15+ Tasty Sauces for Tamales (with Easy Recipes)

In search of some tasty sauces for tamales? I’ve got you covered with this roundup of easy recipes. From creamy sauces, to spicy sauces, tangy sauces and more!

Choosing the right sauce to accompany your tamales can transform an already delicious dish into a culinary masterpiece. Whether you prefer the tanginess of salsa verde, the complexity of mole sauce, or the smokiness of roasted tomato sauce, there’s a sauce option to suit every palate.

Pick one of your favorites from the list below, add some baked tortilla chips, a margarita, and you’re guaranteed an amazing dinner!

Be sure to check out these 25+ Mexican Desserts too!

Sauces to Elevate Tamale Night

Jar of chipotle crema with spoon on small plate next to lime wedges and small bowl of chipotles.
Chipotle Cream Sauce:
If you're a fan of smoky and spicy flavors, a chipotle cream sauce is sure to please your taste buds. Combining chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with sour cream or crema, this sauce delivers a creamy, smoldering kick. The coolness of the cream balances out the heat, creating a tantalizing combination that complements tamales filled with meats or cheeses.
Get the RECIPE
Mole Sauce:
Mole sauce is a complex and rich concoction, typically made from a blend of various chili peppers, spices, nuts, chocolate, and other ingredients. Its deep, dark color and velvety texture make it a luxurious choice for tamales. Mole sauce adds layers of flavor, including a hint of sweetness, a touch of spiciness, and a subtle smokiness, making it a standout pairing for both meat and vegetarian tamales.
Get the RECIPE from Sweet Life Bake
Overhead shot of bottle of salsa taquera next to dried chiles and spoon with sauce.
Chile de Arbol Sauce:
Chile de Arbol sauce brings the heat with its fiery flavor. Made from dried arbol chilies, garlic, vinegar, and spices, this sauce packs a punch. A little goes a long way, so drizzle it sparingly over your tamales if you enjoy a spicy kick.
Get the RECIPE
Salsa Verde:
Salsa Verde, or green sauce, is a tangy and vibrant option that pairs wonderfully with tamales. Made from tomatillos, green chilies, cilantro, onions, and garlic, this sauce adds a zesty kick to the tamale's earthy flavors. The freshness of the ingredients perfectly complements the richness of the tamale, creating a harmonious balance of tastes.
Get the RECIPE from Mexico in My Kitchen
Chicken Tamales with Roasted Tomato-and-Dried Chile Sauce
Roasted Tomato Sauce:For those who prefer a milder option, a roasted tomato sauce is a fantastic choice. Made from charred tomatoes, garlic, onions, and peppers, this sauce offers a smoky and slightly sweet profile. Its smooth consistency and savory notes provide a delightful contrast to the tamale's texture and flavor, allowing the fillings to shine.
Get the RECIPE from Southern Living
Guajillo Sauce:
Guajillo sauce is a classic choice that adds a mild heat and a deep, fruity flavor to tamales. Made from guajillo chili peppers, garlic, and spices, this vibrant red sauce infuses the tamale with a touch of warmth and complexity. Its versatility makes it suitable for both meat and vegetarian tamales, offering a delightful culinary experience.
Get the RECIPE from Chili Pepper Madness
Poblano Cream Sauce:
For a creamy and mildly spicy sauce option, look no further than poblano cream sauce. Roasted poblano peppers blended with cream, garlic, and herbs create a velvety, slightly smoky sauce that complements tamales beautifully. Its smooth texture and subtle heat make it an excellent choice for a variety of tamale fillings.
Get the RECIPE from Isabel Eats
Crema Mexicana:
Crema Mexicana is a silky Mexican-style cream with a milder and slightly tangier taste than sour cream. Its smooth texture and subtle flavor make it a versatile sauce option for tamales. It pairs well with both savory and sweet tamales, adding a creamy element to each bite.
Get the RECIPE from Isabel Eats
Red Chile Sauce:
Red chile sauce is a classic choice that brings depth and spice to tamales. Made from dried red chilies, garlic, onions, and spices, this sauce offers a robust and aromatic profile. Its rich flavor pairs exceptionally well with meat-filled tamales, adding a hearty and flavorful element.
Get the RECIPE from Vindulge
Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce:
Blending the tanginess of tomatillos with the creaminess of avocado creates a refreshing and vibrant sauce. Combined with garlic, cilantro, and lime juice, this sauce adds a burst of freshness to your tamales, enhancing their flavors with a citrusy zing.
Get the RECIPE from The Cookie Rookie
Pineapple salsa served in fresh pineapple bowl.
Pineapple Salsa:
For a tropical twist, consider pineapple salsa as a sauce for your tamales. Combining diced pineapple, jalapeños, onions, cilantro, and lime juice, this sweet and tangy salsa adds a burst of freshness and a hint of sweetness to your tamale experience.
Get the RECIPE
Bowl of guacamole on tray with chips.
Guacamole is an excellent choice to accompany tamales, offering a creamy and flavorful option that pairs beautifully with their texture and taste.
Get the RECIPE
Cilantro Pesto:
For a herbaceous and aromatic sauce option, cilantro pesto is a fantastic choice. Blend fresh cilantro, garlic, pine nuts or almonds, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice to create a vibrant and fragrant pesto. The bright flavors of cilantro combined with the richness of nuts and cheese offer a refreshing and zesty contrast to the tamale's flavors.
Get the RECIPE from Fork in the Road
Peanut Sauce:
Peanut sauce, commonly found in Southeast Asian cuisine, can be a surprising yet delightful addition to tamales. Made from peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and a touch of sweetness, this sauce offers a unique flavor profile. Its creamy texture and nutty taste create a fusion of flavors when paired with tamales, adding a savory and slightly sweet twist.
Get the RECIPE from Pinch of Yum
Tamarind Sauce:
Tamarind sauce, commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines, adds a tangy and slightly sweet dimension to tamales. Made from tamarind pulp, sugar, spices, and sometimes chili, this sauce offers a unique balance of flavors. Its sweet and sour taste, with a hint of spiciness, complements both savory and sweet tamales, making it a versatile and intriguing option.
Get the RECIPE from Izzy Cooking

More Sauce Recipes

Did you Make Any of These Tamale Sauces?

Please leave a comment and rating below, if you loved this round up of sauces for tamales. Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

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Collage of sauces for tamales.

15+ Sauces for Tamales

In search of some tasty sauces for tamales? I’ve got you covered with this roundup of easy recipes. From creamy sauces, to spicy sauces, tangy sauces and more! Try this Salsa Taquera. It’s a smoky and vibrant condiment that’s perfect for tacos, carnitas, grilled meats, and more. The ingredients are simple, but the flavor is extravagant!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 16 people



  • Preheat broiler to high.
  • Arrange onion slices and tomatoes (cut side down) on a baking sheet. Broil, about 4-inches from the heating element, for about 10 minutes, until beginning to char.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 TBSP oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chiles and cook 1-2 minutes longer, until fragrant and beginning to darken.
  • Transfer chiles and garlic to a blender or food processor. Add the water and vinegar, and let sit for 5 minutes to soften.
  • Process on high, 10 to 20 seconds. Then, turn the speed to low and stream in the remaining vegetable oil.
  • Add the tomatoes, onion and salt and process until smooth.
  • Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Instead of charring the tomato and onion under a hot broiler, you can sear them in a hot cast iron pan or on the grill to achieve the char.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!




Calories: 136kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 439mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 436IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

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