Sweet Walnut and Cranberry Tamales

These sweet tamales are a tasty variation on a traditional dish. They’re perfectly sweet and make a great holiday dessert.

Serves: 24Prep: 30 minutesCook: 2 hours 30 minutesTotal: 3 hoursDifficulty: Hard

Serves: 24


  • 1 package (8 oz.) dried corn husks
  • 1 cup shortening, divided
  • 2 1⁄2 cups instant corn flour
  • 1 1⁄4 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


  • Place husks in a bowl of warm water. Soak for 1-2 hours, until softened and easy to fold.
  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat ⅔ cup shortening until smooth. In a microwave safe bowl, melt remaining ⅓ cup shortening. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine instant corn flour, corn meal, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Alternately fold flour mixture, 1½ cups water and condensed milk into the shortening. Mix well after each addition. Gradually stir in the melted shortening. Fold in vanilla extract, cranberries, walnuts and orange zest.
  • Spread ¼ cup corn flour mixture into a square in the center of one husk. Fold right, then left edge of husk over corn flour mixture. Fold up bottom edge. Tie tamale together with shredded strips of corn husk. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  • If steaming on stovetop use a large stockpot with a strainer basket and place tamales in the strainer. Add 2 cups of water to the base of pot, cover and steam on medium heat for 30-40 minutes, until corn flour filling separates easily from the husks.
  • If steaming using an instant pot add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pot and insert the strainer basket. Add the tamales, cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, then use quick release.
  • Remove from steamer and serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers.