Instant pot tamales sounds like a lot of work, right? It doesn’t necessarily have to be, and the results are tasty. Who doesn’t like Mexican food? But are you an expert? Truth is, tamales are hard work, and now that you have that instant pot, your workload just got easier.
Here are the 7 steps to making the best instant pot tamales:
Step #1: Gather all your ingredients
The first thing to think about is the masa dough for the tamales, which means you need dry masa harina, baking powder, salt, chicken broth, and oil. Tamales tend to be meat-filled, usually with pork, so for the filling, you will need pork shoulder, garlic, ancho chile pods, oregano, and salsa roja. Keep in mind that you will also need the cornhusks, and a bowl of water to dip your fingers so you can make the tamales.
If you need to, you can replace some of the seasonings with your favorite things, such as adobo, chili powder, cumin, or paprika. You can also make tamales with other meat, like beef, chicken, or a vegetable mix to make your food vegetarian.
Step #2: Begin by soaking your cornhusks
When you have never made tamales, you may not realize that you need to soak the cornhusks for a while. You will hear conflicting theories on how long and with what type of water. Even though some people seem to think you need boiling water or over a 24-hour soak, the reality is, a few hours of soaking will probably do the trick.
Make sure to keep your husks underwater until you are ready to make the tamales. You can place the husks in a pot, add hot water, and weigh them down using a plate or a can.
Step #3: Cook the filling in the meantime
In the time that your cornhusks are soaking, you will want to start cooking the pork using your instant pot. Click on the sauté function and add oil, salt your pork, and sear it until browned on both sides. It should all take 10 minutes.
You can add the seasoning here, and then water so that the pork is entirely covered. Seal the instant pot and cook at high pressure for about one hour or 90 minutes. Release the pressure manually when done cooking.
When the meat is done, you should transfer it to a bowl and save the cooking liquid in a measuring cup. You should separate the chiles and garlic using cheesecloth or a strainer.
Once the pork has cooled down a bit, you can begin shredding it into smaller portions that can fit a bite-size. You can save some of the fat for a tastier product, or discard it if you want.
Finally, combine the salsa roja with the pork. I recommend you make your own at home, but a store-bought version will also do the trick.
Step #4: Time to make the masa
For this step, I use a stand mixer at high speed for about 10 minutes. Remember to add the leftover cooking liquid that you saved. This part is key because it helps the masa stay moist and adds flavor to your tamales. Don’t forget to also add the chicken broth, baking powder, and salt while you mix.
Step #5: Onto assembly!
Since you are cooking these tamales in an instant pot, you want them to be able to stand vertically on your steamer rack. Take one soaked cornhusk and place it flat on a steady surface, wet your fingers before you grab the masa, Make a small masa square in the middle of the husk and extend flatly throughout. Add the meat in a vertical line down the masa, but leave a little space at the bottom and top for the tamale to seal.
Wrap your tamales accordingly, and tie them by using the shred of another husk as a bow tie. Now you will want your instant pot to have enough water to cover the bottom of the rack. Keep in mind that your tamales should have the open side up toward the lid. Place the lid and cook at high pressure for about 20 minutes.
Step #6: The cornhusks just keep things together but don’t eat them
Cornhusks are ideal because they can keep moisture while you steam the tamales, but they are not meant to be part of the food. Dispose of them after you open the tamale to eat it.
Step #7: Enjoy your tamales fresh or reheat them
There’s nothing better than some freshly cooked tamale, but you can always freeze them when they cool off so you can have them at a later time. Once thawed, your tamale can be steamed easily since it is still wrapped in a cornhusk. Some people also like to reheat tamales in the microwave, but this may dry them out quickly.
What are you waiting for? There is no need to fear making this delicious treat anymore. Give this recipe a try and surprise your family with a homemade Mexican delicacy. For other great recipes, check these out.
Instant Pot Tamales
- Pork Filling
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 1/2 lbs (Approx. 1.1 kg) pork shoulder roast
6 garlic cloves
2 dried ancho chile pods, seeded and stemmed
2 dried New Mexico chile pods, seeded and stemmed
1 tsp oregano
1 cup water
1 cup salsa roja
- Masa Dough
4 cups (512 g) masa harina
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
remaining cooking liquid from pork shoulder roast
2 cups (480 ml) chicken broth
1/2 cup (120 ml) oil
- Additional Ingredients
14-18 pieces corn husks
- Before starting
- Soak corn husk in warm water. They should be soaked for at least an hour. They can also be soaked overnight.
- Making the pork filling
- Select the SAUTE function on your instant pot.
- Heat oil.
- Cover both sides of roast with salt.
- Sear pork roast for 5 minutes each side until browned.
- Add chile pods, garlic, oregano, and water.
- Seal lid then set to High for 1 hour. Allow natural release of pressure when cooking is done.
- Transfer roast to a large bowl.
- Use a measuring cup to measure the cooking liquid.
- Pour through a fine mesh strainer and press down on the chiles and garlic to get as much liquid as possible.
- Once cooled, shred meat and combine with salsa roja
- Making the masa filling
- Combine masa flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir on low.
- Add enough chicken broth to the cooking liquid to fill 3 1/2 cups (840 ml).
- Add mixture to the masa flour.
- Add remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) oil. Stir on medium high speed for 10 minutes.
- Making the tamales
- The length of your tamales should be no more that 6 inches to be able to fit vertically in the instant pot steamer rack.
- Place wet husk on your work surface. Make sure the pointy end is facing you.
- Place a scoop of masa dough on the corn husk.
- Spread the masa dough into a thin square-shaped layer.
- Make sure the bottom of the square is roughly 3-4 inches from the bottom point and the dough should extend all the way to the edges.
- The top of the square should be about an inch from the top of the corn husk.
- Spoon the pork filling in a vertical line down the center of the masa dough square. Leave a little room at the top and bottom so you can seal the tamale.
- Grab the right and left sides of the husk and bring them together until the sides meet.
- Once the edge of the masa are touching, pull the left side of the husk away and wrap the right side over.
- Take that left side and wrap it over the right side. With the seam side down and pointy part still facing you, fold the bottom tip towards the seam.
- Tie that folded tip in place using an extra long corn husk piece.
- Place steamer rack into the instant pot.
- Fill base with enough water to reach the bottom of the rack.
- Place the tamales vertically with the open side up.
- Close lid and pressure cook on High setting for 20 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Corn husks can be bought from the Hispanic foods section in grocery stores.