Judith is a fairy in the world of writing: she manages to turn any topic (far not only a kitchen-related) into an entertaining text that is so easy and educating to read. Fond of gardening, reading, and cooking, of course.
Emily has over 10 years of professional experience using, testing and comparing kitchen appliances. Her knowledge helps to easily and naturally solve everyday problems. She is also the owner of the lifestyle blog emilyreviews.com
Last updated: August 23, 2021
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Tamale is one of the most versatile meals out there, you can fill the tamales with just about whatever you want, both sweet and savory types of food, and you can enjoy this ancient South American foodstuff even more simply if you get your hands on the best tamale steamers on the market, to make your life much easier.
We’ve reviewed 24 different products on the market, and found that the Bayou Classic 62-qt Stainless Stockpot with Basket was the best option. This is versatile and because it comes with a basket, it can be used to steam food as well as cook food submerged in the stockpot. It is great for cookouts, and can feed dozens of people with fresh tamales. It’s also stainless steel and incredibly hard-wearing. If you are looking to feed a lot of people, this could be a great choice.
We’ve evaluated the materials in all of our tamale steamer reviews. We’ve also looked at the type of lid, the steaming rack, and the style of tamale steamer, for instance, whether it is electric or not. We’ve also taken into account the size of the steamer. How many people can you feed? The research took weeks and is presented as a simple overview table, before our detailed reviews, and finally, a buying guide to help to explain the top features and how to choose the right tamale steamer for your needs.
If you love tamale, but want to get a product that can cook a lot of other types of food too, the Bayou Classic 62-qt Stainless Stockpot with Basket could be the option for you. You can boil and fry within this very large pot, but the steaming basket also means that you can heat tamales with ease.
The basket is really easy to use, it sits just over 3 inches from the bottom and allows you to create a sealed space for steaming hot tamales. The large size means it is great for cookouts. Be warned that you need a fair amount of space to store it, it measures 15 1/4 inches x 18 3/4 inches in total. That’s a lot of kitchen space taken up.
The steel design makes it very hard-wearing and you wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this in a restaurant or commercial kitchen. This can last many years and is great for other foods like cooking lobsters or making large dishes.
Why did it make our list?
Can be used for steaming, boiling, frying and some other food preparation
This is similar to the Bayou model we named as our editor’s choice. The IMUSA USA MEXICANA-34 Aluminum Tamale and Steamer Pot is a smaller version, with a 32 qt design rather than the massive 62 qt. It’s very heavy-duty and built out of excellent durable aluminum.
This has a removable insert that can simply and easily be placed inside to make the pot suitable for steaming. If you don’t want to use the insert, it is basically a very high-quality pot which can be used as a stock pot to make other dishes.
The same brand offers a lot of different options that are different sizes. They can all be used to cook seafood like Lobster and Mussels and even Corn on the Cob. Some people have even used this to make their own smoker, though if you do this, you won’t be able to steam in it anymore!
This is a decent size for storing within your kitchen, and can be used either at home or in cookouts.
What are its best features?
Easy to use the removable steaming rack and insert
Can be used for a lot of other types of food
What could be improved?
Not as high quality metal as some of the other options
The Oster Sangerfield Steamer Set with Lid for Stovetop Use is a great stovetop set with a removable insert, making it a 3-in-1 set, suitable for other styles of cooking and steaming and not just tamales. People looking for stackable tamale steamers often choose a product such as this. It has a removable insert, and can be used as a normal casserole dish or stock pot for cooking.
The vented lid makes it very simple to see the process during the steaming of your tamales, and make sure you get it right.
This is a 3 Qt. saucepan, so not as big as some other options, but it has plenty of space to cook tamales for a family meal. Also, you can use it to steam or boil vegetables or make many other meals.
The stainless steel design is high quality, but even though it is a hard-wearing steamer that is made to last a long time, it still makes the list as our budget pick as it is not too expensive.
This aluminum tamale steamer is very high quality and the metal is very high quality, doing a good job of keeping the handles cool. These handles are riveted and make it easy to move and carry the pot on the 24 Qt Tamale Steamer Vaporera Stock Pot.
The steamer rack, like with many of the other steamers, is a removable insert that can turn this from a stock pot into a steamer. It can be used to cook stews, to boil large amounts of water and even to cook lobsters or steam other seafood items.
The pot is 24 qt, a good size for a large family meal and cooking a lot of tamales! Dozens of tamales can fit inside depending on how they are stacked, you can also make a decent amount of soup, chili or stews.
This is easy to use and a good family size. If you’re looking for a versatile aluminum pot, this could be a good option.
What do we love it for?
Does a very good job of not getting too hot on the handles
Removable insert rack is easy to use
Can make a huge amount of tamales
What were we disappointed with?
May dent or warp a little over time, this shouldn’t be a huge issue
If you are looking for a very durable, enameled tamale pot, this could be a good option. It has a granite-looking design that is actually enamel on top of a layer of steam. The design is similar to the other tamale steamers on this list. It is basically a big crock pot design but you can turn it into a steamer with a removable rack that is simple and easy to install.
This is one of the most hard-wearing pots possible, and the manufacturers claim that it can last a lifetime if treated right. It is also pretty simple and easy to clean and very safe for cooking on electric or gas stoves. Unfortunately, you can’t use it on glass stovetops.
Many people have found the Granite Ware Tamale Pot with Steamer Insert good for cookouts or just using at home. It can be put in the dishwasher after use, too, so you don’t have to worry about the clean up job.
We have named the Gas One Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Steamer the best option for commercial use. It is an excellently made product with commercial grade finishing, and can last a number of years even if getting daily use in a restaurant.
The material used to make this is stainless steel, and the riveted handle is simple and does a decent job of not overheating.
The steamer rack is very high quality, too, and sits on the bottom reliably with three steel feet keeping it in place.
Naturally, if you don’t want to steam, you can use this as a crock pot by not using the insert.
Though we’ve tested the 32 qt option, if this isn’t big enough for your commercial needs, there is a 40 qt option made by the same company.
Comparing this to other options, the first thing we notice is the thickness of the steel. This means it is great for long-term use in a tough environment.
Why is it special?
Very high quality steel
Great for long term use
Removable steaming rack
Quality riveted handle, designed to avoid burning hands
What are the flaws?
Heavier than a lot of the other options due to thickness of the steel
Things to Consider
Not all of us have bought tamale steamers before. Knowing how to choose the best option can be difficult if you aren’t experienced with cooking tamales! There are quite a few different choices on the market, from electric tamale steamers to simple steaming inserts that can be placed inside a crock pot.
In this guide, we’re explaining what it takes to make a high quality tamale steamer, and how to choose the ideal option for your needs. A quick read of the buying guide can help you to avoid making a bad decision.
What is a tamale steamer and how does it work?
Tamales are a traditional South American food, that is basically a pocket of dough made from corn flour and filled with numerous ingredients. The tamale can be filled in a variety of different ways depending on preference and even on different regions of the world and how they tend to prepare their tamales. The tamale steamer is the device they’re cooked in, though it can be as simple as a crock pot with a steamer.
Tamale steamers aren’t necessarily all that different to other types of steamers! Most steamers can do a decent job of cooking tamales. However, if you are looking to cook tamales there are some criteria to look out for such as the capacity and ease of use of the steamer.
You can buy electric tamale steamers and specifically made steamers that fit these products in, but there’s not a lot of point, any steamer with the capacity for tamales can do the job, and the products we reviewed are all suitable. They can be used to steam corn, seafood such as lobsters and mussels, but also to make tamales.
In terms of how the tamale steamer actually steams, the water placed at the bottom gives off steam which rises and surrounds the tamales, crisping them and heating them over time with plenty of moisture so they don’t dry out and become tasteless husks of food. The removable rack stops them from coming into direct contact with the water.
Features to consider while buying the best tamale steamer
What are the key features to consider when you are looking to buy the best tamale steamer? A lot of this will come down to your personal preference, the cooking surface you intend to use and even how many tamales you are going to need to make at once. We’ve discussed the top features, and the criteria we use for our tamale steamer reviews, in the features below.
This feature is definitely something to consider. For example, our editor’s choice, the Bayou Classic 62-qt Stainless Stockpot with Basket is absolutely huge. This means it is great for cookouts and can prepare a lot of tamales in one go. Dozens, or even hundreds depending on the size, it may also take a lot of kitchen space up. You want a product that is big enough to prepare all the food you need, but not so big that you won’t have space for other stuff.
There isn’t a huge amount of variation in the materials that tamale steamers are made out of. Most tend to be made of either aluminum or steel. Stainless steel is popular for commercial tamale steamers and home tamale steamers. It is very hard-wearing. The Granite Ware Tamale Pot with Steamer Insert has an interesting design as it has an enameled outside to protect it’s steel core.
Lid and Handle
What type of lid does it have? Is this easy to remove? Is it domed for convenience and can you see through it? Some people like to have a steamer that they can see inside, this means you can know what is happening and ensure you cook your tamales evenly and properly. The Oster Sangerfield Steamer Set with Lid for Stovetop Use is a good option if you want to be able to see the tamales while they are cooking.
You should also consider the handles of the steamers. If the option is there to buy a riveted design, with tamale steamer handles that don’t get excessively hot, this can add a little bit more safety to the cooking process. Oven mitts should still be used.
All of the products we’ve reviewed have some sort of steamer rack.
The tamale steamer is a crock pot or large steel pot that then has an added rack for steaming, boiling water is added to the bottom and the steam rises up through the rack, or perforated basket as by Bayou Classic 62-qt Stainless Stockpot with Basket, to cook the tamales.
Some steamer racks are better than others. Some are just a nuisance to get in and out and cause a lot of issues.
The steamer rack needs to be high-quality, good enough to sit stably in your pot and also easy to remove for cleaning.
In spite of the fact that many of these steamers are built to be hard-wearing and to last a number of years, not many of them specify any sort of warranty or returns policy. However, this would only be likely to be 12 months, and all of the tamale steamers on the list should last for this length of time (and far longer).
Luckily, a steamer doesn’t have to be exceptionally expensive, and even the tamale steamers on this list with removable inserts and large capacities are pretty reasonable in price. The
Oster Sangerfield Steamer Set with Lid for Stovetop Use has been named as our budget pick, it offers a lot of value for money as it is a flexible, stacking design that is very affordable. It just isn’t as big as some of the other steamers. Most of the tamale steamers on the market are under $50. They are far from the most expensive item you will buy for your kitchen.
There are ways that you can make tamales in a digital steamer, but you need to make sure you buy one that gets hot enough. Some of these models are not made of steel and can’t reach the temperatures needed to reliably cook tamales. They may also be a bit small, especially if you are looking to make big batches.
The whole process can be a couple of hours, so it is best to make a lot in one go. Fortunately, tamales can keep for a long time, which is one of the reasons they are so popular. You can batch-make a lot of these and keep them in the fridge. The steaming process takes about 1 hour 15 minutes, but can be slightly less or slightly longer depending on how many tamales you are steaming. It isn’t the quickest method of cooking but the delicious food produced is one of the reasons people still cook tamales all the time.
The Bayou Classic 62-qt Stainless Stockpot with Basket is our editor’s choice, we’ve rated it very highly at 9.9/10 due to the immense quality and overall size of this stainless steel steamer. It’s great for cookouts and can be used in a commercial kitchen.
The IMUSA USA MEXICANA-34 Aluminum Tamale and Steamer Pot is next with 9.8/10, and it is has a very similar set of features to the Bayou. It is built to last, but is a little smaller than the Bayou meaning it is more suitable for kitchen cooking, especially in smaller kitchens.
Our budget pick gets a rating of 9.7/10. The Oster Sangerfield Steamer Set with Lid for Stovetop Use is great for smaller kitchens and very versatile, though it is only 3qt in capacity, it is one of the best tamale steamers. You can steam vegetables or use it for boiling or other stovetop cooking.