Natural Health & Wellness

How Long Do Tamales Take to Cook? All Your Questions Answered

How Long Do Tamales Take to Cook? All Your Questions Answered TheWellthieone

What is a tamale?

A tamale is a traditional Mexican dish made of masa or dough, which is steamed or boiled in a corn husk or banana leaf. Tamales can be filled with various ingredients, including meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, and spices. Traditionally, tamales are served as part of a meal, often alongside beans and rice.

Read on for perfect technique and  for a video to walk you through step by step.  Lastly, frequently asked questions about making and storing tamales are answered!

How to Cook a Tamale

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cooking tamales. We’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect tamale, as well as answer some frequently asked questions about cooking tamales. 

Whether you’re a tamale aficionado or are just looking to try something new, read on for all the information you need to make delicious tamales at home.

How to Make Tamales Step-by-Step


  • 2 cups masa harina 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup lard 
  • 2 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can refried beans 
  • 1/2 cup salsa 
  • 1/4 cup chopped green chiles 
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 12 corn husks 


  1. In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the lard until well blended. Slowly add the chicken broth until the mixture forms a soft dough. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
  1. In a separate bowl, mix together the refried beans, salsa, green chiles, and chili powder. Set aside.
  1. To assemble the tamales, take one corn husk and spread about 1/4 cup of the masa dough evenly over the husk, leaving about 1 inch of space at the bottom and top of the husk.

Spread 1 tablespoon of the bean mixture down the center of the dough. 

Then fold up the bottom of the husk until it meets the top of the dough (the dough should now be totally enclosed by the husk). Close with string or a husk strip. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

  1. Place tamales in a steamer basket over boiling water; cover and steam for 60 minutes, or until firm. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving with your favorite salsa or sauce. Enjoy!

The average cooking time for a tamale is about 60 minutes if you are traditionally steaming them. 

There are some amazing sauces out there to try on tamales.  We’ve written articles about some of the best ones!  Read on and see which ones will go great with your tamales!

More from about great sauces to try:

Joshua Weissman shows us step by step how he makes tamales in his video, and insists they are EASY!

Frequently Asked Questions about Cooking Tamales

Q: What is the best way to store leftovers?

A: Tamales can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. If freezing, be sure to wrap each tamale individually in plastic wrap before placing them in a freezer bag so they don’t stick together.

Q: Can I make tamales ahead of time? 

A: Yes! You can actually make tamales up to 2 months ahead of time and store them in your freezer until you’re ready to cook them! Just be sure to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before steaming them per instructions above.

Q: My tamales won’t stay wrapped while I’m cooking them—what should I do?

A: If your tamales start unwrapping while cooking, simply place another piece of corn husk on top and rewrap tightly with string or another strip of husk. This will help keep them secure while cooking.

Q: Can I use frozen corn husks?

A: Yes-if you can’t find fresh corn husks at your local grocery store (they’re usually found near where they sell Latin American foods), you can use frozen ones instead! Just be sure to thaw them completely before using, per instructions on the package.

Q: What other fillings can I use for my tamales?

A: When it comes to fillings for your tamales, the possibilities are endless!Some other popular fillings include shredded chicken or beef, cheese and chilies, rajas (sauteed peppers), potatoes, or sweet potatoes.

You could also get creative and experiment with different fruit fillings, like mango or other tropical fruits. Get creative and have fun with it—there’s really no wrong way to make a tamale!

Concluding Thoughts

Cooking tamales is a fun and delicious way to enjoy traditional Mexican cuisine at home. With our step-by-step guide and FAQs, you’ll be an expert in no time! So gather your ingredients, invite some friends over, and enjoy making and eating some delicious tamales!

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