Tamales are a Mexican classic. It’s corn flour mixed with water that creates a delightful dough that wraps around delicious fillings inside. These can be pork, beef, chicken or vegetables. So, when you want to make these at home, it’s important to know how many you can put into a steamer.

So, how many tamales fit in a 20-quart steamer? On average, about 62 tamales. However, this will depend on how big you’re making the tamales. If you’re going for thinner ones, you might be able to fit as many as 100. But if you want your tamales to have more width, then about 40 tamales or less may fit.

What Is the Average Size ; Shape of a Tamale?

All the way around, a single tamale can be either five inches in diameter or five inches by five inches square. When many of them go into a steamer, it does give it a square or flattened. So, you can opt to make them square right off the bat, accept flatness or you can make them round.

Desired Shapes

If you want to keep the shape round, don’t crowd them. When they pack into the steamer, it will create a squared or flat look to them. This will depend on how they rest in the steamer.

The size and shape of the steamer will be a determining factor. You may have to position them vertical or horizontal. It will all come down to what’s easiest and how you can get all the tamales to fit. You may have to make them in several batches.

How Many Tamales Will Fit in Other Sized Steamers?

Use the following as a guide for the amount of tamales you can put into all the varying sizes of steamers available. These are only a guideline and not an exact number. But it will give you something to start your estimations.

  • 3 quarts: 12 tamales to 14 tamales
  • 6 quarts: 16 tamales to 20 tamales
  • 10 quarts: 30 tamales to 35 tamales
  • 12 quarts: 34 tamales to 40 tamales
  • 15 quarts: up to 60 tamales
  • 16 quarts: 60 to 62 tamales
  • 20 quarts: 62 tamales to 66 tamales
  • 24 quarts: 77 tamales to 80 tamales
  • 28 quarts: 100 tamales to 120 tamales
  • 32 quarts: 120 tamales to 130 tamales
  • 48 quarts: around 200 tamales or more

Are All Tamale Steamers the Same?

Please note that the amounts per quart sizes listed above are for a specific tamale steamer, called a “tamalera.” This is prepares many Mexican foods requiring wrapped masa flour with other ingredients to undergo steaming.

Other Steamers

However, you can use other steamers, not just a tamalera. You could even use a 20-quart boiling pot with a metal colander that fits inside. Place the pot’s lid on the colander and cook your tamales on the stove that way.

Organizing the Tamales

You will have to organize them in such a way as so they’ll all fit. Sometimes this will be vertical and at other times it will be horizontal. The thicker the dough and fillings inside the tamales, the longer they will take to cook the more of them there are in the steamer.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, if you have a 20 quart steamer, you can cook about 62 tamales to perfection. Of course, the average size of a single tamale is about five inches. So, if your tamales are smaller than that, you’ll be able to fit more. If they are less, then you can expect about 40 tamales to fit.

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