Keto Tamales Complete Instructions with Video

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Do you want to try a new holiday tradition? Keto tamales are an excellent option for those who can’t indulge in the high carbohydrate count of traditional tamales. They’re made with low carb ingredients and they taste delicious!

The following recipe is the perfect Keto dish for your family this year. A few of these low carb tamales in your freezer and you’ll be set for any occasion.

If you are a confident chef who has made lots of tamales feel free to jump to the recipe and get started…

If you haven’t made tamales before then you might want to look at the post tips or watch the video before you start to make sure you are ready.

Anyone can do this, but they take a little time….like a couple of hours after you have already prepared the meat.

Watch the video to see how it’s done…

YouTube video

Make sure you have the right ingredients.

Low carb tamale ingredients

Read through the ingredients to make sure you have everything. There are a couple of things here that really bring it all together and they are not usually found in any old store.

The corn extract really brings out the “masa” flavor and makes the tamales taste authentic. You might gasp a little when you see the price tag. But a little goes along way.

🥘Ingredients:

  • Meat filling

This recipe will focus on making the Keto Friendly Masa replacement.

Annnd, you can use whatever spicy, shredded meat you like for tacos. Just make sure the meat includes cumin. It makes a big difference.

Chicken, beef, Chile and pork work well. I don’t recommend cheese filling for these.

If you need a recipe, check out:

  1. Crock Pot Carnitas
  2. Chicken Tinga

Next,

This is an important ingredient and will hold the dough together and give it that substantial mouth feel that people look for in tamale masa.

  • Mozzarella
  • Oil or fat of choice

I usually use olive oil in place of the lard. I know that it isn’t traditional but it works just fine.

You can use any fat you like.

  • Corn extract

This might be the most important ingredient that you can use in this recipe.

If you skip it, the taste is going to be way off.

This is my favorite brand.

It’s not cheap…but it lasts us a long time and it makes a monumental difference in recipes like this, the Taco Pie and corn bread recipes as well.

  • Broth – Chicken or beef depending on what type of meat you are using.

I usually keep the broth from whatever meat I prepared and use it in this step. But any nice, strong broth will work well.

  • Corn Husks

Banana leaves are great if you cant get your hands on corn husks.

I have also seen recipes where people have used parchment paper instead of corn husks to make tamales.

But, I have never tried it and I have my suspicions about how the steaming process would work.

The only reason I could possibly justify doing this is if you live somewhere that they are not available.

You can get them here on Amazon if you can’t find them in any of your local shops in the US.

 👩‍🍳How to make the Tamales:

  • Make sure your meat is ready and shredded.
  • Soak 20 corn husks in hot water to soften while you are getting the dough ready.
Low carb tamale corn husk
  • Add boiling broth to the dough and mix. It will look like peanut butter.
  • Add fat and corn extract to the dough and mix in.
  • Melt your shredded mozzarella, either in the microwave or on low on the stove.
  • Add cheese to almond flour mixture and knead until fully incorporated.

This takes a couple of minutes. Knead until you have a dough. Keep going…it’ll get there. It wont look like traditional masa. It will look like dough.

  • Divide dough into 20 evenish sized balls.
  • Take a chunk of the dough and pat with (gloved or oiled hands) in a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick on corn husk one inch from edges.
Tamale Dough Balls
  • Top with 2 tablespoons or so of whatever filling you are using, remembering to leave an inch on all sides for rolling.
Topping low carb tamales with meat
  • Roll the husk like a burrito.

Make sure you are rolling one side of the dough into the other so that the dough is sealed on all sides around the filling.

Roll the tamale
  • Take the unused bottom portion of the husk and fold it upwards towards the tamale.

Use a piece of the corn husk to make a tie around the middle of the tamale. This will help it keep its shape so it won’t unfold.

Once you’ve completed all of the tamales, place them standing upright in a steamer and steam for approx 75 to 90 minutes.

Steam the tamales
  • Don’t have a tamale steamer?

Get creative. I have a huge tamale steamer left over from when I made 120 tamales at a time every year.

But, I wasn’t going to drag that monster out to make 20 tamales. So, I poked holes in an old pie tin and put it upside down in my stock pot.

The tamales didn’t even care that my steamer was janky….

Low carb tamale janky steamer

You can use an instant pot steamer basket, crock pot with a steamer basket or whatever you like.

Or you can check out this nifty steamer if you plan on making this recipe often.

  • You will know the tamales are done when they feel slightly firm. They will stay somewhat soft while still super hot – because of the cheese based dough.

Remember, this is a cheese based fat-head dough and the flavor is great. But they will be easier to remove from corn husks once they cool slightly.

If re-heating, remove husk and then microwave for 20-30 seconds until hot.

  • These keep in the fridge for 5-7 days and can easily be frozen for up to two months and thawed for snacks anytime.

📋Tips & FAQ’s:

I have never made tamales before. Are the difficult to make?

Nope.

These are easy to make but they are by no means a “quick” recipe.

Any beginner can pull these off if they watch the video and read the instructions.

But, there are a few things to keep in mind…

  • Never let the steamer go dry.
  • Use the corn flavoring
  • Oil you hands or wear oiled latex gloves to avoid the dough sticking to you.
  • This is easier if you can convince/ bribe the kids to help and get an assembly line going.
  • Use well seasoned and salted meat filling.

The salt and spices will “leak” into the tamale dough while it’s steaming.

I actually got a comment from someone who accused me of “faking this recipe” because the dough doesn’t included any spices, but you can clearly see the spices in the photos.

You can add spice to the dough if you want to. No one is stopping you.

As a long time tamale maker all I can say is to start out with well seasoned meat and you won’t need to overpower the (expensive) corn flavoring with extra spices.

With that being said…tamales are a deeply personal and coveted recipe in some families. I understand having your own way of spicing them up…you are in charge of the spices.

  • I usually split up the tasks so that it doesn’t take as long.

For instance, I make the meat one day and the tamales the next.

How long can I keep these in the fridge?

These keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. Freeze them in an airtight bag for up to two months and thaw in the fridge or on the counter before reheating.

Speaking of reheating, what is the best way to heat up the leftovers?

It’s best to remove the corn husk BEFORE reheating in the microwave.

Since this is a cheese based fat-head dough, you should remove the husk before reheating or the dough will “melt” and stick to the corn husk.

What should I serve with the tamales?

Nutrition

Serving: 1tamale | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 188mg | Fiber: 3g | Net Carbs: 2g | Fat Ratio per Serving: 69.64% | Protein Ratio per Serving: 21.43% | Carb Ratio per Serving: 4.76%

I think that’s it for the low carb tamales!

If you have any questions, comments or just want to tell other readers how awesome these are…please leave it in the box below.

If you have questions make sure you allow response so that you can get see the answers.

Adios Gente Ceto!

More Healthy Recipes to Love:

low carb tamales recipe fat head gluten free keto

Low Carb Tamales Recipe

Brandy
This is a recipe that replicates the Masa Harina in tamales with a fat-head type of dough. Since going Keto I have missed my Christmas tamales. I have not included the filling in this recipe because the choices are endless and many people already have a favorite.
But I will add some suggestions for meat fillings in the post tips.
4.63 from 54 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine Keto, Mexican
Servings 20 tamales
Calories 168 kcal

Equipment

steamer basket
Latex Gloves
Large Mixing Bowl
Microwave safe

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups Shredded, prepared meat filling – See the post for ideas
  • 3 cups Almond Flour
  • 2 tbsp Psyllium Husk Powder
  • 4 cups Mozzarella
  • ½ cup lard *or fat of choice. See post tips for what I used.
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp corn extract *to taste. See post tips for what I used
  • 1 Cup Broth Boiling
  • 20 Corn Husks * See post tips if you can't find these in your area. This will still work but I recommend using them if you can.

Instructions
 

  • Soak 20 corn husks in hot water to soften while you are getting the dough ready. See post tips if you haven't made tamales before.
  • Mix the almond flour, pysllium husk powder and baking powder together with a fork. Make sure you don't have any lumps.
  • Add boiling broth to the dough and mix. It will look like peanut butter. Next, add fat and corn extract to the dough and mix in.
  • Melt your shredded mozzarella, either in the microwave or on low on the stove.
  • Add cheese to almond flour mixture and knead until fully incorporated. This takes a couple of minutes. Knead until you have a dough. Keep going…it'll get there. It wont look like traditional masa but it will look like dough.
  • Divide dough into 20 evenish sized balls.
    Take a chunk of the dough and pat with (gloved or oiled hands) in a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick on corn husk one inch from edges.
  • Top with 2 tablespoons or so of whatever filling you are using, remembering to leave an inch on all sides for rolling.
  • Roll the husk like a burrito. Make sure you are rolling one side of the dough into the other so that the dough is sealed on all sides around the filling.
    Take the unused bottom portion of the husk and fold it upwards towards the tamale.
    Use a piece of the corn husk to make a tie around the middle of the tamale. This will help it keep its shape so it won’t unfold.
  • Once you’ve completed all of the tamales, place them standing upright in a steamer and steam for approx 75 to 90 minutes. See post tips in case you do not have a tamale steamer.
  • You will know the tamales are done when they feel slightly firm. Remember, this is a cheese based fat-head dough and the flavor is great. But they will be easier to remove from corn husks once they cool slightly. If re-heating, remove husk and then microwave for 20-30 seconds until hot.
  • These keep in the fridge for 5-7 days and can easily be frozen and thawed for snacks anytime.

Notes

The nutrition info is based on the dough only…not any filling you add and is based on 20 tamales.
Most meat filling will be low or no carb. But add it in to your macros because meat does have calories.
I do not suggest a “cheese only” filling because the dough is made with cheese. But to each his own.
See post tips if you have questions and leave a comment if you don’t see an answer. Read the post before you start if this is your first time making tamales….trust me on this.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tamaleCalories: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 9gFat: 13gSodium: 188mgFiber: 3gNet Carbs: 2gFat Ratio per Serving: 69.64%Protein Ratio per Serving: 21.43%Carb Ratio per Serving: 4.76%
Keyword Keto Tamales, Low Carb Tamales
Tried this recipe?Mention @ketocastleinthemountains or tag #ketocastleinthemountains!

The nutritional information for the low carb tamales is provided as a courtesy.

We are pretty careful about our figures but if you ever feel like anything is off please feel free to do your own calculations.

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Recipe Rating




29 Comments

  1. Hi Susan!

    You can use olive oil instead of lard if you don’t have it on hand. And I usually use chicken broth or beef broth depending on what type of protein I am making the tamales with. Cheers!

  2. Hello, I am wondering if these can be made without the corn extract? I know it won’t have much flavor or even more of an almond flavor without but just wondering if it would mess with texture or anything else?

  3. Hi Laura! Yes, you can freeze the finished tamales. (We have done this a lot). When you are ready to use them just thaw in the fridge and re-heat in the microwave WITHOUT the wrapper. Also, this is a cheese based, fathead type of dough so if you get them super hot, the cheese will sizzle and melt. Meaning the texture won’t be as good. 30-45 seconds in the microwave usually does the trick. Hope this helps and happy tamale making!

  4. Is there a way to make these ahead and freeze them like traditional tamales? I’m not sure what step would be the best time to freeze and how to reheat them.

  5. Hi Michaela, You can make the meat a day or two before assembling the tamales but the dough should be made the same day that you assemble and cook the tamales. Cheers! Brenna

  6. Hi Elizabeth! I am so glad you liked them! As far as the texture, they will stay soft as long as they are cooking because they’re made with a cheese based dough. Once you remove them from the steamer and they have a chance to cool a bit and dry slightly they will firm up. You can eat them hot but not “steamer” hot. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions I’ll be happy to help. Cheers!!!

  7. 5 stars
    So I tried these today and they are absolutely delicious but stayed kind of soft and gummy even after 2 hours, any tips as to what I might have done incorrectly? And thanks so much for the link to the Amoretti corn flavoring, totally worth the price!!

  8. You are a marvel to low carb Mexican food! Thank you thank you thank you! These are fantastic! I bought the corn extract that you recommended and I think you should get a lifetime supply of it for free because I am telling anyone that will listen to buy it.

  9. Hi There! I got a comment just last week about someone using cornbread exact and they were definitely not a fan of the flavor. I have only used the Amoretti Brand and have always gotten rave reviews about my Keto Tamales when I share them. I know it costs more but I think it’s been worth it for my occasional needs. Cheers!

  10. 5 stars
    I was skeptical that fathead dough would work in tamales but they are great! I bought the more expensive Amorretti brand of corn flavoring that you recommended and these really do taste just like regular tamales. To anyone who has been dreaming about low carb tamales, make these! Just don’t forget to unwrap them before you re-heat them so you don’t lose any of the wonderful flavor!

  11. 5 stars
    These are amazing and I can’t believe they are low carb! The flavor is great and I doubled the recipe without any trouble. These are now a staple in my house along with the Pico de gallo recipe that you have on this site.

  12. Hi Jenny, I am not familiar with the ooo brand. I have seen them advertised on Amazon but never used them. I understand trying to save money for sure. You can always leave the flavoring out or choose another recipe but what I can say is that I have had great luck with the Amoretti brand. Friends and family have raved about the low carb tamales I have made with it.Cheers!

  13. I tried these using the ooo flavors cornbread extract and they’re disgusting. The brand you recommended was ten dollars more and I was afraid to risk it. Are you familiar with the ooo flavors extract?

  14. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! It’s saving my blood sugar as I type this. You are a low carb genius. Merry Christmas to you and now to me too.

  15. Hey Tara! Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so happy that you like this recipe. Kudos to you and your daughter on the weight loss! I love to hear those kinds of amazing stories. Cheers to you and your good health! Brenna

  16. 5 stars
    OH…MY… YUMMINESS!!!!
    This is, hands down, the best keto replacement recipe I have ever tasted. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best tamales I’ve ever had! Keto or not.
    My daughter has been keto for 2 years (down 100+ pounds.) I have been keto for 10 months (down 50) so we have tried MORE than our fair share of keto recipes. This is the BEST!!!!
    Even my non-keto sons, and keto-esque wife agree that this recipe is DELICIOUS!
    I have never made tamales before (although I have eaten a ton!) Your video mas so helpful!
    I CANNOT thank you enough!
    P.S. I have NEVER commented on a recipe before, but I was compelled by my happy tummy!
    P.P.S. I am writing this while eating my re-heated tamales from yesterday… and they are EVEN BETTER! LOL

  17. 5 stars
    Oh….My…..YUMMINESS!!!!
    This is, hands down, the BEST keto replacement for ANYTHING I have EVER eaten!
    My daughter has been keto for 2 years (down 120 pounds) I have been keto for 10 months (50 pounds down)
    We have tried MORE than our fair share of recipes, but THIS…. WOWOWOW!
    My sons (not keto) and my wife (keto-esque) all said these are some of the BEST tamales ever!
    We cannot thank you enough!!!

  18. Hi Alexander! Thanks for the tips. I have never heard of boiling the pumpkin stem but I’m all for trying new things. Happy tamale making!

  19. Excellent, I will be using your recipe as soon as the bottle of corn flavoring arrives. I found a “corn tortilla” flavoring online. For the broth, I’ll be making an authentic Mayan trick by boiling tomatillo skins and a pumpkin stem. This decoction adds a special seasonal “Day of the Dead” flavor to tamale dough.

  20. Hi Anna! The corn extract is linked in the post and recipe card! There are a lot of brands out there but this one is my favorite! Cheers!

  21. Hi Annie! Yes, I am sure you can add spices to the tamale dough. I don’t because I season my meat enough that it seeps into the dough. I was taught that seasoning the meat and adding extra salt PLUS seasoning the dough would ruin the corn flavor of the “masa”. Tamales are one of those recipes that every family does their own way…just like their chili. Feel free to add spices to make them perfect for YOU. It shouldn’t affect the way the dough comes together. Let me know how they come out! Cheers, Brenna

  22. Hello, have you ever added seasonings to your recipe. I haven’t made them yet, just curious.

  23. Hi Tamara!

    I’m glad you are going to try them. I have had some great feedback from friends about these. They are not “exactly” like tamales but they are delicious and fill that void nicely. Cheers to you! Brenna

  24. I found your post because I just had a store bought almond flour keto tamale and I was thinking, what if I make it myself and add corn extract to give it that corn masa flavor? And then I did a google search and found your recipe. Thank you, I can’t wait to try it. Been low carb it’s been really hard not having traditional tamales 😭