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How to Cook Tamales Without a Steamer

The best way to enjoy homemade tamales is to eat them right after they’ve been prepared. Steamed tamales are the most ideal, regardless of whether you’re making them from scratch or simply warming them up. However, it may not always be possible to use a steamer for your tamales.

If you’re not sure how to cook tamales without a steamer, this article will provide you with all the details you need. Find out all the possible alternatives to using a steamer for your tamale recipes, and pay attention to all the tips that will make your cooking easier.

How To Cook Tamales Without A Steamer

Tamales Nutrition Facts

How To Cook Tamales Without A Steamer

Cooking Tamales Without a Steamer

Keep the following helpful instructions in mind when attempting to cook tamales without using a steamer:

Different ways to cook tamales – Cooking tamales without using a steamer is definitely possible, so let nothing stop you. Even without a commercial steamer, you may very easily make your own steamer basket out of anything heat resistant that will keep the tamales above the boiling water and help the steam to permeate them. You can also reheat tamales without using steam, such as by deep frying them or grilling them.

Consider one or more of the cooking methods below:

Using a Pressure cooker

To steam tamales in a pressure cooker, add roughly two cups of water to the cooker, then put the tamales in the basket before you turn on the pressure setting. Leave the pressure cooker to reach its highest temperature. Turn down the heat after the water is heated enough to produce steam. The tamales should then be steamed for 15 to 20 minutes. This should be sufficient to reheat the tamales to the appropriate moisture level.

Using a Crock-Pot

With a crockpot or slow cooker (if this is the equipment you have), you may be able to reheat tamales quickly and easily. Simply place the tamales atop a rack in the pot to cook. Most crockpots are equipped with a rack for steaming, but if you don’t have one, you may use a colander instead.

Begin by placing the rack (or colander) inside the crockpot for this procedure. Fill the crockpot halfway with water, just underneath the rack. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a medium heat setting for a slow cook.

Cover each tamale in foil individually while the water comes to a boil. When the water has reached a boil, place the tamales atop the rack, cover the crockpot, and turn the heat up to high. Before serving, steam them for 1 to 2 hours, or until thoroughly heated.

Using an oven

Although steaming in the oven may not appear to be the most ideal method, it is effective. An oven’s disadvantage is that it tends to dry up food. So, if you would like to reheat tamales while keeping them tender and moist, you’ll need to avoid this.

Begin this cooking method by boiling some water in a pot, then pour it into a baking tray. Because water takes more time to boil in the oven, boiling the water first on the stovetop will significantly reduce the cooking time. In the baking tray, place a baking rack that is high enough to prevent the tamales from being in the water. Position the foil-wrapped tamales atop the rack, then steam them for 1 to 2 hours.


To prepare tamales using a barbecue or an outdoor grill, first, remove the husks and place them on the grill grate. Heat the tamales over a low flame until they’re heated throughout. The husks will darken slightly, but the insides will not burn if the tamales are turned frequently and the heat is kept low. This method will impart a nice smoky flavor to your tamales.


A pleasant, somewhat crunchy exterior is achieved by pan-frying tamales with a small amount of oil. First get the tamales out of their husks, spray the bottom of the pan with oil, and cook the tamales until they are heated through; do this over medium-low to medium heat.

If you’re working with cooking oil that has a low smoke point, olive oil, for instance, reduces the heat of the stove. If using heat-resistant cooking oil instead, and you want your tamales to be beautifully browned, increase the heat.

Using a Metal Strainer

Using a metal strainer inside a pot atop the stove is another cooking method that works in a similar manner to a crockpot. To accomplish this, you’ll need some technical expertise to understand how to keep the tamales hanging above the water while the lid is kept closed. During this period, the steam gets to do its job and warm the tamales properly.

Fill a saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid with water, then develop a technique to support a colander or metal strainer above the water and cover the pot to prevent steam from escaping. Wrap each of the tamales in aluminum foil separately. Bring the water to a boil, then drain the wrapped tamales into a colander with a lid. Reduce the heat to a low setting and steam for about 1 to 2 hours.

Cooking Time for Tamales Without a Steamer

The cooking time will typically depend on the method you choose to use. Pay attention to the timing guidelines in the table below:

Cooking method Cooking time
Using a pressure cooker 15 to 20 minutes
Using a crockpot 1 to 2 hours on HIGH
Cooking in the oven 1 to 2 hours
Using a metal strainer 1 to 2 hours


Tamales are one delicious recipe to try, and you don’t necessarily need a steamer to make your cooking successful. There are many alternatives that have been described above, all of which will suffice to help you get the best possible results.

Make sure to choose the most convenient option for you, especially based on the equipment you have on hand, and which method you find the easiest to adopt. Also, ensure to follow the correct instructions regardless of the method you decide on.