Skip to content

How to Plan a Tamalada Menu

Celebrate your heritage with a festive holiday tamalada. While making tamales can be labor-intensive, doing so with your loved ones can make the process fun. Plus, during the party, you can catch up with your favorite people and create new family memories – all while eating delicious food. 

Do you need help planning a tamalada? If so, this how-to guide has you covered with the best tips. 

What Do I Need for a Tamalada?

You need two things for a successful tamalada – tamales and family. To start, determine your menu before shopping. Most people prepare the beef filling a day or two before the tamalada so you’ll want to plan ahead. 

Choose Your Tamales

Create a tamalada menu by first determining what kind of tamales to make. You can use a family favorite tamale recipe or opt for a new one. We recommend making more than one type of tamale so your guests have options and can pick their favorite(s). 

The filling is what typically differentiates tamales. You can make savory tamales with a beef filling, or for your guests with a sweet tooth, you can make dessert tamales. These can be filled with things like fruits, dulce de leche, or chocolate. 

Prepare for Guests

Before your guests arrive, make enough masa for your tamales and then soak the corn husks for at least two hours to make them pliable. Also, prepare the cooking space and set out all the tamale ingredients and cooking utensils. 

Once you’ve made the necessary preparations, arriving guests can wash their hands before the fun begins. Since it’s a party, don’t forget to play fun music to get everyone into a festive mood. 

Keep Your Guests Fed

Determine what kind of food to serve your guests while assembling tamales, such as appetizers for an evening tamalada or posole with topping bar for a day-long tamalada. 

Tamales should not be the only thing on the menu when planning what to serve at a tamalada. While having fun making tamales, your guests will want to eat! Be sure to prepare sides or appetizers that everyone can snack on as they work. 

Provide Beverages

Your guests will need refreshments while making tamales. You can set up a coffee bar to keep everyone energized during your day-long tamalada. When it’s time to eat, offer something cold to accompany all the tasty food. Place sodas and bottled water in a tub filled with ice so guests can serve themselves. 

Don’t forget the crowd favorites – an agua fresca or margarita bar. Instead of margaritas, you can also consider preparing a pot of atole, which is oftentimes made to accompany the tamales. For easy serving, include pitchers of prepared drinks and a colorful assortment of fresh fruit and garnishes. Salt-rimmed margarita glasses and lots of ice are always appreciated as well.  

Don't Forget the Salsa

When your tamales are finally ready to eat, don’t serve them alone. Serve your tamales with bowls of red and green salsa, crumbled cotija cheese, fresh lime, and pickled red onion. You can also offer delicious side dishes like air-fried plantains, papas con rajas, Mexican rice, and black beans. 

Save Room for Dessert

Your tamalada wouldn’t be complete without dessert. Making desserts for all your guests may be too much work if it’s a large crowd. Reduce your workload by ordering festive cookies, dessert bars, or Mexican pan dulce from your favorite bakery. For a smaller gathering, tres leches cake or flan are also great choices. 

Alternatively, you can ask your guests bring desserts for a dessert potluck. Arrange all the available treats on a separate dessert table with small plates so that guests can serve themselves. 

Take-Home Tamales

Package take-home tamales in labeled, resealable plastic bags or plastic containers and place one in a gift bag for each guest. You can also package leftover desserts and side dishes for your guests to enjoy once home from your tamalada. 

Are You Ready for Your Tamalada?

Now that you’ve reviewed our tips on ways to host a fabulous tamalada, get your ingredients and send out your invitations! Don’t forget that tamaladas are always best when you make more than one type of tamale. Create different variations so that your guests can experience different flavors. If you need inspiration for a tamale recipe, check out Rumba Meat’s traditional Barbacoa Tamales recipe.