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These keto tamales taste like the real deal, but they’re made without the corn and carbs of traditional tamales. Just like my keto tamale pie, keto cornbread, and keto popcorn, we’re using a secret ingredient to give it classic corn flavor, without the corn!
For a flavor and texture like the masa in traditional tamales, you need the right flour. Wholesome Yum Almond Flour makes the perfect substitute because it cooks up soft and has a find grind for the ultimate soft texture. You won’t miss the original!
What Is A Tamale?
A tamale is a Mexican dish made up of a masa dough that is spread out on a dried corn husk. A filling (chicken, pork, vegetable, etc.) is added before the corn husk is rolled up and the whole thing is steamed.
Are Tamales Keto?
Classic tamales made with masa are not keto friendly, because corn on keto has too many carbs. However, it’s easy to create a keto friendly tamale with authentic flavor.
How Many Carbs In Tamales?
Traditional tamales have more than 20 grams carbohydrates per tamale. Because we’re making this one with some keto swaps, each tamale has just 3.35 grams net carbs.
Why You’ll Love This Keto Tamales Recipe
- Classic tamale flavors
- Easy to make
- Made with basic keto ingredients
- Keto, low carb, and gluten-free
- Just 3.35 grams net carbs per tamale (6.7 grams per serving of two)
Ingredients You’ll Need
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for low carb tamales, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
For The Wrapping & “Masa”:
- Dried Corn Husks – These can be found in Mexican markets and some grocery stores, or get it delivered right to your door. You can’t make tamales without them.
- Wholesome Yum Blanched Almond Flour – This is the best keto flour as it’s super-fine and results in the closest texture to traditional flours. In this recipe, we’re using it as a “keto masa” flour. Sorry, substituting coconut flour won’t work here; it absorbs moisture too much and would require a completely different recipe.
- Sweet Corn Extract – This gives the almond flour the flavor of corn masa, without adding all of the carbs.
- Spices – Sea salt and cumin. If you like spice, you could also add some chili powder.
- Baking Powder – This helps give volume to the tamale wrapper so that it isn’t too dense.
- Avocado Oil – Or any vegetable oil.
- Wholesome Yum Psyllium Husk Powder – This acts as a binder in our tamale wrapper and I created my own because I had trouble finding one that was good enough.
For The Filling:
- Shredded Chicken – This shredded chicken is super easy, but you could also use store-bought shredded chicken or even rotisserie chicken.
- Salsa – Use your favorite salsa — homemade or store-bought are fine.
See below for other filling variations and topping ideas!
How To Make Keto Tamales
This section shows how to make keto friendly tamales with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Prep corn husks. Place corn husks in a large pot filled with warm water. Set aside until softened.
- Mix keto masa. In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, corn extract, sea salt, cumin, baking powder, avocado oil, and psyllium husk powder. Add hot water and mix until it forms a paste.
- Make tamale filling. In a medium bowl, stir together shredded chicken and salsa.
- Assemble. Lay a corn husk flat and pat dry with a paper towel. Use a large cookie scoop and add a scoop of the batter to each corn husk. Use your fingers or a spoon to spread it over the husk evenly.
- Add filling. Add a tablespoon of chicken and salsa filling on top of the almond flour mixture to each corn husk.
- Fold. Fold the corn husk edges toward the middle of the tamale, then fold over, so that one side is sealed and the other is open. Tie securely. You can use one spare corn husk to rip some strips off and tie the tamales, or you can use kitchen twine. Repeat with all the tamales.
- Cook. Place tamales open side up in a steamer basket (with water in the pot below the basket), cover, and steam for 35 minutes. (Alternatively, you can steam them in your Instant Pot by adding 1 cup of water to the bottom, placing the steamer basket with tamales on top, and pressure cooking for 20 minutes at high pressure.)
Thislow carb tamale recipe is also totally customizable. Here are some ideas to switch things up — use 2 cups of filling and 1 cup of sauce, no matter what kinds you choose.
- Chicken – This is the original recipe and we’re using shredded chicken and salsa.
- Ground Beef – Brown ground beef with taco seasoning like this keto taco casserole recipe.
- Barbacoa Beef – Use the slow cooker barbacoa beef as the filling.
- Pork – Use slow cooker pulled pork. You can leave it plain or mix it with salsa, similar to the chicken version.
- Cheese – Probably not enough on its own, but you can add a tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese (or pepper jack for heat) in addition to the meat of your choice.
- Vegetables – Try sauteed mushrooms, peppers, and/or onions.
- Tomato Salsa – Use this classic tomato salsa in both the filling and for serving. It’s simple and delicious.
- Avocado Salsa – This avocado salsa is creamy, fresh, and flavorful. It will add great flavor to your tamales.
- Enchilada Sauce – Making your own enchilada sauce takes just 10 minutes.
- Pico De Gallo – Diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, and salt.
- Avocado – Sliced, diced, or made into guacamole.
- Cheese – Shredded Mexican, crumbled Cotija, or queso for drizzling are all great choices.
- Sour Cream
- Fresh Cilantro
- Store: Keep tamales in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: Make the shredded chicken and salsa mixture ahead of time.
- Reheat: Reheat tamales in the steamer or wrap tightly with foil and bake in a 350 degree F oven, until warm.
- Freeze: Wrap the keto tamales in plastic wrap and store in freezer for up to 6 months.
More Keto Mexican Recipes
If you like this keto diet tamale recipe, you might also like some of these other keto Mexican recipes:
- Cookie Scoop – This makes scooping the low carb masa quick and easy.
- Dried Corn Husks – You’ll need these to wrap the tamales.
Keto Tamales Recipe
Learn how to make keto tamales at home! They have a secret ingredient that gives them corn flavor without the carbs, and much easier than you think.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Wrappers & Keto Masa Dough:
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Place the corn husks in a large pot and cover with warm water. Let them sit for 30 minutes, until softened.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine the almond flour, corn extract, sea salt, cumin, baking powder, avocado oil, and psyllium husk powder. Add the hot water and mix until it forms a paste. Set aside.
To make the filling, mix the shredded chicken and the salsa together.
Cover the filling and almond flour mixture with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Once the corn husks are soft and ready to use, lay them flat on a surface. Pat them dry with paper towels. Using a large cookie scoop, add one scoop of the almond flour mixture to each corn husk. Using a spoon or your fingers spread it evenly.
Add one tablespoon of chicken filling on top of the almond flour mixture. Fold the long sides inward, then fold over, so that one side is sealed and the other is open. Tie securely. You can use one spare corn husk to rip some strips off and tie the tamales, or you can use kitchen twine. Repeat with all the tamales.
Place the tamales, open side up, in a steamer basket fitted over a pot of water, such that the basket is above the water. Cover and steam for 35 minutes. (Alternatively, you can steam them in your Instant Pot by adding 1 cup of water to the bottom, placing the steamer basket with tamales on top, and pressure cooking for 20 minutes at high pressure.)
To serve, unroll keto tamales on a plate. If desired, add toppings, such as fresh pico de gallo, avocado, shredded Mexican blend cheese, sour cream, or cilantro.
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
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Serving size: 2 tamales
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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Love your recipes, my kids love the tamales and so do I . Thank you for these simple amazing recipes.
Did anyone else have issues with the masa staying together after cooking? Also, my had a purplish tint… I thought maybe it was the psyllium husk?
It tasted good!
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Taylor, Yes, certain psyllium husk powders can cause your food to turn purple. I suggest using Wholesome Yum Psyllium Husk Powder it won’t turn your food purple.
YUM! Always down for a new tamale recipe and this one introduces new flavors I’ve never had! Love keeping it keto friendly.
These tamales are like eating out in a restaurant but in the comfort of home. So delicious and so easy to make.
I just recently went keto a couple of months ago and Mexican food I miss so much! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you for this!
This looks so amazing, never tried it before. It would be on my cook list for sure as it seems very easy yet perfect during my keto diet days.
What brand of corn flavoring do you use? There’s tons to choose from and the reviews for them are really mixed.
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Maria, Here is the corn extract that I use.
Hello, whatever happened to the Easy Tamale Pie recipe. I clicked on the bookmark link, and it brings me here.
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Hi Brian, That recipe is currently exclusive to the Wholesome Yum app, on iPhone here and Android here.
Suggestions on making without corn husks? Thank you
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Phyllis, I have never tried to make them like that.
The only other alternatives I have seen used in tamales are banana leaves. Not sure if that will change with this being almond flour but with regular tamales you can use banana leaves or corn husks. It’s a regional thing.
These are seriously so good!! I loved them and will be making them again!
I never realized how easy these were to make! Love that they’re low carb but with all the awesome flavor of regular!
Can you use beef or pork as your protein instead of chicken? I just don’t like chicken and being from Texas, I would like a more authentic tamale.
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Hi Laura, Absolutely! I have filling variations listed in the post above.
This recipe is crazy-good! I’ll make it again and again.
So fun and easy to make! The kids LOVED them, too!
I’ve been craving tamales and this keto recipe hit the spot! Easy to make and so so delicious. Will definitely make it again!
Delicious! That corn extract is amazing. I will make these again!