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Lisa Romerein Photo by: Lisa Romerein

Chile-Spiced Sweet Potato Tamales

These sweet potato tamales get a spicy kick with chiles.

Sunset NOVEMBER 2004

  • Yield: MAKES: 12 to 15 tamales


  • 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 pounds garnet or jewel sweet potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup lard or additional butter
  • 1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups dehydrated masa flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, drained and minced
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • 20 dried corn husks, soaked (see notes)


1. In a small bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Set sweet potato halves, cut side up, in a baking dish, and rub cut sides equally with butter mixture. Bake in a 350° oven until soft when pressed, about 1 hour.

2. Scoop flesh from sweet potatoes (discard skins) into a bowl; mash with a fork until smooth.

3. In a 1- to 2-quart pan over low heat, melt lard. Pour in chicken broth and stir until warm. Add broth mixture to sweet potatoes; mix well. Gradually add masa flour, stirring until well blended. Stir in baking powder and chipotles and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Tear 3 or 4 corn husks into long, thin strips. Lay a whole husk flat on a work surface, smooth side down, with one long edge closest to you. Spoon a scant 1/3 cup filling lengthwise down center of husk. Fold bottom edge over filling and roll up tamale. Tie each end with a thin strip of husk. Repeat until all filling is used.

5. In an 8- to 10-quart pan, position a rack at least 1 inch above 1 inch of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Set tamales on rack, lower heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and steam until filling is firm, about 1 hour, adding water to pan as needed to maintain 1-inch depth. Remove tamales and let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional analysis per tamale.


NOTES: Dried corn husks are available in some well-stocked supermarkets and in Mexican markets. Before using, separate husks and discard silks; soak husks in hot water until pliable, about 20 minutes. You will need about 15 large, well-shaped husks for the tamales and 3 to 4 to tear into strips for tying, but we suggest soaking a few extra in case some tear in the process. You can make and steam the tamales up to a day ahead; cover and chill. Reheat in steamer 15 to 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 132
  • Calories from fat: 47%
  • Protein: 2.2g
  • Fat: 6.9g
  • Saturated fat: 3.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 16g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Sodium: 164mg
  • Cholesterol: 12mg