Sweet Strawberry Tamales Recipe (Tamal de Fresa)

Mexican sweet tamales are such a treat and making them at home isn’t difficult. This delicious strawberry tamales recipe is made with fresh strawberries, they have a light pink dough and are filled with strawberry jam. They’re perfect with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate or atole.

One strawberry tamale drizzled with strawberry jam laying on top of a corn husk that's on a decorative Mexican plate.
Strawberry Tamales

Strawberry Tamales

Imagine a soft, tamale that combines the traditional airy texture of masa dough with delicious, sweet and juicy fresh strawberries.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Just like savory tamales, sweet tamales are such a treat and there are countless variations in flavors. From traditional ones to modern and delightful twist on traditional tamales like the cheese and guava paste tamales recipe in my tamales cookbook.

Basically, if you can dream a dessert tamales flavor you can make it.

These strawberry tamales are one of the more popular sweet flavors. It really is no wonder because they’re packed full of fruity taste. If you’ve never had a sweet tamal then these strawberry ones are a great place to start. 

One sweet pineapple or piña tamale with a cherry in the center
Sweet Tamales de Piña or Pineapple Tamales

Popular Sweet Tamale Flavors

Besides these strawberry tamales there are other popular sweet tamales flavors. 

  • Tamales Dulces: These are generally a bright pink color and have raisins mixed into the tamale dough.
  • Tamales de Piña: Pineapple tamales are made with chunks of pineapple mixed into the dough. I have a recipe you may enjoy.
  • Tamales de Chocolate: These sweet tamales have either chopped chocolate or cocoa powder mixed into the dough. Sometimes nuts are also included.
  • Tamales de Zarzamora: Blackberry tamales sometimes also have cream cheese mixed in. 
  • Uchepos or Tamal de elote: These green corn tamales are made with fresh, tender corn kernels and are a must try!
  • Tamales de Cajeta: Made with sweet goat milk caramel sauce, sometimes it’s called Mexican dulce de leche. They may also have pecans and cream cheese mixed in.
  • Tamales de Calabaza: Pumpkin tamales have become popular over the last few years. They are more of a Mexican-American fusion, yet still delicious!
One vegan sweet tamale made with strawberries on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Strawberry Tamales Recipe


  • Strawberry tamales are among the best tasting sweet tamales.
  • You can easily make these vegan, dairy-free or vegetarian. So perfect for everyone.
  • Did you know tamales are gluten-free? The masa is corn flour so it’s gluten free.
  • If you make strawberry tamales for a fiesta you don’t have to worry about the dessert. 
  • These tamales are sweet enough and are light, airy, a little decadent and just downright delicious!
  • Strawberry tamales are quite easy to make. 

Are These Tamales Vegan?

Yes, this is a vegan tamales recipe. It’s perfectly safe for anyone looking for a sweet plant-based tamales or dairy-free tamales recipe.

We won’t be using any animal products in this recipe. Check the ingredients list below. 

Can These Strawberry Tamales Be Made Vegetarian?

Absolutely! In fact, many people make these sweet strawberry tamales a vegetarian recipe. If you are ever offered sweet tamales make sure to ask whether lard or butter was used to make the tamales. 

Ingredients for making strawberry tamales inside individual bowls. They are masa harina, milk, strawberries, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt.
Strawberry Tamales Ingredients

Strawberry Tamales Ingredients

A short note regarding the tamale dough: My recipe uses masa harina, and though you can absolutely make them with fresh masa, I use the corn flour in my recipes because many people don’t have access to a Latino supermarket to buy fresh masa.

  • Fresh Strawberries: We’ll be making our own strawberry jam filling so the fresher the better.
  • Water
  • Corn Starch: This is to help thicken the homemade jam a bit. 
  • Vanilla Extract: To flavor the strawberry jam and tamale dough.
  • Vegan Cane Sugar: Vegan sugar means it hasn’t been refined with animal bones. An alternative would be light brown sugar.
  • Vegan Butter: For the vegetarian strawberry tamales use regular unsalted dairy butter or margarine.
  • Baking Powder: This is to help make the tamale dough light and airy.
  • Salt: To bring out the flavors.
  • Vegan Pink or Red Food Coloring: Regular red food coloring is made with ground up beetles. You can also omit it if desired, the tamales will still taste delicious.
  • Masa Harina: I use the one specifically for tamales.
  • Soy Milk: Unsweetened kind. You could also use almond milk but I prefer the soy because it’s thicker and I like the results better. For vegetarian version use whole fat milk. 
  • Corn Husks: Sweet tamales are wrapped in corn husks rather than banana leaves.

Ingredient Notes

If you don’t want to do a homemade strawberry jam then you can use a big jar or a couple jars of store-bought kind. I would actually suggest buying strawberry preserves and the highest quality you can budget for. This will ensure your tamales are delicious. 

Instead of vegan butter you could use firm coconut oil, just make sure it’s refined coconut oil so it doesn’t have a coconut taste.

Some people like to mix in chopped strawberries into the tamale dough.

There are also many people that like to add a dollop of cream cheese to the center of the dough with the strawberry jam. For dairy cream cheese, Philadelphia Cream Cheese is a perfect brand. For vegan cream cheese you need to make sure it’s a brand that doesn’t melt into an oil once heated. I hear Tofutti cream cheese is a good option.

How to Make Strawberry Tamales

Making your own homemade tamales isn’t difficult at all. Once you do it a few times you’ll really get the hang of things and you’ll see just how easy it is and you’ll want to make tamales often. I have LOTS of experience so feel free to reach out with questions anytime.

Closeup view of making strawberry jam in a cream colored pot.
Making Strawberry Jam for Tamales

Step 1: Make The Strawberry Jam

As I mentioned above, you can also use store-bought strawberry jam. See Ingredient Notes section above. 

Pour a little water into a large saucepan. Then add the chopped strawberries, vanilla extract, and sugar. Simmer over medium-low heat until the strawberry pieces begin to break down.

Use a potato masher to help break up larger pieces if needed. Mix the cornstarch with a little water then mix into the strawberries.

Simmer until the jam begins to thicken. It’ll take about 15 to 20 minutes. You can remove a tablespoon and let it cool to test how thick it gets.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. The best way to ensure the temperature and that it’s thickened enough is to make it at least a few hours or the day before making the tamales.

Step 2: Prepare The Corn Husks

Sort through the dried corn husks to remove any dirt, debris or badly damaged ones.

Thoroughly rinse. Place inside a very large pot or bowl or right in the sink. Pour plenty of warm water over them and allow to soak for a few hours until they have softened and are pliable.

Mixing pink masa for strawberry tamales inside a large glass bowl.

Step 3: Make The Sweet Tamales Masa

To a large bowl add the butter and sugar and whip until creamed. Add the baking powder and salt and whip on low speed until well combined. Mix in the vanilla extract and food coloring, if using. Whip until well combined.

Slowly start adding in the masa harina and mix on medium speed to medium-high speed as best as possible. Begin adding the milk little by little. Stop to scrape down the sides.

A big glass mixing bowl filled with pink colored sweet masa for making strawberry tamales.
Pink Masa for Sweet Tamales

Continue adding milk until you have a smooth, creamy and airy tamale masa dough. (You can do the masa float test if you’d like.) If you want to add pieces of strawberry to the masa you can fold them into it at this time.

Showing step-by-step how to spread masa on corn husks then adding the strawberry jam filling and rolling up.

Step 4: Make The Tamales

Place corn husks in a colander to drain and remove any excess water on them.

Grab a corn husk, make sure the smooth side is facing up,  and on the wider end spread a couple of tablespoons of masa. Try not to go all the way to the edge of the sides of the husk.

Next add a heaping tablespoon of strawberry jam into the middle of dough (if you’re using cream cheese add it on top of the jam).

Grab both long sides of the corn husk and bring them towards the center to fold on top of each other. 

Now fold the narrow end up towards the top. If you’d like you can use a corn husk strip to tie around the tamal for decorative purposes or to help distinguish them from other tamales you may be making at the same time.

Repeat until all of the masa and filling has been used up.

Rolled up strawberry tamales inside a tamalera steamer pot ready to be cooked.

Step 5: Steam The Tamales

Add a few cups water to your tamales steamer pot or to the indicated water level on the side of the steamer. (You can use hot water to help it boil faster if you’d like, I use lukewarm water from the faucet.) Then place the steamer rack inside the pot.

Arrange the tamales upright, open side up, inside the steamer pot. Try not to squeeze them in too tightly because they need room to expand.

Cover the pot with aluminum foil, cut a small hole in the center then secure the lid on the steamer pot.

Place on the stove and bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce flame to medium-low and steam tamales for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes carefully remove one tamal from the pot and let it sit for 8 minutes. If it easily peels away from the corn husk it’s done cooking, if not steam for another 15 minutes before checking again.

A small brown bowl filled with steamed strawberry tamales.

How to Serve

Oh the best part, eating your homemade tamales!

You can serve a delicious strawberry tamale with fresh strawberry slices, a dollop cream sauce using the sweet version of my dairy-free Mexican sour cream recipe. Additionally a drizzle of just strawberry jam on top is quite delicious – whip cream would taste wonderful as well.

To drink Mexican hot chocolate goes great, as would atole de vainilla or strawberry atole would be yummy.

These tamales are perfect for serving at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Las Posadas, New Years and el Día de La Candelaria…or whenever you are craving sweet tamales too.

One cooked strawberry tamale laying on a corn husk and drizzled with homemade strawberry jam.

How to Store

Allow the tamales to come to room temperature then you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 7 days is no dairy was used. If dairy was used store for up to 4 days.

These tamales can also be stored in freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months. 

For more tamales storing tips make sure to read my guide: How to Store Tamales.

A close up view of a strawberry tamale filled and covered with strawberry jam.

How to Reheat

To reheat leftover cooked tamales place them in the steamer pot for 10 minutes. Or you can also microwave them for a couple of minutes.

If reheating cooked frozen tamales, defrost first then put in the steamer pot for 20 minutes then check.

For more tips on reheating tamales do read my guide: How to Reheat Tamales.

Pressure Cooker Tamales with Vegetable Steamer Basket.
Vegetable Steamer Basket Inside Pressure Cooker

Strawberry Tamales Tips

Here are some great tips to ensure that your homemade strawberry tamales turn out perfect and delicious!

  • Sweet tamales are made small, so don’t make them too big.
  • Make sure strawberry filling, or the jam, is cooled completely. You can make it the day before, refrigerate and next day it’ll be cold and thicker. 
  • The butter and milk should be at room temperature to help ingredients better combine.
  • I like to use my handheld electric mixer but you can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment if desired. Or the old fashion way is to mix by hand. 
  • The strawberry jam can become a bit runny once heated so press seam of the tamales corn husks to create a secure pocket.
  • You can lay extra corn husks on the steamer tray before standing the tamales up inside the steamer pot. 
  • If you don’t own a tamalera, or tamale steamer pot, you can also use a regular large pot with a steamer basket. You can also cook these tamales in the Instant Pot using the steamer insert. Read my guide How to Steam Tamales Without a Steamer.
  • Instead of using the aluminum foil you can add a layer of corn husks over the top of the tamales then secure the lid and steam.
A plate with a corn husk with a little bit of leftover  strawberry jam leftover from the strawberry tamale that was eaten.

Sweet Strawberry Tamales Recipe

Amigos, there are lots of different ways to make these strawberry tamales. I think my way is pretty easy and as someone who prefers savory tamales over sweet tamales, let me tell you that these are really good!

Every time I make them I make a small batch and always end up wishing I had doubled or tripled the recipe. So, I really do think you’re going to also enjoy these sweet tamales.

Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help!

Buen provecho!

One cooked strawberry tamale laying on a corn husk and drizzled with homemade strawberry jam.

Strawberry Tamales Recipe (Tamal de Fresa)

Nancy Lopez & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
This delicious strawberry tamales recipe is made with fresh strawberries, they have a light pink dough and are filled with strawberry jam. They’re perfect with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate or atole.
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Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican, Vegan Mexican Recipe
Servings 16 servings
Calories 252 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Strawberry Jam Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. strawberries leaves removed and roughly chopped
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar vegan
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch

Strawberry Tamales Ingredients

  • 6.50 oz. salted butter vegan or dairy butter
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar vegan
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 lbs. masa harina the kind for Tamales
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk or whole fat milk
  • 16 to 18 corn husks

Instructions
 

Strawberry Jam Instructions

  • Pour water into a pot or saucepan then add the strawberries, vanilla extract and sugar. Simmer until strawberries begin to break down.
  • Mix cornstarch with a little bit of water until fully dissolved. Mix into the strawberry mixture and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or until the jam has thickened. Remove a tablespoon from the pot, allow to cool and if it thickens up it’s ready.
  • Pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely before using. Cooling overnight is best or at least for a few hours.

Strawberry Tamales Instructions

  • Sort through the corn husks and remove any dirt, debris or damages husks. Rinse thoroughly then leave to soak in warm or hot water in the sink or in a very large container.
  • Whip the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy and airy. Add the baking powder and salt and mix until well combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Add the food coloring and mix until well combined. You can check the color and add more now if you want a brighter color. Or wait until you’ve mixed in the masa harina then add more coloring.
  • Add in the masa harina gradually and mix until well combined. Start pouring in the milk gradually and mixing it into the masa dough. Gradually add more milk as needed until you have a smooth, creamy, airy and easy to spread masa. The consistency will be like creamy peanut butter, not too thick and not too runny.
  • Drain the corn husks and shake off or pat dry to remove any excess water.
  • Lay a corn husks with the smooth, shiny side up then drop a couple tablespoons of the tamale masa onto it. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread it on the top wider end of the husk. Try not to go all the way to the top or side edges and the bottom tapered part shouldn’t have any masa. Please reference the video or photos for a visual guide.
  • Next add a heaping tablespoon of cooled strawberry jam into the middle of dough (if you’re using cream cheese add it on top of the jam).
  • Grab both long sides of the corn husk and bring them towards the center to fold on top of each other. Now fold the narrow end up towards the top. If you’d like you can use a corn husk strip to tie around the tamal for decorative purposes or to help distinguish them from other tamales you may be making at the same time.
  • Repeat until all of the masa and filling has been used up. Don’t make the tamales too big. I ended up with 16 medium-small tamales.
  • Fill the tamale steamer pot with water to the indicated water level. Secure the steaming rack then arrange the tamales, open side up, inside of the pot. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, cut a small whole in the center then secure the pot’s lid in place.
  • Place on the stove over medium-high heat and allow to come to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat down to medium-low and steam for 45 minutes.
  • Carefully remove a tamal form the pot and allow to cool for 8 minutes. Unwrap and if it peels away from the corn husk easily then they tamales are cooked through. If not, steam for another 15 minutes. Then enjoy!

Video

Notes

Please note that the nutritional information are estimates and will vary according to the products you use.
If you don’t want to make the strawberry jam you can use store bought. 

Nutrition

Serving: 16servingsCalories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 3gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 163mgPotassium: 183mgFiber: 3gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 403IUVitamin C: 33mgCalcium: 101mgIron: 2mg
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