Fresh Corn Tamales with Roasted Red Peppers

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Our reputation as tamale makers was made at the original Border Grill with these sweet, creamy corn tamales. We have cooked and tasted many since, but few are as delicious and easy to make. If fresh corn is not in season, frozen corn and dried husks are good alternatives. Fresh chopped tomato salsa, also known as salsa Mexicana or pico de gallo, is the most popular salsa in and outside of Mexico. We love it with chips, quesadillas, or grilled chicken, fish, or steak. The only trick is to use the freshest ingredients and not to hold it for very long, so the flavors remain fresh.

Place the corn husks in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Tamp down the husks with a plate to completely submerge them and simmer about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, in the water, a few hours, until pliable.

Makes10 to 12 tamales; serves 6

Cooking Methodsauteeing, steaming


Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course, side dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian




Taste and Texturecreamy, savory, spiced, sweet

Type of Dishsavory/pot pie


  • 10 ears corn (or use 3 cups good-quality thawed frozen or canned corn, with 1 [8-ounce] package dried corn husks, softened; see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dried hominy grits
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup diced roasted red bell pepper
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Fresh Salsa (recipe follows), for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • ¼ red onion minced
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove the corn husks by cutting off both ends of the cobs, trying to keep the husks whole. Place the largest husks in a pot of hot water and set aside to soak.

  2. To make the stuffing, working over a bowl, run the point of a sharp knife down the center of each row of kernels to release the juices, and then scrape with the dull side to remove the kernels from the cob.

  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the grits with the paprika 1 to 2 minutes. Add the red pepper, the corn and its juices, the salt, white pepper, sugar to taste, and the cream and simmer until the mixture thickens, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Then stir in the baking powder and refrigerate.

  4. Drain the corn husks on paper towels. Make ties for the tamales by cutting a few of the husks into 10 to 12 strips.

  5. To stuff the tamales, overlap 2 or 3 husks on a counter and spread about 3 tablespoons of filling down the center. Fold over the sides and then the ends to enclose the filling. Tie with a corn husk string. Repeat with the remaining husks and filling.

  6. In a steamer or large pot fitted with a rack, make a bed for the tamales by lining the steamer rack with the remaining corn husks. Add the tamales and steam over low heat 1 hour.

  7. Remove from the steamer and let rest 10 minutes. Serve hot with the fresh salsa and sour cream. (Leftover tamales can be reheated in a steamer over simmering water for 20 to 30 minutes.)

  8. For the Salsa:

  9. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Stir and toss well. Serve immediately, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator no longer than a day.



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