What to Serve With Tamales?

what to serve with tamales
Image credit: The Spruce Eats

If you’ve never had tamales before, you’re missing out on one of the world’s best and most scrumptious foods. But what to serve with tamales? This will soon be dealt with.

These wonderful tamales are made from masa dough and filled with your choice of meat, cheese, beans, or veggies.

Then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed until they reach that tender-but-firm consistency. This makes them so delicious when dipped in their accompanying sauces.

The list of what to serve with tamales is given below! 

1. Mexican Rice

This is the first on our list of what to serve with tamales. The perfect pairing of flavors, Mexican rice is a versatile and tasty addition to any meal.

Mexican rice is fragrant without being overpowering by incorporating various herbs and spices, including cumin, chili powder, and oregano. 

Rich in fiber and high in protein, with just about 20 minutes in a pot or skillet, Mexican rice can be ready for you to enjoy alongside your favorite main dish. It works well for what to serve with tamales. 

2. Tortilla Chips

This is the next on our list of what to serve with tamales.  Nothing pairs better than a plate of tortilla chips and salsa. This dish is a perfect combination of spicy, salty, and cheesy goodness. 

Start by heating up your corn tortillas in a skillet or frying pan until they’re nice and soft, then layer on refried beans (or bean dip) and cheese. Be sure to let one side cook before you flip it over, so both sides get nice and melty.

3. Mexican Pickled Vegetables

These vegetables, known as enchiladas in Spanish and meaning to put on chilis, are pickled for a couple of days using a classic Mexican recipe.

They are served cold and eaten. They are perfect for what to serve with tamales. There are various types of enchiladas, but all have one common ingredient: chili peppers. 

The different kinds you can make include onions, cauliflower, carrots, or squash, but all must be pre-boiled or fried before they are pickled in water mixed with vinegar or lemon juice.

Mixing them is similar to making jam, and if you don’t like spicy food, you can add more sugar or less chili powder when making it.

4. Roasted Poblanos in Cream Sauce

Roasted poblano peppers can be cooked and served as a sauce over tamales. Prepare peppers by roasting them in an oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Next, slice open roasted poblanos, add in shredded cheese of your choice and heavy cream, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until thickened; serve warm. 

5. Spanish Rice and Beans

Eating traditional tamales is essential to have Spanish rice and beans as part of your meal. The best way to prepare these sides is by cooking them separately. 

Here’s a basic recipe for each: Mexican Rice Place water in a saucepan. Add uncooked white rice, cumin,  garlic powder, and a dash of salt. 

Next, stir in butter or margarine over medium heat. After 3-5 minutes, add whole kernel corn, drain it, and cook until tender. 

6. Mango Kale Chopped Salad

If you are wondering what to serve with tamales, mango kale chopped salad is a great option. Mango and kale combined in a sweet-and-savory salad marry perfectly with spicy tamale flavors. 

7. Refried Beans

Refried beans go particularly well with savory tamales because they can counteract some of those spicy flavors.

Tamale and refried beans are a classic pairing, but it works just as well when you serve refried beans alongside any other flavor. 

Just add cheese on top, wrap them up in corn tortillas, and presto! You’ve got an easy meal that’s bursting with flavor. And don’t forget about color—red, green, or yellow will look vibrant against your green and white tablecloth.

8. Pineapple Pico De Gallo

Pineapple, pico de Gallo, and tamales are a match made in heaven if you want what to serve with tamales.

Pico’s traditional ingredients of onion, tomato, and cilantro (which goes great with pineapple) are given an island twist by adding pineapple. 

You can make your own pico de gallo salsa by combining fresh tomatoes, finely diced red onion, and chopped fresh cilantro.

And lime juice (you can add one diced jalapeno pepper for extra spice). Then mix everything together in a medium bowl.

9. Mexican Street Corn

This Mexican street corn salad can be used as a topping for tamales or eaten on its own. The cilantro and lime juice give it an unexpected tang that pairs wonderfully with both savory and sweet tamales.

If you are making various types of tamales, this is a great way to keep your guests from getting bored! Also, it makes for fantastic leftovers if you have any extra.

This dish also has two gluten-free options that would be especially great for serving at a party because they are sure to please everyone! Just omit or swap out one ingredient, and you can still enjoy all of the flavors!

10. Salsa Poached Eggs

Wondering what to serve with tamales? Salsa-poached Egg is a great option. To prepare salsa, poached eggs, saute ́ onions and jalapeno in olive oil.

Once they’re golden brown and tender, add canned tomatoes (diced or crushed), fresh or pickled jalapeños, and spices such as salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika.

Simmer for about 20 minutes on low heat until you have a thick sauce that will coat an egg yolk without it sinking to the bottom. 

To poach your eggs: crack one into a saucepan filled with simmering water; after five minutes, remove the egg and set aside (don’t peel it).

Repeat the procedure until all eggs are poached. Serve salsa-poached eggs over warm corn tortillas or white rice.

11. Jicama Jalapeño slaw

Wash and slice jicama. Cut a medium size jalapeño into thin slices, and add both into a bowl. White vinegar, light mayonnaise, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper mix thoroughly in a separate bowl. 

Once mixed well, add it to your slaw mix for an extra kick of flavor! Pour over the top of sliced jicama! You are tight!  This is what to serve with tamales! 

12. Atole

Atole is a traditional Mexican drink made from corn masa flour, blended with water and seasoned. The result is a creamy concoction that tastes almost like porridge. Atole is traditionally served for breakfast but can be had at any meal time of day. 

Fortunately, if you’re looking for what to serve with tamales for dinner, atole is the perfect match make sure you have some atole on hand as well!

13. Macaroni Salad

Traditional macaroni salad, made with mayonnaise and sweet relish, is a great addition to your holiday table.

When buying macaroni, choose whole-wheat pasta—it’s higher in fiber and nutrient content than regular pasta. Look for brands like Bionaturae or Central Market Organics that use 100 percent semolina flour.

14. Mexican Roasted Zucchini

Traditionally, mashed green or yellow zucchini (called calabacita) is used as a main dish in Mexican cuisine.

However, roasted zucchini makes for a great tamale filling and matches perfectly well with corn masa dough. 

To roast it, simply cut off both ends of a medium-sized zucchini, slice it into 8 pieces and sprinkle them generously with salt.

Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 400°F until soft enough to easily insert a fork into each piece. After cooling for 5 minutes or so, rub off excess salt and squeeze out any excess water with your hands.

15. Avocado Salsa Verde

What to serve with tamales? Salsa verde, typically made from salsa Fresca, tomatillos, and serrano peppers, are frequently served alongside tamales.

With a firm texture and neutral flavor, avocado makes a great addition to salsa verde. Also, it adds more healthy fat and fiber than its tropical fruit cousins.

Try topping your favorite homemade or store-bought salsa verde with diced avocado for an easy snack or appetizer that can be served alongside tamales or any other Mexican dish. 

16. Black Beans

Black beans are a great alternative for serving as a side dish for some people that don’t eat meat. The best part about black beans is that you can prepare them in many ways.

You can serve them as a dip and accompany them with nachos or serve it as a salad accompanied by white rice.

If you like to go simpler, you can also serve just black beans mixed up with some spices, like garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, accompanied by corn tortillas. This will make a perfect snack alongside your favorite beer!

17. Pinto Beans

This is the last on the list of what to serve with tamales. Pinto beans are one of those recipes that’s just so easy, and it’s very affordable.

It’s also easy to find canned pinto beans at your grocery store if you’re not up for cooking dried beans from scratch. 

Soaking and boiling pinto beans is really simple, although I recommend a pressure cooker instead of simmering them on your stovetop.


Tamales are one of the most popular dishes in Mexican cuisine; they can be served alone as the main dish at lunch or dinner. If you’re looking for what to serve with tamales, there are many of them listed above.  What are you waiting for?

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