Can You Make Tamales in an Air Fryer? Crispy & Flavorful Delight

Can You Make Tamales in an Air Fryer

I rolled up my sleeves and decided to test something new in my kitchen – making tamales in my trusty air fryer. And guess what? I’ve got some exciting experiences to share!

Tamales, those little pockets of flavor, took a leap into my air fryer, and I must say, it’s been quite an adventure.

In this article, I’m taking you through my journey of experimenting with tamales in the air fryer. From trying out different methods to figuring out what works best, I’m here to spill the beans on how it went. Along the way, I’ve picked up some handy tips and tricks to whip up delicious tamales using this fantastic kitchen gadget.

So, buckle up and join me as I dish out my experiences on making tamales in my air fryer!

Find “Can I Wrap Chicken in Foil in Ninja Air Fryer

Can You Make Tamales In An Air Fryer?

Of course! Making tamales in an air fryer is possible and quite convenient. The air fryer can be used to both cook tamales from scratch and reheat pre-cooked ones. 

It offers a quicker alternative to traditional methods, providing a crispy texture while retaining the flavors of the tamales. Whether you’re cooking or reheating, the air fryer can be a handy tool to enjoy delicious tamales with ease.

What Are Tamales?

Tamales are like yummy presents! They’re a special dish made from a dough called masa, usually filled with tasty stuff like meat, cheese, or veggies. 

This mixture gets wrapped up in corn husks or banana leaves and cooked by steaming. People all around love them because they’re flavorful and have different versions depending on where you are. Tamales are not just food—they’re a fun way to enjoy flavors from different places!

History of Tamales

History of Tamales

Tamales boast a rich history, dating back thousands of years. They were a portable, easily transportable food for warriors and travelers in ancient Mesoamerica. Over time, they’ve evolved into a staple dish enjoyed during festive occasions and family gatherings, showcasing a blend of tradition and innovation in their preparation.

Basic Ingredients of Tamales

The core components of a tamale include masa harina (cornmeal flour), lard or oil, broth, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. The filling varies widely based on personal preferences and regional influences, contributing to the diversity and versatility of this dish.

Cooking Tamales in an Air Fryer

The air fryer, known for its versatility in creating crispy textures with minimal oil, has sparked interest in preparing tamales using this innovative appliance. While traditionally steamed, cooking tamales in an air fryer offers a quicker and sometimes equally satisfying method.

A) How to Make Tamales in an Air Fryer

1. Preparing the Masa:

  • Ingredients: Gather masa harina (cornmeal flour), lard or oil, broth, baking powder, and salt.
  • Mixing the Dough: Combine masa harina with the other ingredients to create a smooth, pliable dough. The consistency should resemble that of peanut butter, neither too dry nor too wet.

2. Assembling the Tamales:

Assembling the Tamales

  • Corn Husks: Soak dried corn husks in warm water to soften them. Pat them dry before assembling.
  • Filling: Spread a thin layer of masa on the center of a corn husk, leaving enough space on the edges to fold.
  • Adding Fillings: Place your desired fillings, such as meats, cheeses, vegetables, or fruits, in the center of the masa.

3. Cooking Process in the Air Fryer:

  • Preheating the Air Fryer: Preheat the air fryer to around 350°F to ensure even cooking.
  • Arranging Tamales: Carefully place the assembled tamales in the air fryer’s basket, ensuring they are not overcrowded to allow proper air circulation.
  • Cooking Time: Cook the tamales for approximately 15-20 minutes. However, cooking times may vary depending on the air fryer model and the thickness of the tamales. It’s essential to monitor them to avoid overcooking or drying out.
  • Checking Doneness: To ensure the tamales are cooked thoroughly, perform a toothpick test. Insert a toothpick into the masa; if it comes out clean, the tamales are ready.

B) How to Prepare Air Fryer Frozen Tamales

If using frozen tamales, it’s advisable to thaw them before cooking to ensure even heating throughout the tamale.

  • Thawing: Allow frozen tamales to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature before placing them in the air fryer.
  • Cooking: Follow the same cooking instructions as for fresh tamales, adjusting the cooking time slightly as needed.

Cooking Time Required for Tamales in an Air Fryer

The cooking time for tamales in an air fryer typically ranges from 15 to 20 minutes at a temperature of 350°F. However, factors like the air fryer’s wattage, the size of the tamales, and their thickness may influence the cooking duration. Regularly checking and adjusting the time helps achieve the desired results.

Arranging Tamales in an Air Fryer Basket

Properly arranging the tamales in the air fryer basket ensures even cooking and allows the hot air to circulate around each tamale. Placing them in a single layer without overcrowding promotes uniform cooking and crispy textures.

Reheating Tamales in an Air Fryer

Reheating Tamales in an Air Fryer


The air fryer’s ability to revive leftovers into crispy, heated delights has sparked curiosity about its effectiveness in reheating tamales.

a. Can You Reheat Tamales in the Air Fryer?

Yes, the air fryer offers an excellent option for reheating tamales. Its rapid air circulation creates a crispy exterior while maintaining the tamale’s moisture, preserving its flavors and textures.

b. The Best Way to Reheat Tamales

Achieving the perfect reheated tamale involves understanding the ideal time and temperature settings. The air fryer’s versatility allows for customization, typically requiring lower temperatures and shorter cooking times compared to traditional oven reheating.

  • Time & Temperature for Reheating: Finding the right balance between heat and duration is key to prevent overdrying or overcooking the tamales. Usually, reheating at around 325°F for 10-12 minutes yields desirable results.

c. Tips for Reheating Tamales in the Air Fryer

  • Arrange tamales in a single layer for even heating.
  • Spritz or brush the tamales with a bit of water to prevent dryness.
  • Preheating the air fryer can help ensure an evenly heated tamale.

Serving Air Fryer Tamales

Once your air fryer tamales are perfectly cooked or reheated, presenting them in an enticing manner and pairing them with complementary accompaniments enhances the overall dining experience.

A. What to Serve with Air Fryer Tamales

  • Salsas and Sauces: Traditional salsas like salsa verde or red salsa complement the flavors of tamales excellently. Other options include guacamole, crema, or enchilada sauce.
  • Side Dishes: Rice and beans, Mexican street corn (elote), or a fresh salad can elevate the meal and balance the richness of the tamales.

B. Best Way to Serve Air Fryer Tamales

Plating tamales with their husks removed or partially opened, garnished with fresh herbs or a sprinkle of cheese, allows guests to see and savor the enticing fillings. Pairing them with the suggested sides enriches the dining experience.

Additional Information About Tamales 

While exploring the world of air fryer tamales, several essential aspects and related information contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the process and variations.

Using Corn Husks in Tamales

Using Corn Husks in Tamales

Corn husks serve as both a cooking vessel and a presentation wrapper for tamales. They add a subtle corn flavor to the dish and keep the masa moist during cooking. Additionally, they impart a rustic appearance, enhancing the overall visual appeal.

How Long Do Tamales Last?

Properly stored tamales can last for up to five days in the refrigerator or up to six months in the freezer. It’s essential to wrap them tightly in plastic or aluminum foil and store them in airtight containers to maintain their freshness.

Frozen Tamales in an Air Fryer

When cooking frozen tamales in an air fryer, allowing them to thaw before reheating or cooking ensures even heating throughout the tamale, preserving its flavors and textures.

More Air Fryer Recipes

Expanding beyond tamales, the air fryer opens doors to a multitude of culinary possibilities. Exploring other recipes, from appetizers to main courses and desserts, harnesses the versatility of this kitchen appliance.

Reheating Other Foods in the Air Fryer

Beyond tamales, the air fryer offers an efficient method to reheat various leftovers, maintaining their textures and flavors without the sogginess often associated with microwave reheating.

How to Cook Chorizo in Air Fryer: A Flavorful Guide to Perfect Crispiness
Discover “How to Cook Chorizo in Air Fryer: A Flavorful Guide to Perfect Crispiness


Making tamales in an air fryer is a simple and quick way to enjoy this traditional dish. Whether you’re reheating leftovers or cooking from scratch, the air fryer gets the job done fast.

It’s all about using the right settings and arranging things properly. With the air fryer, you can have tasty tamales without much fuss.

This kitchen gadget brings the best of both worlds: the classic taste of tamales and the modern convenience of the air fryer. So, yes, you definitely can make tamales in an air fryer and enjoy the flavors you love in a new, easy way.

With the air fryer, making and enjoying tamales becomes a breeze, blending tradition and simplicity for a delicious meal every time.


Can I use parchment paper in the air fryer when making tamales?

Yes, you can use parchment paper in the air fryer when making tamales. It helps prevent sticking and makes cleaning up easier. However, ensure the parchment paper doesn’t cover the entire surface, allowing proper airflow for even cooking.

Will the texture of tamales made in an air fryer be different from traditional steamed tamales?

Cooking tamales in an air fryer tends to produce a slightly different texture compared to traditional steaming. While they might not be as soft as steamed tamales, air-fried tamales can have a crispy exterior and a moist interior, offering a unique eating experience.

Can I add sauce or toppings to the tamales before cooking them in an air fryer?

It’s possible to add sauce or toppings to tamales before air frying, but be cautious about excessive moisture. Too much liquid might affect the texture of the tamales or make them soggy. Consider adding toppings or sauces after cooking for the best results.

Can I bake tamales instead of steaming?

Yes, you can bake tamales as an alternative to steaming. Preheat your oven to around 350°F (175°C), wrap the tamales in foil or corn husks, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the masa is cooked through. Baking may result in a slightly different texture compared to steaming, with a firmer crust.

Are tamales cooked or fried?

Tamales are typically cooked by steaming. However, some variations, like “tamales fritos” in certain regions, involve frying cooked tamales in a pan to create a crispy exterior. This frying method is usually applied to already cooked tamales for a different texture and flavor.