Latina women mother and daughter in the kitchen making tamales at a tamalada

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” ~César Chávez

‘Tis the season for tamales, am I right?! With the holiday season in full bloom, are you thinking of hosting your own tamalada (tamal-making party)

This year I will be serving warm champurrado and bubbly poinsettia punch to my guests.

Latina Mexican-American mother and daughter laughing in the kitchen during a tamalada

Ok, back to the point at hand…

What tamalera (steamer) is right for your next tamalada?

When it comes to making tamales, you need to find the appropriate tamalera – and there are so many to choose from, but which one is right for you? Do you want one that is stainless steel with a glass lid and includes soft-touch handles, or a good old-fashioned tamalera made of enamel or aluminum?

Latina mother wearing an apron making tamales at a tamalada

When shopping for a tamalera – make sure to look for one that consists of three parts: a large capacity pot (see below for sizing recommendations), a tight fitting lid (preferably glass), and a removable steamer insert.

Tamaleras are available at Mexican and other Latin American markets, as well as cooking stores, and online.

Tamal-making can be labor intensive, however not difficult to make if you have the proper kitchen tools, and the perfect company in tow. Making tamales is as much about cooking together as it is about eating together. The point is to strengthen the bonds between family and friends and create memories that are passed through generations.

women in background in the kitchen at a tamalada

How many tamales are you making?

Here is a handy guide to help you figure out what size tamalera is right for you:

Do you make tamales with fresh masa (nixtamalized corn dough)? Or masa harina (corn flour)? 

What are different types of tamales?

Tamales come in all shapes, sizes, wrappings, and fillings. The possible fillings for tamales are endless. Here are a few of my favorites:

If you want to host a tamalada it’s not too late. You can serve tamales for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Dia de los Reyes, and Dia de la Candelaria. Lots of wonderful excuses to keep eating tamales.

Now sit back and enjoy the delightful aromas filling your home as your little bundles of deliciousness steam away in your perfect-sized tamalera.

holding a blue and white platter of tamales

Photography: Abby Watkins