How To Eat Tamale?

Tamale is a tasty Mexican dish having masa with a delicious filling of meat and beans covered with corn husk. People consider tamales a fancy flavourful meal and mostly serve them at events. 

Tamales have a semi-soft texture outside with saucy filling, and sweet tamales are like corn cakes. Tamales can be served with various sauces that enhance their flavor and nutritional value.

If you are searching for a proper and interesting way to prepare & eat tamales, you are reading the right article.

What is a tamale?

Tamale is a delicious Mexican dish that contains masa with a flavourful filling of meat and beans, covered with corn husk or banana leaf. 

The delicious filling of tamale includes different spices, cheese, vegetables, and meat marinated in salsa.

Mostly, people consider tamales a fancy food that you can have on special occasions like family dinners or lunch as everyone loves its flavor and texture.

How to prepare tamales?

Preparation of tamales takes time and involves a few very important steps that help make delicious food for the gatherings.

Here are some important steps in the preparation of tamales;

Step 1

First of all, wash the corn husk or banana leaves, whatever you prefer for covering the tamale filling and masa. Then, soak the husk for maintaining flexibility.

Step 2

Add a layer of masa inside the husk, then coat the masa with a flavourful filling of meat, vegetables and beans with cheese.

Step 3

Roll the corn husk and turn the sides, much like an egg roll. Once it is fully wrapped, it is ready for steaming.

The wrapper, made of corn husk, is an inedible biodegradable covering that is used to hold the filling and masa. If you want to enjoy an enclosed tamale, don’t try to over-stuff it.

Types of tamale

In different world regions, tamales are prepared differently and have various types depending upon the filling and wrapper.


In some regions of Mexico, tamales are wrapped in agave leaves which gives them a minty and anise-like taste.

In Oaxaca, the outer covering of tamales is prepared using banana & plantain leaves, making it a bit earthy and herbal in flavor.


Tamale nejos have just a coating of pure corn masa without any filling, served with a side of beans and a cup of coffee. 

Some restaurants serve dessert tamales, having a sweetened masa with a filling of fresh fruits.

How to eat tamales?

According to the old rituals, open the corn husk covering and let the steam rise from the filling and masa. 

All you have to do is open the covering of tamales and top it with green and red salsa for eating tamales. You can also use cheese and sour cream because these ingredients add flavour to your meal.

You can eat the tamale either with a fork & knife or with your fingers.

If you love to eat street food, then tamales are the best option to satisfy your craving. 

What do tamales taste like?

Tamales are excellent meals with a crumbly texture and a sweet taste like corn cakes, though tamales are a bit moist. 

The sweet tamales taste like strawberry corn cakes, and spicy tamales taste like rajas and Verdes.

Can you eat tamales with sauces?

Yup, you can eat tamales with sauces like ranchero sauce and sour cream as they enhance the delicacy of the meal.

Most people love to have chili sauce with tamales full of beef, pork, and cheese because these types of tamales are a bit heavier to digest.

What is traditionally served with tamales?

Tamales are flavourful dishes that can be eaten alone without any side serving. So keep in mind, the dish you serve with tamales depends upon your choice of flavors. 

If you want to serve the tamales for dinner as a starter followed by the main dish, serve stuffed sweet peppers and greek salad.

To add some variety to your dinner table, serve Mexican rice and black beans with tamales as the side dish. 

How can we wrap a tamale?

Tamales can be wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves, whatever you like to cover the filling and masa before steaming.

Here are the easy steps to wrap the tamale;

1: Place two corn husks lengthwise side by side on the countertop with a narrow ending pointing away from you

2: Spread the toothsome filling and Massa in the center of the husk, leaving 2 inches bare at the top of the husk

3: After putting the filling on the corn husk, roll it and fold the endings to enclose the filling.

You can use aluminum foil as well to wrap the tamales before steaming.

Health benefits of eating tamales

Tamales are a rich source of carbohydrates and are extremely helpful in providing energy to carry out daily tasks.

According to the experts, “ if you want to shed kilos of weight, you must include tamales in your diet because they are low in calories and high in fibers”.

Tamales provide micronutrients like folates, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus to the body, strengthening the metabolic activities and vascular system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you eat tamales with their wrap?

No, the wrapper of tamales is not edible in the case of corn husk because it can cause serious stomach issues if swallowed.

If you have used plantain leaves, you can surely eat them as they are digestible and don’t cause any health problems.

What is inside the tamales?

Considering Mexican tamales, inside the corn husk, there is a flavourful delectable filling made of sauce with chicken, beef, cheese, pork, or beans, depending on the flavor you want to have.

 While making the filling, you can change the spices and ingredients according to your taste.

What topping do you put on tamales?

For the extra topping, use sour cream, salsa, and guacamole as they enhance the delicacy of the dish, and you enjoy it even more.

Use Mexican rice with refried black beans and a simple onion salad for making the meal more delicious.

What other dishes can you serve with tamales?

Tamales are delicious on their own, though. If you use some side dish, it may become more flavorsome.

Mexican rice, black bean soup, Mexican cornbread, and fresh fruits are the most popular side dishes for tamales. You can use corn chowder as well.


Tamales are delicious food wrapped in corn husk or banana leaves having a delectable filling of wonderful ingredients served with chili sauce.

You can enjoy this meal at family gatherings, for dinner and lunch due to the excellent taste and texture. You can add the topping of rice with black bean soup and a simple salad of onions and tomatoes.

Tamales are a delicious meal full of proteins, zinc, and carbohydrates that keep the body active and energetic to perform various tasks.

About Carissa Taylor

Carissa is the founder and creator of the Gliving. With an emphasis on healthy eating and living, Carissa's recipes and food photography have been featured in various publications including the Food Network Blog, Huffington Post, TODAY Food, and more.