Instant Pot Tamales filled with tender pork in a red chile sauce. Thanks to being cooked in an Instant Pot pressure cooker, they’re done in only half the time compared to the usual preparation on the stove!
If you’ve ever wanted to make tamales at home but were too intimidated and worried they’d take all day to make, then this Instant Pot Tamale recipe is for you!
I grew up making red pork tamales, green chicken tamales, and sweet tamales at home with my Mexican family the traditional way – on the stove in huge batches that made at least 100 tamales! It was always a big family affair that took all day, and was exciting since we only made tamales 1 or 2 times a year.
But making a huge batch of tamales that takes ALL DAY to make isn’t always practical for most people, especially if you’ve got a small family or don’t have people who can help you in the kitchen.
Luckily, this Instant Pot Tamales recipe solves both of those problems! Not only is the cooking time cut in half from 7 or so hours to only 4 thanks to the pressure cooker, but it also only makes a small batch of about 28-30 tamales that’s perfect for a family of 2-6!
How to Make Tamales in the Instant Pot
The first step is to cook the red chile pork in the Instant Pot.
Make the red chile sauce by rehydrating some dried chiles in hot water and then blending them up with some dried seasonings until completely smooth.
Then, sear big chunks of boneless pork shoulder in the Instant Pot on all sides. Add in the red chile sauce, a bay leaf, and then pressure cook on high for 40 minutes followed by a natural release of 15 minutes.
The pork shoulder will come out fall apart tender and will look like this photo below.
Once the pork is done, transfer it to a large bowl and set it aside. Then wash and rinse the Instant Pot to get it ready for cooking the tamales!
Next, make the masa by combing masa harina, salt, baking powder, vegetable oil, and broth. (Full instructions are located in the recipe below, but if you’d like to see step-by-step photos on how to make the masa, take a look at this masa for tamales post.)
Once the masa is done, it’s time to assemble! Using the back of a large spoon, spread out the masa onto one side of each corn husk, leaving about the top 1/3 of the corn husk clean. Try to spread it out so it’s not too thick, but not so thin that it doesn’t completely cover the corn husk. Just do your best! Tamales can be very forgiving.
Spoon a little of the red chile pork into the center of the corn husk, then fold it over once like a book, then once more, and then fold over the pointy edge so that there’s only one open edge in the corn husk.
Lastly, prepare the Instant Pot for cooking the tamales!
Fill the Instant Pot with 1 1/2 cups of water, then add the steam/trivet rack that it came with to the pot, and lay about 3 or 4 clean corn husks on top of the trivet to help raise and support the tamales so that they’re not touching the bottom of the pot.
Place the tamales in the Instant Pot open end facing up, making sure to lean them against the side of the pot so they don’t fall down. It will be a tight fit, but just squeeze all of the tamales in there.
Close the lid, seal the pressure valve, and pressure cook on high for 45 minutes followed by a natural pressure release of 15 minutes.
Carefully transfer the tamales to a baking sheet or serving platter with tongs and let them sit and cool for 10-15 minutes. They’ll be a little squishy when you first take them out of the Instant Pot, but will quickly firm up once they have time to cool.
- Instant Pot. Great for speeding up the cooking process of many dishes, including these tamales.
- Glass mixing bowls. Comes in a set of 3 different sizes and great for mixing the masa.
- Blender. An essential kitchen tool that’s perfect for blending dried chiles and other Mexican sauces.
Storing and Reheating
To store, place tamales in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.
To freeze, place tamales in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and freeze them for up to 6 months.
To reheat, heat them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.