"Hot Tamale" Burgers Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

"Hot Tamale" Burgers

These spicy burgers are bound together with masa harina, the corn flour used to make corn tortillas and tamales. Cornmeal works just as well, though the burger texture will have more of a crunch. Serve on a warmed tortilla with avocado, if desired.



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1 cup short-grain brown rice
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1 ½ Tbs. olive oil
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1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 ¼ cup)
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1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (¾ cup)
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¾ cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 medium ear)
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1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 tsp. sauce
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2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
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1 tsp. ground cumin
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1 tsp. salt
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⅓ cup instant masa harina or yellow cornmeal
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½ cup chopped cilantro
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1 ½ Tbs. fresh lime juice
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¾ tsp. lime zest


  1. 1. Bring rice and 3 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 40 minutes, or until water is absorbed, and rice is tender.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, and salt. Sauté 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring once or twice. Whisk 1/2 cup water with masa harina in bowl. Add to skillet mixture, cover, and cook on low 10 minutes more, stirring once or twice (mixture will feel like thick cornmeal mush).
  3. 3. Remove from heat, and stir in hot rice, cilantro, lime juice, and zest. Cool 20 minutes. Wet hands and shape mixture into 8 burgers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. 4. Prepare charcoal fire or gas grill for medium heat. Brush burgers and grill rack with olive oil. Grill 7 minutes per side, or until crusty on the outside. If adding cheese, top burgers during the last 3 minutes of grilling.

Nutrition Information: 

3 g
Total Fat: 
4.5 g
Saturated Fat: 
0.5 g
30 g
0 mg
300 mg
3 g
2 g
Serves 8

Comments on this Recipe

Def didn't stick at all when I substituted quinoa in for the rice (maybe needs an egg). I gave up on frying them and smeared a little cream cheese on my tortilla to keep it all together. Yum.

This recipe is incredible. Highly recommended. We haven't had the best luck grilling them, although it is possible. We pan fry them instead usually, with great results (serving in a tortilla with avocado and BBQ sauce -yum). They freeze well so consider making a double batch (put them on a cookie sheet to freeze and then move into freezer bags).

Great recipe - very tasty. They don't hold up too well on the grill, so maybe add some cheese next time? Also, I didn't have corn, so I put in some crumbled tofu - added a nice protein punch.

I substituted quinoa for the rice as well but added a flax egg. I also grated the onion & chopped up some frozen corn, they seemed to hold together enough to pan fry them but were still very tender & slightly mushy on the inside, but the flavors are delicious so I would like to try playing around with this recipe again in the future.

Can they be frozen?

Can I bake these on a silpat oven mat or on oven pan lined with parchment? I don't cook with oil.... If so, why temp and for how long?