Learn how to cook Tamales in the oven. Are you looking for an easy way to make tamales? Did you know that you can cook them in the oven? We will show you how to do it.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced cook, follow these steps and you’ll be able to make perfect tamales every time.
What are Tamales?
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that are made with corn dough and filled with meat, generally chicken, or pork. Other popular fillings are vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peppers, and carrots. Some recipes call for cheese and dried fruits too. The filling is wrapped in a banana leaves or corn husks so it can be eaten on the go. The wrapper is not edible, but both the banana leaf and the corn husk help flavor the filling during the cooking process.
They can be steamed or boiled, and the corn masa gets firmer as it is cooked. Today we’re going to learn how to cook tamales in the oven. And a few other methods that are tried and true methods for the best results when making these little pockets of savory food. It’s a simple process that yields delicious results and moist tamales.
How to cook tamales in the oven?
Cooking Tamales in the Oven. Arrange a steam rack or steam basket inside a Dutch oven or a deep casserole dish with a lid. Add the tamales with the open end facing up. Add water to just below the rack or basket. Set the oven at a medium temperature at about 250 degrees. Bake for 40-60 minutes. Pro Tip. Make sure to check the water level after 30 minutes and add to it if needed with warm water. Being careful not to pour any in the tamales. After 60 minutes, check for doneness. Continue baking if needed.
How do you cook tamales without a steamer?
A metal colander turned over in a large pot of boiling water will work. To hold the tamales above the boiling water, place a plate above the colander. Place the tamales open side up on top the plate. Allow the steam to cook them until they are done.
Can I steam tamales in aluminum foil?
Yes, using aluminum foil rather than a corn husk will work well for sealing in the masa harina filling ingredients while they steam. It will have the same effect as the corn husk, but will not have the added flavor.
Can I use parchment paper to steam tamales?
Yes, parchment paper works well for steaming tamales. Use a large piece of parchment paper to securely wrap around the filling. Just as you would with a corn husk. Wrap the sides around the filling and fold in half. Place the opening side up for steaming in your container.
How do you cook tamales on the stove top?
Cook on the Stove Top or a Steamer. Add a few cups of water to the bottom of a large pot with a steamer basket. The water can come just below the steamer basket. Lay a few corn husks on the bottom of the rack to keep them from falling through the grates or touching the boiling water. You need them to be in the steam not in the water.
Place the tamales upright with the open end on the top. To keep the filling moist, you can lay a few corn husks over the top of the steamer basket before closing the lid.
Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to steam for 1 hour. Check for doneness after 1 hour and continue cooking and checking every 15 minutes if not done. Pro Tip. You should check the water every 20-30 minutes and add as needed. You don’t want to run out of water or steam. As you add the water, take care not to spill the water inside the tamales.
Can you cook tamales in an air fryer?
Yes, just moisten the corn husk wrappers to help with creating steam while cooking. Set the air fryer to a mid-range temperature. Place them in the air fryer basket and cook for five minutes. Check for doneness. If not done, spray the husks with a bit of water and cook another 1 to 2 minutes and check again.
How long do you steam tamales to reheat them?
The best way to reheat tamales is in a large pot using a steamer basket. It just takes 15 minutes if they have come from the refrigerator. If they are being reheated from frozen, then it could take up to 30 minutes.
Can you steam tamales in a crockpot?
Yes, this is an easy way to steam tamales and not worry as much about the steam escaping. Add a steam basket to the slow cooker and add water to just below the basket level. Add your tamales and cook on high until they are done. Generally, 90 minutes. After this time, check for to see if they are done and cook longer if necessary.
How do I steam tamales in the microwave?
Using a microwave is actually a quick method of cooking tamales. Place the corn husks with the filling inside a microwave steamer with water. Cover with the lid and lift the tab for steam to escape. Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes on high power. Each microwave is slightly different so check at 3 minutes to see if it is done.
Can you wrap tamales in parchment?
Yes, just use a piece the size of a corn husk. It is a reliable alternative. Add your filling, fold in the sides and fold in half just as you would if you used a husk. The filling will stay moist and cook well in the parchment paper.
Can I wrap tamales in foil?
Yes, if you want to use aluminum foil, I recommend a heavy-duty foil or using two layers of aluminum foil. It has less of a chance of tearing when adding the filling and folding around the ingredients. It will seal in the moisture and allow the filling to cook just fine.
How long do homemade tamales last in the fridge?
Store leftover tamales in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 7 days.
Can you Freeze Tamales?
Yes, just wrap individually and place in a sealed container. Freeze for up to 4 months for the best freshness.
How do I know when my tamales are done?
Tamales are done when the corn husk changes from a white to a very pale yellow color. Further, if you check one, the corn flour will not be mushy anymore.
Can You Overcook Tamales?
Yes, if you steam them, when overcooked, they can become soggy. To remove the excess moisture, try and drain off any excess moisture and blot with a paper towel. Then bake in an oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you overcook your tamales in the oven or air fryer, the edges can become brown and crispy. If you like your edges like this, then go for it. If not, make sure not to overcook the tamales.
What is the best way to serve tamales?
Remove the tamale from the husk and drizzle Salsa Verde, fresh salsa, pico de gallo, avocado, and a bit of sour cream on top.
What to Serve with Tamales?
How to Cook Tamales in the Oven
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- 2-3 Cups Chicken Cooked and Shredded, can be pork
- 8 Ounces Salsa Verde
- 2 Cups Masa Harina
- 10.5 Ounces Beef Broth can be chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ⅔ Cup Lard
- 8 Ounces Corn Husks 1 package of dried husks
- Shred the cooked meat and mix in the Salsa Verde.
- While making the dough, soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. Next, in a large bowl, using a whisk or tablespoon, mix the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until it is fully combined and kind of fluffy. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the masa harina, baking powder and salt to combine. Stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as needed to form a soft dough. Pro Tip. The dough should have a spreadable consistency, sort of like peanut butter or Nutella. Keep the masa harina mixture from drying out while filling and assembling the corn husks by covering the bowl with a damp towel.
- Filling and assembling the tamales. Begin by removing the corn husk from the water and lay it glossy side up on a counter with the wide end near the top. Next add 1/4 cup of the dough to the husk, in the center top half of the husk. Pro Tip. Use a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the dough to help spread it into a thin layer approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Next top this with one tablespoon of the meat filling in the center of the dough mixture. Don’t overfill though.
- Wrap the corn husk around the tamale mixture by folding the sides of the husk toward the center and folding the bottom of the husk up. This will keep the filling mixture from coming out the bottom while cooking.
Cooking Tamales in the Oven.
- Arrange a steam rack or steam basket inside a Dutch oven or a deep casserole dish with a lid. Add the tamales with the open end facing up. Add water to just below the rack or basket. Set the oven temperature at its lowest setting. Bake for 60 minutes. Pro Tip. Make sure to check the water level after 30 minutes and add to it if needed with warm water. Being careful not to pour any in the tamales. After 60 minutes, check for doneness. Continue baking if needed.
Cook on the Stove Top or a Steamer.
- Add a few cups of water to the bottom of a large pot with a steamer basket. The water can come just below the steamer basket. Lay a few corn husks on the bottom of the rack to keep them from falling through the grates or touching the boiling water. You need them to be in the steam not in the water.
- Place the tamales upright with the open end on the top. To keep the filling moist, you can lay a few corn husks over the top of the steamer rack before closing the lid.
- Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a medium heat so it will simmer and allow to steam for 1 hour. Check for doneness after 1 hour and continue cooking and checking every 15 minutes if not done. Pro Tip. You should check the water every 20-30 minutes and add as needed. You don’t want to run out of water or steam. As you add the water, take care not to spill the water inside the tamales.
Cooking Tamales in an Instant Pot.
- Add the tamales to the instant pot with the open end facing up. Cover and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Allow the pressure to release for 10 minutes, then release the lid and check for doneness.
How to Tell if Tamales are Done?
- The easiest way is to just remove one and pull the husk away from the filling. If it pulls away cleanly from the tamale, they are done. If the dough sticks to the husk, they are not done yet. Try cooking 5 to 10 minutes longer and test again.