Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Tamales de Camote con Frijol
12 to 16 tamales
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: masa, mexican crema, pati's mexican table, sweet potato, Tamales
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 2 "History of Oaxaca Cuisine"


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups corn masa flour or masa harina, (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled

To Prepare

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until completely cooked and soft. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut open and scoop out the cooked pulp into a bowl. Set aside to cool.
To make the tamal masa:
  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a mixer, and beat over medium speed until very light, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add baking powder and sugar, and take turns adding the corn masa flour and the broth. Raise speed back to medium and continue beating another 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous. In batches, add the cooled sweet potato pulp and continue beating for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the masa looks fluffed up.
To assemble the tamales:
  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 1/3 cup masa into about a 2” to 3” square, the layer should be about 1/4” thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2” on the sides. Place about 2 teaspoons of refried beans in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold them to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Gently squeeze from the bottom to the top to even the filling out without pressing to hard. As you assemble all the tamales, place them as upright as you can in a container.
To prepare the tamalera or steamer:
  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer, so that water is under the steamer basket or rack, and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.
To cook the tamales:
  • When you have all tamales ready, place them as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 55 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks – you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • You can serve with a spoonful of Mexican crema and crumbled queso fresco on top.

107 comments on “Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

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  1. Loved this recipe. Honestly my family is from Guatemala and we make a rellenito of platano with Frijoles. When I saw Pati make this recipe with sweet potatoes I decided it would work with plantains and it did wonderfully.

  2. Pati, I saw this episode again and I took a chance and made these tonight! Delicious!!! I’m Puerto Rican but my paternal grandma whose no longer with us was Mexican… I think I did her proud! Thank you!!!

  3. I have been recording your Show. And I’m finally watching them . You are an amazing Mexican mother cook !
    All my family has pass on. I have no recipes ..
    So am sitting here in my vehicle to write down the Sweet Potato with black bean Recipe.
    Am picking up my grandson from school..
    Can you tell me , what cookbook Should I purchase please …

  4. Tuve la oportunidad de verte preparando estos tamales en su programa de TV y me parecieron muy originales y creativos. Hoy mismo he tenido el tiempo de prepararlos siguiendo tu receta al pie de la letra. Tengo que decir que la masa ha salido super deliciosa, esponjosa y ligera. El sabor es sorprendente, una mezcla de camote asado y el sabor peculiar del maíz nixtamalizado. Preparé los frijoles refritos también con tu receta, pero añadiendo unos chiles serranos para darle un toque picante a los frijoles. Una receta muy otoñal. ¡Gracias Pati por tu investigación para realizar esta receta y compartirla con todos!

    Voy a presentarlos en mi curso de Spanish Food Writing en la Universidad de Western Kentucky. Mis estudiantes tendrán la oportunidad de probarlos y luego prepararlos ellos mismos durante nuestra sesión de “cooking for writing”.

  5. Dear Pati,

    These came out absolutely delicious. I will be serving them at a program at our library soon. On behalf of all of us with Mexican heritage, a great big beso, embrazo and thank you! You make us proud!

  6. Hi Pati…I have made your tamales several times now…love them…fun to make…I was wondering if you could give me some different ideas to put inside of the tamales other than beans…..love to watch your show on PBS….love your sons….thank you for sharing your talents….

  7. My husband is a vegetarian and diabetic. I have to watch out for high carbs and sugar content. He wants me to make the Sweet Potato Tamales. Can you provide the nutritional value?

  8. I loved you and your friend making the tamales. I have never made them before but I am going to try…You gave a great demo….love your show…thank you for showing how to cook wonderful Mexican foods….one of my favorites…,

      1. Hi Pati….I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!!!So easy…they are steaming now…but putting them together was fun and easy….I am a 73 years young senior….love to cook from scratch….wish you could join me…happy cooking….

      2. I am eating a tamale as I type….soooooo GOODDDD….thank you for the recipe….I some over to my 89 years young neighbor…mmmmmmmm

  9. A friend had surgery, I told i would like to make a meal for her family,
    She let me know they were vegan.
    I saw your recipe for sweet potato tamales. Yummm!! They are excelente and easy to make. Thank you Pati I love you cooking and personality.

  10. Making these tomorrow! Cannot wait. What a wonderful flavor combination. I plan on making a salsa roja with guajillo and chipotle to drizzle on top, I think it will go well with these flavors. Stay tuned!

  11. hi Pati, in what season will I be able to find the recipes for the ollowing dishes
    Mexican Steak Salad
    Tuna casserole
    drunken rice wih chicken

  12. I’m going to try substituting the sweet potato with acorn squash which I have dozens in the garden. I’ve made tamales with sweet potato using your recipe and they were fantastic. Except that the squash might have a bit more liquid in the flesh, in which case I might adjust the amount of broth, I’m guessing it could work just fine. Any thoughts?

  13. Hola Pati, acabo de ver tu programa, lucen espectaculares esos tamales y todo el complemento que hiciste para acompañarlos. Definitivamente voy a intentarlos. Mil gracias por hacer la cocina más divertida.

  14. Saludos Pati
    I saw an episode where a recipe for elote was featured. The result was a creamy corn mixture. It may have been the episode showing street food. Can I have the link to those recipes?

  15. Hi Pati – I love your program! Can you please give us the recipe for the salad (and dressing) that you did on this program also?


  16. Looked amazing! Just saw it on tv. missed the recipe for the pepper mole type sauce! Do u have that recipe? Did it mention a red chili pepper with the flavor of chocolate? I love that please tell me and share! thank you or should I say gracias!! 😎🙏😎👍

  17. Oh. My. God. These are to die for, absolutely to die for. My sister, husband, & I all have different tastes yet we all loved them. If you double the recipe can you freeze them?

    1. I’m so happy you loved them! They can be frozen for months…then reheat them a steamer – about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.

  18. Hi Patty. Not sure if my last comment went through or not. Do you think it would be ok if I cut back on the shortening to save calories?

  19. Have loved your show for years! And meeting you at Mexican Fiesta in Milwaukee a few years ago. Making these two recipes today for Christmas Eve dinner. Feliz Navidad!

  20. I love your show! I love to see how you enjoy that very first bite of food! 😁
    I’ve never made tamales before! I love learning in the kitchen and trying new recipes. It gives me such a boost of confidence in myself and my cooking!
    Making these for Christmas!

    Thank you

  21. I have never made tamales before but watching your show really inspires me to expand my learning in the kitchen!
    I love learning and trying new recipes it builds up confidence in me and my cooking.
    I love watching you enjoy that first bite of food! 😁

    Thank you!

  22. HI Patti really enjoy all your shows. For this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamale recipe — is the secrete to a fluffy tamale using a beater and beating until light and fluffy? Can I use a prepared masa for tamales that I can buy in my local store?

  23. Hello Pati , I love watching your show. I am so glad I tuned into you show today I got the tail end of the where you were spooning the tamale mass on the husk. My daughter loves tamales but does not eat them any longer bcz she has became a vegan for over 5 yrs now and I feel bad st xmas time when we all are eating beef, chicken , green chile and cheese, or pork tamales. I would love to make these with her. I can’t wait to taste them for myself they look so smooth and fluffy and with a little bit of sweet yummy I love sweet… lol thank you for your time and your recipes .

  24. My girls are 5 &7 yrs old (have a son too1yr old ) we love watching your show together. They call me in when it comes on its “our show”. I love how your boys cook with you. Food is such a great way to bond and be creative. I love how close we feel as we cook together. I only hope my children will continue to spend time with me in the kitchen as your do. You are so inspiring as a cook and a mother!

  25. Hi Pati, Im from México and I never see the mexican recipes like i do now!! Really love your program and I want to start cooking with al the mexicans flavors! Thanks for your recipes!!

  26. I would love the comparison of calories and fat to ones that are fried in oil. I couldn’t find the nutrition page for this. These looked amazing. I love watching you cook, and my kids do to. Thanks. My daughter really likes your accent. 🙂

  27. Hola Patty!
    Hoy vi tu show y lloré y lloré!!!
    Soy mexicana y vivo en Colorado, la verdad me dieron ganas de regresar a México, no se cuando voy a volver, pero una cosa que sí voy a hacer es cocinar tus recetas tan deliciosas y llenas de sabor, pero sobretodo de amor, nosotros los mexicanos relacionamos mucho el amor a las personas y el invitarlos a comer comida preparada por nosotros mismos, ahí está nuestro cariño, y el tiempo que invertí en prepararla y sobretodo la satisfacción de saber que les gustó!
    Eres una mujer muy especial, bendiciones para ti y tu hermosa familia!!!

  28. Watched all day. Luv her show and the way she explains how to do meals. Making sweet potato tamales can’t wait till there done. Keep up the great show. You are so appriciated. Makes me hungry watching, wish I could visit the places she goes tho…………I would probly never leave. Lol

  29. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I love all kinds of ethnic cuisine but my husband is a meat and potato man. He does love tacos and enchiladas rice and refried beans. I think he will like this dish. Thank you so much for your show.

  30. This looks so good. In New Mexico we make our traditional pork tamales with red Chile. I’ve always wanted a sweet one and something different.. I just saw your show for the first time and loved it. Thank you for your passion with food.

  31. These tamales are perfect for Thanksgiving. I absolutely love your show and your charisma. I am Salvadorian and I relate so much to Oaxacan food because our ingredients are so similar. Thanks for sharing all the history and culture.

  32. These sound really good and my “Nebraska Box” of fresh organic vegetables has sweet potatoes in it this week. I have the rest of the ingredients in stock Yay! Tamales for dinner.

  33. I saw this episode on Saturday and this tamale looked delicious! Also appreciated the vegetarian feast you made!

    I was hoping to use this sweet potato masa and black bean combo to make a modified tamal casserole from your Mexican Today cookbook. Is there a specific salsa you would use to layer in and keep things moist?

  34. D ear Pati,

    I have low vision and can no longer read my email. Is there any way that I can receive your recipes in the mail? I will, pf course, send money for postage.

    I’m a new viewer of your show and look forward to it every week. Thank you for your time and attention.

    1. Thank you so much for watching Kathy! I’m so happy you discovered the show. You can print the recipes directly from the website and on your printer zoom in to make the text bigger. The print button is to the right of the recipes title and just above where the amount of servings is written. I hope you enjoy the recipes!

  35. I love watching Pati’s Mexican Table. Pati explains so perfectly how to remake her recipes and the history that makes each one so rich and flavorful.