 pm

So glad you liked them Taylor! 🙂


Jane Bunnell
2/14/2017 08:54:28 am

Maybe masterchef junior is in his future!!!


Sister Kyoya
3/13/2017 08:05:17 pm

Could you thank your son for me? These look wonderful and I found them when looking for Instant Pot tamales on Pinterest. I have been vegetarian for over a decade and within the last few months I have developed multiple severe food allergies (dairy, wheat, gluten that includes things like barley and oats, bakers/brewers/nutritional yeast, and even commercially made citric acid.) It truly has been a crash course in learning how to eat again. I could probably count on both hands the number of commercially prepared foods I can still eat without getting sick. I don’t want to ramble on, but I wanted to let your son know how pleased I am that he made a recipe I can actually eat. My husband loves tamales so it is really a relief to have a recipe to follow that won’t take tons of experimentation to see if it will even work. The only thing I’d change is replacing the jalapeno with bell peppers because I am not fond of the flavor. LOL! Planning to try this out in the next week or so! 😀


3/14/2017 11:24:30 am

I just did, because he is home sick. This made him smile. I’d like to recommend checking out my friend’s blog. Lots of food allergy friendly recipes. Sorry this has happened to you. I hope you find many new and delicious recipes to try, despite the limitations.


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