These Instant Pot Chicken Tamales cook in half the time compared to steaming them on the stove, and are filled with an easy salsa verde shredded chicken.
I know I’m going to be upsetting some people by making tamales without lard. Tamales, like most family recipes have been passed down from generations.
Tamales are a common dish eaten during the holidays and can range from savory to sweet. Families make large batches and an assembly type line is helpful to get the process moving quicker.
The recipe I’m sharing with you for Instant Pot Chicken Tamales is for a small batch, but of course can be doubled or tripled as needed.
How to Make Masa
This masa is made with oil instead of lard. Tamales made with lard are delicious, but after having masa made with oil for the past few years, I can honestly say they taste just as good.
You can find the ingredients to make the masa at a most big grocery chains or at a Latin market.
I add all the masa ingredients to a stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment.
If you don’t have one, do the traditional way of needing it with you hands. Fair warning, this will take you a good 20 minutes of mixing with your hands.
The key is to season the masa with a good stock to build the flavor you would normally get with lard.
Prep The Corn Husks
Large chain grocery stores will also have corn husks during the holiday months.
Get a large Pot, place your corn husks in, and cover with hot water. You can also place a pot of water over the stove, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add the corn husks.
Soak them for at about 15-20 minutes or until soft and pliable.
Remove the husks and lay them out to dry. If the husks are wet, the masa won’t stick to it.
I also had some leftover diced potatoes so I added those in as well.
Other filling options:
I prefer to make my filling the day before to save time and allow it to cool. If you are making the tamales the same day, do the filling first so it has time to cool before assembling.
Assemble the Tamales
Use a cutting board for your work surface. Place a corn husk down, but if it’s too small you can overlap 2 together.
Add a few spoons of masa and spread it over the middle of the corn husk.
Now place your filling in the middle of the masa. Fold both sides to meet, then fold it over, and bring the bottom part up.
I show all these steps in the Video.
You can also use shredded pieces of the corn husk to tie the tamale.
How to Cook Tamales in the Instant Pot
Another option is to use the trivet and place a piece of foil on top will some holes for the steam to come through. You want to make sure the tamales are not touching the water.
Additionally, you don’t want the top of the tamales to reach the lid, because then it won’t create a seal and the instant pot won’t come up to pressure.
Set the timer for Manual, High Pressure 30 minutes. I let the pressure release naturally for a few minutes, then released the remaining pressure.
Remove the tamales from the pot and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. The corn husks should remove easily from the tamal.
How to Store and Reheat tamales
Cooked/Cooled tamales can be stored in a container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a couple of months.
To reheat, place a damp paper towel over them and microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
Keep the corn husk on the tamale while you reheat them to prevent them from drying out, then remove husk before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make the masa a day ahead of time and keep it refrigerated. Just remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before making the tamales.
In 2020, it was difficult to find corn husks. Another option would be banana leaves or you can try using parchment paper to wrap the tamales.
For individual servings, you can re-heat frozen cooked tamales in the microwave. For a larger serving, re-heat them in the instant pot on high pressure for 10 minutes. Check to see if they are warmed through.
Instant Pot Chicken Tamale Recipe
- 16 Corn Husks Rinsed
- 3 Cups Fine Mexican Corn Flour (Masa)
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt (taste the masa and see if more salt is needed)
- ½ Cup Avocado oil Olive Oil, Bacon drippings, or Lard (Manteca) can be used as well.
- 3 Cups Warm Chicken Broth
- 3 Cups Salsa Verde Chicken
- 1 Cup Diced cooked potatoes (optional)
- Rinse corn husks and remove any dirt or debris. Toss any husks that have black spots on them. Smaller husks can be used by overlapping 2 together.
- Heat a large pot of water, once warm turn off the heat and add the corn husks into the water. Rotate them to ensure they all get rehydrated. Allow the husks to soak for 20 minutes or until they are soft and pliable.
- Remove the husks from the pot and allow to dry on a kitchen towel.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add corn flour, salt, baking powder, and avocado oil. Begin mixing on low speed to incorporate.
- Gradually add in warm chicken broth as the mixer is still going on low speed. Once all the broth is added increase the speed to medium. Keep mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes until a soft smooth dough forms.
- Taste a little bit of masa for seasoning. If more salt is needed, add salt and mix the dough again. If making tamales right away then set aside, otherwise cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Take one dried corn husk and place on a work surface. If the husk is too small then overlap 2 together.
- Spread an even layer of masa on the top half of the husk. Add shredded chicken filling to the middle. Fold one side over, then the other, and bring the bottom half up. If the tamale doesn't stay folded, tear a piece of husk and tie it around the tamale.
Cooking the Tamales
- Instant Pot Method: Add 1 cup of water to the instant pot and the steamer basket inside. If cooking multiple batches, add 1 cup of water each time. Layer the tamales standing up, with the opening on top.
- Set the timer to high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes then release the remaining pressure.
- Remove the steamer basket and allow the tamales to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. The husk should easily remove from the tamal.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.