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Perfect Complements: 8 Best Side Dishes for Tamales

Tamales are a Mexican dish that is traditionally served in the evening. The word “tamale” comes from the Nahuatl words “tamali,” which means “wrapped thing.”

Tamales, traditionally made with corn dough and wrapped in a plantain or banana leaf, can be filled with anything from meat to cheese.

what to serve with tamales

Tamales is an excellent addition to any holiday table, but sometimes they can be a little bland.

What if you could add some tasty sides that will not only make your tamale more flavorful and interesting but will also change the way you think about them?

What to Serve With Tamales? 8 BEST Side Dishes to Consider

The side dishes are an important part of any tamale dinner as they act as both a compliment to the main dish and also help fill you up so you don’t feel like you’re eating too much just before bedtime.

Here are some tasty recipes to spruce up your tamales.

1. Rice and Black Beans

Serving rice and black beans with tamales is a great way to add variety.

This black beans rice recipe can be served as a side dish, but it’s also hearty enough for breakfast or lunch!

It’s packed full of flavor, thanks in part to a squeeze of lime juice, garlic, and spices!

This recipe has been handed down through my family for years now- it really should be your go-to dish when you’re serving up some Mexican fare as well!

2. Guacamole

Tamales are such an interesting dish, so why not try out some Guacamole as the perfect side?

I know, guacamole sounds like a strange side dish for tamales but it’s actually the perfect fit.

It counters the spicy flavor and adds richness to your meal without adding any extra calories or ruining that perfectly light feeling you get from eating this Mexican delicacy!

3. Pico de gallo

If you’re looking to serve something a little different at your next get-together, consider serving Pico de Gallo with tamales.

The fruit adds an extra layer of flavor that complements the dish beautifully and makes for a nice change from rice or beans!

If you want to shake things up this holiday season try mixing up what’s on the side: do away with white rice and bland refried beans in favor of some delicious salsa.

This will add not only taste but also texture as well—and who doesn’t love variety?

4. Salsa Verde

Salsa verde is the perfect side dish for tamales, and it’s not just because of its amazing flavor.

You may have noticed that salsa verde has a milder spice level than your typical tomato-based salsas.

This makes it an ideal partner to tamale dishes with more spicy sauces on them like chipotle or habanero varieties!

It will also add just enough spice without overwhelming any other flavors in your meal.

Honestly, we can’t recommend this combo highly enough – if you’re looking for an easy way to impress guests at Thanksgiving dinner or wanting something new for Taco Tuesday then give our recipe a try today!

5. Avocado Salad

When you serve avocado salad as a side dish, the flavors of both dishes combine to create an exciting and delicious meal.

This is because tamales are made with corn masa which goes well with avocados.

Serving this mouth-watering Avocado Salad the next time you make your favorite Tamale recipe will take it over the top!

The combination gives each meal more dimension in flavor that people crave on cold winter days when they’re not feeling so great but still want something warm and spicy for dinner or lunchtime fare during summer heatwaves when everything feels just too heavy after one course.

6. Tomatillo Salsa with Cilantro and Lime Juice

You will be surprised at how well the tart tomatillo salsa complements a tamale, especially one made with savory ingredients.

Cilantro and lime juice are both found in traditional Mexican cuisine (and most likely your pantry) so this side dish is an excellent way to complete your meal without any extra work!

7. Frijoles Negros

Serving Frijoles Negros with tamales is a great way to show your guests how versatile this dish can be.

The flavors of these two dishes complement each other well; the salty, spicy and bacon-y notes in frijole negros work together with the moist richness from corn masa on top of sweet pork filling inside tamales.

The black beans are able to soak up all those tasty juices so that they’re richly flavorful when you finally get around to eating them!

8 . Fried Plantains (Plátanos Fritos)

In fact, this combination might be the best one! The fried plantain and corn dough make each other taste better because their flavors contrast with each other – sweet-salty and savory.

The flavor combination will have your mouth watering in anticipation of what’s coming next even before you take that first bite into either tamale or plantain!


It can be hard to get the balance right when hosting dinner parties. If you’re not sure what kind of side dish would work best with tamales, we recommend considering the above side dishes.

It’s important for hosts to have a good variety in their dishes because guests often love different types of food than one another.

what to serve with tamales

What to Serve With Tamales? 8 BEST Side Dishes to Consider

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Rice and Black Beans
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo
  • Salsa Verde
  • Avocado Salad
  • Tomatillo Salsa with Cilantro and Lime Juice
  • Frijoles Negros
  • Fried Plantains Plátanos Fritos


  • Choose your favorite recipe from the list of options.
  • Organize all required ingredients and prepare a delicious meal in 30 minutes or less!
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