How To Reheat Frozen Tamales (13 Ways)

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Tamales are a delicious, traditional Mexican food that can be made at home or bought frozen from the store. Paired with some fresh homemade guacamole, they make a delicious lunch or dinner.

If you’ve got a batch of tamales in your freezer and need to reheat them for a quick meal, this is the perfect article for you.

In this article, we’ll cover 13 different ways to reheat frozen tamales. While all of these options can be used, not all of them will yield the best results.

For example, the best way to cook tamales is by steaming them, but it will take a little bit of time. The fastest way to warm up cold tamales is in the microwave, but they don’t always turn out great.

Keep reading for the pros, cons and step-by-step instructions for each of the tamale cooking methods to find the best option for you.


How To Reheat Frozen Tamales Feature 13 Ways

When using any of the heating methods in this list, it is important to make sure the tamales of cooked thoroughly for food safety. The recommended internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Using a meat thermometer is a great way to ensure the tamales are cooked properly.

#1 Method: Steam Tamales With A Steamer

PROS:
– Best method to use moist tamales
– A traditional way to heat tamales
– Excellent gentle heating method with little risk of overcooking or drying out

CONS:
– Longer cooking time
– Tamales can get mushy if they touch the water or are over-steamed

How To Steam Tamales In A Steamer

  1. Stand tamales upright inside steamer in a circular pattern. Keep the water level below the bottom of the tamales.
  2. Steam frozen tamales 25-40 minutes. Adding fewer tamales in the steamer will result in shorter reheating time. After 20 minutes of cooking, check at 5-minute intervals until heated through.

#2 Method: Steam Tamales On The Stovetop

PROS:
– Convenient option to use a steamer method without an expensive steamer machine
– Steaming inserts are inexpensive and expand to fit different size pots

CONS:
– Longer cooking time
– Tamales can get mushy if they touch the water or are over-steamed

How To Steam Tamales On The Stovetop

  1. Fill sauce pan or pot with a little water (about 2 inches). Place steamer insert in the pan, making sure it does not touch the water.
  2. Stand tamales vertically in the steamer. Add enough so that they will stay upright without being too crowded.
  3. Steam frozen tamales 30-40 minutes. After 20 minutes of cooking, check at 5-minute intervals to ensure they don’t overcook.

#3 Method: Steam Tamales With A Rice Cooker

PROS:
– Reliable alternative to using a steamer machine
– Moist heat helps maintain great taste and texture

CONS:
– Can only reheat small batches at a time
– Tamales can get mushy if they touch the water

How To Steam Tamales With A Rice Cooker

  1. Place a metal rack in the base of the rice cooker. If you don’t have a rack, you can also use a rolled up ball of aluminim foil. A rack or foil is need to keep tamales from touching the water.
  2. Add 1-2 inches of water to the bottom of the rice cooker.
  3. Stand the tamales vertically in the cooker with the closed end at the bottom.
  4. Cook on high for about 20 minutes. If needed, add time until heat through.

#4 Method: Steam Tamales In An Instant Pot

PROS:
– Easy to prepare
– Steam creates great flavor and texture

CONS:
– Can only reheat small batches at a time
– Tamales can get mushy if they touch the water
– Requires steamer basket specifically designed for your Instant Pot

How To Steam Tamales In An Instant Pot

  1. Place about 2 cups of water in the Instant Pot. Insert the appropriate-size mesh steamer basket for your machine.
  2. Add tamales vertically in the basket, closed side down.
  3. Seal Instant Pot and set timer for 15 minutes.
  4. When natural release (not quick release) is finished, open the lid and carefully remove the basket.

Steam Frozen Tamales

#5 Method: Reheat Frozen Tamales In The Crock Pot or Slow Cooker

PROS:
– Easy, hands-off cooking
– Moist, even heat helps ensure soft tamales

CONS:
– Longest cook time
– Must be careful not to crowd the slow cooker

How To Reheat Frozen Tamales In The Crock Pot

  1. Set temperature on crock pot to high.
  2. Add tamales to crockpot, with open end of the wrapper facing up.
  3. Sprinkle a small amount of water around in the slow cooker.
  4. Secure the crockpot lid. Heat 1-1.5 hours. Check half-way through and rotate if needed for even cooking.

#6 Method: Reheat Tamales In The Oven

PROS:
– Easy, hands-off cooking
– Evenly cooked tamales
– Can cook large batches

CONS:
– Requires some prep time
– Longer cook time
– Easy to dry out tamales if overcooked

How To Reheat Frozen Tamales In The Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wrap each frozen tamale in tinfoil to seal in moisture. Squeeze out any excess air.
  3. Place on a sheet pan or baking pan.
  4. Bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes, flipping each tamale after about 15 minutes. Reduce cook time to only 15-20 minute if the tamales were thawed.

#7 Method: Heat Tamales On The Grill

PROS:
– Smoky, grilled flavor
– Can make large batch of tamales

CONS:
– Works best with thawed tamales

How To Reheat Tamales On The Grill

  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Place a single layer of tamales directly onto the grill. If desired, you can wrap individual tamales in aluminum foil to help create steam inside for moist cooking.
  3. Grill for several minutes on each side, turning once. Blackened husk can be an indicator that the tamale is heated through.

#8 Method: Cook Tamales In The Deep Fryer

PROS:
– Fast cook time
– Deep-fried flavor

CONS:
– Works best with thawed tamales

How To Reheat Tamales In The Deep Fryer

  1. Heat deep fryer to medium. If you don’t have a deep fryer machine, you can also heat 1-2 inches of oil to a deep frying pan on the stovetop.
  2. Remove tamale wrapper and pat dry.
  3. Add tamales to hot oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping once.
  4. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Deep Fry Tamales

#9 Method: Reheat Tamales In The Frying Pan or Griddle

PROS:
– Fast and effective

CONS:
– Only works with thawed tamales
– If heat is too high, the outside may cook faster than inside

How To Reheat Tamales In The Frying Pan

  1. Heat pan or griddle on high.
  2. Place thawed tamales (still in their husks) in the frying pan.
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, pressing down gently. A blackened husk on all sides is a good indicator that the tamale is heated through.

Note: If desired, you can fry tamales without the wrapper. Just add a bit of cooking oil to your pan or griddle. Fry for about 2-3 minutes per side or until crispy and heated through.


#10 Method: Heat Tamales In The Air Fryer

PROS:
– No prep time
– Can cook directly from frozen

CONS:
– Cook in smaller batches
– All air fryer models cook differently which many impact cook time

How To Reheat Frozen Tamales In The Air Fryer

  1. Place frozen tamales into the air fryer. They can touch slightly but allow plenty of room for the hot air to circulate.
  2. Cook for 10-12 minutes about 375 degrees F or until cooked through.
How To Cook Frozen Tamales

#11 Method: Reheat Tamales With A Panini Press

PROS:
– Reheats quickly

CONS:
– Only works with thawed tamales
– If heat is too high, the outside may cook faster than inside

How To Reheat Tamales With A Panini Press

  1. Preheat panini press to high.
  2. Place thawed tamales (still in their husks) in the press and close the lid.
  3. Cook for several minutes on each side. Blackened husk on all sides is an indicator that the tamale is heated through.

#12 Method: Cook Tamales In The Microwave Oven

PROS:
– Quick method with fast cook time
– Convenient, easy way to heat tamales

CONS:
– One of the least recommended methods
– May lose flavor, texture and moisture from quick heating
– Does not heat evenly

How To Reheat Tamales In The Microwave

  1. If possible, allow frozen tamales to thaw in the refrigerator for a couple hours.
  2. Wrap tamales in a damp paper towel. If microwaving a larger batch, you can place tamales on a microwave-safe plate and cover the whole plate with wet paper towel.
  3. If using thawed tamales, heat for 1-2 minutes on full power, flipping and turning tamales every 30 seconds for even heating. If using still frozen tamales, cook for 2-3 minutes on 50% power. Flip, then cook another 2-3 minutes on 50% power.

#13 Method: Boil Frozen Tamales

PROS:
– Offers a way for heating tamales if no other methods are available

CONS:
– Not a recommended method
– Reheating process is prone to error
– Tamales will get mushy if they are exposed to the water

How To Boil Frozen Tamales

  1. Place tamales in a water-proof plastic bag that is suitable for high heat. Or you could use a heat-safe vacuum sealed bag. The bag must be totally sealed to prevent water from leaking in.
  2. Boil totally-sealed bag of frozen tamales in a large pot for 10-15 minutes. Check continuously to ensure the bag is still sealed.
  3. Carefully remove the bag from the boiling water. Remove the very hot tamales from the bag.

Ways To Reheat Frozen Tamale

How To Store Leftover Tamales

If you have leftover tamales, you can refrigerator or freeze them.

To Refrigerate Leftover Tamales

Allow tamales to cool, then put them in an airtight container such as a Ziplock bag. Refrigerate 4-6 days.

To Freeze Leftover Tamales

Allow tamales to cool to room temperature. Then put them in an airtight container such as a resealable plastic bag. They will last up to 6 months in the freezer.


Best Way To Cook Frozen Tamales

Cooking Tamales FAQS

Q. What are tamales?

A. Tamales are made of corn dough (also called masa dough) that is wrapped around a filling, then steamed or boiled in corn husk wrappers or a banana leaf. They can be either sweet or savory and can be filled with anything from chicken to pork to cheese.

Q. Can I leave my tamales out overnight?

A. Tamales can be left out for up to about four hours. After that, they should be refrigerated or frozen.

Q. How do you cook frozen tamales in the husk?

A. There are numerous ways to cook frozen tamales in the husk. Popular methods include steaming, grilling, baking, and microwaving. You can also use a rice cooker, instant pot, panini press, air fryer, and deep fryer.

Q. How do you thaw frozen tamales?

A. Frozen tamales can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator. To partially thaw frozen tamales, you can also microwave them for 1-2 minutes on 50% power or leave them on the counter for a couple of hours.

Q. Do I need to defrost tamales before steaming?

A. You do not need to thaw tamales before steaming them.

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 Delicious Air Fryer Corn Dogs
How To Cook Frozen Burgers


We hope these 13 ways to reheat tamales will help you enjoy this Mexican treat all year round. And don’t be afraid to experiment! It can take some time and trial-and-error before finding a method that is right for you.

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How To Reheat Frozen Tamales Pin
Yield: 6 tamales

How To Reheat Frozen Tamales

How To Cook Frozen Tamales

Using a steamer is a traditional method and also the best way to make moist tamales. The steamer offers an excellent gentle heating method with little risk of overcooking or drying out the frozen tamales.

Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Frozen tamales
  • Water (for steamer)

Instructions

  1. Stand tamales upright inside steamer in a circular pattern. Keep the water level below the bottom of the tamales.
  2. Steam frozen tamales 25-40 minutes. Adding fewer tamales to the steamer will result in a shorter reheating time. After 20 minutes of cooking, check at 5-minute intervals until heated through.

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