How to Steam Frozen Tamales


Cornmeal dough wrapped around a sweet or savory filling with a corn husk covering is known as a tamale. These are a holiday favorite in many Hispanic households. Today, the multicultural cook can find frozen tamales for sale at grocery stores, Hispanic markets and on the Internet. A tamale steamer suspends the tamales over boiling water to cook the dough. You can improvise a tamale steamer from a stockpot and steamer basket. Steaming your frozen tamales will make them taste just as good as fresh. Just do not eat the corn husk wrapper.

Things You'll Need

  • Deep stock pot or tamale steamer
  • Coin
  • Corn husks (optional)
  • Steamer basket insert
  • Tight fitting lid
  • Fill the bottom of the stock pot with water to just below the steamer insert.

  • Drop a coin into the water. When you hear the coin rattling against the bottom of the pot, you must refill the steamer with more water.

  • Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.

  • Cover the steamer insert with a layer of corn husks if desired.

  • Arrange the still frozen tamales upright with the open end pointed up. Do not pack the tamales too tightly as they expand during cooking.

  • Place the steamer basket into the pot above the boiling water.

  • Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and begin timing.

  • Steam pre-cooked frozen tamales for 25 minutes. Cook frozen raw tamales for 3 hours or until cooked through. Remove the corn husk before eating the cornmeal dough and filling inside.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images silver coin image by Pali A from
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