How To Reheat Tamales: 4 Easy Ways You Need To Know

Have you ever cooked Tamales more than you can eat in one sitting? Have you ever been in a dilemma on how you can reheat tamales?

Making your own tamales is easy although it takes some time. It takes almost an hour to prepare the ingredients: Carnitas (filling); Masa (Tamale Dough); Hoja de maiz (Corn Husk wrappers), broth, salt, baking powder, condiments and cooking oil.

It takes about 3 hours to cook tamales including the cooking of the filling, preparation time of the Tamale dough and putting the tamales together. Steaming takes about 1 hour. This is the very reason why tamales are often made in huge batches and just reheated.

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Tamale is a common fare on the dinner table, especially during the holidays. Tamales can be cooked or bought way in advance because it can be easily stored and it has a long “shelf life.” Well-wrapped cooked tamales can last up to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator. If stored in the freezer, tamales can last up to 6 months. If you store them vacuum-sealed, Tamales can last for over 6 months.

Steaming in the stove top is the most common way of reheating tamales. If you do not have a steamer or find it inconvenient to set up a steamer to reheat tamales, there are other tools/equipment in your kitchen which will do just fine.

Method 1: Stovetop

A food steamer is a small piece of kitchen equipment that cooks food through steam. Food is placed in a sealed “pot” with water underneath. Steam coming from the boiling water is what cooks/steams the food.

What You Will Need

  • Steamer Pot or Stock Pot and Steamer Basket


  • Step 1: Half fill pot with water. Bring to a boil.
  • Step 2: Position tamales in the steamer basket or steamer piece of the steamer pot.
  • Step 3: When the water on the pot boils, lower the fire.
  • ​Step 4: Place steamer basket or steamer piece with tamales on the pot with boiling water. Make sure the tamales do not touch the water.
  • Step 5: Steam the tamales for about 25 minutes.


  • ​Position tamales in steamer with the open side upwards.
  • ​Position tamales at least 1 inch apart from each other so they will be re-heated evenly.
  • Do not remove the husks of the tamales. The corn husks keep the filling from splattering. The corn husk also contributes to the flavor of the tamales while steaming.
  • Steaming tamales frozen takes longer as when they are thawed, but steaming thawed tamales makes them cooked unevenly.

Method 2: Oven

It is possible to convert your oven into a steamer. The oven as a steamer is best used when you are re-heating a lot of frozen tamales that would not fit in your steamer pot.

What You Will Need

  • ​Roasting Pan with rack
  • Baking Rack with stand ( if pan you will use does not come with a rack)
  • Aluminum Foil


  • ​Step 1: Pre-heat the oven at 3500F.
  • ​Step 2: Pour water into the pan.
  • Step 3: Place the rack. Make sure water does not touch the rack.
  • ​Step 4: Position the tamales on the rack.
  • ​Step 5: Cover the tamales with aluminum foil.
  • Step 6: Cook for about 25 minutes.
  • Step 7: Remove the pan from the oven.
  • Step 8: Invert the tamales.
  • Step 9: Cook for another 20 minutes.


  • Make sure to invert the tamales to ensure that both sides are evenly re-heated.
  • ​Do not remove the husks of the tamales. The corn husks keep the filling from splattering. The corn husk also contributes to the flavor of the tamales while steaming.
  • You can also use a Toaster Oven.

Method 3: Microwave

If you are in such a hurry to reheat frozen tamales, the microwave is your best option.

What You Will Need

  • Microwave-safe container
  • Plastic Wrap


  • Step 1: Thaw frozen tamales.
  • Step 2: Place tamales in microwave-safe container.
  • Step 3: Sprinkle a teaspoon of water on the each of the tamale so it won’t dry up while cooking.
  • Step 4: Cover tamales with plastic wrap or with the container cover.
  • ​Step 5: Set microwave on high.
  • Step 6: Cook for 5 minutes.


  • ​For best results, leave microwave-safe container with tamales slightly open.
  • Use a microwave with a turntable otherwise, manually rotate the tamales every so often.
  • Reheat only 2 pieces of tamales at a time so they will be re-heated evenly.

**Click here to find out the best microwaves for your kitchen.

Method 4: Deep Fryer

If you are not too conscious of the extra calories, you can re-heat frozen tamales in a deep-fryer. Deep-frying tamales is like cooking them all over again.

What You Will Need

  • Lots of cooking oil


  • Step 1: Thaw frozen tamales.
  • Step 2: Place cooking oil on the deep fryer.
  • ​Step 3: Set deep fryer to Medium.
  • Step 4: Take off the husk of the tamale and carefully drop into the deep fryer.
  • Step 5: Tamale is ready when its skin is crispy brown (about 2 minutes).


  • Use a paper towel to remove excess oil from the tamales.
  • Unthawed tamales will taste as good.

Thawing Process

You can thaw tamales the natural way – at room temperature. If you choose to thaw them in the microwave, here is how you should do it.

  • Step 1: Place frozen tamales in a microwave-safe container.
  • Step 2: Cover the tamales with a damp cloth.
  • Step 3: Set microwave to Defrost mode.
  • Step 4: Defrost tamales for 60 seconds.
  • ​Step 5: Invert the tamales.
  • Step 6: Defrost again for 60 seconds.

Thawed tamales take half the time to cook than frozen tamales. However, frozen tamales re-heat more evenly than thawed tamales.

My Personal Choice:

Of all the cooking methods mentioned above, reheating frozen tamales on the stove top with a steamer pot is the one I love the most. This is the cooking method that brings out the best flavor of tamales. Steaming frozen tamales on the stove top is just like cooking freshly prepared tamales.

The other reheating methods do a pretty good job of reheating frozen tamales too. Either of the methods is the best option when: the equipment is the only one available and the number of tamales you are reheating is too inconvenient for a particular reheating method. The time you have to reheat also sometimes dictates the reheating method.

Try out all the methods of reheating frozen tamales and satisfy your cravings anytime! Which is the reheating method that works best for you? Let us know in the comments section.

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Jenny Hopper

My name is Jenny Hopper, I'm a mother of two cute little kids. To tell you, blogging isn't an easy task. But for me, I feel rewarded for doing the things that I love and one is sharing my experiences with the world and with you. And I definitely welcome any helpful and sincere contribution from you.

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