Tamales are a combination of ‘masa’ (which is ground hominy) and various fillings. Tamale recipes often spotlight spicy pork (our personal favorite). However, they can also be packed with cheese, peppers, beef, chicken, or even vegan and vegetarian-friendly ingredients.
To make tamales, you wrap your filling in a roll of masa until it makes a cylindrical shape. The filled masa is then wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks, and steamed until the masa is cooked through. Once cooked, you can serve them with tomatillo salsa, red salsa, salads, and more!
Unless you’re catering an event, it’s difficult to make homemade tamales without winding up with more leftovers than you can handle. Luckily, tamales are easy to store and reheat when you need them. When stored and reheated correctly, your tamales will be just as delicious as the day they were prepared.
How to Store Tamales
Reheating tamales is easy if you know how, but they can only be reheated if they are stored correctly first. Refrigerating or freezing tamales after cooking them is the best way to preserve them, because the cold temperatures of the refrigerator and freezer give them a longer shelf life. If tamales are left out in the open on the counter, they can quickly lose their freshness, become dry, and even develop bacteria, making them unsafe to eat.
How long do tamales last? When refrigerated, tamales can last for a maximum of four days, and when frozen their shelf-life goes up to six months. Place your tamales in an airtight container or wrap them in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before storing them in the freezer to preserve their freshness.
Best Ways to Reheat Tamales
There are several ways to reheat tamales, but not all of them will produce the same result. Here are some ways we suggest reheating your tamales:
Steaming is the most traditional and effective way to reheat tamales. It helps to maintain their moisture and texture, ensuring they are hot and juicy, just like when they are freshly cooked. Follow these steps to steam tamales:
- Bring a pot of water to boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
- Place the tamales on top of a steamer basket (make sure the tamales do not touch the water.)
- Cover the pot and steam for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. You can over steam tamales, so check them regularly to make sure they don’t overcook, which can cause them to become soggy and fall apart.
- Check the tamales after ten minutes to see if they are cooked through enough.
- Serve and enjoy!
Using a microwave is the quickest and most convenient way to reheat tamales. However, the downside to this method is that the tamales can become dry and chewy if not microwaved correctly.
To prevent lower-quality tamales, follow these steps to reheat:
- Wrap the tamale in a damp paper towel.
- Place the tamale on a microwave-safe dish and cover the top of the plate with plastic wrap.
- Microwave the tamale for one to two minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave.
- Unwrap the tamale, check to see if it is hot enough.
- Serve your tamales once they are warmed through.
Using an oven is another great way to reheat tamales. This method is particularly useful if you are reheating a large batch of tamales. Follow these steps to reheat your tamales using an oven:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wrap your tamales in aluminum foil.
- Place them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.
- Heat them for fifteen to twenty minutes, checking every five minutes to make sure they don’t dry out.
- Once heated through, remove the tamales from the oven, unwrap, and enjoy!
The Bottom Line
Tamales are a favorite in our family and our freezer is never short of a tamale or two ready to reheat! These Mexican delicacies are a great food for reheating provided they are stored correctly and reheated with care. This makes sure they are safe to eat and taste as good as when they were first made.
We hope the methods and guidance above inspire you to make and reheat tamales in your own home!