What to serve with tamales
Recipes Sides

What to serve with Tamales?

Wondering what to serve with tamales? This list of over 20 of the best sides for tamales will hopefully help you in crafting the perfect meal.

Tamales are a traditional Latin American dish. Most of the time they consist of seasoned beef or pork that is surrounded in cornmeal and cooked wrapped in dried corn husks.  In more recent days, the varieties of tamales have greatly expanded.  Vegetarian tamales, tamales with peppers or additional seasonings, cooked in a variety of ways.  Whatever the type, you may still be left wondering, what side dish to pair with tamales.

What to serve with tamales?  

Here is a list of side dish ideas from old stand bys to the slightly less traditional, you will surely find some great side dishes for your tamales!

Serve Corn dishes with tamales:

  • Grilled corn served on or off of the cob plain, with some spicy hot sauce or with some cool Cotija cheese.
  • Try an elote salad.  Elote (or Mexican street corn) is  a blend of grilled corn, cotija cheese (or sometimes feta in modern varieties), mayonnaise, chili powder and lime juice for an incredibly flavorful salad.
what to serve with tamales - corn dip
  • Consider a corn dip as the answer for what to serve with your tamales.  This Crack Corn Dip is a twist on the so-called “cracked out chicken” which combines corn, mayonnaise, ranch seasoning, pepper jack cheese, Greek yogurt, hot sauce, bacon, cheddar and seasonings for an amazing warm dip that is amazing with chips or veggies for dipping.

Serve Dips as a side dish for Tamales:

4 Ingredient Guacamole is a side for tamales
  • Guacamole the beloved favorite dip or condiment that is as versatile as it is varied.  This 4-ingredient guacamole is about as easy as it gets and makes a perfect answer for what to serve with tamales.
  • Queso aka cheese dip is a Mexican restaurant favorite.  Add some chips and many could almost make a meal of this dip alone.  Mix things up a bit and try this smoked queso dip which gets its “smoked” flavor from its ingredients rather than its cooking method.
  • 7-layer dip typically consists of refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, black olives and shredded lettuce.  These 7-layer dip style burritos share all of the flavors of the dip with some twists to add texture, all rolled up in a tortilla.  Great for portability or for serving alongside tamales.

Serve protein-rich dishes with Tamales:

Beef Empanada Pie is a side dish for tamales
  • Empanadas– are basically hand pies filled with seasoned (often) beef and sometimes vegetables.  This Beef Empanada Pie, has all the flavors of a traditional beef empanada in a more fork-friendly-format.
  • Burritos– these Chili Burritos combine beef, beans, chili seasonings and cheese in a protein-packed wrap.
  • Rice & Beans-this could be either the traditional rice served alongside refried beans or a combination dish that is more like a red-beans-and-rice variety.
  • Grilled proteins– shrimp, chicken, steak, even portobello mushrooms grilled fresh alongside some seasonings would be great to serve with tamales.

Serve Veggie-based Dishes alongside Tamales:

  • Salad– make it a guacamole salad with some tomatoes, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and cotija or try a simple, fresh combo of avocado and grapefruit slices with some salt and lime juice.
  • Soup– This Vegetarian version of traditional tortilla soup is a tomato based soup, rounded out with corn tortillas, avocados and hot sauce.
  • Fajitas-  while steak, chicken and shrimp fajitas would all be amazing choices to pair with tamales, these veggie-based varieties would also be extra-tasty:
  • Instant Pot Pepper Mango Fajitas  red onions, red bell peppers, fresh mangos and seasonings form the base of these fresh, fruity fajitas.  Pair with some tortillas, cilantro and cotija and these will be perfect for warmer weather.
    • Air Fryer Fajita Veggies mix onions, mixed bell peppers and cherry tomatoes with homemade fajita seasonings and your favorite toppings to make fresh, easy fajitas in record time.
  • Southwestern Potatoes– Potatoes, peppers, onions, beans, corn, and seasonings all combined into a flavorful hash make a perfect accompaniment for tamales.

Try a less traditional side dish for your tamales:

  • Make a twist on a restaurant chalupa that comes together in almost no time and is never soggy on the base with this Air Fryer Chalupa.
  • Cilantro Lime Rice has become a ubiquitous dish. It would be a great side for tamales.
Spicy Spanish Omelette is what to serve with tamales
  • Make a brunch of it with this Spicy Spanish Omelette that combines eggs, bacon, jalapenos, cream cheese and sharp cheddar in a delicious baked omelette form.
  • Avocado Egg Rolls are a Cheesecake Factory copycat dish that isn’t traditionally Latin, but would still work well with tamales.

Serve Dessert as a side dish for Tamales:

  • Sopapillas– fried flour tortillas with honey, butter, cinnamon and topped with whipped cream or iced cream.
  • Churros– Mexican pastry filled with dulce de leche, covered with cinnamon and sugar, topped with whipped cream.
  • Fried Ice Cream -a scoop of ice cream covered with a crunchy topping, flash fried and topped with sundae toppings.
  • Flan– a baked custard.  Often served topped with caramel and whipped cream.

So there you have it. More than 20 of the best answers to the question “what to serve with tamales?”. I hope you found this list of side dish ideas to be helpful and to enable you to go fourth and craft your perfect meal!

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