How to Steam Tamales in Microwave [In 6 Easy Steps]

How to Steam Tamales in MicrowaveNothing is more satisfying than a bite of hot, fresh tamale. The soft masa and savory filling are just two of its many delights. This Mexican treat has been around for centuries and has stood as one of Latin America’s most popular foods.

However, you don’t have to go south of the border to enjoy these treats; you can make them right at home using your microwave.

Here’s how to steam tamales in microwave:

Arrange your thawed tamales in the microwave steamer spaced-out with their corn husks still on. Cover with a lid, allowing a tiny opening for steam to escape. Nuke on high until done, about 3-5 minutes. Once steamed, let cool slightly for 60 seconds before removing from the microwave. Remove husk from each tamale and serve immediately.

And there you have it! Your very own homemade tamales.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss each of these steps in detail and share some tips for a successful cooking experience. We’ll also highlight the benefits of steaming your tamales in a microwave and answer critical questions.

Let’s begin.

Can You Steam Tamales in Microwave?

How to Steam Tamales in MicrowaveLike most people, you’re probably wondering if you can steam tamales in your microwave.

Yes, you can steam tamales in microwave. It’s actually pretty easy and requires very minimal effort on your part. Here are some tips for how to steam tamales in the microwave:


  • When placing your tamale in a microwave steamer, arrange them in a single layer with at least an inch of space between them. This will ensure steam can circulate adequately and doesn’t get soggy from sitting in the moisture.
  • Do not peel off or remove any of your tamale’s corn husk, as it is crucial for steaming and holding moisture in.
  • When nuking your tamale, leave a tiny opening at one end of the lid so that steam can escape and prevent pressure from building up inside. The hole should be about as big as a quarter or dime.
  • If you have frozen tamales, make sure they are completely thawed before steaming. Depending on their size and thickness, frozen tamales can take up to an hour to steam.
  • Steam your tamale up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to kill any harmful bacteria. Beyond that point, you risk overcooking and destroying any of its flavor or texture.

How Long Do You Steam Tamales In Microwave?

It is worth noting that tamales are pre-cooked, and therefore, the time it takes to steam them will be less.

Generally, it will take between 3-5 minutes to steam your tamales in your microwave while 10-15 minutes using a stovetop steamer.

How to Steam Tamales in MicrowaveThe time it will take to steam tamales in your microwave will depend on several things.

First, your microwave wattage will play a significant role. If you have a low-wattage microwave, it will take longer than a high-wattage microwave.

Second, the number of tamales you are steaming at one time. The more tamales you steam, the longer it will take. However, ensure that you don’t over-crowd your microwave with too many tamales, or they won’t cook properly.

Finally, frozen tamales will take longer to steam compared to defrosted ones. This is because a good portion of your microwave’s energy will be used to thaw out your tamales rather than steam them.

Why Should You Steam Your Tamales in the Microwave?

How to Steam Tamales in MicrowaveThere are numerous methods for steaming tamales. They can be over a pot of simmering water or in an actual steamer on top of a stove.

But if you want a quick and easy way to steam your tamales, you should consider using your microwave.


1. Retain Nutrients and Flavor

Steaming your tamales using a microwave preserves their nutrients, texture, and flavor better than any other cooking method. Unlike stovetops or ovens where heat is applied directly to tamales, microwaves heat food by emitting electromagnetic waves that excite water molecules within the food.

As a result, you won’t lose any of your hard-earned vitamins or minerals when steaming tamales in a microwave.

2. Fast and Easy

If you have a busy schedule, steaming tamales for dinner using your microwave may be right up your alley. It takes less than 5 minutes to steam and doesn’t require much effort.

There is no need to stand over a hot stove or wait for the water to boil when you can do it all with one appliance. And since tamales are pre-cooked, they only need a few minutes to steam before they are ready to serve.

3. Control Over-Cooking

It can be challenging to gauge whether tamales are fully cooked without burning them on an open flame. With a microwave, it’s easy to control how long they cook, so they don’t end up over-cooked.

For instance, the microwave timer can alert you when your tamales are ready, while the power setting allows you to adjust how much energy goes into heating them.

4. No Messy Cleanup

There’s no need for oil or butter when steaming tamales in a microwave since steam does all your work. And because there aren’t any pots or pans involved, cleanup is as simple as wiping down a plate. No mess, no fuss.

5. Less Energy

Using a microwave to steam tamales is one of the best ways to save energy, especially if you’re steaming multiple times. Microwaves can save up to 95% of the energy consumed by cooktop counterparts. They use electromagnetic waves to heat food instead of direct heat from burners.

How To Steam Frozen Tamales?

Everybody loves convenience; it’s one of life’s greatest luxuries. Rather than spending hours on a hot cooktop, it would help if you steamed your frozen tamales in a microwave. Moreover, you still get that authentic Mexican flavor and texture.

If you’re ready to take advantage of these benefits, here are some easy steps to steam frozen tamales in your microwave:

Step 1 – Thawing

Before steaming your frozen tamales, you will need to thaw them. You can do so by leaving them out in the freezer overnight. Alternatively, place them in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds at a time until thoroughly defrosted.

Step 2 – Place in Microwave Steamer

In a microwave steamer, place your thawed tamales spaced evenly apart. Do not cast off their husks. The spacing allows steam to circulate while the corn musk traps the moisture.

Step 3 – Cover Microwave Steamer

Cover your microwave steamer with a lid and put it into the microwave. However, make sure you leave a small vent for steam to escape.

Step 4 – Nuke Your Tamales

Nuke your tamales for 3-5 minutes on high. At 165 degrees Fahrenheit, your tamales should be fully cooked. Remember, they come pre-cooked, so you only need to steam them for a few minutes.

Step 5 – Let it Cool

Allow your tamales to cool slightly before removing them from their husks. This will allow steam to cook thoroughly any remaining part of the tamale.

Step 6 – Remove and Serve

Gently remove your microwave steamer from your microwave. Now, peel back the husks and serve tamales immediately with your favorite Mexican sauce and garnishes. Enjoy!

Faqs How to Steam Tamales in Microwave

1. How do you cook tamales in the microwave?

Place your thawed tamales on a microwave-safe plate in a single layer. Do not cast off their corn husks. Then, cover each tamale with another layer of damp paper towel or napkin to keep them moist while they cook.

Next, nuke for about 3-5 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking time. Once cooked, allow cooling slightly before unwrapping and serving.

2. Do you microwave tamales in the corn husk?

How to Steam Tamales in MicrowaveYes, you can microwave tamales in their corn husks. The husks keep your tamales moist and help hold them together as they steam. This ensures the masa doesn’t dry out or fall apart during cooking.


3. How do I cook tamales without a steamer?

If you don’t have a steamer, or if it’s broken, don’t worry. You can still cook your tamales without one. For instance, if you opt for a microwave-steaming method, wrap tamales in wet paper towels and place them on a microwave-safe plate.

Ensure there is at minimum one inch of space between each tamale before microwaving on high for five minutes. Remove from microwave and unwrap to serve immediately.

4. Can you microwave frozen tamales?

Yes, you can microwave frozen tamales. Just ensure to thaw them out first, either by letting them sit at room temperature for a few hours or microwaving them on defrost mode until fully thawed.

5. How long to steam frozen tamales in a microwave?

A frozen tamale will take about 8 minutes to steam in a microwave. The first 4 minutes are for thawing, while the remaining time is for steaming. This can vary depending on your microwave’s wattage and how many tamales you’re cooking at once.

6. How do you cook tamales quickly?

Steaming is a reliable method for quickly cooking tamales. You can steam tamales using either a microwave, an oven, or a stovetop. However, steaming tamales in a microwave takes less time than any other method and yields excellent results.

7. What can I use to steam tamales?

The best and most reliable way to steam tamales is with a steamer. If you don’t have one, you can use a colander or even a large pot as long as it has high sides to prevent water from spilling over.

8. Can you overcook tamales?

If you are not careful, you can overcook tamales. Make sure to space them and not put too many at once. Also, don’t peel back their husks until they have finished steaming. Finally, steam for no more than 3-5 minutes.

Bottom Line

Steaming is an easy and cost-effective way to prepare a delicious meal. Although there are many different ways to steam tamales, using a microwave is one of the easiest methods that require minimal effort.

However, following a few simple steps is necessary to achieve optimal results. Make sure that there’s at least 1/2 inch space between your tamales. And never try to peel off or unwrap steamed tamales from their husks until wholly steamed. Otherwise, you risk damaging your treat and losing its flavor.

Once again, if you want to learn how to steam delicious Mexican dishes like tamales using a microwave, always check out our comprehensive guide above.

Check out this video for more

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top