Best tamale steamer

Specialty

Tamales have been known by many different names in their Mexican and Central American roots, including nacatamal, tamal and tamalli.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which tamale steamer is best?

There are very few foods as delicious in the world of Mexican cuisine as the tamale. This stuffed corn leaf can be time-consuming to prepare, but the chance to cook it at home is simply unbeatable. You’ll need a tamale steamer pot, but they’re a multifunctional pot, as you can also use them to steam other dishes, from shellfish to corn on the cob.

The best tamale steamer pot is the GasOne Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Steamer Rack. This steamer pot is made from thick, high-quality stainless steel for longevity, and the slightly convex bottom makes it perfectly suited for use in conjunction with any gas stove, although it does make it difficult to use with electrical stoves. 

What to know before you buy a tamale steamer

Materials

Most tamale steamer pots are made from either stainless steel or aluminum, each with their own pros and cons. There are tamale steamer pots that use different materials, but they’re far less common.

  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel is not only more durable than aluminum, but many consider it to be more aesthetically pleasing as well. It can distribute heat slightly more efficiently and is less prone to rust and odors.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum tamale steamers are both lighter than their stainless steel counterparts and heat far faster, which can lower your cooking time. It cools faster than stainless steel, allowing you to clean up sooner. It tends to cost less as well.

Components of a tamale steamer pot

There are three key components of the tamale steamer pot: the pot, the inserts that allow it to steam and the lid. 

  • Pot: The pot is where the magic happens; it contains the water that’s heated to generate the steam which cooks the tamales and any other foods you wish.
  • Insert: The insert is what turns a regular pot into a steamer pot. It creates a platform that the tamales rest on above the water. Typically, there are holes in the insert which allow the steam through evenly.
  • Lid: The tamale steamer pot’s lid can vary greatly. It can be made of different materials, such as glass, and have different features, such as steam vents.

What to look for in a quality tamale steamer

Capacity

The capacity of your tamale steamer pot determines just how much you can cook at once. Most steamer pots have capacities between 12 and 80 quarts.

Handles 

The handle is an often-unappreciated part of any pot. For steamer pots, try and select one with heat-resistant material; otherwise, it can get extremely hot.

How much you can expect to spend on a tamale steamer

The biggest source of price changes for tamale steamers is in their maximum capacity. For $30 or less, you won’t find many steamer pots bigger than 12 quarts, while spending up to $50, you can find sizes up to 32 quarts. If you really need to feed a crowd, you can spend more than $50 on sizes as big or bigger than 64 quarts.

Tamale steamer FAQ

Can you put a tamale steamer in the dishwasher?

A. That depends on your particular tamale steamer. Check your user manual or the manufacturer’s website to see if it’s listed as dishwasher-safe. If you don’t see anything that explicitly says it’s dishwasher-compatible, wash it by hand to be safe. Use some warm water mixed with mild dish soap and scrub with a cloth.

Do tamale steamers work with induction stovetops?

A. This depends on the material used in the construction of your tamale steamer. Induction stovetops only work with magnetic metals, and some aluminum steamer pots might include enough magnetic material to be used on an induction stovetop, but most don’t. The fastest way to check if a tamale steamer is induction-compatible is to see if a magnet will stick to its bottom. If it does, it’s induction-compatible.

What’s the best tamale steamer to buy?

Top tamale steamer

 GasOne Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Steamer Rack

GasOne Stainless Steel Stock Pot With Steamer Rack

What you need to know: This is a high-quality stock pot with a steamer rack perfectly suited for tamales and many other foods.

What you’ll love: Constructed from 1-millimeter thick, heavy-duty stainless steel, it won’t rust or stain. It comes in a variety of sizes.

What you should consider: The bottom of the steamer isn’t perfectly flat, which can make it very difficult to use with electric cooktops.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot

Top tamale steamer for the money

IMUSA Aluminum Tamale and Steamer Pot

IMUSA Aluminum Tamale and Steamer Pot

What you need to know: Although not a good all-around pot, it heats up quickly, which makes it a fantastic option for steaming.

What you’ll love: The aluminum used in this steamer pot’s construction is very durable, despite its thinness.

What you should consider: The thinner metal that makes it so good for steaming is what sets it back considerably when it comes to being used as a stock pot.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Worth checking out

Arc 3-in-1 Stainless Steel Steamer Pot

Arc 3-in-1 Stainless Steel Steamer Pot

What you need to know: Steaming is easy for this steamer pot, thanks to its additional features, although this also precludes it from being used for any other purpose.

What you’ll love: Five different sizes to choose from and the ability to steam multiple items at once with the included materials make this steamer pot an excellent choice.

What you should consider: The spout included at the bottom which allows you to add water easily is the same feature which limits it to steaming.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.