Easy Vegan Soyrizo and Potato Tamales with Adobo

An easy recipe for plant-based diets, these vegan tamales come together relatively quickly by using store-bought soyrizo, par-cooked potatoes, and a homemade adobo sauce. It's a satisfying plant-based meal to share at Christmas equally satisfying to both vegans and carnivores alike.

Every year at Christmas, my family makes tamales. Not that you can't have tamales any time of year. In fact, I often order them at some of my favorite Mexican restaurants in town throughout the year. It's just that Christmas and tamales have always gone hand in hand. Christmas + family making tamales side by side, that is, whether it was my grandmother's for Christmas day or my dad's for Christmas eve, some form of tamale-making has been an annual tradition for as long as I can remember.

I have vivid memories of my sisters and I helping my parent's assemble tamales, with each sister in charge of something along the assembly line.

When I moved in with my grandmother and auntie in 2012, I joined in on helping them assemble my Grandmother's tamales. Last year, I took over the cooking part and auntie and I assembled because at 88 years old, it was just a little more laborious than Grams had energy for.

This year, it'll just be just auntie and I making them again, only without her supervision. No more will she be shuffling into the dining room to check on our progress or taste testing the first tamale done. There will be such a tremendous hole where she should be and I can already feel the tears that will undoubtably fall as we work on this year's Christmas dinner.

But no tears right now. There is just too much to do. Like share this recipe with you.

Today's recipe comes by way of my youngest sister. This year, a life-long carnivore, foodie and intrepid cook, she decided to make a lifestyle change and turned to a plant-based diet in hopes it would benefit her health.

I wanted to make sure that I'd have tamales on hand so she could eat along with the rest of us come Christmas. I started thinking about this about a month ago. I let a few ideas gel and this one is the one I kept coming back to.

The recipe turned out so good that my auntie and I have been eating them everyday since Sunday. I truly believe that carnivores will get just as much out of these as vegans will.

I filmed my making them for the blog so you can see how easy  it really is.

I hope you find the how-to video helpful in seeing how this recipe comes together.

Until next time, my lovelies … xo, ani

Vegan Soyrizo Potato Tamales with Adobo

This recipe makes more sauce than you’ll need but it freezes well or use to make enchiladas, or, if you’re a carnivore like me, use it to braise chicken, pork or beef then shred for tacos. You can pick up the corn husks at most major supermarkets or from your local Mexican market. I call for more corn husks than you’ll probably need but there’s nothing worse than to have a husk tear on you and not have any backups ready to go. Reserve some of the smaller husks for lining the steamer basket. Speaking of which, for a small batch like this, I use a 5 quart pot with a steamer insert (mine are from IKEA). 

Makes 1 dozen tamales


About 2 dozen corn husks (hojas)

For the adobo:
2 chiles ancho
2 chiles mulato
10 chiles California
2 vine ripened tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ large onion
2 teaspoons whole Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

For the filling:
canola or avocado oil, for frying
2 small russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
½ onion, finely chopped
9 ounce soyrizo

For the masa:
2 cups masa harina for tamales (I prefer Maseca brand)
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅓ cup of the prepared adobo
1 ⅓ cups vegetable stock
3 teaspoons sea salt (or kosher)
⅔ cups solid coconut oil (or solid vegetable shortening)


Prepare the husks: Place the corn husks in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Weight them down by placing a plate on top of them; bring pot to a boil, turn off heat and allow to soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Start the adobe: Cut the stems off the chiles, slit them open and remove all the seeds and the larger veins. Place the chiles, tomatoes, garlic and ¼ onion into the a saucepan and fill with water to cover. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover and let steep while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium; once shimmering, add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to get color. Remove from pan to a paper-lined plate. Add the onions to the same pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Cut an end off the soyrizo casing and squeeze out the soyrizo into the pan. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break it up and cook for 5 minutes to heat through then stir in the potatoes and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Take off heat; set aside.

Finish the adobo: Remove the tomatoes, chiles, onion and garlic to a blender jar along with the rest of the ingredients for the adobo and ½ cup of the steeping liquid. Blend on high until as smooth as your blender can get the mixture. Working in batches, pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl, using a rubber spatula to push it through. Discard the leftover pulp in the sieve. Set adobo aside.

Make the masa: Whisk together the masa harina and baking powder in a large bowl. Add ⅓ cup of adobe. Pour vegetable stock into to a microwave safe measuring cup and heat on high for 1 ½ minutes. Stir in the salt to dissolve, then pour it into the bowl with the flour mixture. Use a fork to combine, then switch to your hands and knead until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 4 parts, cover with a cloth and set aside to hydrate while you whip the fat.

Add the coconut oil to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment and whip on high for 6 minutes, stopping every minute to scrap down the sides of the bowl. Oil should become light and fluffy, nearly doubling in volume. Add ¼ of the masa and whip on high until fully incorporated into the fat, stopping to scrap down sides of bowl as needed. Repeat with remaining dough, incorporating fully before adding each part.

Assemble the tamales: Drain the husks. Remove one and determine which side is smooth by running your fingernail against each side; tamales are built on the husk with the smooth side facing up. With the wide side of the husk facing you and the thin side facing away from you, smooth about 2 tablespoons of masa onto the wide side of the husk. Leave ¼-inch of the wide edge and the sides exposed and stopping about ⅔ of the way up the husk, leaving the tail end of the husk free from masa. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the filling to the center of the masa and spoon 2 tablespoons of the adobo over the filling. Bring the sides of the husk up so they meet at the middle and tuck one side in and the other over like you would swaddle a baby. Pull the “tail” end up towards you, folding it snugly against the tamale so you create a little packet with the top end open and the bottom securely folded up over the seam. Place on a plate or sheet pan, seam side down. Repeat this process until all the masa is gone. Save any leftover filling for another use (great scrambled with eggs for breakfast) and save the leftover adobo to use as a garnish.

Steam the tamales: Add about 2 cups of water to a 5-quart pot. Insert the steamer (if your pot doesn’t have one, you can use a vegetable steamer basket that opens up or poke holes in an aluminum pie pan and insert that upside down into the bottom of the pot. Use less water though; water should not touch the bottom of the tamale during the steaming process). Line the steamer with 2 or 3 corn husks then add the tamales, standing, open side up. Cover the tamales with more husks, then top with a tight-fitting lid (if your lid isn’t secure, first seal the pot with aluminum foil, then top with the lid). Bring pot to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and steam for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Check for doneness: After about an hour and 15 minutes, carefully uncover the pot, remove one tamal with a pair of tongs to a plate, carefully unwrap one side of the tamal, if the husk pulls away cleanly and easily, the tamales are done. If the masa sticks to the husk, re-wrap and return to the pot. Continue steaming for 10 minutes or until the husk pulls away cleanly.

Serve tamales with the extra adobo, a side of Mexican red rice, retried beans or a crisp green salad.

To store and reheat: Let tamales cool completely before placing into re-sealable plastic bags and store in refrigerator. To reheat, steam for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also microwave: Wrap one or two tamales in a clean, damp tea towel (husk still on) and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. Let sit in the microwave for a minute before removing.