What to Serve with Tamales: Delicious Side Dish Ideas

As someone who enjoys Mexican cuisine, I know that tamales are a staple dish that can be enjoyed on their own or with a variety of sides.

If you’re wondering what to serve with tamales, there are many delicious options to choose from that can complement the rich and savory flavors of the dish.

Understanding tamales is the first step in figuring out what to serve with them. Tamales are made from masa dough that is filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese and then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf before being steamed.

The result is a flavorful and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

When it comes to traditional side dishes, there are many options that pair well with tamales. From rice and beans to guacamole and salsa, these classic Mexican sides can help balance out the flavors and textures of the dish.

Additionally, sauces and toppings like mole, pico de gallo, and sour cream can add an extra layer of flavor to your meal.

Key Takeaways

  • Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made from masa dough and filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese.
  • Traditional side dishes like rice, beans, and guacamole pair well with tamales.
  • Sauces and toppings like mole, pico de gallo, and sour cream can add an extra layer of flavor to your meal.

Understanding Tamales

As a fan of Mexican cuisine, I have always been fascinated by tamales. Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that has been enjoyed by people for centuries.

They are made of masa, which is a dough made from ground corn, and are typically wrapped in a corn husk before being steamed or boiled.

Tamales are a staple of Latin American cuisine and are enjoyed by people all over the world. They are a great way to experience the flavors and culture of Mexico, and they are also incredibly versatile.

Tamales can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including meats, vegetables, and cheese, making them a great option for vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

The process of making tamales can be time-consuming, but it is also a fun and rewarding experience. To make tamales, you first need to make the masa.

This involves mixing corn flour with water, salt, and other ingredients, such as lard or vegetable shortening. The masa is then spread onto a corn husk, and the filling is added before the tamale is wrapped and steamed or boiled.

Corn husks are an essential part of making tamales. They not only provide a natural wrapper for the tamales but also add a unique flavor to the dish.

Before using corn husks, they need to be soaked in water to make them pliable and easy to work with.

In conclusion, tamales are a delicious and versatile Mexican dish that is enjoyed by people all over the world. They are made of masa, a dough made from ground corn, and are typically wrapped in a corn husk before being steamed or boiled.

Tamales are a great way to experience the flavors and culture of Mexico, and they are also incredibly versatile. Making tamales can be time-consuming, but it is also a fun and rewarding experience.

Traditional Side Dishes

When it comes to serving tamales, traditional side dishes are a must-have. These dishes complement the flavors of the tamales and make for a complete meal.

Here are some of the most popular traditional side dishes to serve with tamales.

Rice Varieties

Rice is a staple side dish in Mexican cuisine and pairs well with tamales. Cilantro lime rice is a popular choice that adds a delicious, flavorful depth to the dish and helps tie all the components together.

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To make it, simply cook long-grain white or brown rice on your stovetop or in a rice cooker until fluffy and tender.

Then, add in chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste. Another popular option is Mexican rice, which is cooked with tomatoes, onions, and garlic for a flavorful twist.

Beans

Beans are another staple side dish in Mexican cuisine and go well with tamales. Black beans, refried beans, and pinto beans are all great choices.

Canned black beans can be quickly heated up and seasoned with cumin, garlic, and salt for a quick and easy side dish.

Refried beans can be made from scratch or purchased canned and heated up. Pinto beans can be cooked with bacon, onions, and garlic for added flavor.

Mexican Corn

Elote, or Mexican street corn, is a popular side dish to serve with tamales. Grilled or roasted corn is slathered in a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, chili powder, and lime juice, then topped with crumbled cotija cheese and chopped cilantro.

It’s a delicious and unique side dish that adds a pop of flavor and texture to the meal.

Overall, these traditional side dishes are a great way to round out your tamale meal.

Whether you choose rice, beans, or Mexican corn, these sides will complement the flavors of the tamales and make for a complete and satisfying meal.

Sauces and Toppings

When it comes to serving tamales, the right sauces and toppings can take your meal to the next level. Here are a few of my favorite options to consider:

Salsa and Guacamole

Salsa and guacamole are classic toppings that pair perfectly with tamales. Whether you prefer a mild or spicy salsa, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Try a traditional red salsa or mix things up with a tangy tomatillo salsa verde. For guacamole, keep it simple with mashed avocado, lime juice, and salt, or add in diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos for extra flavor.

Cheese and Crema

Cheese and crema are also popular toppings for tamales. Queso fresco and cotija cheese are both great options to crumble on top of your tamales.

For a creamier topping, try Mexican crema or sour cream. Cheddar cheese can also be a tasty addition if you’re looking for a more American twist.

Overall, the key to selecting the right sauces and toppings for your tamales is to consider the flavors you enjoy and experiment with different combinations until you find the perfect match.

Salads

When it comes to serving tamales, a fresh and light salad can be the perfect complement to the rich and savory flavors of the dish.

Here are a few salad options that pair well with tamales:

Avocado Salad

An avocado salad is a classic choice that is both creamy and refreshing. To make this salad, simply dice up some ripe avocados and mix them with chopped tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro.

Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Jicama Slaw

Jicama is a crunchy root vegetable that is a staple in Mexican cuisine. To make a jicama slaw, simply shred some jicama and mix it with shredded carrots, red cabbage, and a bit of lime juice.

You can also add in some chopped cilantro and a bit of honey for sweetness.

Black Bean Soup

While not technically a salad, a bowl of black bean soup can be a hearty and satisfying side dish to serve with tamales.

To make this soup, simply sauté some diced onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, then add in some canned black beans, chicken broth, and a bit of cumin.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, then blend until smooth. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped cilantro on top.

Overall, a fresh and flavorful salad can be the perfect accompaniment to tamales.

Whether you opt for an avocado salad, jicama slaw, or black bean soup, these dishes are sure to impress your guests and enhance the flavors of the tamales.

Desserts

When it comes to serving desserts with tamales, there are a variety of options that can complement the savory flavors of the main dish. Here are a few of my favorite desserts to serve with tamales:

Fruit Salad

A fresh fruit salad is a light and refreshing option that can help balance out the richness of the tamales. I like to include a mix of seasonal fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes.

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To add a little extra sweetness, you can drizzle the fruit with a honey-lime dressing or sprinkle it with a little bit of brown sugar.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican wedding cookies, also known as polvorones, are a traditional dessert that can be a great addition to a tamale dinner.

These buttery cookies are made with ground nuts and dusted with powdered sugar, giving them a delicate texture and a hint of sweetness.

They are easy to make and can be served alongside the tamales or as a sweet treat to enjoy after the meal.

Churros

Churros are a classic Mexican dessert that can be a fun and indulgent way to cap off a tamale dinner. These fried dough pastries are coated in cinnamon sugar and can be served with a side of chocolate dipping sauce for a decadent dessert experience.

If you don’t want to make your own churros, you can often find them at Mexican bakeries or restaurants.

Overall, there are many different desserts that can be served with tamales, from light and refreshing fruit salads to indulgent and sweet churros.

Consider the flavors and textures of your main dish when selecting a dessert to ensure that the two complement each other well.

Drinks to Serve

When it comes to serving drinks with tamales, there are a few options to consider. Here are some of my favorite drinks to serve with tamales:

1. Horchata

Horchata is a classic Mexican drink that pairs perfectly with tamales. This sweet and creamy drink is made from rice, cinnamon, and sugar, and it’s a great way to balance out the heat from spicy tamales.

You can make horchata at home or pick up a bottle from your local grocery store.

2. Margaritas

Margaritas are another great option to serve with tamales. The tart and tangy flavors of a classic margarita pair well with the rich and savory flavors of tamales.

You can make margaritas with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec, or you can mix things up with different flavors like strawberry or mango.

3. Beer

Beer is a popular choice to serve with tamales, especially if you’re serving them at a casual gathering or party. A cold beer can help cut through the richness of the tamales and provide a refreshing contrast to the spicy flavors.

Mexican beers like Corona, Tecate, and Modelo are all great options to consider.

4. Agua Fresca

Agua fresca is a refreshing drink made from fresh fruit, water, and sugar. It’s a great way to add some sweetness to your meal without overpowering the flavors of the tamales.

Some popular agua fresca flavors include watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple.

5. Wine

If you’re looking for a more elevated drink option to serve with tamales, wine can be a great choice. Red wines like Tempranillo or Malbec pair well with the rich and savory flavors of tamales, while white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling can help balance out the spice.

Just be sure to choose a wine that complements the flavors of your specific tamales.

Overall, there are plenty of great drink options to serve with tamales. Whether you prefer something sweet and creamy like horchata or something tart and tangy like a margarita, there’s a drink out there that will perfectly complement your tamales.

How to Serve Tamales

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10aZ4NA8x3M

When it comes to serving tamales, there are a few key steps to follow to make sure they are presented well and taste great. Here are some tips on how to serve tamales:

Step 1 – Cook Your Tamales

Before you serve your tamales, you need to make sure they are fully cooked. Follow the cooking instructions on the packaging or recipe you are using, and make sure the tamales are cooked all the way through.

If you are unsure, you can test one by opening it up and checking that the dough is cooked and the filling is hot.

Step 2 – Check for Doneness

Once your tamales are cooked, you should let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the masa to set and make it easier to remove the husks.

To check if your tamales are done, gently press on the masa to see if it feels firm. If it does, they are ready to serve.

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Step 3 – Cooling Your Tamales

After you have checked for doneness, let your tamales cool for a few minutes before serving. This will make them easier to handle and help prevent burns.

You can also use this time to prepare any side dishes or sauces you want to serve with your tamales.

Step 4 – Plating

When it comes to plating your tamales, there are a few options. You can serve them on a plate with the husks still on, or you can remove the husks and serve them on a plate or in a bowl.

If you are removing the husks, be careful not to tear the masa.

Step 5 – Matching Side Dishes

Tamales are often served with a variety of side dishes, such as rice, beans, or guacamole. Choose side dishes that complement the flavors of your tamales and add variety to your meal.

Step 6 – Add Sauces

Finally, you can add sauces to your tamales to enhance their flavor. Popular sauces include salsa, mole, or hot sauce. You can also add toppings like cheese, sour cream, or chopped cilantro.

By following these steps, you can serve delicious tamales that are sure to impress your guests.

Vegan and Vegetarian Options

As a vegan or vegetarian, it can be challenging to find dishes that complement tamales. However, there are plenty of options available that are both delicious and nutritious.

One of the easiest options is to serve tamales with a side of roasted vegetables. Vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and onions can be quickly roasted in the oven and seasoned with spices like cumin and chili powder.

Roasted vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins, making them a healthy and flavorful addition to any meal.

Another great option is to serve tamales with a side of beans. Black beans, pinto beans, or refried beans are all excellent choices.

Beans are high in protein, fiber, and iron, making them an excellent addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet. You can also add some chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley to the beans to give them some extra flavor.

If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, you can serve tamales with a vegan tamale pie. This dish is made by layering tamales with a mixture of beans, vegetables, and vegan cheese.

The pie is then baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Vegan tamale pie is a filling and delicious dish that is perfect for a family dinner or potluck.

Finally, you can serve tamales with a side of guacamole or salsa. These dips are made with fresh ingredients like avocado, tomatoes, and onions, and are a great way to add some extra flavor to your meal.

You can also serve tortilla chips or fresh vegetables like carrot sticks or bell pepper slices with the dips.

In conclusion, there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available that complement tamales. From roasted vegetables to vegan tamale pie, there’s something for everyone.

By incorporating these dishes into your meal, you can create a healthy and delicious spread that everyone will love.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of rice goes well with tamales?

When it comes to serving rice with tamales, it’s best to keep it simple. White rice is a great option because it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the tamales. You can also add some cilantro and lime juice to the rice to give it a little extra flavor.

What salad pairs well with tamales?

A simple green salad is a great option to pair with tamales. You can add some avocado, tomatoes, and a light vinaigrette to the salad to give it some extra flavor. Just make sure to keep the salad light so it doesn’t overpower the tamales.

What toppings can you put on tamales?

There are many toppings that pair well with tamales. Some popular options include sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and shredded cheese. You can also add some chopped onions and cilantro to give the tamales a little extra flavor.

Are tamales considered a main dish?

Yes, tamales are considered a main dish. They are typically served as the main course of a meal, and are often accompanied by sides such as rice, beans, and salad.

What are some sides for pork tamales?

Some great sides to pair with pork tamales include refried beans, Spanish rice, and a simple green salad. You can also add some sliced avocado and a little lime juice to the side dishes to give them some extra flavor.

How can you serve tamales for breakfast?

Tamales can be a great breakfast option! You can serve them with some scrambled eggs and a little salsa for a delicious breakfast burrito. You can also add some beans and rice to the plate to make it a more filling meal.