How do you steam a large batch of tamales at once?

I want to make a huge batch of tamales for a family gathering. I don't have a canning pot to steam them in large numbers. How can I do this cheaply (i.e. without extra equipment)? Is there an oven method? Any hints will save me hours of steaming up the kitchen. Thanks!



lorigoldsby August 1, 2011
This may be too late to help you...but I made appetizer sized tamales for our neighborhood progressive dinner 75ppl... I used a foil deep sheet pan to hold the water, and placed my grid cooling wrap on top. Wrapped tamales with foil. Worked great. This week I had to improvise because I did not have foil. Placed over the rack of water, but didn't cover. Charred the husks a little and they weren't as moist, but were a hit with the crowd as "something diferent"
lurquizo August 1, 2011
I remember once being at a tamalada (a large-scale tamale-making party) & the hostess didn't have a steamer to put on the bottom of her large tamale pot. So she threw in a big handful of spoons, forks & knives at the bottom & began building her "nest of tamales" on that! Ingenuity!
SKK July 11, 2011
Lucky family to be tasting your tamales! By the way, I love Round Rock, Tx.
latoscana July 11, 2011
Ah, got it. You are probably just fine with 6 dozen, then. Explain to them to remove the husk...
I hope they are a big hit!
midnitechef July 11, 2011
Hi latoscana, it's a pot-luck so there will be plenty of other things to eat. Most of my family has never had a tamale, so I don't think I'll need as many as you suggest. Last time I made Posole and half of it was left.
latoscana July 11, 2011
When we're serving a crowd, we figure 3-4 tamales per person, assuming there are some side dishes as well. I don't think 6 dozen will go far enough for your guests, unless they are very large tamales. I'd suggest more like 8-9 dozen for conventionally-sized tamales. Some people will eat 1 or 2 but some will devour a bunch.

It seems to me that you are going to spend a fair amount feeding 50 people so a small amount more will ensure a great meal for everyone. There's a big 21 qt Granite Ware pot on Amazon that's under $20:

Have a variety of green and red salsas and garnishes (sliced peppers, limes, cilantro). Delicioso!
SKK July 11, 2011
Possibly ask someone to borrow a pot or go to Goodwill or a thrift store.
midnitechef July 11, 2011
@latoscana: 30-50 or more people, I'd say at least 6 dozen tamales.
@susan g: I don't own a pressure cooker
@AntoniaJames: Size - about 5" long, 2" diameter. I tend to put as little masa possible to maximize space for fillings. Smaller are better for pot-lucks too.
@SKK and Sam1148: thanks for the links. I do have a burner that I could set a large pot to boil, I have to buy the pot though.

Thanks to everyone for your ideas! This should get me in the right direction.
latoscana June 30, 2011
How many people and how many dozen tamales?
susan G. June 30, 2011
Here's a possible option -- a pressure cooker. If you have one, and if the logistics work for you, consider it:
AntoniaJames June 29, 2011
How large a batch, and what size are the tamales? What comes to mind is a large roasting pan, supplemented by three or four brownie (9" x 13") pans, in which you place wire cooling racks, on which you sit the tamales. Pour boiling water in the bottom, then cover tightly with the lid of the roaster, or foil. Cook at about 400 for 20 - 30 minutes, depending on the efficiency of your oven. I'd probably try to rig up two or more layers, using small (4 ounce) glass canning jars, inverted, on which I'd sit more cooling racks, if my pans were deep enough . . . . ;o)
Sam1148 June 29, 2011
I love the idea of using galvanized buckets. Cheap and have other uses.
I would wonder if normal galvanized buckets would work--instead of a 'tamale steamer bucket'. as things just aren't as made as 'strugged' today.
SKK June 29, 2011
Sam1148 has a couple of great ideas. Here is a site that has pictures of large number of tamales being steamed together. I find I do need those pictures! It seems to me you could do this on an outdoor grill also, one with a temp control.
Sam1148 June 29, 2011
Could be difficult, depending on how many and what equipment you have access too, do you have a neighbor with a outdoor turkey deep Fryer? You could build a bit of a 'lift' with a small wire rack and an inverted flower pot dip pan to lift them off the water.
If you have sure to remove the LP tank after your finished to avoid kids from turning it back on.
I'm not sure about the oven method...but one of those old fashioned roasting pans with a lid might give you the volume you need...I'd use it on the cook top tho to avoid drying them out or use on a gas grill.
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