How long to cook tamales?

How long to cook tamales


How long to cook tamales? Tamales are a traditional Mexican delicacy that have gained worldwide fame due to their flavorful fillings and unique cooking process. No matter your experience level with these tasty morsels, knowing when and for how long to cook tamales is key for attaining optimal texture and taste every time! In this blog post we’ll examine various types of tamale cooking times while offering helpful tips that will guarantee delicious results every time!

Cooking Process

Tamales are typically prepared by spreading flavorful masa dough onto corn husks, filling them with meat, cheese or vegetables before wrapping and steaming them. Steam helps infuse them with moisture while intensifying flavors within. Cooking time varies based on various factors like the size, filling type, cooking method used etc.

Cooking Times for Different Types of Tamales

Meat Tamales

Meat-filled tamales such as pork or chicken generally take around 1.5-2 hours to cook in order for their contents to become tender and flavorful while simultaneously ensuring all layers of masa dough have been completely baked through.

Vegetarian/Vegan Tamales

If you’re making vegetarian/vegan tamales, their baking time may be considerably less, typically taking about one to 1.5 hours to cook due to using vegetarian/vegan fillings that often consist of vegetables or plant-based proteins that don’t need as long to simmer before becoming ready to be eaten.

Sweet Tamales

Sweet tamales featuring fillings like fruit, chocolate or sweetened masa generally require similar cooking time as vegetarian tamales – typically 1 to 1.5 hours. For optimal results it is crucial that the filling is completely cooked while maintaining softness of texture in both filling and masa.

Factors Affecting Cooking Time

While estimated cooking times provide a general guideline, it’s essential to keep in mind some variables which could significantly alter their length:

Tamale Size

Larger tamales will usually take longer to cook compared to smaller ones; if in doubt about the proper timing for you, it is always safer to cook longer to ensure they’re fully prepared.


Cooking times at various altitudes can vary due to variations in air pressure and boiling points, particularly at higher altitudes with lower air pressure where more time may be necessary to bake your tamales successfully. If you live in an area with higher altitude, consider increasing the time slightly for optimal results.

Cooking Method

Tamales can be prepared using various techniques, including stovetop steaming, pressure cooking or using a steamer. Each of these processes may have slightly differing cooking times so it’s essential that you follow all instructions provided with your equipment or recipe.

Tips for Preparing Tamales Perfectly

To ensure delicious and perfectly prepared tamales, follow these steps.

Properly wrap the tamales

Make sure that your masa dough is evenly spread out across a corn husk surface, leaving enough room for folding and sealing it securely before beginning cooking. This helps maintain moisture during the process and keeps your tamales from becoming dry or shrinking during their lifespan.

Test for Doneness

To ensure your tamales are fully cooked, open one and examine its masa. Ideally, it should be firm without any raw or doughy spots and your filling should be hot and tender.

Resting Period

Allow the cooked tamales to rest for several minutes prior to serving in order to retain moisture, improve texture, and enhance overall flavor. This helps retain the moisture that keeps their texture fresh and enhance its overall flavor profile.

Adjust cooking time as necessary

If your tamales are still underdone after their recommended cooking time has elapsed, continue steaming them for 10-15 more minutes to achieve your desired doneness. It is better to wait than serve underdone tamales!

Consider batch size

Your cooking time may depend on the number of tamales that need to be cooked at once; larger batches may require additional cooking time for even heating distribution and thorough cooking.

Monitor Water levels

If you’re steaming tamales, make sure there is always enough hot water in the pot or steamer during the entire cooking process. Check periodically and add additional hot water as necessary – add hot water if necessary so the steam remains consistent throughout.


Cooking tamales is an art that requires time, technique and precision. While specific timing can depend on factors like tamale size, filling type and cooking method used; following the guidelines above will ensure delicious, perfectly cooked tamales every time! Do your research prior to making adjustments as needed before testing for doneness before resting them before serving for best results. With practice and patience you will master this traditional Mexican delicacy and delight your taste buds! Enjoy! Hope now you know How long to cook tamales.