How to steam tamales in Instant Pot to get them tender in no time. Beef, chicken or cheese they all work well this way in just a few minutes.
This is how to steam tamales in Instant Pot y’all! Using fresh or frozen tamales you can easily heat these babies up in no time and enjoy your favorite Mexican treat at home. Filled with beef or chicken this has been a game changer for us. Another great and quick Instant Pot recipe on The Typical Mom blog. (affiliate links present)
Tamales in Instant Pot
Have you thought about this but just weren’t sure if it was possible? It totally is and so easy too. If you have a Crockpot Express or Ninja Foodi those pressure cooker brands will work just as well. They all have the high pressure or steam function and you could use either one really.
For me this is too time consuming to make homemade, but you could. The meat inside would be precooked so you’d just be steaming the masa. If you can find them frozen they are pretty killer, and no work on your part.
Let’s start with a few basic tips:
- Make sure to Bookmark our InstaPot recipes page. We add new ones each week!
- Then PRINT this —–> Instant Pot cooking times cheat sheet that will help you understand how long meat, vegetables and beans take to cook in your pressure cooker.
For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have and use for all recipe creations.
This is a great brand we found at the grocery store. Typically they will have both beef and chicken available so choose whichever you prefer. The size doesn’t vary a ton but of course there will be slight variations depending on the brand you select.
How to Cook Frozen Tamales
You only need two things if yours are already made and you’re only heating them up. If you’d like to try and make homemade tamales you could do that too. I would suggest making them about the same size you see below so the cook time remains the same.
- Bag of tamales frozen and not defrosted
- Water or beef / chicken broth
- Use a trivet with a small ramekin in the middle or better yet this vegetable steamer basket
Yes you could do this same thing on the stovetop in a deep pot but that would take longer. The whole idea is to just steam them until the masa dough is cooked and fork tender.
How to Reheat Tamales in the Instant Pot
No. It isn’t safe to consume flour or eggs that haven’t been cooked yet. When cooking frozen tamales this isn’t a concern as almost all of these are precooked and safe. You’d just need to defrost and warm them, steaming is the best method to get the entire thing tender and moist.
Don’t worry about going out and buying this basket. It is nice to have so they stay upright nicely but any trivet or steam rack will keep them out of the water. Setting something in the middle will help them sit up and not fall over. With a steamer basket there is already a handle there so a small ramekin isn’t needed.
Cup of water or broth could be used as the liquid below, either way. The corn husks will get nice and soft and easy to peel off this way. Remember, you don’t eat these. The outside is to just hold the goodness inside. They literally are the outside of corn on the cob, you wouldn’t want to consume that part.
How Long to Steam Tamales
You can pressure cook any variety from beef to chicken or pork tamales. It will take 30 minutes to finish this in total, but 10 – 20 minutes to reach pressure. You’ll want to pressure release naturally instead of doing a quick release in order to maintain the moisture inside the pot.
Make sure you carefully remove the lid away from you because it is hot inside.
- Pour cold or hot water into your pressure cooker. Lower down the trivet or vegetable steamer.
- If using a trivet place a small ramekin in the middle so they can lean on it and stand up. For the other you don’t need this.
- Place your fresh or frozen tamales wrapped in husks around the middle piece so they are standing up and the open end is facing up.
Close and lock lid + steam valve. Cook for 15 minutes on high pressure. Let pressure release naturally which will take about 15 minutes. Open lid and use tongs to remove tamales and serve with all the things. If you eat these regularly or as a child you probably have your must haves that go with these, we have some suggestions below.
What side dishes go well with tamales?
This easy tamale recipe goes with so many things. It is great when people come over too because you can cook in multiple batches as the day goes on. Create a bar with all sorts of side dishes that they can choose from too. That makes a Cinco de Mayo party or Sunday brunch really fun. Here are a few of our favorites.
Let’s start with toppings that go well with them like:
- Sour cream
- Enchilada sauce to drizzle on top
Instant Pot Frozen Tamales
Then you’re going to want some traditional things to go on your plate with these babies like:
- Homemade black beans or Instant Pot refried beans with some crumbled feta cheese on top
- Enchilada rice is an easy one we love
- Tortilla chips are easiest since you can just grab a bag at the store
- Try some red cabbage cole slaw for a bit of coolness
If you have something we haven’t listed let us know so we can try it next time!
Ninja Foodi Tamales
How to store leftovers? The big thing is you don’t want the masa to dry out. Keep the husks on the outsides for that very reason when you store them in the fridge or freeze them. Once they are room temperature and you are sure that nobody is going to eat anymore then you can wrap them up. I like starting with some plastic wrap.
Wrap each one tightly first and independent from one another for best results. Then slide them into a freezer bag and suck all the air out. They will stay well in the fridge for about 3 days. If you won’t enjoy them by then you’re best bet is to freeze this way for up to 6 months!!
Looking for another Mexican pressure cooker recipe to try out this week? We have a few but our Instant Pot taco pasta is a really fun one for everyone in the family. Enjoy the same flavors in the oven with our Jiffy tamale pie dish too!
Steaming Tamales from Frozen
It is a twist I guess on tacos put into a casserole of sorts. It only takes a few minutes to saute the meat and then a few more to soften the noodles. Melding together with a dollop of sour cream on top or stir it in for a creamier version of this favorite dinner and it’s OH so good.
No need to wait for Cinco de Mayo or another holiday to make either one of these. Use Taco Tuesdays to change it up a bit and try new dishes. It gives your kids a change to have a broader palate so when they are adults they love all sorts of different foods.
We did this for years and now my kids are quite adventurous when it comes to eating sushi and all sorts of different ethnic foods. Give this one a whirl and let us know what you think. Make yours homemade? I’d love to know your method so we can try them at home ourselves during the holidays.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Steam Tamales in Instant Pot
- 12 tamales frozen
- 2 c water
- Pour water into pressure cooker and lower down trivet or vegetable steamer.
- If using a trivet place a small ramekin in the middle so they can lean on it and stand up, for the latter you don't need this.
- Place frozen tamales around the middle piece so they are standing up and the open end is facing up.
- Close the lid and steam valve and cook for 15 minutes on high pressure. Let pressure release naturally which will take about 15 minutes.
- Open lid and use tongs to remove tamales and serve.