Tamales are a traditional holiday favorite for many families, but they also make a satisfying meal anytime of the year. Commercial tamales are pre-cooked and only require reheating.
An electric roaster works well for this task, especially if you're hosting a large group. If you're making tamales by hand, however, steam them to ensure that the dough cooks evenly without drying out.
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Things You'll Need
Roaster oven rack
Beef or chicken broth
- Fill the electric roaster with about 3 cups of water or broth, or enough to cover the bottom of the roaster with 1 inch of liquid.
- Tamales are traditionally steamed. Putting some water in the roaster keeps them moist and prevents burning.
- Place the rack in the bottom of the roaster.
- The rack holds the tamales out of the liquid, creating a steam effect. Tamales that sit directly in the liquid become soggy and may fall apart.
- Lay the tamales on the rack horizontally. If necessary, stack the tamales on top of each other for a large group.
- An electric roaster can cook 30 to 50 tamales at a time, depending on the model and size.
- Set the roaster at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, but watch it closely.
- Add more broth if the liquid runs dry and turn the roaster down if the tamales get too hot.
- When the tamales are warm enough, turn the roaster to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to keep them warm.
- Serve tamales with salsa, cheese, sour cream, olives, tomatoes or green chili, depending on your preference.
Although tamales are traditionally placed in a pot of boiling water during cooking, they're packed tightly and cooked quickly so the dough doesn't become mushy. A slow cooker heats tamales by using the same technique.
In an electric roaster, they may cook for a longer period of time, under less controlled circumstances. Don't allow them to sit in water or they'll become soft.