How to Cook Tamales Like A Boss

Most of us don’t like to spend hours to make a perfect meal. However, finding a dish that requires minimal effort but maximizes enjoyment is rare. Tamales is one such culinary masterpiece. Overflowing with flavors and textures, it captivates even the pickiest of eaters. Moreover, you can make it in no time and impress your friends and family. The tantalizing combination of masa, meat, and spices flavor the soft corn husks that wrap them.

Tamale has evolved into a beloved cultural icon. Cooking the tamale is a labor of love. It transforms simple ingredients into symphonies of taste and aroma. With each step, you’ll connect with the history and culinary brilliance of tamales. In this blog post, we’ll discuss tamales and various ways to cook tamales. So, let’s dive into it.

What are Tamales?

For centuries, tamales have delighted taste buds and captured hearts. This popular style of Mexican food is more than just food. This dish embodies a celebration of culture and community.

Wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf, tamales are a symphony of flavors. Love and tradition are poured into each bite. But don’t forget to remove the corn husk or banana leaf. They add a distinctive taste, but they’re not meant to be eaten.

Discover the perfect cooking method for your tamales. Boil them in water, steam them in a pot, or sizzle them over an open flame. Crafting this culinary masterpiece is a true art, demanding your utmost patience and precision. Treat each ingredient to its own cooking process before assembling the mouthwatering masterpiece.

Tamales Ingredients

Ready to make the most mouthwatering homemade tamales? It all starts with the right ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to create the perfect tantalizing flavors:

  • Masa harina is a basic ingredient in making tamales. It is a traditional dough made from corn flour. This flour is made from ground corn soaked in an alkaline solution. Masa harina forms the base of tamales. It provides a delicate corn flavor that pairs with various fillings.
  • The corn husks play a crucial role in tamale-making. They serve as the wrapper for the delicious filling. They are soaked in water and then spread with the masa mixture. As the tamales steam, the husks impart an earthy aroma. They also add an appealing rustic touch to the final dish.
  • Filing is the most important component of tamales. It can include anything from chicken, pork, beef, cheese, vegetables, and even sweets. Tamales are highly versatile and can be tailored to the taste and preference of each eater.
  • The chiles or sauces give tamales their unique flavor. These include red or green sauces, hot sauces, and other salsas.
  • The toppings add an extra layer of depth to the tamales. Common toppings include sour cream, cilantro, and avocado.

How to Cook Tamales in the Oven?

Make mouthwatering tamales in the oven easily. All you need is a Dutch oven with a steam rack. You can also use a deep casserole dish with a lid or steam basket. Just place the tamales seam-side up and add water up to the top. Cover it and steam at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the water level. Add more if needed. Bake till golden brown. Once the masa is cooked through, your delicious tamales are ready to be served.

How Do You Steam Tamales?

Want to make traditional steaming tamales? Get ready to steam them to perfection. You will need a steamer basket or pot with a lid. Place the tamales seam-side up in the steamer pot. Make sure that the tamales are not touching each other. Add enough water to the pot or steamer basket. Cover the pot with a lid. Steam the tamales for about 45 minutes. Once the masa is cooked, serve the steamed tamales and enjoy.

How Do You Cook Tamales Without a Steamer?

Don’t worry if you don’t have a steamer. You can still make tasty tamales! Just grab a metal colander and a deep pot with a lid. Flip the colander and place it in the pot, ensuring the water reaches the bottom. Close the lid and let it boil. Pop the tamales in the colander, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover it with a lid. Steam them until they’re perfectly cooked. Delicious tamales without a steamer? Absolutely possible!

How Do You Cook Tamales in a Pressure Cooker?

Cook tamales in a pressure cooker for the quickest results. Use either an electric or stove-top cooker. Simply place the tamales inside. Whether they’re frozen tamales or freshly made ones, it doesn’t matter. Next, add two cups of water and secure the lid tightly. Set the timer based on the type and size of your tamales. Cook for just 8-10 minutes. Before opening, make sure to release the pressure carefully. Now, savor the taste of your delicious tamales.

How Do You Cook Tamales on the Stovetop?

You don’t need fancy equipment to make tamales on your stovetop. All you need is an oven-safe pot with a lid and a steamer basket. Fill the pot with water and place the steamer basket in it. Then, add the tamales to the basket, making sure they don’t touch each other. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let the tamales steam for 30 to 45 minutes. Finally, check the dough to make sure it’s cooked through.

How Do You Cook Tamales in an Air Fryer?

Cooking tamales in an air fryer is a fantastic way to cook or reheat tamales. Just follow these easy steps. Preheat the air fryer for five minutes. Moisten the corn husks before wrapping them to keep the tamales moist. Place the wrapped tamales vertically in the air fryer basket and air fry for five minutes. Re-moisten the husks if needed. Cook for a few more minutes until golden and crispy. Indulge in the deliciousness of air-fried tamales.

How Do You Cook Tamales in an Instant Pot?

Looking for an easy way to make mouthwatering tamales? The instant pot method is a perfect way. Place your thawed tamales in the Instant Pot, add a cup of water, and tightly close the lid. Set the pressure to high and let it cook for 20 to 25 minutes. And voila! You’ll have perfectly cooked tamales ready to enjoy. Don’t forget to release the pressure before opening the lid.

How Do You Cook Tamales in a Crockpot?

Looking for an alternative way to steam tamales? Simply place a steamer basket in your Crockpot and fill it with water. Make sure the water covers the bottom of the pot. Put the tamales in the steamer basket, cover the pot with a lid, and cook on low heat for approximately 90 minutes. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the water level and add more if necessary. When they’re done, turn off the heat. Indulge in your very own homemade tamales. Deliciousness awaits!

How Do I Steam Tamales in the Microwave?

Want an easy way to steam tamales? Simply wrap them in a damp paper towel. Put them on a microwave-safe plate. Cook on high for one or two minutes. Check the microwave after one minute to ensure not to overcook tamales. It is also a great method for reheating tamales.

Can I Wrap Tamales in Parchment?

Yes, you can wrap tamales in parchment paper. Place the filling and masa in the center of the parchment paper. Then fold it into a sealed pouch. Steam it in boiling water to cook the tamales. Cook them until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Once cooked, remove the parchment paper.

Can I Wrap Tamales in Foil?

Aluminum foil is another popular way to wrap tamales. Double-wrap each tamale so that no steam can escape. Adding two layers of aluminum foil minimizes its risk of breaking apart. It also helps keep the tamales moist.


Mastering the art of cooking tamales promises a delicious reward. It also enables you to delve into the cultural heritage associated with this dish. With the right ingredients and methods, you can make tamales that everyone will love. Steam or cook them in a Crockpot, microwave, parchment paper, or aluminum foil. Enjoy your homemade tamales with your favorite toppings. Bon appetit.


How are tamales traditionally cooked?

Cooking traditional tamales is a steaming sensation. Wrap them up in corn husks or banana leaves to seal in that incredible moisture and flavor. Pop them in a large pot filled with water. Steam them for 30 to 45 minutes until they’re oh-so-tender and cooked through.

Is it better to steam or boil tamales?

Steaming tamales is the best way to keep them deliciously intact. Boiling can result in a crumbly mess while steaming locks in moisture for a flavorful bite. Say goodbye to dry tamales and hello to perfectly steamed deliciousness.

How long do tamales need to steam?

Steam your tamales for 30 to 45 minutes for that perfect flavor. Don’t forget to check them with a fork or knife to make sure they’re fully cooked. If they’re not quite done, keep cooking.

Are tamales baked or boiled?

Tamales are traditionally steamed, not baked or boiled. Steaming helps to retain the moisture and flavor in the tamales, while boiling can cause them to break apart. To steam tamales, use a large pot filled with water and wrap the tamales in corn husks or banana leaves. Steam for 30 to 45 minutes until they are cooked through.

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