Tamales de frijol, calabaza, y epazote

Tamales de frijol, calabaza, y epazote with Primary Beans x Tamoa Parraleno beans


This recipe was designed exclusively for our Primary Beans x Tamoa collaboration by Bolita founder, Emmanuel Galván. Eaten widely across Mexico but with many regional variations, tamales are both a celebratory and convenience food. While lard is traditionally used, this version can be made entirely vegan by using grapeseed oil. Look for fresh masa, corn husks, and epazote at Mexican grocery stores or farmers' markets. And if you're in the Bay Area, you can buy fresh masa from Bolita!

Featured bean: Ayocote Morado 

Other beans to try: Flor de Mayo, Flor de Junio

Take 'em from dried to cooked with our guide

Print recipe here


What you’ll need

The beans

  • 1-1⁄2 cups cooked beans, flavored with 2 springs fresh epazote  

The tamales

  • 1 lb fresh masa 
  • 2 summer squash, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 oz non-GMO grapeseed oil, lard, or any other vegetable oil + more oil for cooking
  • ¼ cup epazote leaves
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ large red onion, finely minced
  • ½ tsp ground chile de árbol
  • 1 tbsp ground ancho chile
  • 6 large corn husks, soaked in hot water
  • Salt to taste

For serving

  • Full-fat sour cream or crema
  • Your favorite salsa
  • Pickled onions or curtido



Prepare the corn husks and masa: Place husks in a large bowl and cover them with hot water. Set a heavy item on top of the husks to keep them submerged. Soak for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Using your fingers, extend masa on a sheet tray and let it dry out for 2-3 hours (cook beans and filling while you wait). Once masa has lost some moisture, place it in a stand mixture or a large bowl and begin to mix with 1 tbsp of salt. Add 1 oz of oil or lard at a time, and mix for 1-2 minutes. Repeat until you've incorporated all 4 oz of fat and masa feels silky, and slightly oily. If masa feels too oily, keep mixing for an additional 3-4 minutes. Place masa in the refrigerator.

Make the filling: Heat a drizzle oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic and onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add chile de árbol, ancho chile, and squash, season with salt, and cook until squash is just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the squash mixture and mix with beans; add salt to taste. Continue to cook the other half of the squash mixture until fully cooked and soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assembly: Pat corn husks dry if they're still wet. Place about ¼ cup of masa mixture into each husk. Using a small offset spatula, spread masa in a thin, even layer, covering the width of husk but leaving the narrow end uncovered.

Place about 2 tbsp of the filling in the center of masa, and add 2-3 epazote leaves. With the wide side of the husk away from you, fold 1 side of the husk over filling, then fold the other side over to seal the tamal. Fold the narrow end of the husk and tuck it under. Repeat with remaining tamales. 

Cook and serve: In a large pot with a steamer basket, water to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low. Place tamales vertically, with the wide opening facing up. Cover pot and steam tamales, adding more water as needed to keep some liquid in the pot. Cook for 75 minutes. Pull out a tamal, and unwrap it. If masa sticks to the husk, cook for an additional 10 minutes. Once  masa doesn't stick to the husks, your tamales are ready. Remove from the steamer and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream or crema, salsa, and pickled onions or curtido.

Check out the other recipe created for the Primary Beans x Tamoa collaboration: Frijoles con salsa macha.

Frijoles con salsa macha with Primary Beans x Tamoa Ayocote Arcoiris beans

Frijoles con salsa macha

Feast for the Future brothy beans

Feast for the Future brothy beans

Coconut rice and red beans recipe with Primary Beans Sangre de Toro beans

Coconut rice and red beans