Peach Tamales

Hugo Ortega

Hugo’s, Houston

This recipe from 2017 Beard Award–winning chef Hugo Ortega is the perfect savory summer treat.


Peach Mix: (Makes 2 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped peaches (from roughly 2 peaches)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup passion fruit purée, fresh or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Masa Mix:

  • 1 cups corn masa
  • 1/2 cup maseca (corn flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup peach mix with liquid (recipe above)
  • 2.5 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup finely diced dried apricots (roughly 8-10 dried apricots)
  • 1/4 cup sweet shredded coconut

For Tamales:

  • 10 banana leaves
  • Masa (recipe above)
  • 20 fresh peach slices (from about 2 peaches)


Prepare the peach mix: place a saucepan over medium heat, and add all ingredients except cranberries and mix well. Bring up to a simmer, lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the peaches are soft and sugar is dissolved, stir gently to incorporate.. Add cranberries, mix and turn off heat. Transfer to a container and allow to cool. Refrigerated until ready to use.

Note: the mix will have a loose consistency; this is not a peach marmalade. The mix can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Prepare the masa mix: place masa, corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix well with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the peach mix and mix well until incorporated. Add butter, apricots, and coconut, and mix well. Let rest for 15 minutes before using.

Prepare the tamales: cut the banana leaves into 8” × 10″ pieces, discarding any stiff stems. Heat a skillet over medium heat, place the banana leaves in the skillet for 10 seconds, and then turn and cook for another 5 seconds. The leaves will change color to a darker green and should be soft when turning; if they feel tough when turning, they need to be cooked a little longer. Remove and set aside.

Place 4 individual tablespoons of masa in the center of each banana leaf, forming a square shape. Do not spread the masa. Place two slices of fresh peach on top of the masa. Fold the bottom edge of the banana leaf up and over. Fold the top edge of the leaf down, then fold in the sides to close the packet. Tie the tamal with a banana leaf string or butcher’s twine. Repeat to form the remaining tamales.

Line a large steamer with a layer of banana leaf scraps. Add the tamales in 2 loose layers, cover with a wet towel followed by the lid. Bring 2 cups water to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tamales stand in the covered steamer for 10 minutes. Remove tamales from the leaves, place on a plate, and top with 1 tablespoon each of the peach mix.


20 tamales