If you’re wondering what to serve with tamales, look no further – I’ve got 25 delicious side dishes that pair perfectly!
This traditional Latin American food is a staple of many cultures and can be enjoyed in various ways.
Whether you like yours spicy, sweet, or savory, the best thing to do is to accompany them with complementary flavors.
From rice and beans to zesty Mexican street corn and crunchy herb salads, this list offers plenty of options for a complete meal.
Choose your favorites from these easy-to-follow recipes that are sure to make any tamale dinner extra special.
These sides will add more dimension and color – plus, they don’t take much time out of your busy day!
Let’s dig into these yummy dishes for some truly unforgettable tamale meals.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes With Tamales?
- Variety: Serving side dishes with tamales provides a variety of flavors and textures to the meal, making it more interesting and enjoyable for everyone.
- Balance: Side dishes can help balance out the richness of tamales by providing lighter options such as salads or vegetables. This helps keep the meal from becoming too heavy or overwhelming.
- Nutrition: Adding side dishes to your tamale spread allows you to include more nutritious ingredients in your meal, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc., which are all important components of a healthy diet.
- Accompaniments: Side dishes provide accompaniments that enhance the flavor of tamales without overpowering them; for example, salsa or guacamole can add a spicy kick while sour cream adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor that pairs well with many types of fillings used in tamales.
- Presentation: Serving side dishes alongside your tamales makes for an attractive presentation that will impress guests at any gathering!
What To Serve With Tamales? 25 Best Side Dishes
Tamales are a delicious Mexican dish that can be served as an appetizer, main meal, or snack.
But what should you serve with it?
To make your tamale even more enjoyable and flavorful, here are 25 side dishes that will perfectly complement this traditional dish:
1. Mexican Potato Hash with Fried Eggs
Nothing beats Mexican Potato Hash with Fried Eggs!
With just a few ingredients and minimal effort, you can enjoy this fantastic accompaniment to your tamales.
Saute diced potatoes in olive oil, add bell peppers, jalapeno/serrano chiles – whatever spice level suits you – then top it off with warm melted cheese and fried eggs.
The layering of flavors and textures are sure to please everyone around the table when served alongside your favorite homemade or store-bought tamales.
2. Cilantro Lime Rice
Cilantro lime rice is the perfect accompaniment to tamales.
It adds a delicious, flavorful depth to the dish and helps tie all the components together.
To make it, simply cook long-grain white or brown rice on your stovetop or in a rice cooker until fluffy and tender.
Once done, add in freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, butter, or ghee for richness and texture – then season with salt to taste.
This light side will be sure to please when served alongside your favorite tamales!
3. Black Bean Soup
Warm up to a bowl of this smoky, spicy black bean soup.
It’s the perfect side dish for grilling night and adds a wonderful boldness to outdoor cookouts.
Cilantro, green onions, jalapeno peppers, and cumin give it its signature flavor profile, while adding chunks of avocado into the finish creates an extra creamy texture that keeps guests coming back for more.
4. Fresh Fruit Salad
A bowl of freshly cut fruit is a great way to round out any meal, especially this Mexican favorite.
Mix up a bowl of tart and juicy watermelon, mild cantaloupe, honey-sweet pineapple chunks, firm bananas, and ruby red strawberries for an easy appetizer or tantalizing side dish.
Drizzle with agave nectar or lime juice for even more excitement!
5. Jicama Slaw
Jicama slaw is a wonderful side dish for any time of year.
The delicate shredded jicama offers an element of crunch, while the fresh vegetables and herbs provide layers of flavor.
The combination is irresistible!
Add sliced cucumbers and diced bell peppers, plus lime juice and a sprinkle of cilantro to create a light yet flavorful accompaniment to roasted fish or grilled beef.
6. Mexican Cornbread
Mexican cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to tamales.
It’s rich, buttery, and sweet; plus, it pairs perfectly with pinto beans guacamole, and salsa.
Make Mexican cornbread “sopaipillas” by baking them in muffin tins or shape-shift your batter into a skillet-baked pan of traditional hot-out-of-the-oven square slices.
You can even add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top before popping them into the oven for an extra cheesy kick!
7. Creamy Corn Chowder
Round out Mexican dishes with a comforting bowl of creamy corn chowder.
Accented with soft potatoes, crunchy red bell peppers, and nutty kernels of fresh sweet corn, this hearty soup packs plenty of flavor.
A splash of white wine gives it an added depth that pairs perfectly with chicken enchiladas or tacos stuffed with spicy ground beef.
8. Mexican Crema
Tamales are one of the most versatile dishes in Mexican cuisine.
A dollop of creamy, tangy Mexican Crema is an ideal accompaniment to this delicious dish.
Drizzle it over tamales for a creamy contrast that won’t overpower their flavor, or as a cooling ingredient in chilaquiles, tacos, and other spicy main dishes like mole chicken enchiladas.
You can also use Mexican Crema on its own with nachos and other simple snacks.
9. Chilled Avocado Soup
Chilled avocado soup makes a great light and refreshing accompaniment to Mexican nights.
This rich, creamy soup can be made in no time by blending cooked white beans, diced tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, fresh cilantro leaves, and flavorful spices.
A good splash of lime juice ties all these ingredients together with a punchy citrus note.
Serve the chilled avocado soup alongside your favorite tacos or burritos for a perfect balance of flavors that’ll make your taco night extra special!
10. Mexican Street Corn on the Cob (Elote)
Mexican street corn is a must when it comes to tamales.
This classic Mexican dish, also known as elote, pairs perfectly with the deliciously spicy masa dough and steamed filling of tamales.
It features roasted sweetcorn smothered in mayo and sour cream, finished off with a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika and queso fresco for an irresistible flavor combination.
11. Mexican Wedding Cookies
You can’t have a Mexican feast without some sweet, buttery Mexican Wedding cookies.
They are made with pecans and tossed in powdered sugar, making them the perfect dessert to accompany spicy burritos or mole.
Mexican wedding cookies are also known as polvorones, which means “powdery” because of their texture and taste.
Serve these petite treats after your next taco night along with warmed caramel sauce or strawberry jam!
12. Tostones (Fried Green Plantains) with Cilantro Garlic Sauce
Tostones (fried green plantains) are a simple, delicious side dish that goes perfectly with tamales.
These twice-cooked, crunchy little discs of fried golden goodness just beg to be dunked into Cilantro Garlic Sauce – made with a pungent blend of garlic cloves, tangy white vinegar, and fresh cilantro.
Garnish with some diced tomatoes or pickled jalapenos for an extra burst of flavor, and serve these tostones alongside your favorite Mexican meal!
13. Plantain Empanadas with Green Chile and Black Bean Filling
Make these easy empanadas and get everyone in your family to think out of the taco box.
Rather than making a traditional thick dough, plantains are mashed up into an irresistibly sweet base for this stellar supper side dish.
Then stuff it with ground beef seasoned with adobo sauce, black beans, crisp greens, and fire-roasted chiles.
Crisp them up until golden brown in a skillet or bake ’em off as you please; either way, they make for one flavorful side that’ll be sure to please!
14. Refried Beans
Refried beans go so well with tamales, they should be considered a necessary accompaniment.
Beans are slightly sweet and heartier than the typical refried bean dish, making it the ideal sidekick to your tamale main event.
Top them off with melted cheese or sour cream – or both! – for an irresistible scoop of creamy, flavorful goodness..
Dig into a bowl of zesty guacamole, made with creamy avocados, fresh cilantro, crisp onions, and juicy limes.
This classic recipe is perfect with warm tortilla chips, sprinkled over tacos and burritos — or dolloped onto enchiladas and chilaquiles.
Add a pinch of red chili flakes for heat if you wish – but beware when sharing your masterpiece!
16. Salsa Verde
A delicious accompaniment to tamales is Mexican salsa verde.
It’s a spicy, tangy sauce made with fire-roasted green chilies, tomatillos, garlic, and onion.
The acidic freshness of this salsa will help balance out the savory tamale flavors, while providing an invigorating kick to your meal.
Thicken it up a bit before serving as a dip for chips or use it as a marinade for cooking meats such as chicken and pork!
17. Mexican Chopped Salad
This Mexican chopped salad recipe is an easy, healthy side dish to serve alongside your favorite burrito or taco night meal.
It’s packed with colorful tomatoes, zesty red onion and bell pepper, creamy avocados, plus sweet corn and juicy black beans.
Top it off with a bright lime vinaigrette for a memorable texture and flavor sensation that will make this salad part of your regular rotation!
18. Queso Fresco
Queso fresco is a perfect addition to your tamale meal.
It adds that traditional salty flavor to each bite, with a creamy texture and mild flavor.
Serve this Mexican cheese as an appetizer with tamales, or sprinkle it on top for added flavor.
You can also use it as a condiment, adding slices to tacos, salads or enchiladas for extra creaminess and tangy taste.
19. Cucumber Tomato Salad
Bring freshness to Mexican night with a cucumber tomato salad.
This easy-to-assemble side dish adds crunch and savoriness to any south-of-the-border feast.
In this light and simple variation, crisp mini Persian cucumbers pair up with heirloom tomatoes, garlic, and yellow pepper for a sweet but zesty bit of crunchiness.
Finish it off with olive oil or avocado oil and bright slices of lime for an acidic kick that will take your Mexican favorites to the next level.
20. Mexican Rice
Serve homemade Mexican rice with tamales for a hearty, flavorful meal.
This classic side dish is easy to make and starts with uncooked long-grain white or brown rice that’s cooked in tomato sauce, vegetable broth, or even beer.
It can be flavored up with ingredients such as garlic and jalapeno peppers for some added kick.
21. Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Skillet
Make a heat-filled Mexican feast complete with this delectable green chile chicken enchilada skillet.
This one might just become your go-to favorite, combining juicy chunks of white meat chicken and fresh bell peppers in an aromatic medley of south-of-the-border flavors.
Featuring cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and chili powder, you can enjoy this family classic side dish as part of a larger spread or simply by itself.
22. Street-Style Red Chile Enchiladas
Take your tamales to the next level with red chile enchiladas.
Simmered in a bold tomato-red chili sauce, these enchiladas look like they came straight from an authentic Mexican hometown kitchen.
These babies are stuffed with creamy cheese and simmered until melted and bubbly – the perfect accompaniment to steaming hot tamales and sour cream.
Serve them up as an appetizer before tamale dinner, or offer them alongside guacamole and refried beans for a full-on feast of south-of-the-border flavors.
23. Mexican Street Corn Salad
Crowd-pleasing Mexican street corn salad is an easy way to put a spin on taco night.
The recipe combines fresh grilled or boiled corn with mayo, sour cream, cheese, and cilantro for an irresistible flavor.
Serve this summery side dish alongside flavorful carne asada tacos for a real feast.
24. Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)
Give your Mexican dish a cool, creamy finish with this traditional dessert sweetened with raisins and cinnamon.
This Arroz con Leche provides a balance of sweetness to compensate for the spicy fillings stuffed inside tamales.
It’s an easy-to-make yet creamier treat that will make any backyard party fun!
Top it off with a swirl of cream or other toppings like toasted coconut flakes and pistachios for added texture.
Churros are the perfect way to make Mexican nights extra special.
Serve them warm and covered in cinnamon sugar for a fruity finale that’s made even better by a scoop of caramel ice cream.
These handheld fried dough sticks can also be rolled in chocolate sauce or dusted with confectioner’s sugar, so even picky palates will agree it’s a match made in heaven!
In conclusion, tamales are a delicious and popular dish that can be served with a variety of side dishes to create a complete meal.
The best side dishes to serve with tamales are Mexican potato hash with fried eggs, cilantro lime rice, black bean soup, fresh fruit salad, jicama slaw, Mexican cornbread, creamy corn chowder, Mexican crema, chilled avocado soup, Mexican street corn on the cob (elote), and Mexican wedding cookies.
These sides are flavorful, easy to prepare, and will add a delicious twist to your tamales.
With these 25 side dishes, you’ll never run out of ideas for what to serve with tamales.
What To Serve With Tamales (25 Best Sides)
- Mexican Potato Hash with Fried Eggs
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Black Bean Soup
- Fresh Fruit Salad
- Jicama Slaw
- Mexican Cornbread
- Creamy Corn Chowder
- Mexican Crema
- Chilled Avocado Soup
- Mexican Street Corn on the Cob (Elote)
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Tostones (Fried Green Plantains) with Cilantro Garlic Sauce
- Plantain Empanadas with Green Chile and Black Bean Filling
- Refried Beans
- Salsa Verde
- Mexican Chopped Salad
- Queso Fresco
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Mexican Rice
- Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Skillet
- Street-Style Red Chile Enchiladas
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)
- Pick your favorite recipe from the article.
- Organize your ingredients and utensils.
- Follow the detailed instructions in the recipe to make your side dish.
- Prepare and serve for delicious meal!
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.