Grain-Free Yucatan Tamales

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Yucatan tamalesWhat could be more enticing than a tender, fragrant home-made tamale? Pillowy soft steamed masa on the outside, secret pockets of glorious filling and sauce on the inside. Home-made food is all about the love, and this recipe has that and more, because it’s also all about the carbs, or, more specifically, the lack of them. You see, these babies bypass the use of corn for the masa, opting instead to incorporate our old friend, the cauliflower. Yes, it can be done! This new take on a traditional food is actually easier to make, since we’ll be using parchment paper instead of corn husks, and baking in the oven instead of steaming on the stove. This technique allows the excess moisture in the cauliflower masa to evaporate out, and the eggs provide the necessary lift to make the dough puff up. The Yucatan Rojo Rub adds a subtle, spicy note that helps tame the flavor of the cauliflower, and the nutritional yeast adds a touch of umami. We’ve used any number of fillings for these tamales, from a quick store bought pork chili verde to the our own slow cooker Yucatan Rojo Pulled Pork recipe. So gather up a few extra hands, and get ready for a tamale party!

Grain-Free Yucatan Tamales

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22 tamales

Yucatan tamales


  • 2 large cauliflower2 (about 2-1/2 lb. each, whole)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, small flake
  • 2 tablespoons Yucatan Rojo Rub sieved to remove husks and larger spice bits
  • 22 - 12" x 12" parchment squares
  • 4 cups filling/sauce of choice


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Divide the cauliflower into florets. Working in 4 batches, transfer cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor, filling no more than halfway full. Pulse until it resembles cornmeal, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl as often as necessary to get everything evenly chopped.
  3. Scrape chopped cauliflower onto the center of a thin kitchen towel. Gather the cloth together and, working over the sink, twist it tightly to create a ball, then press the ball to squeeze out as much liquid as you can, creating a “mash”.
  4. Return ½ of the mashed cauliflower to the food processor, along with the eggs and seasonings. Process until evenly mixed, about 15 seconds, scraping bowl if needed. Add rest of the mash and pulse to combine. You now have cauliflower masa!
  5. Scoop 1/3 cup masa onto the center of a piece of parchment, and spread evenly into a 5” square, about 1/4" thick. Scoop 2 tablespoons filling and 1 teaspoon sauce in a vertical line down the center of the masa, leaving space on all sides. Fold the right side of the parchment to the left so the masa just covers the filling, then lay the parchment flat again. Fold the left side over to the right so the masa completely covers the filling, and leave the parchment there. Now, just like with a burrito, fold the top and bottom edges of the parchment over the tamale, then fold the whole thing over left to right two times, resulting in a nice flat rectangular package. The parchment will be wet from the masa, but that’s okay, the moisture will evaporate in the oven. Place tamales on a baking sheet, leaving an inch between them.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating pans and flipping tamales over after 20 minutes, until the tamales feel firm and risen. Remove from the oven and let cool several minutes, then open the parchment so the tamales don’t get overly steamed. Served with choice of sauce, chopped lettuce and tomato, sour cream, guacamole – whatever you like.


Don't use cheesecloth when squeezing the moisture out of the raw cauliflower. It's too porous, and all the cauliflower will squish out.

If you feel the masa is sticking to the parchment, spray the parchment lightly with cooking spray.

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