Making tamales is all about having the right tools and equipment for the job. Like many traditional dishes, this one involves several steps and requires plenty of hands to assist in the process. Typically, the tamale-making process, known as tamalada, is something enjoyed by family and friends as a gathering activity. But even having all the friends and family in the world can’t make up for not having the best tamale steamer pot for the job. The average steamer isn’t designed for the unique cooking environment that tamales require, which is why you need to check out the best tamale steamer pots available and see which one best suits your needs.
In this guide, we’ll show you seven of the best steamers designed specifically for tamales and help you learn more about these steamer pots, as well as how to choose the right one for your needs. If you’re not sure what exactly you want in a tamale steamer, this guide should help get you off on the right foot.
The Hamilton Beach 37530A Digital Food Steamer is our first pick for the best food steamer available. It offers easy operation as a countertop appliance, meaning you don’t even have to turn on the stove.
If you’re on a budget and still want a quality solution for tamales, the Oster Sangerfield Stainless Steel Cookware has what you need.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 7 Best Tamale Steamers
- 1. Hamilton Beach 37530A Digital Food Steamer
- 2. Oster Sangerfield Stainless Steel Cookware
- 3. IMUSA USA MEXICANA-24 Aluminum Tamale and Steamer
- 4. IMUSA USA MEXICANA-420 Steamer with Glass Lid
- 5. Granite Ware Tamale Pot with Steamer Insert
- 6. GasOne ST-32 Stainless Steel Stock with lid/cover & Steamer Rack
- 7. Smart Cook 32 Qt Tamale Steamer
- How To Choose the Best Tamale Steamer for Perfect Tamales Every Time
- The Benefits of a Quality Tamale Steamer
- Tamale Steamer FAQs
Quick Comparison: Top 7 Best Tamale Steamers
The Hamilton Beach Digital Food Steamer is a premium food steamer that is capable of making great tamales, as well as for steaming a variety of other foods. The stackable steamer includes two separate tiers that can be used together or as one piece to cook larger foods. This means that you can cook more tamales at once by standing them on end and using both tiers, or you can make a smaller batch and lay them down in just one of the tiers.This food steamer is versatile and offers a nested storage solution that fits neatly into any cabinet, making it a great appliance that doesn’t need permanent counter space. This item is not designed for dishwasher cleaning and should be hand-washed, except for the rice bowl and the drip tray. Plus, this steamer is affordably priced and features a sleek black and silver finish that will suit the style of any kitchen.
The Oster Steamer Set is a versatile tool for any kitchen, giving you the stockpot that you need for everyday cooking, the steamer insert you want to make great tamales, and so much more. The set includes everything that you need to start making great tamales right away, and you can even watch their progress through the clear glass lid.
This steamer ensures that your tamales will be perfectly steamed without accidentally taking on water or getting overcooked, and the easy-to-remove steamer insert means you can remove your food and leave the hot pot on the stove until it cools. Plus, you can even use this to re-steam leftover tamales or heat them up the next day, if you manage to have any leftover.
3. IMUSA USA MEXICANA-24 Aluminum Tamale and Steamer
The IMUSA Mexicana-24 Aluminum Tamale and Steamer pro pot offers a 12-quart capacity with a removable steamer insert and an aluminum lid for optimal steaming. This pot can also be used as a traditional stockpot without the steamer insert, giving you more versatility than other options. The uniquely designed shallow steamer tray is great for seafood and other steamed cuisines, as well.
Made of heavy-duty aluminum, this durable pot is the smallest option available, offering enough space to cook small batches of tamales. If you don’t need a massive stockpot, this could be the ideal pot for your needs. IMUSA is a leading housewares brand that produces a variety of ethnic appliances and cookware, as well as other specialty items. This steamer pot is just one of their many popular kitchen tools, but it is one of the best for those in need of a better solution for making tamales.
4. IMUSA USA MEXICANA-420 Steamer with Glass Lid
The IMUSA steamer with glass lid offers a larger 20-quart capacity, giving you a great mid-size tamale steamer for when you need something a little bigger, but don’t need to go as far as something cafeteria-sized. This heavy-duty steamer pot is made from aluminum and will last for many years with proper care. It can also cook seafood, corn on the cob, and other items that need carefully steamed.
This tamale steamer pot is also available in smaller and larger sizes with the same features, ensuring that everyone can get the steaming solution that they need. When you’re not steaming tamales, you can make great soups, sauces, beans, pasta, and more. It's great for large-batch cooking and steaming for everyday use or even for special occasions. Plus, it’s from IMUSA, a leader in ethnic cookware, kitchen tools, and housewares.
5. Granite Ware Tamale Pot with Steamer Insert
The Granite Ware Tamale Pot with Steamer Insert is ideal for making medium-sized batches of tamales, or large batches if you don’t mind cooking less at a time. This unique glass-like surface stands out in the fact that it will not react with food and makes cleanup a breeze. The exterior is coated in porcelain to ensure premium heat conduction and a durable finish.
This tamale pot is not recommended for those with glass stovetops, but for any other type of range, it delivers impressive performance and high-quality results in every batch. Cleaning-wise, all you have to do is wash it in warm, soapy water and you’ll be ready to store it away until you make your next batch. Of course, you can also use the pot to steam vegetables and other foods, or even take the insert out and use it as a stockpot for soups and other items.
6. GasOne ST-32 Stainless Steel Stock with lid/cover & Steamer Rack
For those who want a serious stockpot and tamale steamer, the GasOne ST-32 delivers everything that you need and more. It features durable construction with thicker stainless steel that will offer years of use and qualifies as a commercial-grade product that can fit into any setting. Plus, it features a sleek stainless-steel exterior that’ll blend in with the style of any kitchen or cooking space.This large pot and steamer can be used for a variety of steaming needs, from seafood to tamales and everything in between. Without the steamer rack, you can prepare stocks, soups, broths, and other foods in it like a traditional stockpot.
7. Smart Cook 32 Qt Tamale Steamer
The 32-qt. Tamale Steamer Vaporera Stock Pot is designed for those who are looking to make family-sized batches of tamales and spend less time cooking. This giant pot includes a handy steamer rack to hold the tamales and ensure that they are cooked to perfection. The riveted handles stay cool to the touch and ensure easy handling and safe cooking.
This tamale steamer pot includes a glass lid so you can keep the heat in for perfect steaming and still keep an eye on your cuisine. The pot is made from heavy-duty aluminum and will provide you with many years of great use, whether you make tamales once a year or all the time. Plus, you can use it for a variety of other cooking and steaming needs, making it a great multi-purpose investment. If you want something larger and more versatile, this pot is a great choice.
How To Choose the Best Tamale Steamer for Perfect Tamales Every Time
There are several different tamale steamers and pots to choose from on the market today, and they’re not all created equally. These steamers come in different sizes, materials, and with a variety of other features and accessories available. If you want to make sure that you have the best steamer for the job, there are a few elements that will be more important than the rest. Keep reading below to find out how to narrow down your options.
There is little that is more important in choosing a tamale steamer than the size of the pot. After all, this labor-intensive process isn’t something that you want to drag out any longer than necessary. If you’re just making a few tamales for your family to enjoy, a smaller steamer may be in order. If, however, you need to feed a crowd, you should be looking for a steamer with maximum capacity.
You can’t just look at the capacity of the steamer, of course. You should also consider its dimensions. Taller steamers are ideal because they will allow you to cook up more tamales in a smaller space, giving you the chance to steam vertically and get the tamale-making process done much more quickly than you’d be able to with your existing cookware.
Typically, most people will choose an 8- to 12-quart steamer for single-family use. However, some people that entertain or make large batches of tamales to share with friends and family may love one of the massive 32-quart steamers that holds plenty of tamales and other foods.
For reference, a 10-quart steamer can cook about 30 tamales, while a 28-quart steamer can make as many as 100 tamales in each batch. If you’re trying to cook less but produce more, this is important information to make note of.
What Materials are Best?
Tamale steamers are typically made of aluminum or stainless-steel materials for a more durable finish. This also makes the steamers compatible with more types of stovetops and ranges than some pots and steamers on the market. Aluminum is the preferred option for its heating abilities, but stainless steel is starting to take over the market because it is more durable while still providing a nice stylish finish.
Of course, there’s a whole new option available on the market today, too—the electric tamale steamer. This device looks and functions similarly to a crockpot or pressure cooker and can offer the same steaming power as a traditional steamer on the stove, but with its own power source and separate temperature controls. You will only see one electric steamer on this list, but it is definitely an option to consider if you want something simple to use.
Otherwise, you’ll probably want to stick with aluminum or stainless steel for your tamale steaming needs. These materials are great for conducting heat and offer even cooking and a much more durable product than other materials.
Put a Lid on It!
Most people don’t realize the importance of the lid, but the tamale steamer is only as good as the lid sitting on top of it. These pots generally come with a flat or slightly dome-shaped lid that includes a large, durable handle. Lids also need to be secure to keep the heat in, but not so tight that the steam can’t vent. Typically, you can find lids in stainless, aluminum, and glass, but glass lids are preferred because it allows you to keep an eye on your tamales as they are cooking.
Although the lid is mostly a matter of personal preference, you need to make sure that you have one to make the steaming process as effective as it should be.
Other Factors to Consider
There is much more that goes into buying a quality steamer for your next batch of tamales. You should always make sure that you’re choosing reputable brands, and that you choose a steamer that is actually designed specifically for steaming tamales. After all, not all steamer pots are made for the same uses and could cook differently depending on their size and setup.
Many steamer pots have removable steam trays, which makes them more versatile, because you can take the tray out and use them like regular pots in many cases. In addition to making great tamales, these steamers can deliver a lot of cooking potential for your kitchen space.
Another big factor is the handles—you should make sure that they are sturdy and welded or riveted on. In addition, they should remain cool to the touch. There is too much out there for you to be dealing with hot handles and other things that can be avoided. Choose Cool Touch products and features wherever you can for improved safety and ease of use.
One final feature that should be on your list is to check out the versatility of the steamer. Can this pot cook more than tamales? Since you aren’t likely to be making tamales regularly, making sure that you have a pot that can do more than just steam will be a much better investment. Choose a pot with a removable steamer tray so that you can maximize its use, no matter what kind of cooking you have in mind.
The Benefits of a Quality Tamale Steamer
Having a tamale steamer won’t just make it easier to make tamales—it’s necessary for you to make them at all. The tamale is a traditional dish that originated in Central America and Mexico, but today is loved around the world for its variety of options for fillings and its unique and diverse range of flavors. The ingredients and filling aren’t that important—what makes a tamale is the fact that ingredients are wrapped in corn husks and then steamed to perfection.
There are many ways that tamales can be cooked, including grilling and baking, but traditionally they are steamed, and those who cook authentically will tell you that is the only choice. This unique cuisine is popular in all parts of Latin America, with different names and slang terms used, such as bollo or tamal. Tamales were even cooked as far back as the Mayan and Aztec cultures, although different preparation and warming methods were used.
Not all steamers offer the same benefits, but let’s take a look at some of the most common below.
Again, tamales are a very labor-intensive cuisine that most people don’t have the wherewithal to make on a daily basis. Therefore, having a pot or steamer that can be used for other things besides tamales will be a much better choice for your kitchen. There are several steamers on the market that offer removable inserts, which means you can use the pot like a standard pot if you desire.
Another versatile feature is that most of these steamers are also capable of steaming vegetables, seafood, and other cuisines. They may not all advertise this ability, but it is an option.
Perfect Tamale Steaming
You no longer have to play guessing games or hope that your tamales turn out okay. With a dedicated steamer pot, you will have the tools to make perfect tamales every single time. These pieces of cookware are dedicated specifically to tamales, ensuring that while they may also cook other things, they will get the tamales right. The lids will also provide a secure steam environment to make the best possible tamales.
Steaming tamales isn’t rocket science, but consistency definitely counts for something. Even if you’ve been making these for years, you know how hard it can be to create consistent tamales and get them to cook evenly and properly. With the available steamers that are designed just for cooking tamales, timing and cooking issues will never be a problem.
Dedicated Cooking Source
When you invest in a tamale steaming pot, you are giving yourself a dedicated space to cook dinner and do something to make yourself feel a little more productive. Having a pot that is specifically for tamales will ensure that you will always have the tools that you need to get the job done. You won’t be using some random pot or a generic steamer that isn’t designed to handle the unique needs of tamales.
Thanks to the growing demand for these types of pots and cookware, it will be easier than ever for you to find the best dedicated tamale steamer. That will allow you to focus on cooking your tamales to perfection or to just enjoy a slightly more authentic experience when you want to try your hand at cooking something new.
When you use a tamale steamer, you’ll be able to speed up the production process and get your tamales cooked a lot faster than you might otherwise. These steamers are designed to hold a maximum amount of tamales, which means you’ll need to cook fewer batches, and therefore you won’t spend nearly as much time making tamales as you might have in the past.
While making tamales is more of an event than a race, there is something to be said for efficiency. It's less about how fast they cook and more about how well they are cooked.
Tamale Steamer FAQs
Do I have to cook tamales in a special steamer or pot?
No rule says you must buy a tamale steamer pot to make these delicious treats. However, it will make the job much easier. Make sure that you look at all of your options, and explore what steamers have to offer. That way, you will be able to get a firsthand look at just how much you can save in terms of time and hassle.
What is the best tamale steamer?
There are several steamers out there that will provide you with the solutions that you need. Any of the steamers on this list will be able to deliver steaming potential for premium tamales, no matter what you fill them with. The best tamale steamer for your needs will be the one that is designed to give you plenty of room to cook all of your tamales with a high-quality, durable finish that will withstand the test of time.
Beyond these elements, it’s largely going to be a personal decision. That's why we’ve offered the reviews above to assist you and show you the things to look for when you go out shopping for tamale steamers. The perfect tamale is all about the cooking process.
How much do tamale steamers cost?
There is no one set price for this cookware. Like all pans and cooking solutions, there are a range of prices and available features, giving everyone the chance to get what they need from their investment. You will find a variety of price ranges based on both the size of your steamer, the way it cooks, and more. Of all of the specialty cookware and kitchen gadgets that are out there, tamale steamers are certainly hard to come by these days.
Rather than focusing on the bottom-line price, consider checking out the features and see what you are getting for your money. That way, you’ll know that you are cooking with the best equipment, regardless of the cost.
How many tamales can I cook at once?
There is going to be a different requirement or capacity for every steamer out there. Some smaller models may only cook 20 or 30 tamales at a time, while the larger commercial-grade pots and steamers may be able to handle up to 100 tamales in a single batch. If you want to get the cooking done in one batch, get a bigger steamer and you’ll be on your way to quick and easy cooking, which is still most of the work.
Buying the best tamale steamer for your needs will take a lot of the stress out of a cuisine that is already very cumbersome and labor-intensive. These steamers offer many features and benefits, and several are designed to be used for other cooking needs in addition to preparing tamales. Be sure to explore all of the products available on the market today and see what they can offer you. Then, you will have a much better idea of what you need.Whether it’s a steamer from the list above or another product entirely, you can use the handy buying guide to check all the boxes and make sure that you get the right steamer for the job. Take advantage of this and get on your way to getting tamales done faster, whether you’re making 20 or 200.