Sweet Potato-Quinoa-Pecan Tamales!

Aye aye ayeeeeeee! These were to die for! Courtney and I are just lounging on the couch right now with huge smiles. Success. Yussss.

Hubba hubba

Recipe: Serves 1, makes 4 tamales

I highly recommend multiplying the recipe and freezing leftovers!

The day before (recommended)…

Bake 1 sweet potato at 400 for 75 minutes, until it is so cooked that it begins to caramelize and seep out the sides.

Boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes, until the water has evaporated off.

The day of

Soak 7 corn husks in warm water for atleast 90 minutes. 2 hours or more would be ideal. Make sure they are submerged!

Saute 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions until caramelized. Push the onions to the side and add 1 tsp butter. Add in 1/2 cup cooked quinoa. Stir in a pinch of pumpkin pie spice, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. Let the flavors meld for a few minutes.

In a bowl, measure out 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato. Add in the quinoa-onion mixture and 1/2 tsp butter. Crumble 7 large roasted  pecans into the bowl. Add as much additional pumpkin pie spice, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt as you wish. Stir. Add a little dash of pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Divide the tamale dough among four corn husks and wrap it up so it is completely covered.

Find a deep dish that is oven safe. Add 1-2 tbsp water, depending on the size of the container. Use three corn husks (or more if needed) to make a blanket over the water in the dish. Place the tamales on top of the husk blanket. Cover the entire dish with foil. Poke a small hole for ventilation.

Bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil covering and the husk blanket. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

They should be very moist on the inside and slightly less moist on the outside. They should also be a bit firm, not mushy.


Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

Quinoa *  This super food has more protein, fiber, and nutrients than rice, oats, and basically every other grain.

Pecans * contains vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, protein and fiber! The fat in pecans is 90% monounsaturated and 70% monounsaturated (the good kind). Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Studies have shown that pecans can lower cholesterol and thus are heart healthy! They also have been linked to reduced risk of breast cancer and weight loss.

Cayenne pepper * high in antioxidants and temporarily raises the metabolism!

34 responses to “Sweet Potato-Quinoa-Pecan Tamales!

  1. Make these for me? I’ll buy ingredients. Think about it.

  2. Drooool. I’d never heard of using corn husks before as tamale wrappers… (clearly, I don’t research recipes too much…) — but I’m determined to give this a shot. I just made a coconut-pumpkin curry tonight — maybe I’ll add some pecans+quinoa and get me some corn husks soon. Corn is in season, after all!

    I’ll let you know how things turn out. :-)

    xo Aletheia

  3. I’ve never had tamales before!! Do the corn husks give them a flavour or is it just a presentation thing? They look like those glutinous rice dumplings that we Chinese make for the Dragon Boat festival, except we wrap up rice with fillings inside of bamboo leaves. Your tamales look great! (I love saying the word tamale.)


    • Yah the husks are mainly a presentation thing, but they do provide a good moisture sealant! Which is key because usually tamales are made via steaming. But we didnt have a steamer… I was wondering, why are certain dishes called ‘glutinous’ something something? Is it because they are sticky?…

  4. Holy shizzz, my mom’s side of the family is Spanish, and they make Tamales about 3x a year…and they’re absolutely scrumptious, but usually I ask for them to be made for me without the beef filling and just with olives. They’re usually made with meat I guess. But sweet potatoooes looks soooo delicious.
    Oh my goodness. I have to pitch this idea to mi madre! haha


  5. Oh wow! These look and sound amazing- would love to try them with kabocha! YUMM :) Mel

  6. omg!! That sounds absolutely GORGEOUS! I loooove sweet potatoes, and I love nuts, and I adore tamales…oh gosh, what a combo! A hit, a palpable hit!

  7. totally & completely drool worthy :) i love how you used the combo of sweet potatoes and pecans – two of my favorite foods!

  8. yum! I’m still too scared to make my own tamales, but these look great!

  9. Hey, thanks for visiting my site. Those tamales look amazing, I will absolutely need to try those in the very near future. I have never tried making tamales, I have always been a bit nervous, but you make it sound doable.

  10. Jill@MySoCalledHealthLife

    WOW these sound delicious! Tamales are one of my favorite foods!

  11. Ohh these sound *so* good! I’ve never had a tamale (sweet or savory…) and I just recently found out that you’re not supposed to eat the corn husk :)

  12. I am completely and utterly excited to try out this recipe! What an amazing idea to put these flavors together!! What was your inspiration? And thank you for sharing!

    • Well sweet potato pecan is a pretty common pairing, and corn is what tamales are ordinarily made of but I wanted to make it healthier and more nutritious! The quinoa adds protein, fiber, and vitamins :)

  13. Those look so good! I actually have almost all the ingredients for this, too. Yum. :D

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today, btw. I’m absolutely thrilled to have found yours. You have such an intriguing writing style, and your posts are quite enjoyable (right now, I’m alternating between tearing my eyes away from your “interesting day” post and writing this). I’m also diggin’ your recipes. :D

    I look forward to reading your future posts!

  14. thehungryscholar

    These are blowing my mind! They look so good!

  15. spoonfulofsugarfree

    Oh my gosh! They look so good! I never really liked tamales before, but these would be right up my alley!

  16. I’ve never had a tamale before, but these look good! I love basically anything with sweet potato!

    To answer your question, I’m studying nutrition at the University of Western Ontario (in London, ON). :)

  17. I have yet to even taste these, Lauren can already tell you’ve totally outdone yourself!

    Recipe – boooookmaaaarrrked.

  18. HOLY FABULOUS!!!!!


  19. I’ve always been intimidated by the whole making tamales process but just may need to try this recipe—I love the combo on sweet potato and quinoa!

  20. That is so cool that you made your own tamales, I have only ever had them from the grocery store. Way to go girly! They look delish :)


  21. Really good but the husks were a little chewy : )

  22. Oh my GOD I have to try these. They look absolutely amazing! Did you come up with this recipe yourself?

  23. excellent writing , it is actually useful for me. keep writing and happy blogging.

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