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The Ultimate Guide to Reheat Frozen Tamales: 4 Must-Try Techniques

Frozen Tamales

Do you know you can reheat frozen tamales and enjoy them as you did when they were freshly made?

Tamale is a traditional Mexican cuisine made from corn dough (also called masa) and various fillings like beef, chicken, pork, beans, vegetables, cheese, and even fruits. The dough is typically wrapped in banana leaves, corn husks, or corn leaves and steamed, then voila! It’s ready to eat. Tamales are delightful to feast on, especially when topped with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole. Also, you can have them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

(If you are a Mexican dish lover, we have a treat for you, here are simple tricks to revive leftover fajitas or reheat burritos without making it soggy. )

You can order your tamales or make them at home. If you have your tamales stuck up frozen in your freezer because you ordered more than you could eat or you made a large batch for future meals. Then, I’ve got you! Especially if you are puzzled about how to reheat frozen tamales.

This article examines four fail-proof ways to get your frozen tamales to taste fresh and delicious again. You will learn some interesting facts about tamales, and I’ll also dig into how to freeze your tamales properly. 

Ready? Let’s dive right in!

The Right Way to Freeze your Tamales

There is such a thing as a wrongly-frozen tamale. A properly packed and frozen tamale can retain its flavor and texture for up to six months, while a poorly prepped one might not survive a week. When making the tamales, make sure the masa properly covers the filling so they are well preserved.

That said, it is important to note that it is common practice to have your tamales cooked prior to freezing them. Cooking is done because it is difficult to preserve the quality of uncooked or raw tamales. For food safety reasons, make sure the tamales are properly cooked to about 165 degrees Fahrenheit before freezing them. You can use a meat thermometer to determine the temperature.

After cooking your tamales, leave them to cool on a cooling rack for about an hour. Make sure not to leave them sitting out at room temperature for too long so they don’t spoil. Immediately after your tamales are cooled, place them in a resealable airtight plastic bag. (Check out this plastic bag if you don’t have one yet).

The tamales should be set flat in the bag so their shape is retained after reheating. You should not place too many tamales in a bag. So, depending on their quantity, it is best you get as many plastic bags as possible. Seal up the bag and indicate the storage date on it before placing it in the freezer.

The type of filling you use for your tamales can affect how preserved the flavor would be. Fillings like vegetables, cheese, and other dairy products should not stay frozen for more than 3 months. However, fish and meat fillings can last up to 6 months.

My Top Methods to Reheat Frozen Tamales

Before you reheat frozen tamales, it is best to allow them to thaw out first. This helps to reduce the reheating time. Place your tamales in the fridge a day before you reheat them, so they are completely defrosted by the time you want to warm them up.

You can use any of the methods below to reheat your sacred meal because they all work well. However, the best way to reheat frozen tamales is with a steamer, although it would take more time than others. Steaming ensures the tamales are moist and properly heated. It also prevents overcooking and helps to bring out its original texture and flavor. 

Let’s see how all these methods work. 

1. Reheat Frozen Tamales in a Steamer

Reheat Frozen Tamales in a Steamer
  • Fill about 1/4  of the steamer with water, and make sure the water doesn’t touch the basket
  • Cover the pot with a tight lid and allow the water to boil for about 10 minutes.
  • When the water is boiled, place the tamales on the steaming basket with a pair of tongs.
  • Check that the heat is at a medium level and allow the tamales to steam for 10 – 30 minutes, depending on the quantity.
  • After it is well heated, serve alongside any toppings you want

2. Reheat Tamales in Instant Pot

reheat tamales in instant pot

Instant pots are the best way to reheat tamales that haven’t thawed.

  • Pour about two cups of water into the pot.
  • Insert the instant pot’s rivet at the base and place the steamer basket on it
  • Place the tamales vertically (their husks should be at the base, with the openings facing up)

Don’t let water touch the tamales so they don’t get mushy

  • Make sure the tamales are in a secure position and are properly spaced. You can use a small circular dish to ensure that.
  • Close the lid and cook for about 15 minutes.
  • After cooking, allow the pot to release its pressure naturally before opening the lid.
  • Use tongs to remove the tamales from the pot and serve them

3. Reheat Tamales in Oven

Reheat Tamales in Oven

You can use a standard oven to reheat frozen tamales. And it is one of the easiest methods to adopt especially if you would love your tamales to be a little crisp.

  • Wrap your tamales in multiple layers of aluminum foil before placing them in the oven to keep them moist throughout the process.
  • While wrapping them, preheat your oven to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Squeeze out any trapped air in the foil.
  • Place the tamales in an oven dish and space them properly in the dish.
  • Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  • Flip the tamales after 10 minutes so that they are evenly heated.

4. Reheat Frozen Tamales in Air Fryer

best way to reheat frozen tamales

Air fryers are becoming more popular for reheating frozen tamales because they are fast and easy to use.

  • Heat the fryer for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add cold water or little oil to the husks or wrappings of the tamales to moisten them.
  • Place them in the air fryer basket and space them evenly for them to heat up properly.
  • Cook the tamales for about 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Don’t forget to flip them over accordingly.

When it is ready, you can have a good meal time by topping it with sour cream or guacamole. 

Some Interesting Facts About Tamales

Tamales are one of the most popular Mexican dishes today in Latin America and the United States. And whether you are Mexican or not, a taste of it will have you coming back for more. Yes! They are that good. However, do you know that the origin of this comforting delicacy goes as far back as over 8000 years ago?

It is believed that tamales originated from the Aztecs, Incans, and Mayans, and they were considered the food of the gods. Also, they were easily transported as food during wartime because of how they were wrapped. In fact, the word tamale itself comes from tamalli, an ancient Aztec word that means wrapped. Over the years, they have become a sacred part of feasts, rituals, and other ceremonies. 

What more? Tamales have a day all to themselves. March 23rd is recognized as National Tamale day.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Can I use an air fryer to reheat frozen tamales?

Yes, you can. To reheat frozen tamales in an air fryer, place them in the air fryer basket in a way that the heat circulates well. Make sure to coat the tamales with oil if you want to keep their crisp edges.

2. How long can tamales stay fresh in a fridge?

Tamales can remain fresh in the fridge for up to a week. You can easily reheat them in an oven, a pot, or a steamer if you want them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, if you want to preserve your tamales for up to 3 months, it is best to freeze them.

3. What is the best way to heat up tamales?

The best way to reheat frozen tamales depends on how you want to enjoy them. If you want them to retain a crisp edge, use an oven or an air fryer. However, if you don’t want them drying out and you want to enjoy their original flavor and texture, consider using steamers or instant pots.

4. Should I freeze my tamales before or after cooking?

It’s possible to freeze your tamales before or after cooking, but it is best to freeze the cooked ones. Freezing uncooked tamales is less popular because they have a greater tendency to lose their flavor, structure, and texture compared with cooked tamales.

5. How long does it take to reheat frozen tamales in oven?

This varies on whether the tamales have thawed out or not. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reheat defrosted tamales, while it takes about 20 – 25 minutes to reheat frozen tamales in an oven.


The journey through reheating frozen tamales comes to an end, but your quest for delicious leftovers continues! With these four techniques in your arsenal, you can guarantee perfectly reheated tamales, bursting with flavor and texture, every time.


  • Experimentation is key. Every reheating method works differently, so try them out and discover your personal favorite.
  • Moisture is your friend. Don’t be afraid to use a splash of water, broth, or oil to prevent dryness.
  • Patience is a virtue. Rushing the process leads to uneven heating and disappointment.
  • Seasoning never sleeps. Fresh herbs, sour cream, salsa, or a sprinkle of your favorite spice blend can elevate your reheated tamales to new heights.

So, the next time you find yourself with a stash of frozen tamales, don’t hesitate! Grab your preferred reheating method, follow these tips, and savor the taste of warm, delicious tamales all over again. And remember, sharing is caring, so why not invite your friends and family over for a fiesta of reheated tamale goodness?

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