Tamales made easier in the Instant Pot in half the time. Along with masa made with oil instead of lard and a 2 ingredient 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 traditionally 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 up as needed.
How to Make Easy 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 15 minutes of mixing with you 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 easy tamales, I made my 2 Ingredient IP Salsa Chicken. I also had some leftover diced potatoes so I added those in as well.
Other filling options:
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 30 minutes. Then drain out the water and lay them out to dry.
Assemble the Tamales
Use a cutting board for your work surface. Place a dried 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, 20 minutes. I let the pressure release naturally for a few minutes, then released the remaining pressure.
Remove the tamales from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it’s cooked. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
How to Store and Reheat tamales
Cooked/Cooled tamales can be stored in a container or zip top bag in the fridge 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 1.5-2 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.
Here’s a step by step video on the entire process:
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Easy Instant Pot Tamales
- Instant Pot
- Stand Mixer
- 1 bag Corn Husks You'll need at least 16 husks
- 3 Cups Fine Mexican Corn Flour (Masa)
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ Cup Oil I used Avocado, but Olive or Canola can be used.
- 3 Cups Chicken Stock Warmed
- 2 lbs Chicken Breast
- 2 Cups Salsa Verde with Green Chilis Store Bought or Homemade
- 1 Cup Diced cooked potatoes Optional
Salsa Verde Chicken Filling
- Place 2 cups of salsa verde in the instant pot and place chicken breast on top. Season with salt. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Then Shred with 2 fork and set aside or refrigerate. Wash out instant pot to use for tamales.
- Place a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil, once boiling turn off heat, carefully add in corn husks and close lid. Let corn husks soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Drain water and let husks dry off.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add corn flour, salt, baking powder, and avocado oil. Begin mixing on low speed to incorporate. Then gradually add in warm chicken stock. I did not use a low sodium one since I wanted the masa to have flavor.
- Keep mixing on medium speed and adding more stock until a soft dough forms.
- If making tamales right away then set aside, otherwise cover with plastic wrap or a towel and place in the fridge until ready to use.
Assembling the Tamales
- Take one corn husks and ensure it's dried off. If the husk is too small then overlap 2 together.
- Spread about 2 Tbsp of Masa in the middle of the husk. Add Chicken filling to the middle.
- Fold both sides to meet in the middle, then fold over to one side. Flip over and bring the bottom end up to the middle. You can tie the tamale with strips of corn husk.
Steam the Tamales
- Instant Pot Method: Add 1 cup of water in the instant pot and place the trivet or a steam basket inside. If cooking multiple batches, add a cup of water each time.
- Place tamales standing up in the instant pot. If you are using the trivet, you can place a piece of foil with holes on top of the trivet so the tamales don't touch the water. Also make sure the tops of the tamales are not touching the lids, otherwise the pot won't come to pressure.
- Set the timer to high pressure for 20 minutes. I allowed the pressure to release naturally for a few minutes then released it fully.
- Remove the tamales from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it's cooked. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
- Stove Top Steamer: Place Water in the bottom of a steamer pot, place steamer insert and layer tamales standing up. Cover with lid and bring water to a gently boil. This method can take 45 minutes to an Hour. Remove the tamales from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it's cooked. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.