Homemade 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. Homemade tamales have a filling of perfectly seasoned masa, mild green chiles, and sharp cheddar cheese. They are a hit at family gatherings and parties. Be sure to check out my tips at the end of the post on the best practices regarding how to make tamales.
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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. Here I was running bags of tamales to John during lunch on Fridays. Funny thing was, I didn’t eat them. Chicken tacos, shredded beef tacos, or cheese dip was my idea of Tex-Mex.
John would mostly order the pork variety or sometimes beef, but they just didn’t interest me. Then one day he talked me into ordering a bag of the cheese and chile flavor. Oh man, I’d been missing out!
I’ve been hooked ever since. Sad to say that the lady stopped delivering, and we moved. I wanted to learn how to make tamales, so we could enjoy them at home whenever we wanted.
That was easier said than done and is another story entirely! After a few attempts, we finally created this recipe and have been making the tamales in a steamer pot ever since. Then we got the Instant Pot.
Today, I’m going to tell you how to make tamales in it, although it’s not really any faster. I’ll tell you why in a bit.
How to Make Homemade Tamales with Cheese and Green Chiles:
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.
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 homemade 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.
Back to the recipe!
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 Homemade 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, or beans and top with your favorite hot sauce!
- Instead of green chiles, try jalapenos if you like your tamales spicy. Pork, beef, and chicken are also great additions!
Here is the exact model of Instant Pot we used. It’s a DUO Plus 60, 6-quart, and it came with a trivet that is just perfect for tamales!
Still looking for other Tex-Mex recipes? Give these a try!
Homemade Tamales with Cheese and Green Chiles
- 12-18 Dry Corn Husks (usually located in the ethnic food or spice section of the supermarket)
- 2 Cups Masa
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil or Lard
- 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 8 Ounces Cheddar Cheese (block cheese cut into 1/2 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.
- In a large bowl, combine, masa, salt, cumin, chili powder, and baking powder.
- Add the vegetable oil and chicken stock. Stir until the mixture holds together when pressed but is not sticky.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.