It takes 15 to 20 minutes to steam tamales. This time frame does not include the time required for preparing the tamale filling and placing it in the corn husks.
According to Better Homes and Gardens, prior to filling and wrapping tamales, the corn husks must be soaked for 30 minutes so that they will not break when they are rolled. The masa dough must also be prepared, as well as any additional ingredients used for the filling, such as meat. This can be done while the corn husks are soaking. Once all of the ingredients are ready, the husks must be stuffed and rolled. Total time to prepare tamales from beginning to ready-to-serve is about an hour.