Simple, Kid-Friendly, Sweet Tamales

Not many people have tried sweet tamales. However, growing up, my grandma always made sweet tamales for us kids. I loved those sweet raisin-filled tamales as a kid and as a mom I wanted to share this childhood treat with my own children. Unfortunately my kids aren’t fond of raisins, so off to the test kitchen I went.

Making tamales is usually time consuming but this recipe is simple and similar to making cookie dough. With a little bit of planning, the tamales can be prepared in about one hour, not including soaking the corn husks or steaming the tamales.

For this recipe I thought I’d go with a more playful look, so I twisted the ends and tied them off with extra strands of cornhusk, giving each one a candy look. My kids flipped over the idea. These might look difficult to assemble, but actually my children helped with this step – they are fun and easy.

We love tamales in our family and these are no exception. We usually make several dozen before Christmas and have plenty to freeze. We then defrost them, re-steam or microwave them, and eat them on special occasions such as Christmas, Día de Los Reyes (Kings Day), and Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas). Savory tamales usually take longer but with this recipe you can enjoy sweet tamales in a couple of hours. For an added kick, drizzle tamales with a rum glaze and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

What is your favorite sweet tamal?

Sweet Coconut and Pineapple Tamales

Yield: Makes 15 to 18 tamales


1 small package of dry cornhusks

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 (20-ounce can) pineapple chunks, chopped

For the Masa:
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups masa harina, corn flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups coconut cream
1/4 cup condensed milk

Rum Glaze (optional):
¼ teaspoon rum extract
1/4 cup condensed milk


Preparing Corn Husks:
About 1 hour before you need the cornhusks, submerse into a bath of warm water, separating them. After 30 minutes go through soft cornhusks and remove any excess silk threads and rinse off excess dust particles. Return to clean warm water for 30 minutes more.

Make tamale filling:
In a skillet, dry toast coconut flakes over low heat about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Chop the pineapple chunks and set aside.

Make Tamale Masa:
Warm the coconut cream and condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat. Set aside.

Place butter in a mixer and mix until creamy. Add vanilla, masa harina, baking powder, salt, and warm coconut cream and condensed milk. Mix until well combined.

Spread Masa:
Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand; narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk spread 2 tablespoons of the masa with the back of a spoon in a rectangle or oval shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk.

Fill Corn Husks:
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of chopped pineapple down the center of the masa and then sprinkle with coconut. Fold over the ends of the husk until they meet and roll. Secure by tying thin strips of cornhusk to each end.

Steam Tamales:
Use a deep pot or tamale steamer to steam tamales. If using a tamale steamer fill with water up to the fill line. Set the tamale rack over the water. Stack tamales in the pot until filled. Cover pot with a tightly fitting lid. Set heat on high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Keep lid on tightly. To test if done, put one tamal on a plate and take off the cornhusk. If it comes off without sticking to the tamal they are done.

Rum Glaze:
Mix in rum extract with ¼ cup condensed milk. Remove tamal from the cornhusk, plate, and drizzle with rum glaze.

Written by Veronica / Photos by Veronica

This post is part of the BlogHer Dinner, Faster editorial series, made possible by Land o’ Lakes.


  1. These sound wonderful! I remember sweet tamales from when I was a child, but I rarely see them now.

  2. These sound absolutely delicious! YUMM!

  3. I have made up sweet tamales using home made Mincemeat…. they where very popular….

  4. What a cool idea…love the sweet tamale! Yum – that filling sounds so tasty. 🙂

  5. They really sound yummy with the rum glaze. UUUUUMMMMMM
    They also look very pretty. good job mija.

  6. Is that regular or sweetened condensed milk?

  7. My grandfather would make them for my grandmother and me. We were the only ones who liked sweet tamales. I remember them having raisins and I think pineapple. He didn’t make that many because everyone wanted the beef and pork tamales. Making tamales was a family affair at my grandparents. My mom and I have started the tradition of having a family tamale making day. She makes the beef chilli while I make the green pork chilli. Thanks for the sweet tamale recipe, I think I going to have to try your recipe.

  8. Hi,
    Just a quick question, is coconut milk interchangeable with coconut cream in this recipe?


    • D,

      I would not recommend it since I haven’t used it. You can usually find coconut milk in the baking aisle — it is not refrigerated. I’m guessing cream can be used for a richer and sweeter option.

  9. Hi again!
    Sorry, it’s just that in your recipe it says to use coconut cream, but I have coconut milk in my pantry. Does the recipe call for coconut milk?

    Thanks again!

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