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How to Eat Tamales? Ways For You

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Tamale is a popular breakfast item wrapped in a corn husk. And Tamales paired with hot atole on your table means you have a fortunate and delightful day ahead. Yes, fortunate! Because in Latin American tradition, corn is the color of gold that represents wealth and prosperity. Its presentation is different from other food items. So you need to know how to eat Tamales before taking a tempting bite.

This traditional Mesoamerican dish is made of masa or dough stuffed with veg or non-veg filling. It is then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed. You can discard the wrapper before eating or use it as a plate. Tamales make for a complete meal in a simple form. If you are in a rush, this is a great grab-and-go meal. You can open one end of the wrapping like an egg roll and snack away!

Preparing and Eating Tamale has become an iconic holiday tradition in Latino households. During the holiday season, every street vendors see a long queue of customers to eat Tamale. And this is a common sight from the US to Mexico or the Caribean Islands. This Tamale celebration marks Christmas is around the corner.

Tamales may be a dish of Mexican origin, but now they’re popular all over the world! Its hundreds of types of variations, fillings, and toppings offer fun eating with endless taste. This post is all about the taste of Tamales, their preparation, and most importantly how to eat Tamales. So be with us and know the right way for you to eat Tamales.

How are Tamales Prepared?

How are Tamales Prepared?

Before you look for how to eat Tamales, it will be good to know their preparation. There are three components in a basic tamale: Masa, Filling, and Wrapper.

  • Masa: This is the key ingredient in the Mexican style of Tamale. It is a dough made from ground corn, water, and lime. Some chefs use lard or vegetable shortening to add extra moistures to the masa.
  • Filling: A tamale can be made without filling. This means you can skip this part. But this Tamale will be of the simplest form. A filling is what gives Tamales their different types and flavors. Typically, pork or chicken marinated in mole or salsa is used as filling in a Tamale. You can also use veggies, beans, or cheese for filling. As Per the chef’s recommendation, there should be about 60% masa and 40% filling in a Tamale.
  • Wrapper: Normally, corn husks or banana leaves are used to wrap the masa and filling. A tight wrapping around the contents makes the Tamale firm and well cooked.

Mexican tamales are traditionally prepared at home during an extended family gathering or other celebration.

Once you collect all the ingredients to make Tamales at home, you can follow the below steps:

  • Clean the corn husks and soak in water to increase their flexibility.
  • Coat the inside of the husk with a layer of masa.
  • Coat the layer of masa with the filling.
  • Roll the husk tightly into the shape of a cylinder and fold like an egg roll.
  • After wrapping, it is time to steam the Tamales.
  • The wrapper is inedible but useful for packaging that keeps the Tamales in portable form.

How to Eat Tamales?

How to Eat Tamales?

For the inexperienced first-timers, the event of unwrapping the tamale and watching the steam rising is a magical feeling. Here’s how to do it:

#1. Open one end and eat straight from the wrapper

Unwrap one end of the Tamale and start munching. You can add a little salsa with a spoon to the unwrapped portion. Once you finish this portion, remove the wrapper further towards the other end and continue enjoying your Tamale. Tamales were initially meant to eat holding in your hands like a sandwich or bagel wrapped in deli paper.

#2. Eat Tamales with a fork and knife

Unwrap the whole tamale and put it on a plate discarding the wrapper. Then, cut it into pieces as you would like to have. This way, you won’t have to hold it in your hand. Also, you don’t have to be worried about getting your hands dirty.

#3. Top it with Salsa

This is to enhance the taste of your already savory Tamale. You can use different types of tangy tomato salsa or salsa verde. Another good option is to use Mole. This is a Mexican sauce made from chocolate, chile peppers, and spices. Pour the condiment of your choice onto the unwrapped tamale and take it with a fork. You can also dip each piece into the sauce or salsa and enjoy it. If salsa is not available right there, you can use ordinary hot sauce as a pretty good substitute.

#4. Reheat the leftover Tamales

If there are a few extra Tamales in the refrigerator, steam them in a pot of boiling water. This will keep their softness and taste intact. You can also reheat them in a hot pan greased with a bit of cooking oil for a slightly crispy taste.

#5. Pair Tamales with different side dishes

Enjoy your Tamale with a steaming mug of atole – Atole is a hot beverage made by boiling ground corn with water and adding some sweet flavorings like chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and fruit.

  • Relish Tamales with a cup of Arroz con Leche – Arroz con Leche or Mexican rice pudding is another popular combination for Tamales. It is prepared by boiling long-grain white rice with milk and cinnamon sticks. When it gets a custard-like thickness, sprinkle a small handful of raisins, chopped nuts, or ground cinnamon. You can refrigerate it for a chilled taste.
  • Take a sweet Tamale to enjoy dessert – Tamales are also made with sweet ingredients like chocolate, raisins, or bananas. It is easily available at restaurants that specialize in Tamales. So, You can take a sweet Tamale that will act as dessert alongside your spicy Tamale.


Q1. What is a Tamale?

A. Tamale is a Mexican origin dish made with corn-based dough and stuffed with various meats or beans and cheese. They are wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.

Q2. Does eating Tamales increase weight?

A. One average Tamale contains 285 calories and 11.38 grams of fat, of which 4.45 grams is saturated fat. Some Tamales are mixed with lard, which is a saturated fat content. If you consume too much saturated fat, it can lead to weight gain.

Q3. How long does it take to prepare Tamales?

A. It usually takes 1-2 hours to cook the tamales thoroughly. It is wise to open one Tamale after 1 hour to check if it is done. If the masa is stuck to the husk, they need more time to cook.

Q4. Is Tamale healthy?

A. Tamales are considered healthy because they’re steamed and not fried. However, because of the fat and carbohydrate content, they may cause weight gain.


Tamales have been a popular dish in the Americas for a long time. They are wrapped in corn husks that make Tamales a part of ritual offerings. Tamale is prepared on special occasions like weddings, baptisms, Dia Del Los Muertos, and Christmas. As Tamales are served in corn husks, their unwrapping is a concern. This article discussed how to eat Tamales with your hand or fork alongside different side dishes. So hopefully, after reading this article, you will enjoy your next Tamale more conveniently.

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