How to Make Homemade Tamales in a Microwave: No-Bake Tamales

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

How to make tamales in the microwave.

How to make tamales in the microwave.

Try the dish before you judge the method!

Mexican food is one of the most popular foods in the United States. As there are with fans of any types of food, 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 timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

6 min

16 min

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. Combine masa with chicken or vegetable stock and salt and mix until a you achieve a smooth consistency.
  3. Put about 3 tablespoons of masa in the center of each corn husk.
  4. Flatten out masa, leaving about an inch of space on all sides of the husk to ensure that all the masa will be covered when rolled.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of your filling in each husk.
  6. Fold one end of the husk over to the other side in a rolling motion, folding the ends inward.
  7. Roll like a burrito, making sure each end is tightly sealed.
  8. Stack tamales in microwave-safe bowl, then cover in plastic wrap.
  9. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook for 6-8 minutes, checking after first 6 minutes for appropriate firmness.
  10. Let tamales cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Pyrex dish


Grandma_cia@sbcglobal.net on December 26, 2019:

Omg I love you!! I had some tamales to cook. I cooked 1-1/2 doz in 18 minutes. Awesome, thank you!!!

Susan on December 21, 2018:

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.

Carol Crocker on February 16, 2018:

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

Annemarie Reyes on February 02, 2017:

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

Michelle Scoggins from Fresno, CA on February 18, 2015:

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

TheBizWhiz on February 18, 2015:

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

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on February 18, 2015:

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.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on February 18, 2015:

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.

Susan from India on August 25, 2013:

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

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