How to Steam Tamales Without a Steamer

There are many reasons you may not have access to a traditional steamer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite dish! Luckily, there are many ways to steam tamales without a steamer. We’ve got the scoop on how you can make this dish in any kitchen, no matter what cooking equipment is available!

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that is usually made at home. It can be good for your body because they have lots of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and protein.

If you want to make them without a steamer, you can use one of these seven easy ways. All of these methods will allow you to steam tamales without using a traditional steamer.

1: Steam Tamales on Stove

Tamales are a dish that will take some time to prepare, but they’re worth the time and effort. If you don’t have access to a steamer, there’s no need to worry! You can use your stovetop with boiling water to let it steam tamales before serving.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Fill the bottom half of your steamer with boiling water and place tamales on top in an upright position (with lids removed). Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, checking periodically to keep the steam coming through.

You can also use any old dish or plate available to place the tamales on and cover with a lid or foil to create a seal. Just make sure you bring water up to boil in your pot so that you can fill it halfway between the dish and tamale steamer, then carefully place cornmeal dough packets inside.

Be aware of how much space is left in pan and adjust how many tamales you cook at a time.

Please remember this technique only works to steam a small number of tamales, but there are other ways to steam a large number without a steamer; we also covered those in our article below.

When it’s done cooking, remove from heat; serve with your favourite sauce or condiments like salsa, lettuce, onions, cilantro, cheese; the possibilities are endless!

2: Steam Tamales in Pressure Cooker

If you’re cooking tamales in a pressure cooker, this is the easiest way to do it without a steamer. It’s also one of the most popular ways to make them because they are cooked super quickly and taste delicious with all that flavour from the broth and masa dough wrapped inside.

To use your electric or stovetop pressure cookers, you’ll need to fill the bottom with water and place a steamer rack—place tamales on top in an upright position (with lids removed). Cover and cook for about five minutes if using electricity or 15-20 minutes if cooking stovetop.

This method is perfect because all the flavour from your broth will be soaked up into the tamales, and you won’t need to add water or any extra liquid to the dish.

If you’re using a stovetop electric pressure cooker, bring a pot of water up to boil for it to be ready when you place tamales on the rack inside your steamer basket. 

This is one of the easiest ways to steam tamales without a steamer because you don’t have to worry about adding any extra water. It’s great for cooking in large batches because it cooks up fast and doesn’t require extra liquid.

3: Steam Tamales in Microwave or Crockpot

You can also cook tamales in a crockpot or microwave without any problems.

– For the microwaves, place lids loosely on top of cornmeal dough packets and add an inch of water at the bottom to create steam and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 12 minutes so that it’s cooked through; then serve with your favourite sauce or condiments.

– For crockpots, place tamales on the top and pour four cups of water into the bottom with a steamer rack in it to create steam. Cover and cook for about four hours; then serve with your favourite sauce or condiments.

This is another easy way to make tamales without access to a traditional steamer because you can cook them in the crockpot or microwave without any problems.

4: Steam Tamales in an Iron Skillet

If you don’t have a steamer or another cooking device, you can also use an iron skillet to steam your tamales.

Pour water into the bottom of the pan and place cornmeal dough packets on top in an upright position (with lids removed). Cover with lid or foil for about 20 minutes; then serve with your favourite sauce or condiments.

You might not be able to cook a large number of tamales in this method, but it’s a great option for cooking them without any other equipment, and you can still enjoy that delicious flavour!

5: Steam Tamales in Rice Cooker

If you’re cooking a large number of tamales, this is the best option for steaming them without access to any other equipment because you can place them in the rice cooker pot so it will be able to steam both items at once. Plus, this method requires less water than others, saving extra time while also creating that delicious flavor!

Place a layer of rice in the bottom of your rice cooker pot and place tamales on top with lids removed; then add water until it’s about halfway up or one inch high (depending on how much you need to cook). Cover with lid and let cook for about two hours or until tamales are done.

6: Steam Tamales in an Instant Pot

If you have an Instant Pot, this is a great way to steam tamales without access to any other equipment.

Place water at the bottom of your pot and place lids loosely on top of cornmeal dough packets; then cook for five minutes with pressure release or until done cooking time. Serve with your favorite sauce or condiments.

The instant Pot method will be another easy way to steam tamales without a steamer because it’s fast and doesn’t require much extra liquid to get that delicious flavour!

7: Steam Tamales in a Wok

You can steam tamales in a wok by filling it with water and placing the steamer basket over the top. You’ll want to watch your food closely because you don’t want to overcook, but this is an easy way to cook up some delicious Mexican cuisine quickly!

– Heat about two inches of water at high heat until boiling

– Place a bamboo or metal steaming tray inside of the pot for one minute

– Put tamales into place on a bamboo/metal tray, cover tightly with foil, and let them sit for 45 minutes

– When you’re ready to serve, remove from the oven and enjoy! – If you’re not sure how long they’ve been cooking altogether, cut open a tamale close to the top to look at how much of the cornmeal dough is still uncooked

– You can also add a 15 minute cook time for each additional package of tamales.


Eating the tamales, you love might be easier than you think! In this article, we’ve talked about seven easy ways to steam tamales without a steamer. For those who don’t have access to traditional cooking equipment or want an alternative way of making their favourite dish, these methods are perfect for your kitchen.

Even though they may not seem as convenient at first glance, there are many reasons why people choose them – such as saving time and money on fuel costs! What’s more, is that each one offers its unique taste in addition to being incredibly healthy for you. We hope this post has helped introduce some new ideas and inspired you to try out a few of our suggestions today 🙂 Let us know which technique was your favorite by leaving us a comment below!

Happy eating :)!

Hey, This is James here. I am a husband who enjoys living a simple, minimalist life while taking care of my home and my family. I worked in many restaurants in the last 20 years. Interestingly, I used almost every type of kitchen accessory and appliance. That's why I Start this website to help other peoples to select the best appliances. Because I believe you always deserve the best one. You are heartily welcome here in ''.

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