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How to Steam Tamales in Microwave

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Have you tried to steam tamales in the microwave before? If you have been using a steamer on stovetop for longer than 10 minutes, there is a much quicker way to steam tamales. 

The microwave can easily steam tamales within 3 to 5 minutes and maintain its flavor and texture. A steamer is easy to setup and use in a microwave, and within minutes the tamales are hot and ready to serve.  

How do you steam tamales in the microwave? Keep the corn husk in place and space them evenly inside a microwave steamer. Cover the lid and lift the tab for steam to escape, then microwave for 3 to 5 minutes on high power or until the internal temperature reaches 74℃ or 165℉. 

Once the tamales are steamed, let it rest for a minute in the closed microwave. Carefully, open and lid and remove the tamales from the steamer, peel off the husk and serve while hot.

It is important to note that prior to steaming, frozen tamales must be completely thawed.

There are various methods used in steaming tamales, including stovetop steamers and microwave. This article narrows down the discussion on how exactly to steam tamales using the microwave. 

One thing stands out for all reheating methods, defrost frozen tamales before steaming to make heating quicker and easier. Because they are typically fully cooked, it is important to reheat tamales to 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving so that the perishable food is considered safe to eat. 

This article provides the easiest way to steam tamales in the microwave. Answered below are frequently asked questions about steaming tamales using a microwave so that you can achieve the best results every time.

Can you steam tamales in the microwave?

Yes, you can steam tamales in the microwave. When you prefer soft and moist tamales, then steaming in the microwave is a quick and easy option. 

The steamer may not be available, but microwave serves the same purpose and is the fastest method to be adapted in such a case. If the tamales are frozen, the thawing process is done before steaming to reduce the thermodynamic transition and make steaming more effective. 

Furthermore, the thawing process is done when tamales are still in the corn husk. Once fully thawed, the tamales are kept in the husk and placed inside a microwave steamer for efficient heating. 

When steaming tamales without using a steamer, it requires a setup that is able to lift the tamales above the boiling water so the steam can surround them.

Is it safe to steam tamales in the microwave?

Yes, it is safe to steam tamales in the microwave. Most importantly, the internal temperature must reach 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit for the masa and filling to be fully cooked and safe to eat.

Steaming makes tamales soft and tender, however thawing frozen tamales must be done before steaming begins otherwise they will overcook. Once thawed, the tamale is steamed while still in the husk.

The microwave steamer is the safest method to perform the steaming process of a tamale. When a steamer is not available, you can setup a quick makeshift steamer using microwaveable cookware to get the job done. 

How long to steam tamales in the microwave?

On average, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to steam tamales with a stovetop steam. But in a microwave, it takes about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the number of tamales and wattage of microwave. 

To reduce steaming time, make sure the tamales are fully defrosted to make sure the fillings are not frozen and won’t cause the center to be icy. Use microwave to defrost frozen tamales or keep them in the fridge overnight to decrease the cooking time. 

Tamales are typically precooked, and do not take very long time to reheat when steaming. Compared to the other methods, the microwave is the quickest and easiest way to steam.

Tips to steam tamales in the microwave

Setting up a steamer in the microwave is relatively easy. Boiling water underneath a strainer with a lid on top will get the job done if you don’t have a steamer kit.

Here are microwave tips to steam tamales quickly:

  • When frozen tamale need to be steamed, thaw in the refrigerator overnight or defrost in the microwave before steaming.
  • Place the tamale in the microwave steamer with the corn husk intact, and put it in such a way that there are spaces between them to allow the steam to penetrate throughout.
  • When a steamer is not available, add a cup or bowl filled with water to provide some steam inside the appliance.
  • Open up the tab on the lid so the steam can escape the cookware. 
  • Set the microwave on a high power, and start the steaming process for 3 to 5 minutes on until the internal temperature reaches 74°C or 165°F.

Best way to steam tamales in the microwave

Using a microwave steamer to steam tamales will save time. This tool helps to maintain the shape, moisture level, and texture of the tamales when fully reheated.

Tamales from a grocery store or local restaurants are typically fully cooked. So, steaming is an easy way to make tamales hot and ready to eat.

If the tamales are frozen, quick defrost them in the microwave so the filling and masa are no longer ice cold.

Keep the husk on tamales and place them on a microwave steamer with space in between each tamale. 

Close the lid and follow the steamer manual and open the tab on the lid to allow steam to escape and prevent a potential explosion inside the appliance.

Microwave on high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Once the tamales are fully steamed, let it sit for an additional minute in the closed microwave so the remaining heat can absorb into the food.

Carefully remove the lid and unwrap the husk to serve with your favorite sides and toppings. 

How to steam tamales in microwave

Steaming Tamales in Microwave: Conclusion 

Tamales are quick and easy meal to relieve hunger cravings at any time of the day. Steaming is not the most popular way to microwave tamales due to its longer cooking time and additional tools or cookware to clean up after.

However, a steamer is the most suitable method, but when it is not available, the microwave is the best suited as a substitute way to steam tamales.

A microwave steamer is a safe and easy way to steam tamales within 5 minutes. It helps to preserve the moisture and the shape or texture won’t be lost in the steaming process. 

If the tamales are frozen, thawing is quickly done in the microwave before starting the steaming process. 

Place the thawed tamales into a microwave steamer, and keep the corn husk on and do not remove them. The husk will act as a protective layer to help keep the moisture inside and hold the tamales shape while steaming.

If a steamer is not available, wrap the husk with a wetted paper towel, and add a half full cup or bowl of water to the inside of the microwave. While nuking, the water will boil and generate some steam within the appliance.

Cover the lid and microwave for 3 to 5 minutes on high power, then check to see if the tamales are fully reheated to an internal temperature of 74℃ or 165℉. 

When the tamales are done steaming, carefully unwrap the husk and transfer to a serving plate to enjoy with salsa or hot sauce of your choice. In addition to being the best way to cook and heat tamales, microwave steaming tamales is quick and easy way to make that taste great, hold the shape and maintain the moist and tender texture.

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