What To Make With Tamales?

Last Updated on December 6, 2021 by Guillermina

Tamales are a delicious dish that is warm and wonderful, but I always find myself wondering what to make with Tamales? A staple in Mexican households during the holidays is tamales. Tamales take time to make, and while they taste wonderful alone, guests will appreciate a side dish. 

So, what exactly goes well with Tamales? Well, many things! Growing up, I remember eating homemade corn tortillas, black bean soups, and placing toppings on my tamales. 

The Rich History Of Tamales

The idea of a Tamale has been around since 8000 B.C, and it was introduced in Mesoamerica. Interestingly, the original purpose of eating Tamales was different. People living in Mesoamerica made Tamales for the Gods, not for themselves. Also, the corn they used for the masa was different.

The word masa refers to the mixture that you make the outside of Tamales with. They used a vegetable, similar to what we know as corn today, called teocintle. It was not until the 19th century where the Aztecs served the Spaniards in Mexico. This was when it became a staple for Mexico.

Tamales have not changed much at all. While it is true that the corn back then was different, the basis of a Tamale is the same! The masa is stuffed with meats and wrapped with leaves. The type of leaf depends entirely on the region of Mexico. In some areas, they use banana leaves, and in other parts, it is corn husks. 

 toppings for tamales

What To Make With Tamales As A Side

Side dishes are a personal favorite! Although Tamales taste just as delicious on their own, I always like to eat something extra. Listed below are a few popular side dishes to serve with tamales. 

Homemade Corn Tortillas

There is nothing better than eating a tamale with a pile of warm homemade corn tortillas. These warm tortillas are flavorful and a compliment to any Mexican dish. They are easy and quick to make, and you can eat them for all meals throughout the day.

You can make corn tortillas with either yellow or white flour. Personally, I prefer yellow corn tortillas as they have more flavor, but white corn will do. You can pair these tortillas with a salsa Roja or Verde sauce or eat them with leftovers. Interestingly, you make both dishes with the same corn flour as well. If you have leftovers from the main dish, you can make the side dish!

Black Bean Soup

 what to eat tamales with

Another favorite and staple dish during the holidays is black bean soup. This pairs really deliciously with tamales as the flavors are so distinctly different! Black bean soup is a soup almost entirely made of a mixture of black beans and seasonings.

The soup is savory, and you can change the spice levels yourself as you make it. Every time I have followed a recipe for black bean soup, I always add more seasoning and hot peppers as I like spice. One of the best flavors and comforts is to dip broken tamales into the black bean soup. The light corn masa sucks in the flavors and seasonings in the black bean soup.

You can also cook and prepare black bean soup apart and eat it with tortillas. This soup is hearty and filled with both vitamins and nutrients that can aid in building your immune system. If you feel sick or have a slight hangover, try some Black bean soup!

Read more about How To Make Steak Tacos With Taco Seasoning At Home

Toppings For Tamales

As I wrote earlier, toppings are a personal favorite! If you are wondering to yourself what pairs well as a side, look for a topping! Since the masa of a tamale is soft and light in flavor, it soaks up sauces and seasoning easily! Typically this holiday favorite is eaten alone, but it doesn’t need to be!


One of the most popular toppings for a tamale is sliced peppers! The greatest thing about tamales is that you are the one who chooses what you would like to use as a topping. If you prefer a kick, try slicing jalapeños and cayenne peppers. If you are more of a fan of savory flavors, then sweet bell peppers will most likely satisfy you like a topping.

 what to make with tamales


I am a lover of all things salsa! I can eat salsa verde or Rojo happily. Salsa’s as toppings can either be homemade or store-bought. If you choose to create your open, you have the flexibility of pinpointing the flavors you want. For instance, if you like the citrus flavors from mango, you can blend and slice mangos into your own salsa or Pico de Gallo.

Salsa works well as a topping for tamales because of how versatile the masa is and how packed with flavor salsas are. It is so difficult not to want to eat a tamale with salsa drizzled on top of dipped in.


Like salsa, Queso is another topping for tamales that does well smothered on top. This makes it more difficult and messy to eat, but also delicious! The melted cheese sauce has a kick and blends well with the stuffed meat inside your tamale. This especially works if your tamale is filled with chicken as it has a more mild flavor.

Lime Juice

If you go to any Mexican’s house, I would be surprised if they didn’t have bowls of limes! These delicious and sour fruits go well with traditional Mexican dishes, like a tamale. If you choose to use lime juice topping, simply cut a lime into wedges and squeeze liberally on top of your tamale.

Thank you for reading this article! I hope that now you know what to serve with tamales. Remember, tamales are versatile and soak in the flavors of other things well. You can mix tamales into sides like tortillas, black bean soup, and various toppings. What I love the most about tamales is that they can be personalized!

Be sure to leave a comment about anything in this article. I hope you enjoyed learning about the culturally rich dish of tamales.