What Is Traditionally Served With Tamales? (8 Proven Meals)

How much do you know about tamales? Yes, tamales are great stand-alone meals made of corn flour dough. It is super delicious as it comes with varieties of fillings; chicken or pork, peppers or carrots, cheeses, dried fruits. And more!

So you can get creative if you want to fill the tamale to your taste.

What is traditionally served with tamales? Beans or rice is a way to go. However, you would need some great picks if you intend to make a full course meal and make tamales the star of the day.

We have some good recommendations for you. And you can never go wrong with it, even if it’s your first time. But first again, how much do you know about tamales?

Let’s find out!


How much do you know about tamales?

a plate of mexican tamales

Did you know that “originally tamales were made with beans and squash” before it is then roasted over the fire?

But now you would have a lot of spices and ingredients to choose from.

Did you also know that tamales have lived for over 9,000 years? And most countries prepare it for festivals and rituals. It has many names like; tamalitos, pastels.

The name tamale is served from the Nahuatl tamalii. And this means steamed cornmeal dough. It has over 350 varieties. So you have an endless list to choose from, like;

  • Mexican side dishes
  • Latin American food
  • Mexican cooking basics
  • South-America street food with tamales.

So if you are asking what’s special about tamales? You are about to find out.

What’s special about tamales?

Most people are intrigued at how tamales are just enjoyed by many. The recipes are quite transferable; after all, they are easy. Plus, you have a whole lot to make out of these tamales.

What makes tamales special is the fact that the fillings are either simple or elaborate. Another thing that makes tamales special is the fact that tamales compliment a good number of dishes.

More so, the wrappings add to the flavor, whether banana or corn husk.

Another thing that is special about tamales is that some people like Mexican American families make tamales to celebrate the Christmas holidays.

So whilst you may choose to make tamales a side dish it’s quite a tradition for many.

Do you know what else makes tamales special?

Well, aside from preparation, they are easy to cook; it will take about 30-35 minutes to cook them.

More so, you don’t even need a plate for it, why? The corn husk or banana leaf is used in place of a plate.

Let’s learn about things you can serve with tamales.

8 proven meals you serve with tamales

1. Black beans 

black beans

Other than tacos and enchiladas, you can use tamales to get yourself mouth-watering black beans to eat.

Black beans go well with tamales. So if you are looking forward to having a simple meal with a lot of benefits, then black beans and some tamale will serve.

Whether you are making the meal for a few people or just a relatable crowd, the recipe is quite easy and adjustable. When you have a lot of mouths to feed, you can double the recipe.

2. Pinto beans 

pinto beans

Your lunch shouldn’t have to be like breakfast or dinner so with pinto beans you are assured of a full-time lunch.

What’s more? You have a lot of ingredients to choose from; garlic, pepper, bay leaf, salt as well as thyme.

Yes, pinto beans might be hard to cook on the go. However, you can soak the beans before the day you are set to cook, rinse out the water, and cook with the amount of water good enough for your pinto beans.

3. Cilantro lime rice 

cilantro lime rice

If you are yet to make a pick, then you might want to choose now. This dish goes well with lime juice, zest, and cilantro, making it fresh and flavorful that’s perfect for shrimps or any of your Mexican favorite, tamales inclusive!

Do you know what fun this is? You can make this meal in large batches. That way you would not have to worry about devoting extra time to it. Worried about leftovers? Well, store in a container and refrigerate.

4. Jicama slaw 

jicama slaw

This is simple to make too. The Jicama slaw is quite crunchy, so it would not be a bad idea to match with some spongy tamale.

You’ll need some strips of jicama, carrots, and cabbage in a bowl. To dress them, combine lime juice, vinegar, ancho powder, honey, and oil. You can season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Other than beans and rice that you can traditionally serve alongside tamales, what else can you serve with tamales?

5. Eggs and salsa 

eggs and salsa

How about some toppings to enhance the taste?

Some fried eggs will give your tamale that rich and admirable flavor.

You can add some cilantro and other flavors to make your tamales more appealing. You have a lot of ingredients to choose from. If it does not satisfy you, then go with the spices at hand.

6. Cilantro lime Crema 

cilantro lime crema

You can also serve cilantro-lime Crema with some tamale. Just blend in some of these ingredients; cilantro, sour cream, lime, and mayonnaise.

It is so simple to make this. So, even if it’s your first time you’ll only need to blend all ingredients to get your meal ready.

7. Mexican street corn 

mexican sweet corn

You only have to mix some things here and there to get this sumptuous meal done. To get this meal, whisk the cream mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, pepper, lime zest, and lime juice to create a sauce.

Grill the corn until you are sure all sides are affected. You can now coat the corn with the Crema mixture and sprinkle it with crumbled cotija cheese.

8. Cucumber tomato avocado salad

 cucumber tomato avocado salad

Wow! Quite a name. If you are looking for an updated version of the summer classic then you can settle for this. With some dried avocado, you can get yourself a jaw-dropping bowl full of salad.

Add some sea salt and cracked black pepper to enhance the taste. Add some toppings too if you like.

Read: How Long Does Canned Fruit Last Once Opened

Conclusion: What Is Traditionally Served With Tamales?

Congratulations, not only did you know what is traditionally served with tamales. You now know a bunch about tamales.

Hopefully, you get super creative when making your tamales or serving them with any meals. Whether beans or rice. Whether salad or chips, try to make some meals that are crowd-pleasing and deserving as well.

Refer to this guide if you are left in the middle trying to figure out what to make with your tamale.

Have an enjoyable time making your tamale!