How to Steam Tamales in the Microwave: Quick and Easy Instructions for Perfect Results

How to Steam Tamales in the Microwave?

To steam tamales in the microwave, you will need to thaw frozen tamales beforehand to avoid overcooking.

Microwaving is the safest and quickest method for steaming tamales, typically taking about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the number of tamales and microwave wattage.

It is important to fully defrost the tamales to reduce steaming time and ensure that the fillings are not frozen.

To steam the tamales, you can use a makeshift steamer with boiling water and a strainer.

Make sure to leave space between the tamales for steam penetration and consider using a cup or bowl of water for additional steam.

The internal temperature of the tamales should reach 74°C or 165°F.

Microwaving with a steamer will help maintain the shape, moisture level, and texture of the tamales.

It is crucial to keep the corn husk intact and follow the steamer manual to prevent potential explosions inside the microwave.

Lastly, let the steamed tamales sit for additional time before eating.

Key Points:

  • Thaw frozen tamales before microwaving to avoid overcooking
  • Microwaving takes about 3 to 5 minutes depending on number of tamales and microwave wattage
  • Fully defrost tamales to reduce steaming time and ensure fillings are not frozen
  • Use a makeshift steamer with boiling water and strainer to steam tamales
  • Leave space between tamales for steam penetration and consider using cup or bowl of water for additional steam
  • Internal temperature should reach 74°C or 165°F for fully cooked tamales


Did You Know?

1. Did you know that tamales have been enjoyed by people for over 8,000 years? They were first created by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans in Mesoamerica.
2. Contrary to popular belief, tamales are not exclusively filled with meat. In fact, they can be made with a variety of fillings including cheese, vegetables, beans, and even sweet ingredients like chocolate or fruit.
3. Tamales have a symbolic significance in Mexican culture. They are often associated with celebrations and special occasions, such as Christmas and Day of the Dead, and are usually shared among family and friends.
4. The traditional method of preparing tamales can be time-consuming, but using a microwave can significantly speed up the process. The microwave method reduces the cooking time from hours to just a few minutes.
5. If you’re a fan of spicy food, you’ll be glad to know that tamales can be customized to fit your taste buds. By adding hot peppers or hot sauce to the masa dough or filling, you can give your tamales an extra kick of heat.

1. Thaw Tamales Before Steaming

Tamales are a delicious Mexican dish made of masa dough stuffed with various fillings, such as meat, cheese, or vegetables, and wrapped in a corn husk. Before steaming frozen tamales in the microwave, it is important to properly thaw them. Thawing frozen tamales ensures that they heat evenly and prevents them from overcooking. While it may be tempting to skip the thawing process and simply microwave the tamales from frozen, this can result in uneven heating and a less appetizing texture.

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To thaw frozen tamales, you have a few options. The easiest and safest method is to transfer the tamales from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow them to defrost overnight. This slow thawing process ensures that the tamales thaw evenly and helps maintain their moisture. Once defrosted, you can proceed with steaming them in the microwave.

If you’re short on time, you can also use the defrost function on your microwave. Place the frozen tamales on a microwave-safe plate and set the defrost function according to your microwave’s instructions. This method will thaw the tamales more quickly, but it’s important to closely monitor them to prevent any precooking. Once thawed, proceed with steaming as usual.

2. Microwave: Safest And Quickest Method For Steaming Tamales

The microwave is not only a convenient appliance for reheating leftovers and popping popcorn, but it is also an excellent tool for quickly steaming tamales. This method is both safe and efficient, allowing you to enjoy deliciously steamed tamales in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional stovetop steaming methods.

When steaming tamales in the microwave, you’ll need a microwave-safe dish or plate with a lid or cover. This will help trap the steam and heat the tamales evenly. It’s important to use a microwave-safe lid or cover to prevent any potential hazards.

Place the thawed tamales on the dish or plate, leaving some space between them to allow the steam to circulate and penetrate evenly. Cover the dish or plate with the lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap, ensuring that it is sealed tightly.

Using the microwave to steam tamales is not only convenient but also ensures consistent results. Unlike stovetop methods that require constant monitoring and adjustments to avoid overcooking, the microwave provides even and controlled heat distribution. As a result, your tamales will retain their shape, moisture level, and texture.

3. Steaming Time In The Microwave: 3 To 5 Minutes

The steaming time for tamales in the microwave may vary depending on the number of tamales you are steaming and the wattage of your microwave. On average, tamales typically take between 3 to 5 minutes to steam to perfection in the microwave.

Start by microwaving your tamales for 3 minutes on high power. After the initial 3 minutes, check the internal temperature of the tamales using a digital meat thermometer. The thermometer should read at least 74°C or 165°F to ensure they are thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.

If the desired temperature has not been reached, return the tamales to the microwave and heat them in 1-minute intervals until the proper temperature is achieved. Avoid overcooking the tamales, as this can result in a dry and chewy texture.

Keep in mind that the cooking time may be slightly longer if you are steaming a larger number of tamales or if your microwave has a lower wattage. It’s essential to monitor the tamales closely and adjust the cooking time accordingly to achieve the perfect balance between cooking thoroughly and retaining their moisture.

  • Tips for steaming tamales in the microwave:
  • Microwave tamales for 3 minutes on high power.
  • Check the internal temperature with a digital meat thermometer (74°C or 165°F).
  • If needed, microwave in 1-minute intervals until desired temperature is reached.
  • Avoid overcooking for a dry and chewy texture.
  • Adjust cooking time for larger quantities or lower wattage microwaves.
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4. Fully Defrost Tamales For Quick And Even Steaming

Prior to steaming tamales in the microwave, it is crucial to fully defrost them. This ensures that the tamales heat evenly and prevents the fillings from being frozen when the outer layers are cooked.

To fully defrost tamales, follow a safe and gradual thawing process:

  • Transfer the frozen tamales from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow them to thaw overnight. Thawing the tamales in the refrigerator not only helps them defrost evenly but also minimizes the risk of bacterial growth that can occur when thawing at room temperature.

If you need to speed up the thawing process, you can use the defrost function on your microwave. However, exercise caution and closely monitor the tamales to prevent any precooking. Once fully defrosted, the tamales are ready to be steamed in the microwave.

Remember to defrost tamales safely and gradually to ensure they heat evenly and maintain their delicious taste.

5. Microwave Tips For Steaming Tamales

Steaming tamales in the microwave requires a few additional tips to ensure they cook evenly and retain their delicious flavors. Here are some helpful tips:

  • First, you can create a makeshift steamer by placing a heat-proof bowl or dish filled with boiling water in the microwave. Then, balance a strainer or colander on top of the bowl, ensuring that it does not come into direct contact with the water. Place the tamales on the strainer or colander, cover them with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap, and microwave as usual. The steam generated from the boiling water will circulate around the tamales and provide optimal cooking conditions.

  • Secondly, when placing the tamales in the microwave, make sure to leave space between them. This allows the steam to penetrate each tamale evenly, resulting in consistent and uniform cooking. Avoid overcrowding the microwave-safe dish or plate to prevent the tamales from cooking unevenly.

  • Lastly, if you feel that the tamales need additional steam during the cooking process, you can add a cup or bowl of water in the microwave next to the dish or plate containing the tamales. The water will provide extra moisture and aid in the steaming process, preventing the tamales from drying out.

6. Properly Steamed Tamales: Internal Temperature And Resting Time

Properly steamed tamales should have an internal temperature of at least 74°C or 165°F. This ensures that the tamales are cooked thoroughly and safe to eat. To measure the internal temperature, use a digital meat thermometer and insert it into the center of the thickest portion of the tamale.

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Once the tamales reach the desired internal temperature, it is recommended to let them sit for a few minutes before enjoying. This resting time allows the tamales to firm up slightly and enhances their flavors. It is also an excellent opportunity to prepare any desired toppings or sauces to accompany your deliciously steamed tamales.

In conclusion, steaming tamales in the microwave is a quick and easy method that produces perfect results. Thawing the tamales before steaming ensures even cooking, and using the microwave provides a safe and efficient way to steam them. By following the suggested steaming time and using the appropriate microwave tips, you can enjoy steamed tamales with the perfect texture and flavors. So go ahead, give it a try, and savor the authentic taste of homemade, steamy tamales right from your microwave!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you steam tamales in the microwave?

For optimum results, it is recommended to steam tamales in the microwave for approximately 1 minute per tamale. To do so, place the tamales in an unsealed plastic bag and add 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup water, depending on the quantity. Then, microwave on high setting and enjoy your warm and delicious tamales in no time!

How do you steam tamales without a steamer?

If you find yourself without a steamer, there are still a few creative methods you can use to steam tamales. One option is to fashion a DIY steamer by placing a metal colander or an overturned bowl in a pot of boiling water. To prevent direct contact with the boiling water, carefully balance chopsticks on top, creating a makeshift rack on which to place the tamales. Another alternative is to explore unconventional cooking methods such as grilling or pan frying the tamales, which can still infuse them with a delicious smoky or crispy flavor while ensuring they are thoroughly cooked.

How do you steam already made tamales?

To steam already made tamales, start by removing them from the bag and placing them in a hot steamer. It’s important to note that this method works best when the tamales are thawed. Steam them for approximately 15-20 minutes, or if they were frozen, extend the steaming time by 5-10 minutes. Another alternative is oven baking. In this case, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the tamales out of the bag and wrap them in foil before placing them on a sheet pan. Bake the thawed tamales for around 15-20 minutes, while frozen ones may need 20-25 minutes to reach perfection.

Can you microwave tamales with the husk on?

Yes, you can microwave tamales with the husk on. To ensure they don’t dry out, it is recommended to wrap them in damp paper towels before microwaving. This creates a humid and steamy environment that helps retain moisture. Alternatively, if the tamales are still in their husks, moistening the husks can also serve the same purpose as a paper towel.