ArrowDownFill 1arrow-small-lineFill 1Cooking Light - EasyCooking Light - FastCooking Light - So GoodCooking Light - How-ToCooking Light - Staff FaveCooking Light Badge - Wow!GroupClose IconEmailEmpty Star IconLike Cooking Light on FacebookFull Star IconShapePage 1 Copy 3Page 1 Copy 2Grid IconHalf Star IconFollow Cooking Light on InstagramList IconMenu IconPrintSearch IconSpeech BubbleFollow Cooking Light on SnapchatFollow Cooking Light on TwitterWatch Cooking Light on YouTubeplay-iconWatch Cooking Light on Youtube

Cheesy Thanksgiving Tamales

Photo: Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham


Hands-on time 45 mins
Total time 2 hrs, 20 mins

Makes 2 dozen

You'll love our genius way to use leftover stuffing, turkey, or sweet potato casserole by turning it into the starchy outer layer of tamales.


  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 cups leftover cooked dressing
  • 1 (4-oz.) block pepper Jack cheese, cut into 12 sticks
  • Kitchen string
  • Spicy Cranberry Salsa

How to Make It

  1. Soak corn husks in warm water to cover 1 hour or until softened. Drain and pat dry.

  2. Press 2 Tbsp. dressing into a 3- x 5-inch rectangle along 1 long side of 1 husk, leaving borders along other 3 sides of husks. Place 1 cheese stick in center of dressing. Roll up dressing, starting with long side and using husk as a guide. Press dressing edges together to form a seal, enclosing filling. Fold long side of husk over tamale to enclose.

  3. Fold ends toward center to seal. Repeat procedure using remaining husks, dressing, and cheese.

  4. Place 6 tamales side by side on work surface, with seam sides inward; tie tamales together with kitchen string, securing bundles at both ends. Repeat procedure to make a total of 4 bundles.

  5. Stand tamale bundles on end in a steamer basket; place basket over boiling water in a large Dutch oven. Cover and steam 35 minutes or until dressing is set, adding more boiling water as needed. Serve hot with Spicy Cranberry Salsa.

  6. Turkey Tamales: Omit cheese. Prepare recipe as directed, spooning 1 Tbsp. chopped cooked turkey down center of dressing before rolling in Step

  7. Sweet Potato Tamales: Omit pepper Jack cheese. Prepare recipe as directed, spooning 1 Tbsp. leftover sweet potato casserole down center of dressing before rolling in Step