Making tamales takes a lot of time and effort, so it makes sense to make a big batch at once. Of course, this often means making so much that you have extras or leftovers. You don’t have to gorge yourself just to get rid of the stock–you can freeze tamales, no problem!
Whether cooked or uncooked, tamales will keep for a while in the freezer, and you can just reheat them whenever another craving hits! How long do tamales last? Frozen tamales should last between four to six months in the freezer when stored properly.
How to Freeze Tamales
What is in a tamale, that makes them suitable for freezing? A tamale is made up of three key components: the ‘masa’ (dough), the filling, and the wrapper. The dough is soft and can last a long time; the filling, which is often already cooked, can also withstand long periods in the freezer; the wrapper helps keep everything together and protects the main dish.
You can freeze tamales either raw or cooked. Here are some quick guides on how to do each method:
How to Freeze Uncooked Tamales
If you’re preparing tamales for an event but don’t want to do too much work on the date itself, you can make the tamales in advance and freeze them so that all you have to do is cook them later.
To freeze uncooked tamales, prepare them as you normally would, spreading the dough onto the corn husks, adding the filling, then tightly wrapping the bundle. Line the tamales on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer, making sure they don’t stick together.
Place them in the freezer until they’re firm (which takes about an hour). Once frozen, transfer each tamale into individual pieces of aluminum foil or cling film, wrapping them tightly. Place these into a freezer-safe container or a Ziploc bag, then store them back into the freezer.
How to Freeze Cooked Tamales
If you’ve cooked a big batch of tamales and find yourself with leftovers, freezing is a great option! Before you freeze them, let the tamales cool completely. This helps prevent condensation inside their freezer container, which could make them soggy.
Additionally, freezing tamales while they’re still warm increases the risk of freezer burn.
That said, it’s best not to leave tamales out for too long before freezing or consuming them. Leaving them out for extended periods allows bacteria to multiply, which is unsafe and can affect their quality.
How to Reheat Frozen Tamales
How do you eat tamales? The best–and really only–way to eat tamales is warm. When you’re ready to eat your frozen tamales, it’s always best to pop them into the steamer, microwave, oven, or pan to get them nice and toasty again.
Before you do that, be sure to thaw them out. You can do this by placing them in the fridge to defrost overnight. For a quicker method, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave. Make sure to check the tamale periodically and turn it so that it thaws evenly
Alternatively, you can reheat frozen tamales in the Instant Pot without the need to thaw them first. Place a cup of water in the Instant Pot and set the tamales on a trivet so they don’t touch the water. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure and cook the frozen tamales for 25 minutes.
Once thawed, here are the ways to reheat your frozen tamales:
Place the tamales in a microwave-safe plate, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for one to two minutes until heated through. If needed, heat in thirty-second intervals until warm.
Set up a steamer basket in a pot with boiling water, making sure the water won’t touch the tamales. Place the tamales upright in the basket, then cover them and steam for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap your tamales individually in aluminum foil, then line them on a baking sheet. Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, then cook the tamales for five minutes on each side or until heated through. You can heat them on the stovetop either wrapped or unwrapped.
Easy Tamales Recipe From Savor the Best
Whether you’re eating them now or saving them for the freezer, Savor the Best’s tamales recipe is ready for when you need a fix of this Mexican and Latin American dish. Check out our easy recipes today!