Guatemalan Tamal De Elote: Easy Recipe For Sweet Corn Tamales

Tamales de elote are a delicious sweet corn tamal perfect as a dessert or sweet treat any time. By following this super easy recipe for Guatemalan tamales de elotes, you will be able to enjoy this amazing traditional Guatemalan dessert made from fresh sweet corn kernels in no time! This Guatemalan dish has no meat or sauce like most tamales but is full of flavors and the right amount of sugar to bring a smile to your face. And although this is a simple Guatemalan recipe, I broke down the instructions into easy-to-follow steps for you. So, put down the remote, go to the kitchen and try this heavenly Guatemalan food. You can thank me later!

Guatemalan tamalitos de elote

Tamales de Elote, Guatemala’s Sweet Corn Tamal

One of the things I missed the most about Guatemala (besides my family and friends, of course) was the food. It took me moving to another country to finally get me in the kitchen and learn how to prepare many Guatemalan dishes. And now,  I make them as often as possible! 

My secret? Creating and finding recipes that are easy to follow or simple to make with what I got at home. The result: being able to share my love for Guatemalan food with my family and keeping my kids connected to their Guatemalan roots. And that’s why I love sharing many Guatemalan desserts, like this super easy recipe for tamales de elote.

There is no better way to experience a homemade sweet corn tamale than eating it warm right out of the pot. Once you see how simple this delicious sweet tamal recipe is to make, you will see how it becomes one of your family’s favorite desserts. 

 

What is a Guatemalan Tamal de Elote?

Guatemalan tamalitos de elote are very similar to Mexican corn tamales de elote. Guatemalan tamales de elote or sweet corn tamales are a delicious sweet dessert tamal that is so easy to make. These delicious  Guatemalan tamales are made from fresh corn kernels instead of corn flour dough or masa. Unlike the typical tamal colorado filled with meat and a savory recado sauce, this traditional Guatemalan dessert is soft, sweet, and fluffy… all rolled into one mouthwatering treat!

Although you will find tamales all across Latinamerica, every country has its own version. And, like me, every Guatemalan home has its special Abuelita recipe. Here you will find my take on a super easy recipe of tamales de elote. Its sweet, mild taste and soft, creamy consistency will win you over on the first tamal you unwrap!

 

Mexican Tamal de Elote and Guatemalan tamal de elote

Guatemala and Mexico have a lot in common, from rich culture to their flavorful and exceptional gastronomy. However, there are many different versions of the Guatemalan tamal de elote or the Mexican sweet corn tamales. One of the main differences is that Guatemalan sweet corn tamales are made only with corn kernels, while the Mexican corn tamales combine fresh corn with corn masa. Another difference is that the more traditional Mexican corn tamales usually don’t include cheese, while the Guatemalan version adds crumbled queso to the recipe. 

 

What are Tamales De Elote Made Of?

This tasty Guatemalan dish comes from grounding fresh sweet corn kernels into a soft dough. Brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla give this delicious Guatemalan dessert a sweetness that sets it apart from its close but savory cousin, the traditional Guatemalan chuchitos tamales. The cream, cheese, and butter add a creamy, rich taste that will have your kids asking for seconds!

corn on the cob

 

How to Make Tamalitos de Elote Guatemaltecos

  • Cut the bottom of the corn cob to remove the husks. Throw away the first sheets; they will be too damaged to use. Next, remove the husk sheets one by one, careful not to break them. Finally, wash them in warm water and save them for later. 
  • Remove all corn hair (silky strings), then shell the kernels into a bowl.
  • In a food processor or blender, make a corn puree out of the kernels. Put small portions so that you do not overwork the appliance and grind the corn kernels well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients (except the raisins) and blend until you form a homogeneous batter.

How to wrap a Homemade Tamal de Elote:

  • Using a soup ladle, pour the corn mixture on each husk. Add 3 or 4 raisins on top of each wrap. 
  • Fold on the sides, and then in half. Use the cibaque (kitchen twine) to tie up the wrap, making sure it is tight enough. 
  • Repeat until you go through all the batter and husks.

tamalitos de elote

Cooking the Tamalitos de Elote

  • To cook, place some corn husks on the bottom of a pot or tamal steamer before putting in the tamales. Then, place the wrappings standing up. In my case, I use a steamer, but if you don’t have one, use a regular pot. 
  • Add about 2-4 cups of water (depending on the size of your container). Cover the pot with a lid and bring it to a boil. Add more boiling water if necessary.
  • Steam over low heat for about 45 minutes until the tamale feels firm to the touch. The husks should no longer be green.
  • Unwrap the Tamales and serve them with cream and crumbled queso on top.

tamales de elote

Tips for making Tamales de Elote:

  • Take it nice and slow: To make sure the corn kernels blend smoothly, add half of it (in batches) to your food processor or blender. This way, the corn will grind into an even puree. Of course, I like to leave some whole kernels to get that delicious chunky texture in every bite.
  • A serrated edge: I use a serrated paring knife to easily remove the corn cob’s kernels. Place a cutting board and hold the cob upright, cutting downwards through the rows. The blade’s teeth will catch and rip as the knife slides through the corn cod. Here are some mess-free ways to cut corn off the cob.
  • I’m melting!: I always leave the butter for a couple of minutes on my kitchen counter, so it is at room temperature when I’m ready to cook. My grandmother told me that it helps mix the butter effortlessly with the corn dough while avoiding lumps.
  • A water bath is the best: It is essential to follow the instructions on how to heat a tamale. You want the corn to cook slowly and stay moist; without water, the dough will turn dry and lose some of its deliciousness.

Guatemalan sweet corn tamales

Make Ahead of Time

Although it is not as time-consuming as the traditional tamales recipe, peeling and shelling the corn cobs could take some time (but I promise, it’s not a lot). Ask your kids to help by stripping the corn husks and washing them in warm water while you remove the kernels. 

With this easy recipe for sweet corn tamales, you can cook everything the same day and have some time to spare. So why not spend the extra time getting your table ready? Here are some ideas to decorate your home with colorful crafts to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

 

Freezing Tamales del Elote 

This recipe yields about 15 tamalitos, so you’d probably end with a few leftovers after. But don’t worry! Tamales are very freezer-friendly: You can keep them chilled in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze them for up to 6 months.

As I’ve tried freezing them both cooked and uncooked, I can tell you that the best way to do it is when I finish cooking and wrapping. The raw dough tends to fall apart when thawed, and I feel that it loses some of its texture and flavor. So here are my tips on the best way to freeze tamales de elote:

  • After cooking the entire recipe, let the tamales cool down at room temperature.
  • Place the sweet corn tamales in a freezer bag, carefully stacking them on top of each other to prevent condensation from leaking into the dough.
  • Label the bag with a permanent marker to know how long they have been sitting in your freezer.

 

How to Reheat a Tamal de Elote

A huge advantage of freezing cooked tamales is that the reheating process is so easy. You can thaw the tamales overnight in your fridge. Remember never to defrost food at room temperature, as it could grow unwanted bacteria. Set a pot, add about two inches of water, cover with a lid, and reheat over medium for 10-15 minutes.

My best time-saving tip? Avoid defrosting them all together and put the frozen tamales on a steamer and add water. You will have to adjust the reheating time for about 20-30 minutes until the dough feels soft. But before taking the whole batch off the heat, open one tamalito to see if it is fully thawed and warm enough to serve!

 

What To Eat with a Guatemalan Tamalito de Elote?

I usually serve this traditional Guatemalan dessert as a sweet side dish for breakfast or after lunch or dinner. Plus, it is an excellent option as a sweet snack anytime of the day or during the merienda. You can add some cream and cheese before serving or drizzle dulce de leche (caramel sauce) or condensed milk on top! These tamalitos de elote are one of my kid’s favorite traditional Guatemalan desserts! Tamalitos de elote are perfect for accompanying your morning coffee or a steaming cup of delicious hot chocolate. 

hot chocolate with sweet tamales

Other Traditional Guatemalan Desserts

  • Tamalitos de Cambray: an easy recipe for sweet corn tamales made with raisins and almonds. A Guatemalan dessert full of traditional flavors, it will be love at first bite!

guatemalan tamal de cambray

  • Jocotes en Miel: A traditional Guatemalan food commonly served around the Day of the Dead celebrations. These juicy jocotes (hog plums) are cooked in a bubbling sweet syrup and heavenly spices.
  • Champurradas: A super easy recipe that will surely be a total success with everyone in the family! A scrumptious giant cookie with the perfect level of crunch to dunk in your morning coffee!
  • Canillitas de Leche: Try a quick and easy recipe for canillitas, a delicious 10-minute dessert that uses only three ingredients you already have in your pantry.
  • Rellenitos de Plátano:  Tasty ripe plantains filled with beans and covered in sugar. Although the combination might seem strange, this sweet plantain recipe is one of the most delicious Guatemalan foods.
Rellenitos de platano recipe
Guatemalan rellenitos de platano.

Soft and sweet, these sweet tamales de elote are a delicious Guatemalan dessert that is so easy to make. I love how the aroma of cooked corn tamalitos fills my kitchen with the sweet scents of my childhood, making my little ones come running to the kitchen! And now that you know how easy these sweet corn tamales are to make don’t hesitate to try this traditional Guatemalan dish at home!

Guatemalan tamalitos de elote

Guatemalan Sweet Corn Tamalitos de Elote

Yield: 15 tamales
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

A traditional Guatemalan dessert made from fresh sweet corn kernels grounded into a delicious tamalito

Ingredients

  • 10 corn cobs with husks
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 4 oz. Queso fresco or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick of butter (soften at room temperature)
  • Raisins (for garnish)
  • 1 bunch of Cibaque (or kitchen twine/cooking strings for wrapping)

Instructions

How to Make Tamalitos de Elote

  1. Cut the bottom of the corn cob to remove the husks. Throw away the first sheets; they will be too damaged to use. Next, remove the husk sheets one by one, careful not to break them. Finally, wash them in warm water and save them for later. 
  2. Remove all corn hair (silky strings), then shell the kernels into a bowl.
  3. In a food processor or blender, make a corn puree out of the kernels. Put small portions so that you do not overwork the appliance and grind the corn kernels well.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the raisins) and blend until you form a homogeneous batter.

How to wrap a Homemade Tamal de Elote:

  1. Using a soup ladle, pour the corn mixture on each husk. Add 3 or 4 raisins on top of each wrap. 
  2. Fold on the sides, and then in half. Use the cibaque (kitchen twine) to tie up the wrap, making sure it is tight enough. 
  3. Repeat until you go through all the batter and husks.

Cooking the Tamalitos de Elote

  1. To cook, place some corn husks on the bottom of a pot or steam basket before putting in the tamales. Then, place the wrappings standing up. In my case, I use a steamer, but if you don't have one, use a regular pot. 
  2. Add about 2-4 cups of water (depending on the size of your container). Cover the pot with a lid and bring it to a boil. Add more boiling water if necessary.
  3. Steam over low heat for about 45 minutes until the tamale feels firm to the touch. The husks should no longer be green.
  4. Unwrap the Tamales and serve them with cream and grated cheese on top.

Notes

It is essential to follow the instructions on how to heat a tamale. You want the corn to cook slowly and stay moist; without water, the dough will turn dry and lose some of its deliciousness.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1 tamal
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210

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