Tamales are a delicious Latin American dish that can be found worldwide. They’re portable, easy to customize, and great for meal prepping. Even though you (and whomever you’re serving) will want to gobble them up, it’s easy to feel full before you get to the bottom of your plate–or the batch you made!
That’s okay, though. You can easily save tamales for later. Let’s explore how long tamales stay good so you don’t feel pressured to eat them all in one sitting. We recommend following these guidelines for food safety and taste preservation.
What Is a Tamale?
The tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish. Regions where it is served use slightly different ingredients, so there’s no one way to make one. That said, the base is typically made with corn flour dough, filled with meat and other items, and then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves (that aren’t meant to be eaten) before they are cooked.
Cooked tamales are usually good in the fridge for up to four days after cooking. Raw tamales, on the other hand, will last three days in the fridge. If you’ve already cooked them and are leaving them out at room temperature, you should eat them within two hours–it can be unsafe to eat perishable food that has not been refrigerated for a while.
What Are Tamales Made Of?
Tamale recipes vary, but these are the basic ingredients you’ll need to make them:
- ‘Masa harina’
- Broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- Baking powder
- Lard or butter, or oil
- Dried corn husks
- Fillings which can include meat, vegetables, cheese, and beans.
You can top your tamales with sour cream, guacamole, salsa verde, or pico de gallo if you’d like. Toppings aren’t necessary, but they can add some flare and really bring the dish together!
Tamales should be moist, but not mushy. If they are oversteamed and you need to know how to fix mushy tamales, it’s easy. Start by patting them dry with a paper towel. Next, place them on a baking sheet and pop them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about ten minutes. This will help evaporate some excess moisture and give them a firmer texture.
How Many Tamales Should You Make?
To avoid making too many, its a good idea to determine how many tamales per person to make beforehand. If you’re serving them on their own, you may want to make three to five for each person you’re serving.
If this feels like too many, you can probably get away with making two or three per person, instead. When tamales are being served as a side dish with a larger meal, you may want to make less so you’re not stuck with too many leftovers.
Tamales are a well-known dish in many countries. Regardless of their filling, whether it’s meat, cheese, or vegetables, they are perishable and you should follow food safety guidelines.
If left at room temperature, tamales should only remain out for up to two hours. When stored in the fridge, they’re good for 3 to 4 days, but if you pop them in the freezer, they can last up to 6 months.