How Do You Steam Tamales In An Instant Pot

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How To Steam Tamales


How to cook tamales? The most common way of steaming tamales is by using a steamer with multiple compartments. A pressure cooker or slow cooker can do in a pinch. Homemade tamales are amazing, especially pork tamales.

There has to be enough water to create steam without making the tamales wet, and these steamers are designed to keep the tamales above the water level through an effective basket. You want to avoid soggy tamales at all costs, remember.

If you find that you are running out of water throughout this steaming process, feel free to add as much water as you need, but make sure to pour it down the side of the pot as opposed to on top of the tamales.

One tip for knowing if you need more water is to drop a coin down the side – if you hear it rattle against the bottom, you need more water.

Stack the tamales with the open tops of the husks facing the opening of the steamer – it helps if you make a large batch so they can stand upright for longer.

Make sure to put a heat proof cup in the center to help the tamales balance. Place other husks or clean cloths over the tamales to keep the steam close.

Bring the water to boil and then turn it down to a low heat and start your cooking time. This is the same as preheating an oven – the cooking time does not start when you are just beginning to heat up the water!

It takes usually between 1-2 hours to fully cook the tamales – just be sure to check around the 1.5 hour mark to see if the masa dough has kept the structure.

Reheating Tamales In A Skillet

A further delicious way to heat your tamales is via skillet. And if this golden tint is your desire, its your way!

  • Preheat over gentle heat your big skillet. During cooking, remove the husks of corn on your tamale.
  • When heated, add 1 tsp of veg oil or lard. Permit the oil heat first before your tamale also place.
  • Arrange the tamales gently on the heated skillet. Fry the tamale on each side for 3 or 4 mines until golden brown. Continue to fry till the tamale are boiling.

Reheat tamales in the Air fryer

Just heat the air fryer to reheat the tamales in the air fryer. Moisten the tamales exterior with a low of water. Insert them in the basket and cook them for five min at medium temperature.

  • Lay the tamale and let them stand at room temperature. If you do not have the time to wait, let them sit for 10 minutes first at room temperature.
  • Keep the husks of the tamales. Moisten the tamale using a rubbing brush on either edge. When the husks are now gone, immediately dampen the tamales.
  • Preheat your fryer to medium temperature.
  • Put the tamales in the basket of the air fryers. Make sure you dont overstretch them there must be a gap around them so that air can pass.
  • Heat them for 5-8 minutes.
  • Very cautious about taking them out of the basket as they might be warm.

Why Is My Tamale Masa Not Cooking

I think youre probably either making the masa dough too wet to begin with or youre not steaming them long enough. They should steam until the tamale easily peels away from the husk. The wetter your masa dough is, the longer the tamales will need to steam. You also may have put too much water to steam them

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So Can I Bake Tamales In The Oven Instead Of In A Steamer

Absolutely! There are countless ways to steam your tamales, as long as they are encased in the vital corn husk or banana leaf coverings.

The best way to do this is by preparing your tamales as usual and keeping the heat in the oven low to ensure the warmth of the water without potentially drying out the tamales.

A casserole dish is great for baking tamales in the oven, just make sure to use a rack to keep the tamales and water separate.

The same rules apply with a steamer – keep an eye on the water and dont let it either disappear or touch the tamales.

Place a lid on the casserole dish and wait about 40 minutes, and then open one of the husks to check if the masa has cooked properly.

The oven steaming method is a lot quicker, but does run the risk of potentially dryer tamales. It is also possible to make an open tamale in the oven that does not require corn husks. This is often known as a tamale pie, and is a really simple way of feeding large families or gatherings without the fuss of having to check the corn husks.

Of course, this may not have the desired moist texture every time as opposed to steaming, but if you prefer a golden crunch to the masa, this is an effective method.

The tamale pie is a southern comfort food, reportedly originating from Texas.

Steaming Tamales In A Crockpot

Instant Pot Tamales

The tamales will take a long time to steam, but they can be cooked in a crockpot. You will need to cook the meat overnight in the crockpot before assembling the tamales.

Some people cook tamales dry in the crockpot and if you want to do them this way, you will need to make sure the filling mix is a wet rather than dryer mix as the masa will need to absorb the excess liquid to cook properly.

You can also add water to the crockpot along with a DIY steamer rack. To make a simple rack, take an aluminum pie tin and make holes in the bottom. Then use aluminum foil to line the sides of the crockpot. Once the pot is lined, add around three cups of water to the bottom of the crockpot and place the pie tin upside down in the bottom of the crockpot. Space out the tamales and stand them up on the pie tin you can always use a little more aluminum foil to fill in any large gaps in the pot and stop the tamales from falling over.

Add another layer of aluminum foil across the top of the crockpot before putting the lid on. This extra foil will keep the moisture inside the crockpot rather than allowing it to condense on the lid of the crockpot.

Cooking tamales dry or steaming will take between four to six hours. Although this is a long time, the advantage of using the crockpot is that you can kind of forget about them for a while.

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How Long Do I Cook Frozen Tamales In The Instant Pot

frozen tamalessteamtime to

Place steam rack inside of Instant Pot. Fill with 2 cups water. Arrange tamales, open end up, standing upright. Seal lid and pressure cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.

Also Know, how do you cook frozen tamales in a crock pot? How to Reheat Frozen Tamales by Steaming in a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker

  • Set the slow cooker to high.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook for about 1 hour, rearranging the tamales after 30 minutes to ensure even heating.
  • Similarly one may ask, can you heat up tamales in an instant pot?

    Using an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker to Reheat TamalesFirst, begin by dampening your tamales to keep them moist. Then, turn your Instant Pot or pressure cooker to high. Space your tamales out as much as possible and leave in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. It’s as easy as that.

    How do I cook frozen tamales in my instant pot?


  • Insert the trivet that came with your Instant Pot.
  • Then insert the steamer basket on top of the trivet.
  • Pour the water into the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  • Insert a small ramekin or something similar to help hold the tamales upright.
  • Add the frozen tamales with folded side down around the ramekin.
  • Reheating Tamales In A Microwave:

    This is a quick way to reheat a tamale, especially if you just want to warm one or two portions.

  • Wrap the tamal in a paper towel, then spray a little water onto the towel to dampen it.
  • Place it on a microwave-safe plate. If you want to heat multiple tamales, make sure you space them out.
  • Heat for 1-2 minutes, checking to prevent them from drying or being overcooked.
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    Five: Assemble The Tamales

    Now for the fun part – assembly time! Before you even start assembling anything, you’ll want to get your station set up. Have your corn husks , masa, and chicken filling surrounding you. Make sure your counter is cleaned – it’s easiest to work straight off of the counter. Also, I like to have a putty knife or masa spreader ready .

    I also like to have a 9×13 dish sitting by my station so I can prop my finished tamales up on after I’m done wrapping.

  • Grab a corn husk and position it with the wide end pointed down.
  • 2. Using a putty knife, masa spreader, or wooden spoon, spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the masa on the corn husk. Leave a two inch gap on the top, narrow part of the corn husk.

    3. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of chicken onto the center of the masa. Place a matchstick of cheese next to the chicken.

    4. Then, fold both sides of the masa together, so it seals the meat and cheese inside.

    5. Wrap the excess corn husk around the tamale.

    6. Then, flip the narrow end up so nothing will fall out of the tamale.

    7. Secure the tamale by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the tamale.

    Continue this process until you run out of masa/chicken. Feel free to grab a friend to help out with this, it makes things go faster!

    RELATED POST: 15 Simple Side Dishes for Tamales

    How To Steam Tamales On The Stovetop


    When you are reheating Tamales directly from frozen on the stovetop, It will take about 40 minutes. But you must check the Tamales for overcooking after every 20-minute interval. Heres how to steam Tamales on the stovetop.

  • In a pot, add enough water so that It covers 2 inches of the pot from the bottom. Now place the steamer insert in the water. It should not sink into the water or else the Tamales will get mushy.
  • Now carefully place your Tamales into the steamer insert standing up. Do not overfill the pot, do not let the Tamales touch the water, and last but not the least, do not let your Tamales fall over.
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    For The Makeshift Steamer These Are What You Need:

    • 3 pieces of equal sized aluminum foil.
    • Heat-proof plate.
    • Large pot with lid.
    • Tongs.

    You can also try baking your tamales however steaming has become the cooking method of choice by many because it keeps the dough as soft and tender as possible. And since you have no steamer on hand, you are given two options for steaming tamalespan colander and plate method.

    I have chosen to go for the plate method for two reasons. First of all, a plate is more readily available than a colander. Second, the plate technique is perfect for flat-laying items like asparagus, eggplants and in this case, tamales.

    The Quickest Way From Frozen To Plate

    Tamales make a delicious lunch. If you are cooking just for yourself, the microwave oven is the quickest, most convenient, and easiest way to cook frozen tamales.

    Note: you can only cook only one or two tamales at a time in the microwave oven.


    • Quick method. No pan to heat up.
    • Convenient.
    • Tamale may be slightly drier than if steamed.
    • Extra step needed. Wrap the tamale in wet paper towelbefore microwaving.


  • Remove all plastic packaging. Keep the corn husks intact on the tamales.
  • Place 2 paper towels under running water to get them wet. Gently squeeze out excess water.
  • Wrap the damp paper towel around the frozen tamale and place the tamale on a microwave-safe plate. Put the plate in the microwave oven.
  • Microwave on 50% power for 3 minutes. Turn the tamales over and microwave on full power for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the damp paper towel and corn husk and eat.
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    How To Make Authentic Homemade Pork Tamales In The Instant Pot

    One of my most popular Instant Pot posts is cooking Frozen Tamales in the Instant Pot. Todays recipe will be showing you how to make fresh Homemade Pork Tamales in the Instant Pot from start to finish.

    Ill warn you now, this may look like a daunting process. But, once you get started its step by step and easy. It will take a few hours, but its so worth it. Homemade tamales are amazing, and you will feel like youve really accomplished something, especially when you put a few ziplock bags of them in the freezer.

    We eat them at Christmas timewell, we have tamales all the time. But, our family get together is usually centered around TexMex food and that always includes tamales.

    But What If I Dont Have A Steamer

    You bought some tamales or made tamales and precooked them ...

    The best thing about steaming tamales is that you dont need to have a proper steamer to do the job. You can afford to be a bit creative with this simple recipe. Cooking tamales can be easy.

    Some steamers come with different sections that allow multiple foods to be steamed at the same time, which is ideal for large families or gatherings. A large saucepan or pot can suffice instead of a steamer, as long as it is deep enough.

    If you are using a pot, you can use a strainer or even the lid of another pot to keep the tamales steaming above the boiling water instead of a steamer basket.

    Again, make sure to put a heat proof cup in the middle of the colander/strainer/lid to help the food balance upright.

    To keep the steam both in the pot and as close to the tamales as possible, you can cover the tamales with leftover husks or banana leaves and a clean cloth before placing a lid on the pot.

    Back in the Mesoamerican days, tamales were steamed over the fire, or often grilled, boiled, or roasted.

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    Instant Pot Steamed Tamales

    Making tamales is a labor of love. Make it easier on yourself by cutting out the lard and making Instant Pot steamed tamales. Any fillings you like with an easy to follow method.

    Just in case you havent noticed, I have been sharing, slowly but surely, most of what was on our Christmas dinner menu. My apologies if you already noticed this and I am just being Captain Obvious right now.

    Better late than never!

    This year for Christmas we flipped the script and ate everything from pozole to tamales. We had lots of salsa and toppings. I even made a small side of Mexican street corn off the cob in addition to Mexican rice. I would like to say that after this meal I felt satisfied and not the typical roll-me-out-of the-dining-room after dinner sorta full.

    That satisfied feeling was in big part to the menuand also maybe hosting and running around like a loon for a while.

    Whos to say?

    This recipe for tamales is from my second book, The Big Book of Instant Pot Recipes. It isnt very traditional. There is stock used in the place of the lard/fat. You do also add in a bit of canola oil to the tamale filling so that does help with the moisture factor.

    A tamale is a steamed masa dough with a few spoonfuls of a sweet or savory filling tucked inside and rolled together tightly in a banana leaf or corn husk. Captain Obvious here again for some of you.

    Do not be intimidated to try this recipe!


    Filling the tamales is up to you!

    Tips For Instant Pot Chili

    • I like to use 90% lean ground beef, as it has plenty of flavor but isnt overly greasy. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken.
    • I use a blend of beans, with one can of kidney beans and one can of pinto beans. Feel free to use other types of beans to suit your taste, such as black beans or red beans.
    • This chili makes for great leftovers. You can store the chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze it for up to 2 months.
    • This is a mild chili, but if you prefer a spicy chili, you can add some hot sauce to taste.
    • I like to serve my chili with a variety of toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, tortilla strips, avocado and green onions.

    This recipe can easily be doubled to serve a crowd. Sometimes I make a double batch just for my own family, then freeze half for another night. Youll find yourself making this recipe over and over again!

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    Steaming Veggies With The Saute Function

  • 1Find a clear pot lid that fits your instant pot. Dont use your Instant Pot lid when youre using the saute function, since youre not pressure cooking. Instead, use a regular pot lid to trap in steam. This way, youll be able to check your food while it cooks so you can turn off the Instant Pot when your meal is done.XResearch source
  • Normally, you dont need to use a lid at all when youre using the saute function. However, youll need a lid to steam your veggies.
  • 2Press the saute function. Look for the button on the lower-left side of the control panel. This allows you to heat the water up to create steam. However, the Instant Pot wont pressure cook your veggies.XResearch source
  • Normally, youd use this function to heat sauces, toss veggies or meat in oil, or season cooked food.
  • 3Push + or – to adjust the time if necessary. Check the recommended steam time for the veggies youre cooking. Then, set the timer on the Instant Pot. You can set the time for up to 30 minutes while in the saute function.XResearch source
  • If youre using a recipe, use the recommended steam time listed on the recipe. Otherwise, check the recommended steam time for the type of veggie youre cooking.
  • Its okay to set the time high as long as you stay with the Instant Pot. When youre happy with the texture of your veggies, hit cancel to turn off the Instant Pot.
  • The preheating time wont count toward your cooking time, so dont worry about that.
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