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These keto tamales taste like the real deal, but they’re made without the corn and carbs of traditional tamales. Just like my keto tamale pie, keto cornbread, and keto popcorn, we’re using a secret ingredient to give it classic corn flavor, without the corn!

For a flavor and texture like the masa in traditional tamales, you need the right flour. Wholesome Yum Almond Flour makes the perfect substitute because it cooks up soft and has a find grind for the ultimate soft texture. You won’t miss the original!

Keto tamale with WY almond flour.

What Is A Tamale?

A tamale is a Mexican dish made up of a masa dough that is spread out on a dried corn husk. A filling (chicken, pork, vegetable, etc.) is added before the corn husk is rolled up and the whole thing is steamed.

Are Tamales Keto?

Classic tamales made with masa are not keto friendly, because corn on keto has too many carbs. However, it’s easy to create a keto friendly tamale with authentic flavor.

How Many Carbs In Tamales?

Traditional tamales have more than 20 grams carbohydrates per tamale. Because we’re making this one with some keto swaps, each tamale has just 3.35 grams net carbs.

Why You’ll Love This Keto Tamales Recipe

  • Classic tamale flavors
  • Easy to make
  • Made with basic keto ingredients
  • Keto, low carb, and gluten-free
  • Just 3.35 grams net carbs per tamale (6.7 grams per serving of two)
Keto friendly tamales on a plate with wrappers.

Ingredients You’ll Need

This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for low carb tamales, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.

For The Wrapping & “Masa”:

  • Dried Corn Husks – These can be found in Mexican markets and some grocery stores, or get it delivered right to your door. You can’t make tamales without them.
  • Wholesome Yum Blanched Almond Flour – This is the best keto flour as it’s super-fine and results in the closest texture to traditional flours. In this recipe, we’re using it as a “keto masa” flour. Sorry, substituting coconut flour won’t work here; it absorbs moisture too much and would require a completely different recipe.
  • Sweet Corn Extract – This gives the almond flour the flavor of corn masa, without adding all of the carbs.
  • SpicesSea salt and cumin. If you like spice, you could also add some chili powder.
  • Baking Powder – This helps give volume to the tamale wrapper so that it isn’t too dense.
  • Avocado Oil – Or any vegetable oil.
  • Wholesome Yum Psyllium Husk Powder – This acts as a binder in our tamale wrapper and I created my own because I had trouble finding one that was good enough.

For The Filling:

  • Shredded Chicken – This shredded chicken is super easy, but you could also use store-bought shredded chicken or even rotisserie chicken.
  • Salsa – Use your favorite salsa — homemade or store-bought are fine.

See below for other filling variations and topping ideas!

Low carb tamales ingredients.

How To Make Keto Tamales

This section shows how to make keto friendly tamales with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.

  1. Prep corn husks. Place corn husks in a large pot filled with warm water. Set aside until softened.
  2. Mix keto masa. In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, corn extract, sea salt, cumin, baking powder, avocado oil, and psyllium husk powder. Add hot water and mix until it forms a paste.
Corn husks sitting in pot of water.

Keto "masa" with almond flour in a bowl.

  1. Make tamale filling. In a medium bowl, stir together shredded chicken and salsa.
  2. Assemble. Lay a corn husk flat and pat dry with a paper towel. Use a large cookie scoop and add a scoop of the batter to each corn husk. Use your fingers or a spoon to spread it over the husk evenly.
Chicken filling for keto tamales.

Spreading almond flour mixture on corn husk.

  1. Add filling. Add a tablespoon of chicken and salsa filling on top of the almond flour mixture to each corn husk.
  2. Fold. Fold the corn husk edges toward the middle of the tamale, then fold over, so that one side is sealed and the other is open. Tie securely. You can use one spare corn husk to rip some strips off and tie the tamales, or you can use kitchen twine. Repeat with all the tamales.
Keto tamale with chicken filling on corn husk.

Wrapped low carb tamale with tie.

  1. Cook. Place tamales open side up in a steamer basket (with water in the pot below the basket), cover, and steam for 35 minutes. (Alternatively, you can steam them in your Instant Pot by adding 1 cup of water to the bottom, placing the steamer basket with tamales on top, and pressure cooking for 20 minutes at high pressure.)
Keto tamales in a steamer.
Variations

Variations

Thislow carb tamale recipe is also totally customizable. Here are some ideas to switch things up — use 2 cups of filling and 1 cup of sauce, no matter what kinds you choose.

Filling Options:

Sauce Options:

  • Tomato Salsa – Use this classic tomato salsa in both the filling and for serving. It’s simple and delicious.
  • Avocado Salsa – This avocado salsa is creamy, fresh, and flavorful. It will add great flavor to your tamales.
  • Enchilada Sauce – Making your own enchilada sauce takes just 10 minutes.

Topping Ideas

  • Pico De Gallo – Diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, and salt.
  • Avocado – Sliced, diced, or made into guacamole.
  • Cheese – Shredded Mexican, crumbled Cotija, or queso for drizzling are all great choices.
  • Sour Cream
  • Fresh Cilantro

Storage Instructions

  • Store: Keep tamales in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Meal prep: Make the shredded chicken and salsa mixture ahead of time.
  • Reheat: Reheat tamales in the steamer or wrap tightly with foil and bake in a 350 degree F oven, until warm.
  • Freeze: Wrap the keto tamales in plastic wrap and store in freezer for up to 6 months.
Keto tamale on a plate with pico de gallo.

More Keto Mexican Recipes

If you like this keto diet tamale recipe, you might also like some of these other keto Mexican recipes:

Reader Favorite Recipes

The recipe card is below! Readers that made this also viewed these recipes:

Keto Tamales

Learn how to make keto tamales at home! They have a secret ingredient that gives them corn flavor without the carbs, and much easier than you think.

Prep: 35 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Total: 1 hour 10 minutes

Servings: 6 (adjust to scale recipe)

Ingredients

Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.

Wrappers & Keto Masa Dough:

Keto Flours

Instructions

Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. Place the corn husks in a large pot and cover with warm water. Let them sit for 30 minutes, until softened.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine the almond flour, corn extract, sea salt, cumin, baking powder, avocado oil, and psyllium husk powder. Add the hot water and mix until it forms a paste. Set aside.

  3. To make the filling, mix the shredded chicken and the salsa together.

  4. Cover the filling and almond flour mixture with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  5. Once the corn husks are soft and ready to use, lay them flat on a surface. Pat them dry with paper towels. Using a large cookie scoop, add one scoop of the almond flour mixture to each corn husk. Using a spoon or your fingers spread it evenly.

  6. Add one tablespoon of chicken filling on top of the almond flour mixture. Fold the long sides inward, then fold over, so that one side is sealed and the other is open. Tie securely. You can use one spare corn husk to rip some strips off and tie the tamales, or you can use kitchen twine. Repeat with all the tamales.

  7. Place the tamales, open side up, in a steamer basket fitted over a pot of water, such that the basket is above the water. Cover and steam for 35 minutes. (Alternatively, you can steam them in your Instant Pot by adding 1 cup of water to the bottom, placing the steamer basket with tamales on top, and pressure cooking for 20 minutes at high pressure.)

  8. To serve, unroll keto tamales on a plate. If desired, add toppings, such as fresh pico de gallo, avocado, shredded Mexican blend cheese, sour cream, or cilantro.

Recipe Notes

Serving size: 2 tamales

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.

Calories 391

Fat 31g

Protein 20.4g

Total Carbs 12.7g

Net Carbs 6.7g

Fiber 6g

Sugar 3g

Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.

© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂

Keto tamales recipe pin.