What Do Tamales Taste Like? Exploring the Unique Flavors of Tamales

What Do Tamales Taste Like? Exploring the Unique Flavors of Tamales

Discover the delightful flavors of tamales in our detailed exploration. Learn what tamales taste like and satisfy your curiosity about this traditional Mexican dish's unique flavors and ingredients.

"What do tamales taste like" is a question that many Latin food enthusiasts ask. In this article, let's join Sabor Catracho in exploring the flavors and some interesting aspects of this dish

A Bit About Tamales

What is a tamale?

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. They consist of masa (a corn-based dough) that is filled with various ingredients such as meat, beans, cheese, or vegetables. The mixture is then steamed in corn husks or banana leaves until cooked and ready to eat.

What is usually in a tamale?

The most common filling for a tamale is pork or chicken mixed with a spicy sauce. However, there are endless variations of fillings that can be used, depending on personal preference and regional traditions. Some popular options include beef, vegetables like corn, beans, and cheese.

What makes tamales so special?

Tamales are not just a dish, but they hold cultural and historical significance in Mexican cuisine. They have been a staple food during important celebrations and feasts, such as Christmas and Day of the Dead. Tamales also require a significant amount of time and effort to prepare, making them a labor of love for those who make them.

Are tamales healthy for you?

While tamales are not considered a low-calorie food due to their doughy exterior, they do offer nutritional value. The filling of tamales can provide a good source of protein and vitamins from the various ingredients used. Plus, since tamales are steamed rather than fried, they tend to have less fat and fewer calories compared to other traditional Mexican dishes like tacos or enchiladas.

How do you eat tamale?

Tamales are typically served hot, either alone or with sides such as rice and beans. To eat a tamale, you first remove the corn husk or banana leaf wrapping. Then, you can either use your hands or a fork to dig into the filling and masa. Some people like to add additional toppings like salsa or sour cream for added flavor.

Read more: Where Did Tamales Originate

what do tamales taste like

What Do Tamales Taste Like?

This is the most important part of the article, answering the question "What do tamales taste like?" Let's continue reading.

What does a tamale taste like?

The taste of a tamale can vary depending on the filling and ingredients used, but there are some common flavors that you can expect. The masa, or corn dough, has a slightly sweet and earthy taste with a hint of saltiness. The filling adds another layer of flavor - whether it's savory from meat or vegetables or creamy from cheese. The spicy sauce also adds a kick of flavor to the overall taste.

Types of Tamales and Their Flavors

There are countless variations of tamales, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some popular types include:

Chicken Tamales

These tamales are made with a filling of shredded chicken, spices, and sometimes even green chilies. The chicken adds a savory flavor to the tamale.

Pork Tamales

Pork tamales are usually made with pulled pork cooked in a flavorful sauce or marinade. The tenderness and juiciness of the pork add depth to the taste of the tamale.

Beef Tamales

Similar to pork tamales, beef tamales are made with shredded beef that has been cooked in a flavorful sauce. The richness and heartiness of the beef make for a satisfying tamale taste.

Vegetarian Tamales

For those who don't eat meat, vegetarian tamales offer a variety of flavors. Common ingredients include beans, cheese, and vegetables like peppers and corn.

Sweet Tamales or Fruit Tamales

Tamales aren't always savory - there are also sweet versions made with fillings like pineapple, raisins, or cinnamon. These tamales have a dessert-like taste and are often served as a treat during holidays.

What sauce do you eat with tamales?

While tamales are flavorful on their own, a sauce can take them to the next level. There are various sauces that pair well with tamales, depending on personal preference and the type of tamale being served. Here are some popular options:

Salsa Roja

This classic red salsa is made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili peppers. It has a tangy and slightly spicy taste that complements savory tamales.

Salsa Verde

Made with tomatillos, onion, garlic, and green chili peppers, this salsa has a bright and zesty flavor. It pairs well with chicken or pork tamales.

Mole Sauce

This complex sauce is made with chili peppers, spices, nuts, and chocolate. It has a rich and slightly sweet taste that pairs well with pork or beef tamales.


For those who love avocado, guacamole is a delicious addition to tamales. Its creamy texture and tangy flavor balance out the richness of the tamale.

Sour Cream or Crema Mexicana

If you prefer a milder sauce, sour cream or crema mexicana can be a good choice. They add a cool and creamy element to tamales.

Read more: Where Did Guacamole Originate

what do tamales taste like

How to Make Authentic Mexican Tamales?

Now that we've discussed the different flavors and sauces of tamales, let's dive into how to make authentic Mexican tamales. While it may seem like a daunting task, with some patience and practice, anyone can make delicious tamales at home.


  • Dried corn husks
  • Corn masa flour
  • Broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • Lard or vegetable shortening
  • Salt
  • Various fillings (meat, cheese, vegetables)

Step 1: Soak the Corn Husks

Before you start making the tamales, you'll need to soak the dried corn husks in hot water for about an hour. This will make them pliable and easier to work with.

Step 2: Prepare the Masa Dough

In a large bowl, mix together the corn masa flour, broth, lard or vegetable shortening, and salt. You can also add in some spices for extra flavor. Mix until the dough is smooth and not too sticky.

Step 3: Prepare the Fillings

For meat fillings, cook your choice of protein (chicken, pork, beef) with onions, garlic, and spices until tender. For vegetarian options, sauté your choice of vegetables with onions, garlic, and spices.

Step 4: Assemble the Tamales

Take a soaked corn husk and spread about 2 tablespoons of the masa dough onto it. Leave some space around the edges to fold. Next, add your desired filling in the center of the dough. Carefully roll the tamale and fold the ends to seal it.

Step 5: Steam the Tamales

Place the tamales in a steamer basket with the open end facing up. Steam for about an hour, or until the masa dough is cooked through and not sticky. Let them cool before serving.

what do tamales taste like


In conclusion, tamales are a delicious Mexican dish that can be enjoyed as a meal or snack. They have a unique taste and texture thanks to their main ingredient, corn masa. Tamales can be filled with a variety of savory options, and their cooking method allows for customization to personal preference. So next time you find yourself asking "what do tamales taste like?", give them a try and experience the delicious flavors for yourself.

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