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How To Make Authentic Sweet Tamales (3 Different Varieties)

Inside: If you love Tamales, then you will want to try these three different varieties of sweet tamales as soon as possible. 

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Looking for savory tamales? Click here.  

sweet tamales recipe

Sweet tamales are very popular in the streets of Mexico. They come in many different flavors and colors. They are great to eat with family and friends accompanied with atole or hot chocolate on a cool day. That said, you can eat these pretty much any time and you will be happy!

On the Dia de la Candelaria, everywhere you look is filled with tamales, sweet and savory. You can find them filled with pork, beef, chicken, and of course any number of sweet flavors such as strawberry, pineapple, and dulce de leche. The reason for that is because of the Dia de Los Reyes celebration, in which everyone that cuts into the Rosca de Reyes and pulls out a baby Jesus figurine is required to make tamales for everyone else on the Dia de la Candelaria!

Of course, everyone has their own tastes, and some people like sweet tamales more than savory tamales and vice versa. Personally, I love both varieties, but my husband prefers the sweet tamales. 

sweet tamales open and ready to enjoy

How Do You Make Sweet Tamales?

When making sweet tamales, you will use the same masa, or dough, as you do for savory tamales. However, how you prepare that dough is quite different. In order for the masa to be sweet, you will use a combination of butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Then, we add different fillings to create different sweet flavors. 

sweet tamales process pecan and dulce de leche

This time, I made three varieties: pineapple and raisin, strawberry with strawberry preserves and cream cheese, and of course, my favorite, dulce de leche with pecans and cream cheese. 

Although I love these flavors, there are really infinite possibilities including chocolate, peach, apples, and blueberries to name a few. 

sweet tamales in a bowl

Tamales always taste better when you make them with recently ground masa. That said, it can be very difficult to find that if you live outside of Mexico like I do. I personally can only purchase masa at a Mexican market that is about an hour away from my house, so it can be difficult to get it when I need it. However, just like I shared in my savory tamales recipe, you can substitute freshly ground masa with flour for tamales from the store and they will still turn out great.

Sweet tamales in steamer

I love this recipe because it let me share my traditions with my family. Making tamales can be difficult and it takes time, but it is much easier when everyone pitches in and helps to fill them, roll them, and put them in the steamer!

Sweet tamales plate

These tamales are without a doubt proof that Mexican cuisine is one of the best in the world! Don’t forget to try these and tell me how they turn out in the comments below. 

sweet tamales recipe
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4.12 from 26 votes

Authentic Sweet Tamales

If you love Tamales, then you will want to try these three different varieties of sweet tamales as soon as possible. 
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: tamales
Servings: 30 Tamales
Calories: 359kcal


For the Dough

  • 3 lbs recently ground corn masa or 4 cups of flour for tamales
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 can evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the fillings

  • Food coloring red and yellow
  • 1 can cubed pineapples or a fresh pineapple cut into cubes
  • 1 can crushed pineapples
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 bar cream cheese optional
  • 1 can dulce de leche
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 30 corn husks for tamales


  • Soak the corn husks for tamales in water to soften them, and then drain the excess water. 
  • Combine all of the dough ingredients and knead until they are combined and integrated. If the dough is to moist at this point, add additional flour or dough. If it is too firm, then you can add a little bit of milk to soften it.
  • Divide the dough into three equal parts. Add yellow food coloring to one of the parts, red food coloring to another, and no food coloring to the third. Knead with your hands until the color is evenly distributed. 
  • Once the dough is ready, add a small amount in one of the corn husks (approximately 4 tablespoons should be enough), and flatten with your hands so it goes all the way from one end to the other (see image)
    sweet tamales process pecan and dulce de leche
  • For the pineapple flavor, add some of the crushed pineapple to the dough and mix it in, flattening on the corn husk once you have finished. Then add the pineapple chunks in the center along with some raisins. Fold the pointy part of the tamal down slightly, and then roll the tamal up like a burrito. Place it top-side up in the steamer. 
  • For the strawberry flavor, add a small amount of the strawberry preserves, some chopped strawberries, and a tablespoon of cream cheese to the center of the dough, and fold as instructed above. Place in the steamer as well. 
  • For the dulce de leche tamales, add a tablespoon of dulce de leche, a tablespoon of cream cheese, and a few chopped pecans to the center of the dough and follow the instructions above. 
  • Cover the tamales with the remaining corn husks and add enough water to your steamer where it doesn't touch the tamales. Top with the lid and let cook in the steamer for 1.5 hours.
  • Once cooked, let them cool a little bit and then unwrap and enjoy with atole or hot chocolate. 


Serving: 1Tamal | Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 68mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 315IU | Vitamin C: 4.3mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 3.8mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @mylatinatable or tag #mylatinatable!

If you love Tamales, then you will want to try these three different varieties of sweet tamales as soon as possible. 

Recipe Rating

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Saturday 8th of April 2023

Yes I am curious about it being 3lbs or 3 cups


Sunday 26th of March 2023

so i guess you meant 3 cups masa not 3 lbs?


Monday 25th of December 2023


If you’re using Maseca flour, it’s sold in a 3lb bag. Usually tamales are made in big batches, so the 3lb bag is enough for the mix.

Roger Wilson

Sunday 1st of January 2023

Was surprised to read your comment that fresh ground masa is difficult to find outside of Mexico. It is readily available here in Topeka KS and most US cities where there are Mexican American communities.


Thursday 5th of January 2023

@Roger Wilson, This surprised me too! Granted, I'm in the SF Bay so we have an abundance of cultural offerings, but even in an unincorporated lil outskirts community, we have fresh masa in strawberry or pineapple readily available for about 1.67-2.69# on any given day... I genuinely love the Hispanic grocery stores in my area, but I never like my bill! I can't seem to get out of there for less than $300! And does it turns out I'm learning? Much curiosity, it's the American items I'm basically overpaying for! If I went in there and just bought the items I cannot get at my regular store I'd probably be all right!


Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

When you say half a can evaporated milk...what size can is that? I see three sizes...and as for butter, does this need to be room temperature and salted or unsalted?


Thursday 23rd of April 2020

This recipe is delicious , I made a few changes instead of sugar I used condensed milk and regular milk.

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