I'd like to have a go at making tamales, but the corn husk wrappers are hard to come by here. Is there anything I can use as a substitute wrapper?

  • 1
    I guess it's also hard to get fresh corn? It's just about the right time of year for that, depending where you are.
    – Cascabel
    May 3, 2012 at 16:38
  • Not hard, but most fresh corn is usually trimmed and portioned so I can't get the husks from them. May 3, 2012 at 17:22

3 Answers 3


I've had the same problem once. The first substitute is banana leaves. But they're not easy to find either.

The second one is using big leaves of chard. Tamales will be done in the same time and you could eat the leaf if you want. I've tried it once and it came out great.

Here it's a recipe for tamales from Michoacan made with chard. Here it is a graphic step by step recipe for tamales with chard. They are written in Spanish, let me know if you need a translator ;)

PS. My mexican mother in law used to do it with chard.

  • 1
    Banana leaves do work well and taste good. They are often obtainable, frozen, at Asian markets as well as Latin ones.
    – FuzzyChef
    May 4, 2012 at 4:07
  • Yes, I can get hold of banana leaves. May 25, 2012 at 16:10

My mom (from Guadalajara) used to often wrap them in parchment paper, since it can withstand being heated/steamed. I don't know why she started doing it - probably because it annoyed her that the delicious filling often oozed out of the tamales during the steaming. Anyway, Just to make sure, I would use double sheets the first time you try the parchment to replace the corn husks. There really wont be any difference in flavor.


You could use banana leaves or avocado leaves, though I'm not sure those would be easier to come by. If you can't get a hold of any of those I would try wrapping them in parchment.

  • 1
    You can also get grape leaves in a jar. Bonus: They're edible. May 3, 2012 at 14:56

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