Are Tamales Gluten Free? (Find Out Now!)

Are Tamales Gluten Free

Tamales are a delicious Latin American food that is made in various ways. Tamales can be enjoyed as a complete meal by themselves. Tamales are wrapped in an outer shell and are stuffed with a filling. Throughout this article, you will see the word “masa”. Masa refers to dough that comes from ground corn.

Not all tamales are gluten free. The wrap of a tamale can be made with corn flour that may contain gluten. However, if the wrap of a tamale is made from corn husk or plantain leaves then it’s naturally gluten-free. Additionally, whether tamales are gluten-free depends on the filling. The best gluten-free alternative to tamales is Cali’flour Chicken Enchilada Bake.

If you are gluten free and wondering if you can enjoy tamales, keep reading! In this article, we will discuss what tamales are, the nutritional information for popular brands of tamales, and how to make a tamale. Let’s dig in!

What are Tamales?

Tamales are a traditional Latin American cuisine. There can be a mixture of fillings inside a tamale, like meats, cheeses, chilies, vegetables, fruits, etc. The filling is contained inside a corn flour dough. Then the tamale is wrapped a corn husk or banana leaf to be steamed inside of. You can discard the wrap prior to eating the tamale or use it as a plate. Tamales can be a dinner or a dessert, there are so many ways tamales can be made!

Sauces to use for tamales

It is popular to pair tamales with a sauce or a condiment. Similar to tacos, you can top your tamales with ranchero sauce, guacamole, or sour cream. The most traditional sauce to eat with a tamale is red chili sauce!

Are Tamales Healthy?

Corn masa is a dough and can contain several vitamins and minerals depending on the mixture. Some mixtures can sometimes be high in sodium. It is recommended to always eat in moderation. As for the filling, it varies from tamale to tamale. Store bought tamales may contain a lot of processed ingredients. You can make your own homemade tamales with your choice of filling, for a healthier option!

Corn Flour

Corn flour is a very popular alternative to wheat flour throughout the world. Similar to cornmeal, this fine flour can be used for tortillas and tamales. It also goes by “masa harina”.

Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour


  • Whole Grain Corn

Nutrition Facts (Per 31g):

  • 120 Calories
  • 1g Total Fat
  • 0g Saturated Fat
  • 0g Trans Fat
  • 0mg Cholesterol
  • 0mg Sodium
  • 24g Total Carbohydrates
  • 3g Dietary Fiber
  • 1g Total Sugars
  • 0g Added Sugars
  • 2g Protein

Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour


  • Corn Treated with Hydrated Lime
  • Folic Acid

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/4 cup):

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 350 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 23 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Gluten Free Tamales

Texas Lone Star Tamales – Gourmet Pork Tamales


  • Pork
  • Water
  • Masa (ground cooked corn treated with lime water)
  • Corn Flour (ground corn treated with lime water)
  • Vegetable Oil (soybean oil)
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (soy flour)
  • Onions
  • Liquid creamy Shortening (liquid and hydrogenated soybean oil)
  • Jalapenos
  • Chili Anchos
  • Salt
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Spices
  • Baking Powder (corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Corn Starch
  • Cumin

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Tamale, 2.5 oz, 71g):

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Cholesterol: 20 mg
  • Sodium: 350 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 13 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 9 g

Texas Tamale Company – Gourmet Chicken Tamales


  • Masa (water, Yellow Corn Processed with Lime)
  • Soybean Oil
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Salt
  • Chili Pepper


  • Chicken
  • Soybean Oil
  • Water
  • Onions
  • Chili Pepper
  • Chicken Base
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Powdered Cooked Chicken
  • Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Turmeric
  • Turmeric Extract
  • Garlic
  • Cumin

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Tamale, 85 g):

  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg
  • Sodium: 510 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 17 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 10 g

Tuscon Tamale – Black Bean and Corn Tamale


  • Red Masa:
  • Water
  • Organic Ground Corn Flour (corn Flour, Lime)
  • Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
  • Red Chile Paste (water, Red Chile, Sea Salt)
  • Sea Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Organic Carrot
  • Organic Tomato
  • Organic Onion
  • Organic Potato
  • Organic Garlic
  • Organic Dextrose
  • Organic Raw Cane Sugar
  • Organic Canola Oil
  • Organic Spices
  • Organic Turmeric
  • Filling:
  • Water
  • Organic Sweet Kernel Corn
  • Black Beans
  • Orange Juice
  • Black Bean Seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Sea Salt
  • Spice

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Tamale, 142 g):

  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 390 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 31 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Protein: 6 g

Trader Joe’s Tamales – Chicken and Chile


  • Water
  • Beef
  • beef broth
  • salt
  • corn masa flour (corn masa flour, lime)
  • corn oil
  • tomato paste
  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • seasoning blend (chile pepper, dehydrated onion, garlic powder)
  • salt
  • modified food starch
  • carrageenan
  • cilantro
  • jalapeños

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Tamale, 140 g):

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg
  • Sodium: 670 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 26 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 12 g

Texas Lone Star Tamales – Sweet Cinnamon Raisin Apple Tamales


Filling –

  • Fresh cubed apple
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • water
  • modified corn starch
  • sugar
  • apple juice concentrate
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • citric acid
  • natural and artificial flavors
  • Masa (ground corn and corn flour treated with lime water)
  • Water
  • Brown Sugar
  • White Granulated Sugar
  • Rolled Oats
  • Vegetable Oil (soybean oil)
  • Liquid Shortening (liquid and hydrogenated soybean oil)
  • Raisins
  • Condensed Milk
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Baking Powder
  • Corn Starch
  • Vanilla

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Tamale, 2.5 oz, 71g):

  • Calories: 186
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 198 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 34 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugar: 26 g
  • Protein: 2 g

Gluten-Free Alternatives to Tamales

Cali’flour Chicken Enchilada Bake


  • Tomatillos (Tomatillos, Citric Acid)
  • Cauliflower Crust (Cauliflower
  • Mozzarella [Whole Milk, Enzymes, Cheese Cultures, Salt]
  • Egg Whites
  • Water
  • Fully Cooked Chicken White Meat Raised without added Antibiotics
  • White Chicken Meat
  • Water
  • Potato Starch
  • Salt
  • Cooked Black Beans
  • Green Chiles
  • Monterey Jack Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Onions
  • Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto)
  • Arrowroot
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Green Onions
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Spices
  • Garlic
  • Lime Juice Concentrate
  • Dried Ancho Chiles
  • Sweet Smoked Paprika

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Entrée, 255 g):

  • Calories: 290
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Sodium: 440 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 17 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 21 g

Real Good Food Cheese Enchiladas

Real Good Foods, Low Carb - High Protein - Gluten Free, Grande Cheese Enchiladas (4 Count) Ingredients:

  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • All Natural Chicken Breast
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavor
  • Whole Tomatoes
  • Fresh Vine Ripened California Tomatoes
  • Tomato Juice
  • Fresh Chili Jalapeno
  • Chili Guajillo
  • Chile De Arbol
  • Salt
  • Clove
  • Cumin

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Entrée, 133 g):

  • Calories: 350
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Cholesterol: 100 mg
  • Sodium: 860 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 4 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Protein: 25 g

Tattooed Chef Enchilada Bowl with Riced Cauliflower


  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato Juice
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Citric Acid
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Black Beans
  • Salsa Verde
  • Corn
  • Corn Tortilla
  • Green Chilies
  • Onions
  • Red Peppers
  • Yellow Peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Water
  • Spices
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Honey

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Bowl, 284 g):

  • Calories: 290
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Cholesterol: 35 mg
  • Sodium: 800 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 30 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Protein: 15 g

How to Make Your Own Homemade Tamales


  • 1 package dried corn husks
  • 6 cups masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 2-3 cups of filling of your choice
  • 1 cup salsa

What you will need:

  • Stockpot or instant pot
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Spoon
  • A large mixer
  • Paper towel


  1. Soak the corn husks in a large pan with warm water and cover the pan. Soak for 30 minutes or until the husks are softened. (deep enough to fill with water and completely cover the husks)
  2. While the husks are being soaked, you can begin to prepare your dough. Mix together the masa marina, salt, and baking powder with a whisk until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, then beat on a low speed while slowly adding the oil until all combined. Then add the stock. Beat for 10 minutes until the dough is fluffy, and occasionally stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  4. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Prepare your choice of filling.

To assemble the tamales:

  1. Lay the soaked corn husk on a flat, clean surface. Set aside 1 or 2 corn husks to be shredded into strings.
  2. Use a ¼ cup to measure and scoop out the masa. You can use a spoon or your hands to spread it out into a rectangle that is large enough to wrap around your filling. To prevent the masa from sticking, while working with it, keep a bowl of water nearby and use a little water as needed on the dough.
  3. Add your filling on top of the dough in the center. Use as much as you want, but make sure that you can completely close the masa around the filling.
  4. Next, fold the tamales together. Fold the corn husk in half so that the mass wraps completely around the filling, and pinch together.
  5. Continue wrapping the tamale in the corn husk so that it looks like a burrito. With the extra corn husks that were set aside, tear it up into strings. Use the string to tie the tamale together.
  6. In a stockpot or instant pot add enough water to cover the tamales. Place the tamales in a steam basket and transfer them to your pot to be steamed. Steam for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tamales are hot and cooked through and the masa separates easily from the corn husks.
  7. Remove the tamales from the steamer when ready and serve immediately. You can store and refrigerate the tamales for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.

Related Questions

Are Tamales Dairy Free?

Not all tamales are dairy free. Most tamales have a type of cheese filling, making them not dairy free. If you have an allergy to dairy, always read the food label prior.

Is Corn Flour Vegan?

We have the answer! Read this article here to find out.

What to Eat with Tamales?

You can eat tamales as a meal. Choose your favorite side dish. Sides like chips and salsa, rice, sautéed veggies, or refried beans. Find out if refried beans are keto here.

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Lea Zilinskas

Lea Zilinskas is a soon-to-be Registered Dietitian. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Nutrition from the University of Alabama in 2019 and has worked in clinical, community, and functional healthcare settings. She currently works as a freelancer on various health and nutrition-related projects.

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