Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that contains a dough that is filled with various meats, beans and cheese before being cooked inside a corn husk or banana leaves.
They are an iconic part of Mexican cuisine and one of the first dishes adventurous chefs try to master.
Fun and easy to make, it’s no wonder that you want to try serving up these tasty treats yourself but there is always one big question that haunts serving new dishes – what sides should go with them?
If you are stuck on what side dishes you need to prepare and serve up alongside your home-made tamales, then we have ten of the best Mexican sides that complement tamales amazingly well.
Each is unique so there is plenty of choice to choose from.
Take a look at our list below and find the right side dishes for you!
When it comes to side dishes in any culture, salad is a reliable go-to during every dinner. Every type of cuisine has its own version of a salad, and Mexican cuisine is no different.
Here is an easy and simple recipe for a traditional Mexican salad that will go right along with your tamales.
It includes a delicious dressing made using zesty lime juice and sweet honey, drizzled over a healthy helping of exotic fruit and vegetables.
These include sweet bell peppers, strong red onion, juicy tomatoes, corn, zucchini, romaine lettuce and even jicama.
Mixing all these ingredients together help you serve up a true taste of Mexican food, perfectly matched with your tamales.
Tortilla chips are one of Mexico’s most well known sides and are eaten worldwide as a fun snack or as a tasty appetizer before an authentic Mexican meal.
So why not try making your own and placing them on your dinner table as a little side dish alongside your tamales?
This recipe will help you make the extra thin and extra crispy tortilla chips you desire.
They make for a delicious, crunchy side dish that is best enjoyed when served up along with a dip like salsa or guacamole.
They are so quick and easy to make that it is worth trying out this recipe as the tortilla chips you will make are way better than any store bought versions.
Cornbread is the ultimate comfort food that comes straight from Mexico, but when served up alongside some tamales, why not give them an extra kick with some jalapenos?
Sweet and spicy, this recipe helps you to make a deliciously light and fluffy and perfectly at home on the dinner table. Not only does this cornbread have a sharp kick to it, it is also indulgently cheesy and packs a strong punch of flavor.
So if you want to include a traditional Mexican side dish that is both tasty and spicy, then this recipe for jalapeno cornbread is definitely one to follow.
Also known as elotes, corn on the cob has never tasted better than when it is cooked in the traditional Mexican street style.
This recipe cranks up the flavor by grilling corn on the cob and serving with a delicious sauce made from smooth sour cream, garlic and zesty lemon juice.
It also features notes of cheese from the cotija and is finished with a sprinkle of chili powder for just that little hint of spice.
So, not only is this a favorite on the streets of Mexico, it also makes for a delicious side dish alongside your tamales as it is packed with flavor and juice.
Corn on the cob will never taste the same again after you try out this delicious style of grilling corn.
Nearly every dish in Mexican cuisine contains some kind of bean – and black beans make for an excellent accompaniment to every Mexican meal.
They may not look like much, but black beans feature a very creamy texture that hides a sweet center.
But cooking these beans is not as easy as just boiling and serving – but don’t worry, all you need to do is follow this recipe to make a delicious side dish of black beans that is packed with spice and flavor.
With additional ingredients like garlic and onion, you can make a delicious medley of flavors that bring out the creamy sweetness of the black beans!
Guacamole is another well known part of Mexican cuisine, but it is more than just a dip for your tortilla chips.
With this recipe, you can transform some of Mexico’s most iconic ingredients into a delicious and fresh salad that will complement your tamales perfectly.
This recipe combines the flavors of avocado and garlic with the juicy tomatoes and red onion.
There is a dash of jalapeno pepper for a little touch of spice and plenty of romaine lettuce for an excellent crunchy texture.
Overall, this is a unique version of a classic Mexican salad that is light and exotic – making it an ideal side to feature on your dinner table.
A staple food eaten all across the world, it should come as no surprise that even Mexico has its own original spin of a rice dish.
To bring a taste of Mexico to your rice side dish, just follow this recipe to add in traditional Mexican ingredients like corn, chili and tomato.
The chili brings a little bit of spice to increase the flavor of this delicious side dish, coupled well with the sweetness of the corn and the fresh juiciness of the tomato.
In all, this style of rice is a combination of the best tastes of Mexico, which is why this side dish is best served alongside your home-made tamales.
Another classic type of bean closely associated with Mexico is pinto beans.
Creamy and soft, pinto beans bring a nutty flavor to every dish they are served alongside with.
This recipe further enhances their flavor by combining them with a lot of delicious flavors and spices including classic garlic, cinnamon for a little touch of sweetness, cumin, chili and oregano.
Mixed all together with some tomato paste makes this a creamy bean side dish that just screams Mexico.
For a hearty side dish that brings an authentic taste of Mexico to your dinner table, try out this recipe for some home-made corn chowder.
Thick and creamy, this recipe will leave you with a chowder that is flavored with all the best of Mexico’s ingredients including corn, yellow onions and smoked paprika.
Spicy and filling at the same time, a healthy serving of corn chowder will go great with your tamales as it acts as a great appetizer and side dish.
Coleslaw is an iconic side dish, but how do they do it down in Mexico?
This recipe makes a great, crunchy jicama slaw that pairs well with other traditional Mexican dishes like tamales.
It includes all the necessary ingredients like bell peppers, red cabbage, red onion and, of course, jicama.
Garnished with minced cilantro leaves and a dressing made from zesty lime juice and spicy chili powder, this slaw is a stand-out side dish to add to your table.
And those are 10 of the best Mexican side dishes to serve alongside your very own home-made tamales!
There are plenty to choose from, each with their own unique recipe and flavors, so you can find the right side dish to suit everyone’s tastes.
So pick out two or three, cook them up and serve them on your dinner table to give your guests a real taste of Mexican cuisine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Exactly Inside A Tamale?
The filling of a tamale can be made up of various ingredients including meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies – pretty much anything.
Traditional tamale recipes include chicken, beef or pork with pinto or black beans, cheeses, bell or jalapeno peppers, potatoes, cauliflower, squash, onions, carrots, mushrooms, salsas, anything!
Really, it is up to you what you want to include in your tamales.
It all comes down to your personal tastes and preferences – so get creative and try out different combinations when making your tamales fillings!
Where Do Tamales Come From?
Tamales are a mesoamerican dish, meaning that they are eaten in countries all around north and central America.
Tamales were first cooked during ancient times by the Olmec and Toltec cultures, then by the Azects and Mayans, although today we associate them more with modern day Mexico.
This means that we cannot pinpoint the exact point where tamales originate from as they were first eaten by cultures that spread from areas as high as Mexico and as low down as Colombia.
Are Tamales Okay For Vegans To Eat?
The masa (dough) of the tamales can be changed to suit vegetarian and vegan diets, and the fillings can be personalized to suit any person’s dietary needs.
This means that both vegetarians and vegans can enjoy tamales by swapping out the lard for a vegan substitute in the masa, and add only vegetables and fruit and vegan substitutes for the fillings!