How to steam tamales in the oven

Updated February 21, 2017

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made from a corn dough and a sweet or savoury filling, then wrapped in corn husks and steamed. Although tamales might be a dish that you enjoy, you might not have the traditional Bote Tamalera steamer, which is the method for steaming the tamales. Luckily, you can steam tamales in your oven by using a Dutch oven or a large casserole dish.

Set your oven to its lowest temperature setting. You will use your oven to keep the water warm in your improvised steamer, but you don't want the temperature to be too high and actually cook or dry out the tamales.

Prepare the tamales according to a recipe of your choosing.

Place a steam rack into your Dutch oven. If you do not have a Dutch oven, you also can place a steam rack onto a large casserole dish, provided that the casserole dish has a lid.

Arrange the tamales on the steam rack, with the folded end facing down.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water or broth into the Dutch oven or casserole dish, and then place the lid onto the Dutch oven or dish.

Place the Dutch oven or casserole dish into the oven and allow the tamales to steam for 40 minutes. The warm temperature of the oven should provide enough heat for the water to continue to steam, while at the same time keeping the tamales warm. Do not raise the temperature of the oven, however, or you risk drying out your tamales.

Remove the tamales from the oven, and carefully open the lid, allowing the steam to escape.

Things You'll Need

  • Dutch oven
  • Casserole dish with lid
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About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.