Can You Fry Tamales?


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Tamales are a famous dish in Mexican and Latin American cuisine. Corn husks are filled with a corn dough called masa along with meat and steamed to make this delicious food. Though they are simple and easy to make, tamales take some time to prepare and cook. 

Because of this, they are usually made in large quantities. If you have never made tamales before, you may be wondering how to cook them. Or, if you have leftover tamales you may wonder how to reheat the food. 

This brings us to our question, can you fry tamales?

Indian bread roll
Indian bread roll
You can fry tamales. Usually, after you prepare the tamales, you steam or bake them to cook them. But, you can fry as well as deep fry tamales for a crispy exterior. Frying is recommended as a great way to reheat pre-made tamales.

Can You Fry Tamales?

Tamales can be made in different ways either from a paste of freshly ground corn, a process called nixtamalization, (soaking a grain in a highly alkaline solution to loosen the outer hull) and dried corn mixed into dough. The dough made from ground corn is called masa and it can be found at  Mexican grocery stores or you can make your own by using masa harina with water or chicken broth and fat. 

If you are making your own tamales and are buying premixed masa, check to see that it is made for tamales. Tamale masa will contain fat while tortilla masa won’t. 

A savory filling of meat or vegetables are placed in the dough and then wrapped in corn husks and sometimes banana leaves. Tamales can also be filled with dried fruit or even not filled at all. 

To cook the tamales, they are typically steamed. 

Now, if you want to fry tamales, you can. But, it is recommended to fry them after they have already been made. You can try to fry them but they will be better if they are steamed. 

If you want to fry the tamales for a crispy exterior, fry them after they have been steamed first. To get some masa that you can use for tamales just click here. 

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Can You Pan Fry Tamales?

Tamales are so yummy. This authentic Mexican food is so popular not only in Latin America where they originated, but also in the U.S. They are really easy to make and just take some time to wrap and steam. 

If you want to cook tamales yourself you may be asking, can you pan fry tamales?

You can pan fry or even deep fry tamales after they have been steamed to give them a crunchy and crispy outer layer. You can also fry them to reheat them if you like. 

Tamales have been a staple in Mexican cooking for many centuries. It isn’t known when the first tamales were made but they have been eaten since ancient times. Prepared in corn husks, (corn is considered a sacred plant in Latin American culture), tamales are very popaly in Aztec and Mayan cultures as well. 

The word tamales comes from the word “tamalli”. This food is very popular, practical and portable.

Tamales are cooked by steaming them after they have been filled and wrapped. You can pan fry or deep fry tamales but only after you have already steamed them. That will ensure that you get perfectly cooked tamales that taste amazing. Then, if you decide to fry them after steaming, you will get a nice crispy outer layer. 

You can also fry tamales when you are reheating them. That can be easier than trying to steam them all over again after they are already made.

Can You Fry Raw Tamales?

Wanting to cook some tamales at home? Well this is easy to do as long as you have the right ingredients and a steamer. It just takes about 30 to 40 minutes to steam this Mexican dish. 

But, maybe you want to cook them a little faster, can you fry tamales?

It is not recommended to fry tamales since they won’t turn out quite the same as they are supposed to. They may not cook as well as when you steam them. So, to cook tamales, steam them and if you want them more crispy, then you can fry them afterwards. 

While you can most certainly try to cook raw tamales by frying them, they won’t end up being the same as when they are steamed. For best results, you will want to steam the tamales first and then if you want to fry them afterwards, you can. Tamales take a while to cook but this is what makes them so flavorful and delicious. 

Frying tamales may be faster to do but they won’t taste the same as they will when they are steamed. Just know it’s going to take a bit for the tamales to cook but it will be worth it. 

It generally takes tamales about 30 to 40 minutes to steam. Although this may seem like a long time, raw tamales are better steamed and then fried instead of just frying them raw.

How Do You Cook Tamales Without A Steamer?

You are craving some tamales and are going to prepare a large batch of some for a special occasion. So, you want to make some tamales but don’t have a steamer. This is okay because there are other ways to steam this food. 

So, how do you cook tamales without a steamer?

You can cook tamales without a steamer. Just use a colander instead placed into a large pot. You can also use a rack liner placed into a slow cooker. It is recommended to use metal when you are steaming tamales without using a steamer.

When cooking tamales, they are usually steamed on the stovetop in a strainer that fits inside a large stock pot. A ball foil is placed inside this steamer basket allowing for the tamales to lean against each other in a spiral. 

You can also insert a steamer basket into a pressure cooker or a slow cooker and steam the tamales like this. 

If you don’t have a steamer, then a regular (It is advised to use metal) colander can be placed into a large pot and this used instead. Or you can use your slow cooker or crock pot by placing a rack liner into it and steaming the tamales this way. 

So, even though you don’t have a steamer you can still steam tamales.

Final Thoughts

Frying tamales isn’t the best way to cook them. You should steam them first and then if you want to add some crispiness, fry or deep fry them afterwards. 

Although steaming the Mexican dish of corn husks, masa, and meat takes some time, the end result of tamales is delicious and worth it.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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