Can I Reheat Tamales? Tips on Which Method is Best

Whether they’re stuffed with meat and cheese or wrapped around a sweet dessert filling, tamales are a special treat if you’re lucky enough to get them. Making tamales can be tricky, as they require special ingredients and preparation is labor intensive, so it makes sense to prepare or purchase tamales in batches so they can be frozen or stored in the fridge and reheated as needed.  

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But what is the proper technique for reheating tamales without drying them out? Can they be removed from their husk before reheating? We’ll answer these questions and more in this post.  

Can You Reheat Tamales? 

Tamales can be reheated, but it takes a little planning to ensure the masa dough doesn’t become dried out (or too soggy) in the process. Because tamales are cooked by steaming them in a husk, any reheating technique that mimics this will be the best way to get tamales as close to their original state as possible.  

Can You Reheat Tamales

But if you don’t mind your tamales turning out a bit different the second time around, you can also reheat them so they get a crispy outer crust with a soft interior. Which result you like best is a matter of personal preference. 

Should You Reheat Tamales? 

As long as your tamales haven’t been in the fridge for more than three to four days, they should be safe to reheat. Tamales also freeze beautifully, and they will retain their quality for up to six months. So don’t be afraid to prepare tamales in large batches and then freeze them for future reheating.

No matter how you’ve been storing your tamales, make sure they haven’t been out at room temperature for any length of time. If you have any doubts as to whether your tamales are safe to eat, it’s best to leave them alone. 

How to Reheat Tamales in the Oven 

Reheating tamales in the oven will give them a brown and crispy outer crust. It’s also a great way to reheat tamales in quantity.  

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Wrap each tamale tightly in several layers of foil. 
  • Place your wrapped tamales in a baking pan, leaving space between them. 
  • Bake 15-20 minutes for thawed tamales, 25-30 for frozen. Flip tamales halfway through cooking time. 

How to Reheat Tamales in the Microwave 

The microwave is a great method to use if you’re feeling impatient. It’s quick, and it gets the job done. But there is a right way and a wrong way to reheat tamales in the microwave 

  • Wrap your tamales in either a damp paper towel or cornhusk sprinkled with water.  
  • Don’t put more than two tamales on the plate at a time. 
  • Microwave on medium-high for 15 minutes. Remove the damp towel or cornhusk, flip over, and replace with a fresh one. 
  • Keep heating for 15 second intervals until hot. 

How to Reheat Tamales in an Air Fryer 

Like the microwave, the air fryer will reheat tamales in minutes. But unlike the microwave, you’ll get that brown crispy crust on the outside.  

  • Wrap your tamales in their husks and place them in the air fryer basket leaving space in between. It’s important not to crowd them. 
  • Fry at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes on each side. For frozen, fry for 11-12 minutes each side. 

How to Reheat Tamales on a Grill 

Using the grill to reheat tamales can be tricky, but it is possible.  

  • Heat the grill to medium heat, but be careful to keep it low, or you might dry out your tamales. 
  • Wrap each tamale tightly in foil and heat for 5-10 minutes, or until heated through. 

How to Reheat Tamales in a Toaster Oven 

The toaster oven method is similar to the oven method but with a lower temperature and shorter cooking time.  

How To Reheat Tamales in a Toaster Oven

  • Wrap each tamale tightly and place directly on the toaster oven rack. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes. 

How to Reheat Tamales in a Pan on the Stove 

There are two ways to reheat tamales on the stovetop: frying in a skillet and steaming in a double boiler or steamer.  

PRO TIP: The skillet method gives your leftover tamales a crispy outer crust, but it can’t be used on frozen tamales, as they will splatter too much and won’t heat through.  

To use the skillet method, heat a spoonful of neutral oil in the skillet, and carefully place your unwrapped tamales in the hot oil. Flip with tongs after a few minutes and brown on the other side. 

PRO TIP: The steamer method is hands down the best way to make your tamales like new. However, it does take a full 20-30 minutes for your food to fully reheat.  

Simply fill the steamer pot with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Once the pot is steaming, reduce heat to medium and carefully place tamales in the steamer basket.  

Cook 20 minutes for fresh, and 30 minutes for frozen tamales. 

WINNER – The Best Way to Reheat Tamales Is Using the Stovetop 

Reheating on the stovetop is the best way to reheat tamales. Why? Because if you love your reheated tamales crispy, the skillet method gives the best results.  

In fact, this method is used throughout Mexico as a way to prepare tamales the day after. However, if you love steaming, soft tamales, the stovetop steamer is as close to the original as it gets. 

Do you have a favorite tamale recipe? Is this dish a part of your family tradition? Do you have a tried and true way of reheating tamales?  Share your tips, recipes, and stories with us in the comments section below. 

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