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Easy Instant Pot Tamales with Cheese and Chiles

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Instant Pot Tamales with Cheese and Green Chiles are a great way to cure a Tex-Mex craving. There’s no need for a giant steamer pan when you make them in the Instant Pot.

Have you ever had a tamale? I hadn’t until about 10 years ago or so.

A lady used to come by the office where I worked and take tamale orders every Monday. She charged $1 per tamale and sold them in batches of 20.

Our paydays were on Fridays, so every Friday she’d be back with our orders. Tons of people in the office had huge freezer bags of steaming hot tamales for lunch, dinner, and meals throughout the weekend.

The food was so popular that John asked me to order some for him and his coworkers. Funny thing was, I didn’t eat them. Chicken tacos, shredded beef tacos, or cheese dip was my idea of Tex-Mex.

One day I tried one and have been hooked ever since!

Homemade tamale in an open corn husk next to two tamales and a blue bucket.

How to Make Instant Pot Tamales:

Instant Pot tamales are easy to make, but they do take some time. It’s a lot easier if you have more than one person to form an assembly line of sorts.

Start out by soaking the corn husks in a large bowl of warm water. This makes them pliable and easy to fold.

Mix the masa, spices, chicken broth, and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl. The filling should hold together when pressed but not be sticky.

Ariel view of masa, cheese, green chiles, chicken broth, vegetable oil, and spices used for homemade tamales.

Vegetable broth can be used as a substitute for chicken broth to make this dish vegetarian. However, it may change the taste slightly.

Lard can also be used instead of vegetable oil. The recipe works either way with equal amounts of oil or lard.

Close up of a bowl of masa, spices, and oil used for homemade tamales.

Take a corn husk and place 2-3 tablespoons of masa filling into the center. Use the spoon to flatten it out a bit.

Add approximately half an ounce of cheese and a couple teaspoons of chiles. Fold the tamale at the smaller end of the husk and fold both sides in.

The top should remain open. Use a torn husk piece to tie the tamale closed. *See the video below for a demonstration of how to fold and tie a tamale.

Open corn husk with masa filling, cheese, and green chiles next to closed tamales.

Line the trivet for the Instant Pot with foil, so the tamales won’t fall through. Pour one cup of water into the Instant Pot then add the trivet.

Place the tamales into the Instant Pot, open end up, and close the lid. Make sure the valve is set to “sealing,” and set to high pressure (manual/pressure cook) for 25 minutes.

After the 25 minutes, allow a natural release for 10 minutes before completing a quick release. Earlier I mentioned that this method was not faster than the steam pot.

A few weeks ago, John and I both made a batch of tamales. I used the Instant Pot and he used the steamer pot.

We started at exactly the same time, and his finished about 15-20 minutes faster. This was due to the water in the steamer pot coming to a boil faster than the Instant Pot came to pressure.

The cook time on both was the same, but the Instant Pot also had the natural pressure release.

Homemade Tamales in the Instant Pot.

After the natural release, remove the lid and use tongs to carefully remove the tamales from the Instant Pot.

It’s best to let them cool for 10-15 minutes before eating. Store any leftover tamales in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

It’s best to steam them slightly to reheat or wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave. Leave the tamales in the husks until they’re ready to be eaten.

Open tamale in a corn husk next to more tamales in a blue bucket.

Tips for Making Instant Pot Tamales:

  • Instead of cutting block cheese into strips, try cheddar cheese sticks cut in half.
  • Make these tamales gluten-free by purchasing all gluten-free ingredients! Sounds common sense, but double check the masa, chicken broth, and cheese to make sure they’re all gluten-free.
  • If the tamales are too tall for the Instant Pot, roll them up like a burrito by tucking both ends instead of just the bottom.
  • Serve these homemade tamales with enchiladasrice, or beans and top with your favorite hot sauce!
  • Instead of green chiles, try jalapenos if you like your tamales spicy. Beef, chicken, and pork tamales are other great options!

Don’t forget to check out our Instant Pot Tamales web story!

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Homemade tamale in an open corn husk next to two tamales and a blue bucket.

Easy Instant Pot Tamales with Cheese and Chiles

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Come to Pressure/Natural Release: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Homemade Tamales with Cheese and Green Chiles are a great way to cure a Tex-Mex craving. They have a filling of seasoned masa, chiles, and cheddar cheese. 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Soak corn husks in a large bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes. Line a trivet with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine, masa, salt, cumin, chili powder, and baking powder.
  3. Add the vegetable oil and chicken stock. Stir until the mixture holds together when pressed but is not sticky.
  4. Tear one corn husk into strips longways to make ties for the tamales.
  5. Spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto a corn husk. Add half an ounce of cheese and about 2 teaspoons of chiles.
  6. Fold the bottom of the corn husk up towards the top and fold both sides in to secure the filling. Leave the top of the husk open. Use a tie (mentioned two steps above) to tie the tamale close. *See video at the end of post for a demonstration.
  7. Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot, and add the foil-lined trivet. Place the tamales into the Instant Pot, open end up.
  8. Close the lid and set to "sealing." Turn Instant Pot to high pressure (manual/pressure cook) for 25 minutes.
  9. After the tamales cook for 25 minutes, allow a 10 minute natural release before opening the valve for a quick release.
  10. Carefully open the lid, and use tongs to remove the tamales. Allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.
  11. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

*We used a 6-quart Instant Pot for this recipe, and were able to fit approximately 15 tamales. However, that number will vary depending on the size of the tamales.

*It's best to heat the chicken broth slightly before mixing it with the masa. Heated broth helps it to mix easier.

*This recipe is not intended to be "traditional" tamales. It's a recipe that we created to share with friends and family that's easy to prepare. 

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 Tamales
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 17gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 696mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gProtein: 10g

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Josie

Saturday 6th of February 2021

How can I make this without husks? Tamale pie? I can’t find organic husks anywhere, so I would like to make this in a different structure, in the instant pot!

John

Sunday 7th of February 2021

Good Morning Josie, that's a good question. So, I spoke with Kim and she suggested banana leaves. Now, we've never tried them before, but I've eaten tamales wrapped in banana leaves while living in South Florida. In fact, in Miami, it's quite common for tamales to be wrapped in banana leaves or palm leaves and them steamed. Other than those options, we're not sure. I wouldn't try tamale pie in the Instant Pot, as it may burn. I hope this information helps, have a lovely day :)

Lexie

Tuesday 11th of September 2018

The add won't let me watch the video: ( tried multiple times

Kimberly

Tuesday 11th of September 2018

Hi Lexie!

I apologize about that! I can contact our ad agency and have them troubleshoot it. Can you please tell me if you watched the ad all the way through? If so, what happened? The video generally starts, then an ad will begin. After the ad plays, the video will resume. Thanks so much for your help!

Emily

Monday 9th of April 2018

Thanks for linking to my salsa recipe!

Kimberly

Monday 9th of April 2018

You are most welcome! It looks and sounds delicious. We love homemade salsa! :)

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