Steaming Tamales: A Guide to Delicious Homemade Delicacies

Video steaming tamales without a steamer

How to Steam Tamales without a Steamer
Raw Tamales Ready to Be Steamed

How to Steam Tamales Using Various Methods

Steaming tamales is a breeze, even without a traditional tamalera. You can still achieve mouthwatering results by following these easy methods. Whether you have a tamale steamer, an instant pot, or a regular large pot, there are several alternative ways to steam tamales without a steamer. Before you begin, make sure to review the other steps in my tamales making series.

Tamalera for Tamales
Mexican Tamalera Pot

Steam Tamales with a Tamalera Steamer

Traditionally, these Mexican delicacies are steamed in a tamalera. You can find one at a local Mexican or Hispanic food store or online. Here’s how you use a tamalera to steam tamales:

  1. Fill the tamalera with warm water up to the indicated water level.
  2. Place the steamer shelf inside the pot.
  3. Arrange corn husks around the steaming shelf.
  4. Place the raw tamales on top of the corn husks, making sure not to pack them too tightly.
  5. Cover the tamales with extra corn husks or aluminum foil, leaving a small hole for steam to escape.
  6. Steam the tamales on high heat until the water boils, then reduce the heat to low and continue steaming for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the pot size and the number of tamales.
  7. After an hour, check for doneness.
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If you don’t have a tamalera pot, keep reading.

Steam Tamales without a Steamer

If you don’t own a traditional tamale steamer, don’t worry! You can still cook your tamales using other methods. Here are a few options:

Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker Method

When you want a quick and easy way to steam tamales, using a pressure cooker is the way to go. Here’s what you do:

  1. Place a metal vegetable steamer basket or the steam rack from your pressure cooker inside the pot.
  2. Pour boiling water into the pot, ensuring that the water level only reaches the bottom of the basket or rack. Avoid letting the water touch the tamales.
  3. Lay hydrated corn husks on the steamer basket or rack.
  4. Arrange the raw or frozen tamales on top, making sure the masa dough doesn’t squeeze out.
  5. Cover the tamales with hydrated corn husks.
  6. Place the lid on the pressure cooker, set the valve to Sealing, and cook on low pressure for 35 minutes.
  7. Allow the pressure to naturally release, then serve and enjoy!

Please note that using the pressure cook function yields better results than the steam function.

Pot Method

Another easy way to steam tamales without a steamer is by using a regular pot. Follow these steps:

  1. Use a wide vegetable steamer basket or rack that fits inside your pot.
  2. Place the basket or rack in the pot, and pour in a couple of cups of water, ensuring that the water level is below the bottom of the steamer basket.
  3. Arrange hydrated corn husks on the basket.
  4. Stand up the tamales on the basket, making sure not to overcrowd them.
  5. Cover the tamales with more hydrated corn husks or aluminum foil, and place the lid on the pot.
  6. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low and steam the tamales.
  7. Check the tamales after about an hour for doneness and ensure the steaming water doesn’t dry out.
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Pot Method with Aluminum Foil

If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can still steam tamales using aluminum foil and a heat-proof plate. Here’s how:

  1. Create small balls of scrunched-up aluminum foil and place them inside the pot to form a layer.
  2. Flip a plate upside down and place it on top of the foil balls.
  3. Pour water into the pot, making sure it doesn’t touch the plate.
  4. Arrange the tamales on the plate, ensuring they don’t tip over.
  5. Cover the tamales with hydrated corn husks or aluminum foil, make a small hole in the foil, and tightly seal the pot with the lid.
  6. Steam the tamales as usual.

Pot Method with Disposable Pie Pan

Using a disposable pie pan inside a regular pot is another alternative for steaming tamales. Follow these steps:

  1. Use the steaming rack from your pressure cooker or create aluminum foil balls to support the disposable pie pan.
  2. Make holes in the bottom of the pie pan to prevent the tamales from sitting in excess water.
  3. Set the pie pan on top of the rack or foil balls, making sure it fits inside the pot.
  4. Pour water into the pot without letting it reach the bottom of the pan.
  5. Arrange the tamales inside the pan and steam as usual.

More Tamales Making Tips

For more helpful tips on making tamales, be sure to check out my series. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Here are some other topics you might find useful:

  • How to Prepare Corn Husks for Tamales
  • Masa For Tamales | No Lard Recipe
  • The Masa Float Test for Tamales
  • How to Spread Masa on Corn Husks for Tamales
  • How to Fold Tamales
  • How to Steam Tamales without a Steamer
  • How Long Does It Take to Cook Tamales on the Stove?
  • How Long do Tamales Last
  • How to Store Tamales
  • What to Eat with Tamales | 24 Tamales Side Dishes
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How to Steam Tamales without a Tamalera
Tamales Ready to Eat!

Important Tips

When steaming corn husk tamales, it’s best to have only one layer of tamales to prevent them from taking longer to cook or spilling masa. However, if you’re making banana leaf tamales, stacking them is acceptable.

Covering the tamales with hydrated corn husks or aluminum foil is crucial to prevent steaming droplets from falling back onto the tamales. This ensures they stay dry and cook faster. Avoid using paper towels as they may disintegrate and mix with the food.

Now that you have these simple methods for steaming tamales, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious homemade treats without owning a steamer. Happy cooking! For more fantastic recipes and tips, visit Family Cuisine.

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