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What to Serve with Tamales? 7 BEST Side Dishes

Ever stood in the kitchen, tamales steaming and ready to go, and thought, “What now?” We’ve all been there. Deciding on side dishes is like trying to pick a Netflix show—overwhelming with too many options.

I remember the first time I made tamales. My kitchen looked like a flour bomb exploded. After all that effort, I blanked on what to serve with them.

Good news: we’ve got your back. This isn’t about fancy culinary feats. It’s about making your tamale dinner unforgettable.

And hey, we understand the struggle is real. Finding the perfect companions for your tamales doesn’t have to feel like a quest.

This article is your cheat sheet. Prepare to make your tamale nights legendary.

What to Serve with Tamales? 7 BEST Side Dishes

what to serve with tamales best side dishes

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that’s enjoyed all over America.

They’re made from dried maize dough, which gets wrapped into an unleavened flatbread before being cooked in hot sand until golden brown and fluffy on top with delicious meats such as chicken or steak inside.

They are a favorite among many people, especially during holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

However, it’s common to find this dish accompanied by side dishes such as rice, beans, green sauce, sour cream, etc, which are meant to make the flavor of the tamale more balanced.

Some people even consider that these side dishes are the real treat gained from eating a delicious tamale.

Here’s a detailed answer with a table comparing the key characteristics of the 7 best side dishes to serve with Tamales:

Side DishKey Characteristics
Refried BeansCreamy and flavorful, pairs well with the savory tamales
Cheesy Guacamole DipRich and indulgent, adds a cheesy and creamy element to the meal
Vegetarian ChorizoSpicy and flavorful, provides a vegetarian option that complements the tamales
Spicy Grilled Corn on the CobSmoky and spicy, offers a delicious and charred addition to the meal
Mexican Street CornTangy and savory, brings a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine to the table
Guacamole SaladFresh and tangy, provides a refreshing counterpart to the rich tamales
Jicama SlawCrisp and crunchy, adds a refreshing and light element to balance the tamales

Now let’s dive into each side dish in more detail:

1 – Refried Beans

refried beans

Refried beans are a popular side dish for many different types of cuisines.

In this case, they go especially well with Mexican food.

They have a smooth texture and a creamy flavor that pairs perfectly with the spicy flavors in the main course.

These beans also make a great base for other flavors – you can add chilies or spices for an extra kick.

They’re also great with vegetables, so if you want to make them healthy, feel free to add veggies like onions or garlic.

You can make a mild batch of refried beans with tomatillos instead if you don’t like spicy food.

Give this dish a try, and feel free to experiment with the flavorings.

2 – Cheesy Guacamole Dip

cheesy guacamole dip

Cheese is always delicious.

Why not introduce it into that classic avocado dip? This cheesy guacamole is the perfect accompaniment to any Mexican-style dish.

This guacamole dip is best served with tortilla chips, but it can also be used as a condiment for your tamales.

It’s especially great with seafood dishes like fish tacos or shrimp quesadillas.

Try adding this cheesy guacamole to quesadillas or burritos for some delicious (and easy) snack ideas.

You can also add it to a sandwich for a spicy vegetarian option.

3 – Vegetarian Chorizo

vegetarian chorizo

This simple vegetarian dish is tasty and filling without being too heavy.

It’s made with texturized soy protein, beans, and spices to give it a real meaty flavor.

This flavorful chorizo goes great on sandwiches or served over rice or beans.

This dish is versatile – you can use it however you like.

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, feel free to use milder spices or tone down the heat with less hot sauce.

This meal is quick and easy to make, so it’s perfect for busy weeknights.

Chorizo isn’t just for meat-eaters – try this tasty vegetarian version the next time you’re hosting friends who are vegetarian or vegan.

4 – Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob

spicy grilled corn on the cob

There’s nothing like sweet corn to remind us of summertime.

This delicious grilled corn is buttered, then covered in lime juice and spices to give it a nice spicy flavor.

It’s then garnished with cheese, cilantro, and red pepper.

The tangy lime juice and the spicy heat perfectly complement grilled or charred corn on the cob.

This dish is perfect for summertime cookouts or potlucks.

Try grilling corn on the cob with different spices or flavorings for some more great ideas.

You can also use other cheeses instead of cotija, a Mexican cheese that’s hard and salty.

If you’re watching your sodium intake, feel free to use low-sodium soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce.

5 – Mexican Street Corn

mexican street corn

Corn is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways.

This delicious Mexican corn recipe combines sweet corn, mayonnaise, lime juice, cotija cheese, and chili powder.

The result is a spicy-sweet side dish that pairs especially well with seafood.

This dish is really easy to make – all you need to do is mix the ingredients, and you’re all set.

You can choose to make it spicier or milder depending on your preferences.

If you want something even more flavorful, try substituting half of the mayonnaise with sour cream.

6 – Guacamole Salad

guacamole salad

You can never go wrong with a classic guacamole recipe.

This dish is chilled and has a nice crunch from the cucumber and carrots.

It’s served over lettuce to make it more filling and then topped with avocado, cilantro, and lime juice for an extra kick of flavor.

This guacamole salad is perfect for summer barbecues or potluck parties.

It’s light and refreshing, making it a nice option compared to heavy vegetable dishes.

It can also be made even healthier by using low-fat sour cream instead of regular sour cream.

Most guacamole dips incorporate tomatoes – if you miss that extra taste of tomato, feel free to add some chopped cherry tomatoes as well.

This dish is also great with tortilla chips or as a side for sandwiches.

7 – Jicama Slaw

jicama slaw

Jicama is a crunchy root vegetable that’s great for salads.

This slaw dish combines jicama with red cabbage, carrots, and parsley.

The dressing consists of mayonnaise, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

This refreshing side dish pairs especially well with spicy meals.

It goes well with fish or chicken tinga, especially if you’re looking for something light for a hot day.

This recipe is really simple to make, so it’s great for no-fuss summer barbecues.

Try adding different types of spices to give the slaw a different flavor.

For example, try using cilantro and a squeeze of lime to give it a Mexican twist.


Tamales are delicious and easy to make.

This dish is perfect for parties, family get-togethers, or potlucks.

You can eat it as a main dish or side item; it will go well with any menu you already have planned.

Try out these seven dishes the next time you want a tasty tamale recipe – your guests will be impressed.

Each dish is unique, adding its taste and experience to the party.

So, whether you’re having a party or just making tamales, these recipes will be the perfect side dishes to take your meal to the next level.

What to Serve with Tamales? 7 BEST Side Dishes

Spice up your tamale feast with our curated list of the 7 best side dishes! Whether you prefer zesty salsa, creamy guacamole, or savory Mexican rice, these accompaniments are sure to enhance the flavors of your tamales. Elevate your dining experience with these perfect pairings for a mouthwatering and satisfying meal.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Refried Beans
  • Cheesy Guacamole Dip
  • Vegetarian Chorizo
  • Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob
  • Mexican Street Corn
  • Guacamole Salad
  • Jicama Slaw


  • 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!
Keyword what to serve with tamales
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