How long can you freeze tamales?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you freeze tamales?”, and how to freeze and reheat tamales?

How long can you freeze tamales?

Stored in an air-tight container or plastic wrapped in a freezer bag, tamales will last 5 months in the freezer. Tamales remain safe to eat even after 5 months but the flavor and the texture won’t be as good.

How to freeze tamales?

After cooking the tamales, follow the steps below to successfully freeze them.

Leave to cool: Let the tamales sit on the cooling rack for about 1 hour. Tamales need to be at room temperature before you attempt to freeze them. Do not leave them out for too long or it could lead to spoilage. 

Pack them: Put the tamales into an air-tight container or a freezer bag. Air-tight containers will naturally take up more space and you will have to defrost the entire lot at once.

Freezer bags, on the other hand, fit into a small space and you can defrost as many tamales as you want at once. Wrap the tamales individually in a plastic sheet before popping them in the freezer bag.

Label: Label is important to identify the frozen product. It also helps with stock rotation. Besides, it tells you how long the tamales have been frozen. 

Therefore, put a clear label, with the date and name of its contents, on whatever freezing medium you are using. 

Freezing uncooked tamales 

Masa, the dough used to make tamale, is categorized as perishable. Therefore, masa does not freeze well. You can freeze uncooked tamales but it is not recommended. To do it safely, follow the steps below:

  1. Prepare the tamale filling and let it cool. 
  1. Pack the filling in corn husk wrapping or transfer it as-is to an air-tight container. The air-tight container will prevent the formation of ice crystals which ruin the texture of the filling after thawing.
  1. Label and freeze.

Cooking frozen uncooked tamales 

Before cooking frozen tamales, you need to thaw them first. The safest method of thawing is to leave the frozen tamales in the fridge overnight and then steam cook them. 

If the filling was stored separately from the dough, defrost both of them in the fridge overnight before packing in the corn husk and steaming. Generally, completely thawed tamales take about 25 minutes over medium heat to steam cook. 

The cooking time will vary with the number of tamales you are steaming at once and their size. Wrapped tamales can be directly cooked from frozen in the steamer. 

How do various fillings affect freezing?

Tamale filling that contains meat and shrimp adapt well to the freezing environment. If there are any veggies in the filling, freezing will degrade its quality. 

Freezing ruins the crunchy texture of the veggies and makes them mushy. Therefore, it is recommended to use undercooked or uncooked veggies in the filling.

Dairy fillings like cheese lose their moisture and tend to become crumbly. Cheese-filled tamales are best consumed within 3 months. 

How to reheat tamales?

After thawing, there are several ways like steaming, microwaving, frying, and baking to reheat the tamales. Let’s discuss each one of these.

Steaming: For steaming, leave the corn husk on so that the tamales do not cling to the steamer. You can use a special tamales steamer for this purpose.

Microwaving: This is a rather quick and easy way of reheating tamales. Simply place the tamale on a microwave-safe plate along with a cup of water. 

The water will provide adequate moisture to the tamales during heating to make sure they are soft and tender. Microwave for 2-5 minutes and check after regular intervals.

Frying: Grease a frying pan and fry the tamales for 5-10 minutes until golden brown from both sides. Remove the corn husk before frying.

Baking: Grease a baking tray with some butter or cooking spray. Place the tamales and bake for 30 minutes at 425℉ in the oven. Make sure you remove the husk before baking.

How to steam Tamales without a steamer?

A rice cooker and an instant pot can be used as a makeshift steamer to reheat your Tamales. The following method works best If you are reheating 4-6 Tamales at a time or else they will be too congested to reheat evenly. 

To protect the Tamales from the water, the bottom of the rice cooker must be covered with rolled-up aluminum foil or a round metal rack.

  1. Fill the rice cooker with an inch or two of water. Make sure your Tamales do not touch the water and are placed in a standing position with the open end facing upwards.
  1. Check for the doneness and the internal temperature of the Tamales after 20 minutes. Cook for a few more minutes If needed.


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you freeze tamales?”, and how to freeze and reheat tamales?


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