Instant Pot Tamales (With Chili Beef)

Instant Pot Tamales: How to make them from start to finish. Frequent questions, tips and tricks. Our recipe use a delicious filling made with beef cooked in a flavorful chili sauce.

Instant Pot Tamales.

Making Instant Pot tamales is really a breeze, you can make the filling in no time and while is cooking you can make the dough and have it ready to assemble tamales as soon as the filling has cooled down slightly.

FAQ

How many tamales fit in an Instant Pot?

From one to two dozens, depending on the size of your Instant Pot and how small/big you make your tamales.

How Long To Cook Tamales In Instant Pot?

For this recipe, tamales needed 45 minutes to cook. It also depends on the texture of the dough as some recipes call for more liquids making the dough less firm, which results in needing more time for cooking.

Which Instant Pot You Used For This Recipe?

Can you freeze tamales?

Yes! Wrap each tamal with cling film and freeze up to 4 months. You don’t need to remove husks before freezing.

How To Reheat Tamales In Instant Pot

Add 1 cup of water to your pot, place the steam rack and then add tamales in layers. Close the lid and set it to high pressure for 10 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes.

Two unwrapped tamales served on a plate and topped with pico de gallo sauce, red onions, and sauce.

So, enough with the talking, let me show you step by step how to make those delicious Instant Pot tamales with beef filling. Also, don’t forget to scroll down and check up on the video we’ve made for you.

Prepare the wraps

Place the corn husks in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Leave them to soak for at least 20 minutes.

Corn husks soaking in a bowl with hot water.

Make The Sauce

  • Remove the steam and seeds from guajillo chilies and place them on a bowl. Cover with hot water and soak for 10 minutes.
  • Place chilies, tomato sauce, garlic, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and oregano into a blender. Add 1 cup of water and blend until smooth.
  • Strain the sauce with a fine sieve into a bowl or cup and set aside.
Guajillo sauce strained in a bowl.

Make The Tamales Filling

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to your Instant Pot. Press the Sauté button and sear the meat on all sides until slightly browned (about 10 minutes).

Meat browned in the Instant Pot.

Pour in the chili sauce, salt, and 1/2 cup of water. Cook on high for 40 minutes then naturally release for 15 minutes.

Some cooked meat taken with a slotted spoon.

Transfer only the meat to a bowl, then shred it well. The meat should be so tender that this step can be easily done using two forks. Place sauce on a bowl and set everything aside.

The beef meat shredded it in a glass bowl.

Make the masa dough

In a large bowl add masa harina, salt, and water. Using your hands, mix to combine until a soft dough forms.

Add oil to the dough and mix well to combine. You should end with a slightly sticky dough. Taste the dough and adjust with salt if needed.

Tamale masa dough in a bowl.

How To Assemble Tamales

Drain the corn husks and pat them dry with kitchen paper towels.

Take a corn husk and add 2 spoonfuls of dough in the middle. Using the back of the spoon or a spatula, spread the dough in a thin layer as you see in the photo below.

Spreading tamales dough on a husk using a spatula.

Now, add a spoonful of beef filling in the center and distribute it a little bit. Then drizzle some sauce on top.

Filling a tamale with meat and sauce.

Now, fold the right side of the corn husk towards the center, trying to cover a little bit more than half the piece. Next, repeat with the left side, making some sort of burrito. 

Folding a tamal like a burrito.

Last, secure the tamal by folding the pointy edge towards the middle.

A tamal wrapped and being hold by two hands.

Repeat all steps until you’re done with the masa dough and filling. Save the remaining sauce for serving later with Instant Pot Tamales.

Tamales made and placed on a marble countertop.

How To Steam Tamales In Instant Pot

Pour 1 1/2 cups water in your Instant Pot and arrange the rack in the bottom of the pot (the rack that comes with your Instant Pot). Place some corn husks to cover the rack, so tamales can have a base where to stand. Arrange all tamales standing them upright.

All raw tamales standing up inside the Instant Pot.

Close the Instant Pot lid, seal the pressure valve, then pressure cook on high for 45 minutes. Allow to natural release for 15 minutes then move the valve to venting to finish releasing the steam.

Cooked Instant Pot tamales seen from above.

How Do You Know When Tamales Are Done?

  • To test tamales doneness, remove one tamal using kitchen tongs.
  • Place it on a plate and let it cool for 2 minutes.
  • Carefully, open the husk and check if it comes away easily.
  • If the dough sticks to the husk, tamales need more cooking time.
  • If it comes out smooth and easily, tamales are done.
  • Also, the tamales texture should be soft but not mushy, firm enough to hold nicely the filling and the tamales shape.
Beef tamales made in the Instant Pot piled in a green serving plate.

What to do with the chili sauce

You have two options for the remaining cooking sauce:

  1. Use it to make the tamales dough, add it before adding the water and salt, knead and add more water if needed. This adds more flavor to the dough!
  2. Or you can serve with your tamales and drizzle it over.

How To Serve Instant Pot Tamales

Instant Pot tamales served with toppings and sauce. Close-up.

Notes

  • Make ahead: You can make the filling up to 3 days ahead and keep it in the fridge until needed.
  • Soak “hojas” overnight: Place corn husks to soak the night before, then drain and dry before assembling your Instant Pot tamales.

More Tamales Recipes

Watch How To Make It

Not sure what pot to buy to make those Instant Pot Tamales? Epicurious have a nice guide that can help you decide which Instant Pot to buy.

Tamales inside an Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Tamales

author Maricruz
12 tamales
Easy Instant Pot tamales are suited with a delicious chili beef and makes the perfect recipe for the holidays.
prep 20 minutes
cook 1 hour 35 minutes
total 1 hour 55 minutes

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients 

  • 12 corn husks

For the filling

  • 1 ¼ lb chuck roast (cut into chunks)
  • 4 guajillo peppers (stems and seeds removed)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled)
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ Tbsp oregano
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • salt

For tamales masa

  • 2 ½ cups masa harina
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 cups water or beef stock
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Place the corn husks in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Leave them to soak for at least 20 minutes.

Make the sauce

  • Remove the steam and seeds from guajillo chilies and place them on a bowl. Cover with hot water and soak for 10 minutes.
  • Place chilies, tomato sauce, garlic, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and oregano into a blender. Add 1 cup of water and blend until smooth.
  • Strain the sauce with a fine sieve into a bowl or cup and set aside.

Make the filling

  • Add oil to your Instant Pot. Press the Sauté button and sear the meat on all sides until slightly browned (about 10 minutes).
  • Pour in the chili sauce, salt, and 1/2 cup of water. Cook on high for 40 minutes then naturally release for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer only the meat to a bowl, then shred it well. Place sauce on a bowl and set everything aside.

Make the masa dough

  • Place masa harina in a large bowl, add salt, and water. Using your hands, mix to combine until a soft dough forms.
  • Add oil to the dough and mix well to combine. Taste the dough and adjust salt to taste.

Assemble tamales

  • Drain the corn husks and pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Spread 2 spoonfuls of dough in the middle of a corn husk.
  • Using the back of the spoon or a spatula, spread the dough in a thin layer.
  • Add a spoonful of beef filling in the middle then drizzle some sauce on top.
  • Fold the right side of the corn husk towards the center, trying to cover a little bit more than half the piece. Repeat with the left side, making some sort of burrito.
  • Last, secure the tamal by folding the pointy edge towards the middle.
  • Repeat until used all masa dough and filling (read notes).

Steam

  • Pour 1 1/2 cups water in your Instant Pot and arrange the rack in the bottom of the pot.
  • Place some corn husks to cover the rack, so tamales can have a base where to stand.
  • Arrange all tamales standing them upright.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid, seal the pressure valve, then pressure cook on high for 45 minutes.
  • Allow to natural release for 15 minutes then move the valve to venting to finish releasing the steam.
  • Serve tamales as suggested on the notes below.

Notes

What to do with the remaining sauce:
  1. Use it to make the tamales dough, add it before adding the water and salt, knead and add more water if needed. This adds more flavor to the dough!
  2. Or you can serve with your tamales and drizzle it over.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 404mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 439IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 3mg
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I always wondered if it was possible to make tamales in the instant pot and I am glad I found your recipe, the instructions are very detailed and easy to follow. Bookmarked and shared. Thank you!