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.
One day I tried one and have been hooked ever since!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 enchiladas, rice, Restaurant Style Salsa, 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! Or make Vegetarian tamales on the stove top.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 12 to 18 dry corn husks, usually located in the international food or spice section of the supermarket
- 2 cups masa harina
- ½ cup vegetable oil, or lard
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, block cheese cut into ½ ounce pieces
- 4 ounces green chiles, diced or whole that are sliced into strips
- 1 cup water, for the Instant Pot
- Soak corn husks in a large bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes. Line a trivet with foil.12 to 18 dry corn husks
- In a large bowl, combine, masa harina, salt, cumin, chili powder, and baking powder.2 cups masa harina1 tablespoon chili powder1 tablespoon baking powder1 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Add the vegetable oil and chicken stock. Stir until the mixture holds together when pressed but is not sticky.½ cup vegetable oil1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Tear one corn husk into strips longways to make ties for the tamales.
- Spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto a corn husk. Add half an ounce of cheese and about 2 teaspoons of chiles.8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese4 ounces green chiles
- 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.
- 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.1 cup water
- Close the lid and set to "sealing." Turn Instant Pot to high pressure (manual/pressure cook) for 25 minutes.
- After the tamales cook for 25 minutes, allow a 10 minute natural release before opening the valve for a quick release.
- Carefully open the lid, and use tongs to remove the tamales. Allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.