Salsa Verde Turkey Tamales

The best thing about tamales – a classic Mexican comfort food – is that they are completely customizable! Here, we make them light, clean, and fit for a festive celebration.
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The best thing about tamales – a classic Mexican comfort food – is that they are completely customizable! Here, we make them light, clean, and fit for a festive celebration.

Find more Mexican recipes here. 

Makes: About 50 tamales
Hands-on Time: 1 1/2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours (Plus husk soaking time)


  • 50 to 60 dried corn husks
  • 3 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tbsp safflower oil
  • 24 oz (5 to 5ó cups) golden or yellow masa harina, divided (TRY: Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina Golden Corn Flour)
  • 3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tbsp chile powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 7 to 8 cups cooked and shredded boneless, skinless turkey or chicken breast
  • 2 cups all-natural jarred salsa verde
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Diced tomato, onion, avocado and/or additional salsa verde for garnish, optional

TIP: Masa harina is a type of corn flour that has been treated with lime water. Look for brands that list ground corn and lime as the only ingredients, such as Bob’s Red Mill. Corn flour and corn meal are not good substitutes for masa harina, as they will give tamales a bitter taste and dry texture.


  1. Fill a clean sink with warm water and submerge corn husks in water for 2 hours. If necessary, use a heavy bowl or plate to weigh down husks.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes, then cover and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender when tested with a fork. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. To bowl, add oil.
  3. Prepare sweet potato-masa mixture: With an electric stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat potatoes until light andfluffy. (TIP: You can also mash well using a potato masher.) With a rubber spatula, fold in 2 cups masa harina and 1 1/2 cups broth until combined. Fold in an additional 2 cups masa harina, 1 1/2 cups broth, chile powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Gradually fold in remaining masa harina and broth until mixture is the texture of soft playdough. (NOTE: You may not need the entire remaining masa harina and broth.)
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine turkey, salsa verde and cilantro.
  5. Remove corn husks from water and pat dry with kitchen towels. Stack husks and arrange on a work surface alongside bowls of sweet potato mixture and turkey mixture. On work surface, place a tamale steamer or the steamer attachment of a large pot on its side; use kitchen towels to hold in place.
  6. Place 1 husk smooth side up with narrow end facing you. Beginning at the end away from you, use a flat wooden spoon or spatula to spread 2 to 3 tbsp sweet potato mixture over husk, leaving one long side and narrow end (facing you) free of sweet potato mixture; layer should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch-thick.
  7. Arrange 2 tbsp turkey mixture in a line down center of sweet potato mixture. Lift side of husk containing sweet potato mixture to edge, and fold over filling; press down gently to seal. Continue rolling until husk resembles a long cigar. Fold over end of husk without filling to seal one end. If desired, tie a thin strip of corn husk around folded end to hold in place. (NOTE: This is not necessary, as the tamales will be packed tight enough in the pot to hold the folded end closed.) Transfer to tamale steamer with the open end facing out. Repeat with remaining husks, sweet potato mixture and turkey mixture; you may need to cook tamales in batches or use 2 pots.
  8. Turn tamale steamer upright and add enough water to cover bottom by 1 to 2 inches; do not let water touch steamer basket. (NOTE: You may need to remove a few tamales to add water.) Place pot on medium heat and cover with lid. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until sweet potato mixture hardens. Check water level every 30 minutes to ensure there is at least 1 inch water in bottom of pot; heat can be on medium or medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer throughout.
  9. To test for doneness, use long tongs to carefully remove a tamale. Let cool for 5 minutes, then gently open husk. If sweet potato mixture easily pulls away from husk without sticking, it's done. Serve tamales immediately in husks, but remove and discard husks before eating. If using, top with diced tomato, onion, avocado and/or additional salsa verde.

TIP: Refrigerate leftover cooled tamales in husks for up to 3 days, or transfer to freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, spread thawed tamales in their husks on a baking sheet and heat at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, microwave thawed tamales in their husks for 1 minute on high.

Nutrients per serving (1 tamale): Calories: 101, Total Fat: 1.5 g, Sat. Fat: 0 g, Carbs: 14 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 9 g, Sodium: 161 mg, Cholesterol: 19 mg