Microwave Tamales

Updated on January 31, 2019
Samuel Barrett profile image

Samuel Barrett lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and has far too many hobbies, many of which you can read about here.


Try the dish before you judge the method!

Mexican food is one of the most popular ethnic foods in the United States, due greatly to the close proximity of Mexico. As there are with fans of any ethnic foods, there are definitely Mexican food purists. When I tell people that I make tamales in the microwave, I get reactions varying from "that's interesting" to "that's sacrilegious!" This is definitely an unorthodox approach to making tamales, but the times they are a' changin' and we have more tools to work with.

It is also worth noting that "traditional" tamales (according to Wikipedia, the Aztecs were making them around 5000-8000 BC) contained everything from frogs to gophers, and I don't hear any purists complaining about the lack of gopher in their tamales.

The real test is whether or not the finished result is plate-worthy. Try this recipe out and see for yourself. (You can always add the gopher if you insist on being a purist. )

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 6 min
Ready in: 16 min
Yields: 6 Tamales

Supplies needed

  • Microwave-safe bowl or dish, preferably Pyrex or ceramic (see the link below to the one I use).
  • Good-quality plastic wrap


  • 2 cups corn masa
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups desired filling (e.g., cheese, jalapenos, chicken, pork, etc.)
  • 1 bag corn husks

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soften 6 corn husks in warm water for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix masa with chicken or vegetable stock and salt, mix until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  3. Put about 3 tbsp of masa in center of each corn husk, using extra husk if needed for more surface area.
  4. Flatten out masa leaving about an inch of space on all sides of husk to ensure all masa is covered when rolled.
  5. Place 1 tbsp filling in each husk.
  6. Fold one end of husk over to the other side in a rolling motion, fold ends inward.
  7. Roll like a burrito, making sure each end is tightly sealed.
  8. Stack tamales in microwave safe bowl, cover in plastic wrap.
  9. Place bowl in microwave and cook for 6-8 minutes, checking after first 6 minutes for appropriate firmness.
  10. Let tamales cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Pyrex dish

Set of 2 Pyrex 8" Square Baking Dish bundled by Maven Gifts
Set of 2 Pyrex 8" Square Baking Dish bundled by Maven Gifts

I have used quite a few different types of microwave-safe dishes for this recipe, but this one is my favorite by far.


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3.2 stars from 73 ratings of Microwave Tamales

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image


        10 months ago

        I'm not sure what went wrong, but I now have a charged tamale and a horrific smell in my kitchen. Proceed with caution. I think I actually caught it on fire.

      • profile image

        Carol Crocker 

        20 months ago

        Sam, This recipe ROCKS & congrats on your following Smiles...

      • profile image

        Annemarie Reyes 

        2 years ago

        I had a recipe a long time ago to make roasted poblano peppers,corn,caramelized onion ,and panels cheese tamales in the microwave and they were fantastic. I'm Mexican and I love any idea to make the process faster. Btw if you don't have husks or you want to try before you buy you can use parchment paper .thanks for going outside the box and sharing your no purist ways lol

      • mdscoggins profile image

        Michelle Scoggins 

        4 years ago from Fresno, CA

        Looks really interesting and something I would try since it doesn't seem so drawn out like traditional tamales.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Those look awesome! I have always wanted to make tamales. Thanks for the recipes.

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Tamales are one of my favorite foods, but without meat as I'm a vegetarian. :) Great recipe that I'll be following. Thanks for sharing and I'll do the same.

      • DzyMsLizzy profile image

        Liz Elias 

        4 years ago from Oakley, CA

        Now this, I will have to try! As a vegetarian, I'll omit the gophers--though we have plenty in our back 40, for anyone who wants to come hunting. LOL (Seriously, though, we let them be, for we don't have it in us to kill any animal.)

        Gophers aside, your recipe and technique sounds perfect for a person like myself who does not particularly enjoy cooking. Anything that gets me out of the kitchen faster, I'm all in favor.

        I do like tamales, but as you say, they are a real pain prepared the traditional way. My ex-in-laws used to make tamales for New Years every year; MIL was in the kitchen all day for two days prior, getting ready. They would serve them at midnight on New Years Eve, with the thought being, if you had food on the table at midnight, you'd have food all year. Yeah. Whatever. They were good, but yes, a major pain. Not something you'd care to tackle more than annually.

        Voted up, awesome, useful, shared and pinned.

      • Vacation Trip profile image


        6 years ago from India

        Great recipe. I have never heard of it. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.


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