Tamaleras are pots made of clay, aluminum or tin, used for steaming tamales, meats and other dishes. They are used throughout Mexico and their size varies according to purpose, as for instance at religious festivities, where community-wide meal sharing is customary.
When the tamalera does not have a grill at the bottom, a grill is assembled with sticks, leaves, dried or fresh corn, or maguey leaves, to keep the tamales and the water in which they are steamed separate. This also lends the tamales a different taste. In some regions the lid is sealed with dough to keep steam and heat inside the pot. Some tamaleras have an opening near the base that allows users to monitor water levels. There is abundant folk wisdom surrounding tamale cooking. For example, it is common to place a coin, preferably copper, at the bottom of the pot. Boiling water moves the coin and the rattling sound assures the cook that there is sufficient water and the tamales will not be undercooked.