* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

What To Serve With Tamales – 39 Delicious Side Dishes

If you’re wondering what to serve with your tamales, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I list 39 of the most popular side dishes for tamales.

In a rush? Here’s the short answer.

The best dishes to serve with tamales are Spanish rice and beans, pineapple pico de gallo, jicama pineapple slaw, and pickled vegetables. You can also serve refried beans, roasted poblano peppers, Mexican street corn salad, and salsa poached eggs. For a dipping sauce, I recommend avocado salsa verde.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

Spanish rice and beans

This rice dish is a great upgrade from your boring old plain rice. 

It’s brimming with savory Spanish flavors thanks to a mix of smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. 

Then some chopped cilantro is tossed in for a fresh bite.

Pro-tip: for an extra light and fluffy texture, toast your rice. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s a tasty one-pot dish.

Featured recipe
Spanish rice and beans
Make it simple
Cilantro lime rice
Try another classic
Arroz Camarillo

Mexican pickled vegetables

Also called escabeche, this dish is akin to quick pickles – you soak your veggies in a boiling hot pickling liquid for at least an hour before refrigerating. 

This results in crunchy veggies with a lip-puckering tangy bite, just what you need to cut through the richness of your tamales. 

Remember to de-seed your jalapeños, or all your veggies will be jalapeño-flavored.

Why we love this recipe: the pickles will last for up to three weeks once you’ve made them.

Featured recipe
Mexican pickled vegetables
Make it spicy
Candied jalapeños
Make it different
Fermented escabeche

Roasted poblanos in cream sauce

Also known as rajas con crema, this dish features strips of roasted poblano peppers smothered in a rich, cheesy sauce. 

You can roast the peppers in your oven, but if you have a gas stove this allows you to get a lovely char.

Psst… you can sub poblano peppers for mini bell peppers or jalapenos if you want – or use a mixture.

Why we love this recipe: it’s not spicy!

Featured recipe
Roasted poblanos in cream sauce
Skip the cream sauce
Sheet pan fajita veggies
Make a salad
Roasted bell pepper salad

Mango kale chopped salad

This kale-chopped salad isn’t the most traditional accompaniment to tamales, but give it a try! 

It’s a melting pot of different flavors and textures.

You’ve got a bitter note from the kale, freshness from the cucumbers, sweetness from bell peppers and mango, some smokiness from grilled corn, and a creamy touch from the avocado.

Then everything is tied together with a zesty dressing. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s perfect for summer when mangoes are at their sweetest.

Featured recipe
Mango kale chopped salad
Make it Southwest-style
Southwest chipotle salad
Make it hearty
Tex Mex quinoa salad

Refried beans

Want something hearty and filling to serve with your tamales?

You can’t go wrong with homemade refried beans. 

The secret to perfecting this simple dish is to use dried pinto beans – not canned ones. 

It requires an extra step of soaking the beans, but canned beans just don’t give you the right texture.

Why we love this recipe: you only need five budget-friendly ingredients.

Featured recipe
Homemade refried beans
Make it cheesy
Cheesy refried beans casserole
Make another classic
Cowboy beans (frijoles charros)

Pineapple pico de gallo

Spruce up your tamales with a topping of this tropical pico de gallo. 

Adding pineapples to the usual tomato, jalapeño, and lime affair brings a delightful fruity sweetness that offsets the spicy and tangy flavors. 

It’s perfectly balanced, with an acidity that prevents your tamale meal from getting too heavy.

Why we love this recipe: there’s zero cooking involved – just a lot of chopping!

Featured recipe
Pineapple pico de gallo
Skip the pineapples
Authentic peach pico de gallo
Change the flavor
Cucumber kiwi salsa

Mexican street corn salad

This is a Mexican classic – your feast wouldn’t be complete without it!

I like the salad version because it’s WAY less messy to eat than the corn-on-the-cob version.

Pro-tip: for an ultra-creamy texture, wait for the corn kernels to cool before mixing in your mayo-crema mixture. 

Why we love this recipe: you can have it on the table in just 15 minutes.

Featured recipe
Mexican street corn salad
Make it filling
Black bean and corn salad
Make it vegan
Vegan esquites

Salsa poached eggs

Planning to have tamales for brunch?

Complete your meal with these salsa-poached eggs. 

Inspired by the Maghrebi classic, shakshuka, this dish involves poaching your eggs in tomato sauce loaded with diced tomatoes and green chiles. 

Imagine smothering your tamale with a scoopful of salsa mixed with the rich egg yolk… yum!

Why we love this recipe: it works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Featured recipe
Salsa poached eggs
Change the flavor
Eggs poached in avocado salsa verde
Skip the eggs
Homemade fire-roasted salsa

Jicama jalapeño slaw

Jazz up your usual coleslaw mix by swapping your carrots for jicama.

Never tried jicama?

It’s similar to an apple, but not as sweet. So it brings a freshness to the slaw and a crisp texture that you don’t get from carrots.

Psst… you can swap the jicama for daikon radish, celery root, green apples, or Asian pears.

Why we love this recipe: it doesn’t wilt very fast, so any leftovers will still be good the next day.

Featured recipe
Cilantro-jalapeño jicama slaw
Make it Mexican-inspired
Mexican coleslaw
Back to basics
Vinegar slaw


This isn’t technically a side dish, but I couldn’t leave out this classic drink.

It’s a sweet corn-based drink consumed hot during breakfast and the holidays, normally alongside savory tamales for a cozy meal. 

The basic version is made with masa harina and flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, but you can also find versions now made with oatmeal, rice, or wheat flour.

Why we love this recipe: it’s pure comfort in a cup.

Featured recipe
Atole with masa harina
Make it sweeter
Chocolate atole (champurrado)
Swap the masa
Atole de avena

Macaroni salad

Also known as ensalada de coditos, this dish is perfect for serving a crowd.

Aside from the macaroni, it’s packed with ham, pickled jalapeños, carrots, corn, and pineapple.

This recipe uses a mayo-based dressing, but you can make it lighter by using Greek yogurt instead.

Pro tip: make it a day ahead of time to let all the flavors meld and develop.

Why we love this recipe: it will make sure none of your guests leave hungry.

Featured recipe
Mexican macaroni salad
Make it dairy-free
Vegan Mexican macaroni salad
Make it Tex Mex
Creamy Tex Mex pasta salad

Avocado salsa verde

Tamales don’t always need a substantial side, sometimes all you need is a tasty dipping sauce.

And I recommend this avocado salsa verde.

It’s got a bright flavor, and the addition of the avocado thickens it up slightly, meaning it coats the tamales perfectly and doesn’t just drip off.

Psst… fresh cilantro is a must for this salsa. It won’t taste as good if you use the dried version. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s filled with good-for-you vitamins and minerals.

Featured recipe
Avocado salsa verde
Make it spicy
Spicy serrano salsa verde
Go back to basics
Authentic guacamole

Mexican roasted zucchini

This roasted Mexican zucchini is the perfect low-carb side to serve with your tamales. 

The zucchini is flavored with classic elote spices and then finished with a spritz of lime juice – kind of like elotes but without the corn!

Why we love this recipe: it’s super healthy but doesn’t lack any flavor.

Featured recipe
Mexican-inspired roasted zucchini
Make it cheesy
Fire up the grill
Mexican street corn-style grilled zucchini

What To Serve With Tamales

In this short recipe, I show you exactly what to serve with your tamales.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: tamales side dishes, what to serve with tamales
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 153kcal


  • 1 portion tamales


  • Prepare your tamales according to your favorite recipe.
  • In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
  • Side dishes include: Spanish rice and beans, Mexican pickled vegetables, roasted poblanos in cream sauce, mango kale chopped salad, refried beans, pineapple pico de gallo, Mexican street corn salad, salsa poached eggs, jicama jalapeño slaw, atole, macaroni salad, avocado salsa verde, and Mexican roasted zucchini.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!


Serving: 100g | Calories: 153kcal

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating