Making your own fluffy, savory tamales with fresh masa and a juicy filling is a fun culinary project with major rewards, especially to feed a hungry crowd. And after you’ve perfected your light-as-air masa dough and tender meat or veggie filling, all that’s missing is the right pot to gently steam your corn husk-wrapped packages to perfection.
These are the best tamale-steaming pots on the market for every budget, kitchen size and need. Our all-around favorite is the GasOne Stainless Steel Stock Pot, which is the kind of heavy-duty pot you can use for all kinds of recipes all year long, not just tamales.
What to know before you buy a tamale steamer
Before buying a new steaming pot, consider how much space you need. The largest tamale steamers are well over 40 quarts and can make commercial-sized batches of fresh tamales. On the smaller end of the spectrum, you’ll find home kitchen-friendly 8- and 12-quart steamer pots designed for tamales.
Steamer pot uses
While each of these pots is guaranteed to make excellent tamales, many pots can do more than one job in the kitchen. Consider the shape of your pot if you plan to use it for other streaming projects like seafood boils or cooking grains. Deeper pots are great for holding up many layers of steamed tamales, but wider pots may make it easier to steam veggies and proteins without the risk of a burn.
Check to see which, if any, steaming accessories your tamale pot comes with. At the bare minimum, look for a pot that includes a compatible steaming tray or basket. Otherwise, you’ll have to look for the right steaming device to fit in your pot. More well-equipped pots also come with a divider to steam multiple items at once.
Tamale steamer features
Every good steaming pot should come with a tight-fitting lid. This is the best way to lock in heat and moisture for even, constant steaming the entire time. The best lid will have a stay-cool handle so you can remove it without fear of a burn. Still, it’s always a good idea to protect yourself with an oven mitt.
Steaming basket or tray
Some pots come with a steaming basket with a handle to easily remove and insert. Other tamale steamers rely on a trivet or perforated tray that rests inside the pot above your simmering water. This is necessary to keep your tamales from getting wet and soggy and to keep the steam circulating at all times during cooking.
Steamer pot material
Different materials conduct heat in different ways. The most common materials for tamale steamers are aluminum and stainless steel. Stainless tends to be the preferred material for cookware because of its ability to conduct heat quickly and maintain an even temperature for an extended period of time. Aluminum may heat quickly but is not as reliable for even heating. Other steamer materials you may see include cast iron, which is very heavy, and bamboo, which requires another pot to hold the water and may not last as long.
Tamale steamer cost
Our top choices for tamale steamers cost between $20-$55. Larger steamers can cost closer to $80.
Tamale steamer FAQs
How do I care for a tamale steamer?
A. Most tamale steamers are too large to fit in the dishwasher. Your best bet is to wash the pot and lid in hot soapy water after use. Then be sure to let the pot dry fully before storing. A high-quality tamale pot, like our top choice, will last for generations if properly cared for.
What else can I use a tamale steamer for?
A. You can use a tamale steamer for much more than making tamales. Anything you’d like to steam will work in this pot, and it’s especially great for big batches of your favorite recipes. Steam seafood, corn and other veggies. Or remove the steam tray or basket and use the pot as a large stockpot for pasta, soups, stews and grains.
Which tamale steamer should I get?
Best of the best tamale steamer
GasOne Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Steamer: available at Amazon
Our take: This heavy-duty stainless-steel pot conducts and maintains heat beautifully for even cooking every time. Choose from three different sizes to meet any kitchen needs, from 8 gallons to 40 quarts.
What we like: Removable steaming tray works for tamales and much more. The pot also doubles as a sturdy stockpot. The tight-fitting lid keeps steam and heat inside the pot.
What we dislike: The pot has a somewhat rounded bottom, which makes it best for gas cooktops with a grate, rather than electric or induction surfaces
Best bang for your buck tamale steamer
IMUSA Aluminum Tamale and Steamer Pot: available at Amazon
Our take: This reasonably priced steamer basket offers up to 12 quarts of space, which is plenty to feed a crowd your homemade tamales.
What we like: The included steaming-insert makes the pot great for seafood, corn and more. Heavy-duty aluminum heats up quickly for efficient cooking.
What we dislike: This pot works like a charm for steaming, but might not be the best option for a stockpot.
Honorable mention tamale steamer
ARC All-In-One Stainless Steel Stock Pot: available at Amazon
Our take: This is a fully-equipped steamer pot with ample room and accessories for any steaming project.
What we like: Includes a steaming basket, a steaming tray and a divider to steam multiple different recipes at a time. A handy hanger-shaped device makes it easy to insert and remove the steaming basket and tray, even from a hot pot
What we dislike: This is an especially large pot that may not be easy to store in all homes. The steamer is more expensive than other options.
Lizzy Briskin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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