How to Serve Tamales in 6 Easy Steps

How to Serve Tamales in 6 Easy Steps

There are many ways of serving your foods, especially tamales. However, a lot of people encounter problems when it comes to serving tamales. One of the issues of serving tamales is how to keep them from drying out. Another concern too, is how you want it to look like. Do you want to serve it with an exotic appeal?

Worry no more because there are many ways of serving tamales because there are also different sauces and side dishes that go well with tamales. Read this article, so you’ll know more about how to serve tamales.

What Do You Need: 

  • Side Dishes
  • Plating Options
  • Sauces
  • Fillings

Things to Remember

The things you will need for this tutorial depends on the specific choices you have. You can serve the tamales in many ways that include matching and mixing, so it’s fun when you think of it.

1. Side Dishes

In Mexico, tamales are served traditionally with sides. Rice is one of the most popular choices. On the northern part of Mexico, tamales are served alongside with beans. If you want a more “authentic” experience, refried beans are an excellent choice.

2. Plating Options

Most of the time, after cooking the tamales, we just put it on the plate and eat it. However, there are also times that we want to impress some guests. That’s why plating comes in. You can serve the tamales with the banana leafs and corn husks you used during the cooking procedure. You can use both materials because they’re durable.

If you want to make it exotic, you can serve the mean on a husk or a leaf. In this way, you can say goodbye to your plates. If you want to serve the tamales with sauce, serve it with bowls.

3. Sauces

If you want a twist on your tamales, you can serve it with some sauce. The following can be your choice.

Mole Sauce. This is one of the common sauces served alongside with tamales. A mole negro features chocolate and chilies.

Mole Verde. This sauce is created using a mixture of green chilies and pumpkin seeds. You can also incorporate green tomatoes with it.

Americanized Pumpkin Mole. This sauce is an option that uses pumpkin filling. You could use it if you cooked chicken tamales. You can go for a plain chili sauce if you want to simplify it.

Salsa. This is not a popular choice. Tomatillo salsas are a common choice for tamales.

Crema. Crema is another interesting choice if you want an exotic presentation of tamales. You can add cilantro, lime, and garlic if you want a little kick.

4. Fillings

Fillings are not necessary however it spice things up a bit. The common choices are shredded chicken or pork.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Serve Tamales

Step 1: Cook the Tamales

If you are new to preparing tamales, it’s important that you know that it’s effortless to make. You just have to lay out your banana leaf of open up your husk. If you serve it with fillings, place it on top of the masa in 1 or 2 small spoonfuls. Wrap it then throw in the steamer for 2 hours. Never let the water touch the tamales.

Step 2: Check for Doneness

Checking the tamales if they’re done is also an easy task. Take the edge of one of the tamales and pull its wrap away from the dough. Banana leaves and corn husks are durable, so you don’t have to worry about them just make sure the water doesn’t run out on the steamer.

Step 3: Cooling the Tamales

Don’t serve the tamales directly out of the steamer because it’s not safe. To remove the tamales and its wrap, place them on a plate or rack. Avoid the rack if you’re worried about its dryness. The cooling time it usually takes is usually 5 minutes.

Step 4: Plating

This is one of the processes I love when serving the tamales, to decide on the plating. On my experience, I often serve the tamales with husk as a plate or with leaf. If you want to serve it on the serving plate, you can choose between unwrapping the tamales yourself or let the guests unwrap them.

Step 5: Matching Side Dishes

It’s also a good idea to place the side dishes on the husk, plate or leaf before you add anything else. Beans and rice can go in a pure pile. If you decide to use chilies, slice them and present in a way that it adds texture, color, and shape to the serving.

Step 6: Add Sauce

If you want to serve the tamales with sauce, decide what kind of sauce it will be. Do you want to serve it in a small bowl or directly on the plate? Place the runny sauce in a bowl (if you prefer that kind of sauce).

More Tips

1. Additional Soaking Time

To make the husks more pliable, add a soaking time. It will be beneficial for you if you’re going to add the husk in your serving.

2. Heat the Bowls

Heat the bowls before you serve the tamales because the cold sauce is unappetizing. Place the bowl in the oven at 200 degrees. The bowls should also withstand the heat.

3. Make an Artistic Impression

Like what I mentioned earlier, you can do match and mix with the tamales so that the presentation will look great. If you decided for a red sauce, serve it with green fillings for a contrast of color. You can use a range of colors to add beauty to the dish.


Those are the easy steps on how you can serve tamales beautifully. You can do more wonders on serving tamales if you like, as long as it doesn’t interfere with its flavor. If you find this information helpful, share it with your friends because I’m happy too that I get to share this with you. Share me your questions and suggestions in the comment box below. You can also refer to this video. Happy cooking!

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