Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that is enjoyed all over the world. However, many people don’t know how to steam tamales properly to achieve the perfect texture and flavor properly. In this article, I will instruct you on the process of steaming tamales. With these simple steps, you can create a batch of delicious tamales that will impress your family and friends.

How To Steam Tamales

1. How To Steam Tamales With a Steamer


  • 5 homemade tamales ( or uncooked frozen tamales )
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 large pot
  • 1 steamer basket


Fill the large pot with enough water to come up just below the bottom of the steamer basket. You’ll need about 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the steamer to create enough steam to cook the tamales.

Place the steamer basket in the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.

When water boil. Place the tamales in the steamer basket, making sure to leave some space between them so they don’t stick together.

Place the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low. Steam for about 30 minutes for homemade tamales and 45 – 50 minutes for uncooked frozen tamales, check water periodically and add more water to the pot if necessary.

Serve the tamales warm with your favorite sauce or condiment. Enjoy!

2. How To Steam Tamales Without a Steamer

If you don’t have a steaming basket, there are several items you can use to steam tamales:

Using Colander or Mesh Strainer

  • Place a colander or mesh strainer over a pot of boiling water, making sure it doesn’t touch the water.
  • Arrange the tamales vertically in the colander or mesh strainer, with the open end facing up.
  • Cover the tamales and the pot with a lid or aluminum foil, and steam as usual.

Using a Stockpot And Plate

  • Fill a stockpot with a few inches of water. The water level should be below the plate’s surface when it’s placed in the pot.
  • Roll aluminum foil into balls and place them in the pot to create a makeshift rack. The plate will rest on top of these foil balls.
  • Place a heat-resistant plate (like a ceramic or Pyrex plate) on top of the foil balls in the pot.
  • Arrange the tamales on the plate. Then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam the tamales on medium-low to medium heat.

3. How To Steam Tamales in Instant Pot


  • 12 homemade tamales (or uncooked frozen tamales )
  • 1 cup of water


Place the trivet in the Instant Pot. Then place the tamales on the trivet and pour in the water.

Secure the lid and set the valve to SEALING. Next, press the Pressure Cook and set the timer 15 minutes for homemade tamales and 30 minutes for uncooked frozen tamales

When the timer is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure.

Carefully remove the lid and transfer the tamales to a plate. Serve the tamales hot with your favorite accompaniments. Enjoy!

4. Frequently Asked Questions

4.1. How Do You Tell If a Tamale is Done?

The masa should be cooked and firm: When a tamale is done, the masa should be fully cooked and firm to the touch. If the masa is still soft or doughy, it needs more time to cook.

The filling should be hot: The filling inside the tamale should be heated through and hot to the touch. You can check this by taking a small bite or cutting into one of the tamales.

The husk should come off easily: When a tamale is fully cooked, the husk should come off easily without sticking to the masa.

4.2. What Happens If You Steam Tamales Too Long?

If you steam tamales for too long, they can become overcooked and dry, with a mealy texture. The masa (dough) can also become mushy or fall apart, and the filling can lose its flavor and texture.

In addition to the flavor being lost, overcooked tamales can also cause them to stick to the corn husks or banana leaves, making them difficult to unwrap without tearing.

If you do accidentally overcook your tamales, they may still be edible, but the texture and flavor may not be as good as if they were cooked properly.

So, the next time you make tamales, be sure to keep an eye on the clock and take them out of the steamer when they are done. This will help ensure that your tamales have the best flavor and texture possible.

Ella Hopkins

Hi, I'm a food blogger! and I'm passionate about all things culinary and love to share new recipes. From delicious desserts to mouth-watering main dishes, I always have something to share with everyone. Follow me for weekly recipes, cooking inspiration, and more!

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