Squash Tamales with Cranberry Turkey Filling

Squash Tamales with a Turkey Cranberry Filling

After drooling over the photos of this Thanksgiving burrito I made a couple years back, I started thinking what other Mexican food I could thanksgiving-ize. Since corn and cornbread are fairly common on the Thanksgiving table, I decided tamales would be a fun fit. For the tamale filling I made a ground turkey mixture with lots of cranberries to give the turkey a nice tart sauce. A little sage and parsley drives home the Thanksgiving flavor, and some chipotle powder gives it a little kick. These Thanksgiving tamales are a great meal for this pre-Thanksgiving week when you are already craving the flavors but don’t want to eat the real meal yet!

Cook the turkey to brown and remove it from the pan. Next cook the onions down for about 15 minutes in the same pan. Finally add the turkey back in. Then get all the cranberries in there! Let this cook for another 15 minutes or so until the cranberries have mostly broken down into a sauce.

Meanwhile, blend up the squash with some water.

Mix with masa harina and cornmeal to form the tamale dough.

Make your tamales by putting some of the dough into a soaked corn husk. Top with cotija cheese and the turkey cranberry mixture. Then just roll it up.

A bunch of tamales ready for the steamer.

These tamales are so good. They taste like Thanksgiving but really unique.

The filing on it’s own is really tart but it goes so well with the hearty and buttery tamale.

It’s best with a squeeze of lime and a slice of avocado.

Squash Tamales with a Turkey Cranberry Filling

Tamales inspired by Thanksgiving are flavored with squash and stuffed with a tart turkey cranberry filling.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Servings: 12 tamales (approx)



  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1.5 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • dried corn husks


  • 1 Pound ground turkey
  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 pinch sage
  • 1 pinch thyme
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • cotija cheese


  • Peel and chop the squash. Toss it in some salt and olive oil and put it on a pan. Roast at 350 for about 20 minutes to a half hour until tender. Put it into a food processor with the butter and water and blend until smooth.
  • Mix the squash mixture with the masa and cornmeal until well combined. Salt well.
  • Cook the turkey in some oil to brown it well. Remove from the pan. Cook the onions about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the turkey back to the pan and mix in the cranberries, parsley, chipotle sage, thyme, and honey. Stir well.
  • Cook on low for about 15-20 minutes until the cranberries break up and form a nice sauce. Taste and salt as needed. Remove from heat.
  • Soak the corn husks for about 15 minutes until pliable. Spread some of the tamale mixture onto a corn husk and add some cheese and turkey filling to it. Roll it up tight with the sides secured and tie it off.
  • Continue until you run out of tamale dough. You will still have a bunch of turkey filling leftover.
  • Steam the tamales for 2 hours. Remove from heat and serve.

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