These instant pot chicken tamales cook in half the time compared to steaming them on the stove. The filling consists of an easy salsa verde chicken.
I know I'm going to be upsetting some people by making tamales without lard. Tamales, like most time-honored recipes have been passed down from generations and are large part of Mexican family traditions.
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 is for a small batch, but of course can be doubled or tripled as needed.
How to Make Instant Pot Tamales
First, you need an Instant Pot, I'm using the 8 qt model. If you don't have one then the recipe can still be adapted to cook the chicken in a slow cooker or stove top, and steam the tamales on the stovetop.
Second, I mixed the masa in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. If you don't have one, then try using a handheld mixer or the traditional way of needing it with you hands. Fair warning, this will take you a good 20 minutes of mixing with your hands.
Also, we're making the masa with oil instead of lard. Don't get me wrong, tamales with lard are delicious, but after having masa made with oil for the past few years, I can honestly say that they taste just as good.
The key is to season the masa with a good stock to build the flavor you would normally get with lard.
Third, you need a good flavorful filling. The filling combinations are endless, and can be adapted to what you prefer. For these tamales, I made my 2 Ingredient IP Salsa Chicken. I used salsa verde instead of the red salsa.
I also had some leftover diced potatoes so I added those in as well.
Other filling options:
Sweet Potato and Black Beans (Vegan)
Prep The Corn Husks
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 least 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.
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.
Once all your tamales are assembled, we can begin cooking them. I used my 8 qt Instant Pot with the trivet insert. If you have a steamer basket this would work better.
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 just 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
Another option would be banana leaves. If you can't find either of these then you can use parchment paper as a last resort.
For individual servings, you can re-heat frozen cooked tamales in the microwave. For a larger serving, re-heat in the instant pot on high pressure for 10 minutes. Check to see if they are warmed through.
Instant Pot Chicken Tamales
- 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.
Delicious! I’ve never made tamales but decided to try it - I used some hatch chili I have from NM and chicken thighs because we like dark meat better. Other than that I followed the recipe - so so yummy, and pretty foolproof! I made a mess of the masa dough as I was making the tamales but it all worked out fine anyway.
Thank you for another delicious recipe!
Thanks so much for the review and rating, Jen! Hatch chilies sound delicious, so happy you loved it!!