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Low FODMAP Tamale “Presents” with Olive Oil Dough (No Lard) - Appetizers

IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free


Tamales are a traditional dish of the American Southwest, South and Central Americas made with a masa harina (nixtamalized corn flour) dough and filled with meats, cheeses and veggies that are wrapped in cornhusks, then steamed to perfection. This recipe makes 10 to 12 square appetizer “presents” that I love to serve for holidays, birthdays, and bridal showers.

For large gatherings, doubling or tripling this recipe will not require adjusting ingredient measurements. They will be just as yummy.

Serves 5 to 6: 2 tamales each


Masa harina is generally gluten-free and low FODMAP. My favorite brand is Maseca Gluten-Free.

The masa is traditionally mixed with salt, baking powder, warm water or chicken stock / broth, and lard that creates a light, soft sticky dough. For this recipe, lard has been replaced with LoFO garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil for added flavor and a healthier fat option.

In place of conventional chicken stock containing onion, garlic and other high FODMAP ingredients, use a no onion, no garlic low FODMAP stock / broth.

Coating the cornhusks with cooking oil spray before filling and wrapping the tamales is not a traditional step, but I find that it’s a sure thing in keeping the dough from sticking to the husks.


From savory to sweet, filling options are endless, from: barbacoa beef with Manchego cheese, cinnamon maple pumpkin, pulled pork with brie and fresh strawberries, and the starring line-up for this recipe – finely shredded chicken or turkey with mild canned green chiles, green parts of scallions (in place of white onion) and cumin for earthy warmth.

A plain, store bought rotisserie chicken or turkey breast is a fast and easy option, as is leftover plain holiday turkey meat.

See the TIPS section at the end of this recipe for cheese options, to your tolerance.


Packaged cornhusks vary in size. Some are 9-inches long, while others are 6-inch or less. They differ in width, and sizes may also vary within the same package. Not to worry. Large husks wrap easily into square packages, and you can always double up 2 smaller husks. I always buy two packages to select the best, evenly-sized from each to ensure that I have enough for wrapping, tying the tamales, and lining the steamer basket.

Please note that the husks require a 1-hour soak before you begin cooking, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Just in case there’s a question, the cornhusks are inedible.


Tailor your garnishes to the filling ingredients and occasion, tucking them under the cornhusk tie after cooking / steaming.

Christmas (as used for this recipe): thin slice of red bell pepper with green cilantro leaves

Cinco de Mayo or New Years: 1 super thin slice of red, yellow and orange bell pepper each

Bridal Showers and Birthdays: cilantro leaves, a single heart-shaped strawberry slice, a sage or basil leaf, thin lime wedge, or edible flowers reflecting the color scheme of the occasion (note: edible flowers have yet to be FODMAP tested)



The following number of small size husks will be sufficient for 10 to 12 appetizer tamales:

4, to line the steamer basket

24, doubled up to wrap the tamales, plus 3 more in case of tears

4, torn into 1/4-inch strips lengthwise to tie the tamales — you will most likely need to knot 2 strips together to create a tie long enough to wrap around each tamale


2 cups (250 g) gluten-free masa harina

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/3 cup (320 ml) very warm (not boiling) low FODMAP chicken stock / broth, or water

1/2 cup (120 ml) low FODMAP garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil


1 1/2 cups (225 g) plain cooked chicken or turkey meat, shredded and finely chopped

2, 4-ounce cans (226 g total) plain, mild chopped green chiles including the can juices, containing no onion, garlic or other high FODMAP ingredients (I used Hatch brand)

1/2 cup (25 g) thin sliced scallions, green parts only

1 tsp ground cumin

You will most likely not need salt, as canned green chiles are typically salty. Adjust to your taste.


1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into very thin strips

24 cilantro leaves with a bit of stem, or small cilantro leaf clusters

IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free


Place 28 cornhusks in a large bowl and cover with very warm water. Place a plate over the top to weight them down. Let soak for 1 hour.

Place a steamer basket into a large soup pot with lid. Fill with water that reaches just below the basket. Place 4 cornhusks to overlap and cover the steamer. Set aside.

Whisk the masa harina, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Pour the warm stock and infused oil into the bowl and mix with a spatula to fully incorporate. The dough will be light and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest. (As you wrap the tamales, keep the dough covered with plastic wrap so it will not dry out).

Mix the filling ingredients in a medium bowl.

Steps to Wrapping Square Tamales

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Tear 4 cornhusks into 1/4-inch strips lengthwise, then knot 2 together to form a longer strip for securing around the tamales. Repeat until you have 12 long ties.

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Take 2 husks from the bowl and shake off excess water. Overlap them on a work surface or cutting board, side by side.

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Coat with cooking oil spray.

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Scoop 2 heaping tablespoons of dough into the center of the husks.

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Using your fingers, spread the dough into a rectangle shape, about 1/4-inch thick, crosswise over the husks.

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Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of filling and place it slightly right of center on the dough rectangle.

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Fold the left side of the husks over  —

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— encasing the filling with the dough.

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Gently pressing the top to keep it in place.

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Fold the right side to overlap and completely wrap the tamale. If the husks fan out a bit, simply tuck them in as you fold.

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Fold the bottom end upward.

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Fold the top end over to form a square package. If it’s not a perfectly square shaped tamale, that’s fine and a part of the charm of making homemade.

IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free

Secure with a cornhusk tie.

IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free

Flip it over to the top presentation side, and adjust the knot to center.

Repeat for remaining tamales.

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Bring the pot with steamer basket to a rolling boil over high heat. Arrange the tamales in the pot, slightly upright and overlapping. Do not flat-stack them horizontally. Cover with lid. Reduce heat to medium for a low boil and steam for 20 minutes.

Using tongs, lift up one of the bottom corn husks to see if the water has evaporated. You will most likely need to add more hot water, just to the steamer basket level. Steam for 20 minutes longer, covered, checking them at 10 minutes in case more hot water is needed.

Using tongs, gently place the tamales on a serving platter. Tuck 1 red bell pepper strip under each tie, along with the cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with appetizer plates, forks, and a few pair of scissors on the table for opening and unfolding the presents!

IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free
IBS Friendly    Gluten-Free    Dairy-Free


Conventional cheese options to your personal tolerance: add 1 tsp each over the tamale filling: shredded Monterey Jack, cheddar, or Manchego, Wrap and steam.

If available, Green Valley Creamery brand offers lactose-free shredded cheddar cheese, again to your tolerance.

Serve with 1 lime wedge per tamale for a zesty fresh finish

Tablespoons are US Standard / Imperial = 3 teaspoons per

Tap here to download the recipe as a black and white PDF (text only no photos).

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To learn more about the Low FODMAP Diet, visit the Monash University website.

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