May 30, 2017

The Right Ways on How to Reheat Tamales



If there's one thing all parties or families have faced, it's the delicious leftovers after a huge meal! Sometimes, you'll find yourself leaving tons of food that you can have for lunch or dinner the next days after. You have good food without the need to cook for many meals to come.

But of course, you'll need to know how to reheat it properly and make sure that the food you are heating up is still edible. Tamales is a favorite in many households, and since you might have leftovers, it makes you wonder about how to eat tamales.

​Instead of the usual zapping it up in the microwave, I show you various ways on how to properly heat tamales and when to know if it's still good for consumption or not.

What is Tamales?​

There are many types of tamales, depending on where you're from. But originally, it's a Mesoamerican dish made out of masa or dough. It is then steamed in a banana leaf or corn husk, unwrapped before consuming it.​

Besides the dough or corn-based starch, it's prepared with various meats, cheeses, chilies, vegetables, or even fruits, depending on what you want.

It's best known as portable food, a traditional staple from many countries around the world. They are usually served in Mexican or Latin-American cuisine, even found in the Philippines

But no matter what filling or starch the tamales is made out of, it will always be wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks for a fresh and natural taste.​

It's easy to create as long as you follow the instructions and learn to fold it. You also cook it in a steamer so as to keep its consistency and avoid the fillings from falling.

The Lifespan of Tamales​

Tamales are made out of fresh ingredients and starch. While it's wrapped in leaves or husks, that doesn't mean that it can last for weeks!​

The lifespan of tamales would depend on what you put in its ingredients.

If you have freshly made or store bought tamales, especially when made out of meat, then you must consume them before four days ends. You can't keep them for longer than four days in the fridge, as they tend to spoil quickly. Store bought tamales may last longer after its expiration date, but it's best not to test it, since it may be a safety hazard and waste.

You can lengthen its lifespan by immediately putting it in the freezer. As long as the tamales were packed nicely and you follow the proper procedure on reheating it, then it will taste fine.

You will know if tamales are expired if it tastes or smells sour or very different than what it's supposed to taste like. It might also have a very hard or soft consistency, making it dangerous to consume.

How to Reheat Tamales​

Before heating up your tamales, make sure to defrost them from the freezer or fridge by putting it in the microwave on defrost mode, or letting it sit for a few minutes.​

Here are easy ways on how to reheat your tamales:​


The easiest way to heat tamales is to zap it in the microwave.

What You Need:

  • One tablespoon of water
  • Tamales
  • Glass container and lie
  • Microwave


  • Add the tamales in the container and pour in the water (for six tamales).
  • Place the container in the microwave and microwave it for six minutes (one minute for each tamales)
  • Get the container our of the microwave and put it on top of the heated pan.


Since tamales are made through steaming, this is the best way to reheat them.

What You Need:

  • Steamer and Steamer Rack
  • Tamales
  • Pot
  • Water


  • Fill up the pot with water (just a couple of inches) and put it in the steamer. Let it boil.
  • Put the tamales on the steamer rack and then on the boiling water. Cover the pot and let it simmer.
  • Steam the tamales for about fifteen minutes, or once it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Frozen tamales may take up to twenty minutes.
  • Take out the tamales and serve.

Oven or Toaster

If you have no microwave or steamer, using an oven is another efficient method.

What You Need:


  • Preheat your oven or toaster to 425 degrees C.
  • Remove the tamales from its wrapping and put them on the baking sheet (or pyrex container).
  • Put it in the oven or toaster and let them heat up for up to twenty minutes, or until it is heated up properly and starts looking crisp.


You can also try a stovetop if you have none of the other appliances. This method gives your tamales a slightly crunchier feel.

What You Need:

  • Pan
  • Tongs
  • Stove
  • Oil
  • Tamales


  • Add oil to a pan and set the that on medium.
  • Add a teaspoon of cooking oil (or let it cover the pan if you deep-fry it).
  • Remove the wrappings of tamales and add it to the pan once the oil starts to heat up.
  • Flip the tamales every three minutes and put it out to serve after it starts to look crispy.

Tips on Reheating Tamales

Now that you know how to reheat tamales, you'll need to know the proper advice on how to heat and consume them. Knowing these tips will help avoid any bacteria contamination and have you enjoy your tamales.​

Here are some tips you can follow:​

  • Wash your hands before touching and heating the tamales. That way, you won't transfer any form of bacteria to it.
  • Let the tamales cool down a bit but consume it while it's still warm for better taste and to avoid it from spoiling quickly from air contamination.
  • Before consuming the tamales whole, it's best to taste it first so you can be assured that it isn't spoiled, whether frozen or already warm. If there is something even slightly off with the tamales, it's best to throw it out.
  • When keeping tamales in the fridge or freezer, make sure it's tightly packed or inside an airtight container. Don't let it touch other raw meats or ingredients to avoid quick spoilage.
  • Remember the overall lifespan of tamales and do NOT keep it for over four days. If you will be getting only a portion of frozen tamales, use clean kitchen utensils to get a portion and immediately store it after.

​In Conclusion

It might be difficult knowing how to heat tamales properly. Its consistency changes over time, and you'd like the best quality even when left in the fridge for a few days. Fortunately, there are proper ways on how to heat tamales, and it doesn't require spending a ton of money or time!​

I hope this article taught you on how to heat tamales correctly. Now that you know what to do, you can have the delicious leftover tamales for your next lunch or dinner! So what are you waiting for? Try these methods on how to heat tamales and enjoy a portion today.

If you have any questions or would like to share your tips on how to heat tamales, then comment down below. I would love to hear what you have to think.​

    Claire J. Ruiz

    I'm Claire, and my passion is cooking. I believe that food is what actually unites people and the dining table is where we set aside our differences. When we eat we become vulnerable because enjoying food requires a different level of trust and surrender to the person preparing your food. Sharing and enjoying food is one of the most intimate experiences in life.​

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