How to Steam Tamales Without a Steamer



Although a steamer can easily be used to cook tamales, you don’t necessarily need it so don’t worry about going out of your way to purchase one if you don’t already have one. In fact, we’ve rarely ever use a steamer in my household. Tamales are usually steamed in a large lidded pot using a colander or metal strainer, pictured below.

As Shown on wiki: How to Steam Tamales, Pot with Colander

However, let’s say you don’t have neither a steamer nor a colander; what then? I have found myself in this situation and I am here to tell  you not to worry. It is still possible to steam tamales without either of those.

Follow the steps below and your tamales will steam beautifully using what you already have in your kitchen:

What you will need

– A large lidded pot

– Aluminum foil

-5 spoons (use more if your pot is bigger)

– A Plastic grocery bag (from Walmart, Publix, etc.)

  1.  Ball up a large piece of the aluminum foil and place it in the middle of the pot
  2. Using a criss-cross technique, align the spoons around the aluminum foil
  3. Fill the pot with water up to the top of the aluminum foil, but not above it
  4. Then, stack the tamales in a circular pattern.  Make sure that the tamales are standing up, with the open end sticking up. Do not lay the tamales on their side.
  5. Once all of the tamales are in the pot, cover them using the plastic grocery bag and place the lid on the pot. You can even add some left over cornhusks under the plastic bag.
  6. Steam the tamales (usually about 1 to 2 hours, but time can vary depending on the amount of tamales.) Make sure to check on them periodically and add water if needed.


This is what the inside of the pot should look like after you’ve placed the aluminum foil, spoons, and added water into it.
This is what the stacked tamales should look like before covering them up with the leftover cornhusks (optional), plastic grocery bag, and lid.

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