By Carley Sheehy

Tamale Kit Comeback (and filling ideas!)

red chile tamale

My love of tamales prompted me to create the DIY Tamale Kit when Global Grub launched back in 2012. I know I might be a little biased but I still think it’s one of the coolest kits… I mean, how many people can say they’ve made their own tamales from scratch!? I was so bummed when I had to discontinue the DIY Tamale Kit in 2014, but it didn’t make sense to keep it “on the menu,” mainly because of some production issues with those pesky little cornhusks (examining each husk to ensure the dirt, bugs and imperfections that are so natural to produce weren’t passed on as a yucky surprise in the kit; it accounted for too much time and waste).

To my delight, my super awesome customers have expressed a longing for the return of the DIY Tamale Kit. They’ve said things like, “the tamales are absolutely delicious,” “the flavors are so authentic,” and “I would’ve never tried making tamales, if it weren’t for your kit.” And of course, my customers are what keep me going! It may have taken some time to problem-solve, but I’m happy to announce that the DIY Tamale Kit is back and it’s time to do some tamale-making!

This kit comeback has me reflecting on the last 4 years, and I believe the cooking landscape has changed quite a bit. We’re cooking more, for fun and adventure (and health, well, sometimes). While the intimidation factor of cooking something new will always be there, we’re more inclined to branch out. So, my hope is that the DIY Tamale Kit will inspire and enable more home cooks to indulge in the fun experience of tamale-making.

DIY-ing has also become more prevalent, which, I for one, could not be happier about. There’s nothing like rolling up your sleeves and creating something special, on your own. I encourage my Global Grub fans to apply this same DIY-spirit to Global Grub kits. This is one of the reasons why I choose not to include the fresh ingredients; I want you to “make it yours” and add your own unique touches. Maybe it’s ingredients from your local Farmers Markets; maybe it’s your favorite meat or no meat at all.

In fact, my friends at Uncommon Goods asked me for some vegetarian tamale ideas. I’m delighted to share some meatless recipes, which I hope you’ll feel free to follow, mix/match ingredients, and/or get creative with your ideas. 

Red Chile Tamale “No Meat, No Problem” Recipe (Use kit and make adaptations below). With our DIY Tamale-Making Kit, you create a delicious red sauce from scratch that incorporates 3 chilies: New Mexico, Ancho and Pasilla. This traditional chili sauce is packed with flavor, yet versatile enough for just about any type of filling. Our kit recipe calls for a pork or chicken filling, but… no meat, no problem!

Green Chile Cheese with Red Chile Sauce

Meat substitutions:

  • Whole roasted green chilies (2x7oz cans)

  • Jack or Cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 Ib or 3 cups)

Cooking instructions/assembly alterations:

  • After you’ve spread the masa on the husk, add 1 whole green chili, 1 tbsp red chile sauce and 2 tbsp cheese

Potato Cheese with Red Chile Sauce

Meat substitutions:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes, cut into ¼-in strips (or use butternut squash when in season)
  • Jack or Cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 Ib or 3 cups)
  • Optional: Sliced black olives (2oz can)

Cooking instructions/assembly alterations:

  • Sautee strips of potato/butternut squash with salt and pepper, until browned and semi-soft
  • After you’ve spread the masa on the husk, add 3 strips of potato, 1 tbsp red chile sauce, 1 tbsp cheese and a few sliced olives

Black Bean Corn with Red Chili Sauce

Meat substitutions:

  • Bell peppers, cut into ½-in strips
  • Corn kernals (fresh or canned, 3 cups)
  • Black beans (32oz can)

Cooking instructions/assembly alterations:

  • Mix the corn and beans
  • After you’ve spread the masa on the husk, add 1 strip of bell pepper, 2 tbsp corn/bean mixture and 1 tbsp red chile sauce

And, there you have it… 3 of the endless possibilities for vegetarian tamales. Have anymore filling ideas to share? Comment below, we’d love to hear!global grub tamale making


  • Awe, thanks Ron! Great to see your name pop up. And I’m blushing! Means a lot coming from you! I found a new supplier that painstakingly cleans and sorts all of the corn husks. What a difference in production for us!

    Carley on

  • So how did you resolve the husk problem? This blog is SUPER well done. Great job carly I am envious. you tube video is top shelf.

    Ron on

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