Instant Pot Tamales

two instant pot tamales on a plate

5 from 1 review

Instant Pot Tamales cook faster and stay nice and moist.  This version here is healthier than any tamale you’ve likely ever had!



For the Tamales

  • About 1618 dried corn husks
  • 2 1/2 cups drained, canned corn (can substitute fresh corn)
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • ½ cup warm chicken or vegetable broth (or reserved broth from shredded pork)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • about 1 cup shredded Instant Pot Pork (from this taco recipe)
  • 1/23/4 cup salsa verde, bottled or homemade (easy homemade Tomatillo Salsa Verde included in the recipe – make it ahead of time if using)
  • about 3/4 cup refried beans (canned or homemade)
  • pepper jack or quesadilla cheese, cut into matchsticks (16 – 18 sticks)
  • Toppings: Mexican Crema, sour cream, or greek yogurt, Tomatillo Avocado Salsa (see recipe below) or favorite store-bought salsa, crumbled cotija cheese

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa (optional, could substitute with your favorite salsa)

  • ½ pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, membrane and seeds removed, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste


  1. Fill a large bowl with warm water, place corn husks in the water.  Allow to soak and soften for 10-15 minutes.
  2. To make masa dough: In a blender, pulse corn until partially pureed.  Pour the corn into a large bowl and add masa harina, broth, baking powder, salt, and coconut oil.  Use hands to combine all of the ingredients into a soft dough.  Set aside.
  3. Toss shredded pork with salsa verde using more or less depending on how dominant you want the salsa verde flavor.  I tend to use more salsa verde for a stronger flavor.
  4. Optional:  Place refried beans in a freezer safe ziplock, press all of the air out and seal.  Cut one of the bottom corners of the bag for a quick and easy way to add beans to your tamale (see video for demo of this process).  Place cheese close by to begin tamale assembly.
  5. To assemble tamales: Drain corn husks and pat dry.  Tear the small husks into ¼ inch strips for tying the tamales after they are filled.  Lay several medium-large husks out on a clean surface.
  6. Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of masa dough, flatten by hand, and place in the top left-hand corner of a corn husk.  Use your fingers to spread out the dough on the top left corner of the husk, pressing to about a quarter inch thick.
  7. Arrange 1-2 tablespoons of shredded pork down the center of the dough.  Squeeze about 2 teaspoons of refried beans over the meat (or spoon over the meat if you didn’t use the ziplock trick).  Place a matchstick of cheese on top of the beans.
  8. Starting on the left side, fold the corn husk over so the dough encapsulates the filling.  Press to seal the filling inside the masa dough, then roll to the end of the husk.
  9. Fold the triangle shaped bottom up and tie with one of the strips of corn husk.
  10. Add 1 1/2 cups water to the pressure cooker pot, place a steamer basket inside.  
  11. Arrange tamales upright in the basket.
  12. Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes.
  13. When cooking is complete, use a natural release for 10 minutes and then release any remaining pressure.
  14. To serve, unroll tamales from the husk and arrange 2-3 on a plate.  Top with Tomatillo Avocado Salsa, crema (or sour cream or yogurt), and a sprinkle of cotija cheese.

To prepare Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

  1. Combine the salsa ingredients in a small bowl and toss.  Can be made up to 3 days in advance by omitting the avocado and then adding it in right before serving.

Easy Tomatillo Salsa Verde

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husk removed and rinsed to remove the sticky residue, and halved
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 1 poblano
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.  If using regular foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Put all of the ingredients (except for the garlic) on the pan and roast in oven until they soften and become slightly charred, about 20 minutes.  Add the garlic after the other vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes so it doesn’t burn.
    2. Pour all of the cooked vegetables and juices into a blender or food processor and blend to desired consistency – smooth or a bit chunky.

Freezer Instructions: There are a few options when it comes to freezing tamales

  1. Freeze masa dough – Make a double batch of masa dough and freeze half of it for another day.  Let it thaw and soften, then start at step 3 to prepare tamales.
  2. Prepare tamales through step 9, then freeze.  When ready to cook, cook for 30 minutes with a 10 minute natural release.
  3. Prepare tamales through step 13, let cool, then freeze.  When ready to cook, cook for 15 minutes with a 10 minute natural release.


  • Any leftover shredded meat will work for filling the tamale
  • If making the Homemade Tomatillo Salsa Verde included in this recipe, put it together a day or two in advance for a quicker prep
  • Squares of tinfoil can be used in place of the corn husk
  • To freeze wrapped, uncooked tamales, place them on a parchment lined sheet pan (try not to stack them too much to avoid sticking to each other), place in the freezer.  Once frozen, place them in a freezer-safe ziplock.  See recipe for notes on how to cook from frozen.

Keywords: pressure cooker, mexican food, instant pot tamales