The Best Way to Reheat Frozen Tamales

Tamales, a beloved traditional Mexican dish, are often prepared in large batches and shared among family and friends. With their delicious combination of seasoned meat or vegetables wrapped in masa dough and steamed inside a corn husk, it’s no wonder that many people want to enjoy these tasty treats long after they’ve been freshly made. This is where proper reheating techniques come into play, ensuring their delightful flavor and texture are preserved even when frozen.

Take a Look ↓↓↓

Reheating frozen tamales may seem daunting, but with the right approach, you can quickly and easily bring your tamales back to life. In this article, we’ll explore the best methods for reheating frozen tamales, discussing their advantages and potential drawbacks. By applying these techniques, you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly reheated tamales in no time.

From steaming to baking, there are several ways to bring your frozen tamales back to their original delicious state. Read on to discover which method works best for your taste, helping you maximize the flavor and texture of these delightful Mexican treats.

How to reheat frozen tamales: the best way

Thawing Frozen Tamales

Before reheating your frozen tamales, it is essential to thaw them properly to ensure the best taste and texture. There are two recommended methods for thawing frozen tamales: the refrigerator method and the cold water method.

Refrigerator Method

Thawing your frozen tamales in the refrigerator is the easiest and most convenient method. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Remove the frozen tamales from the freezer and transfer them into a leakproof container or plastic bag to prevent any leaks or spills.
  2. Place the container in the refrigerator and let the tamales thaw for at least 6-8 hours, or overnight for best results.

Keep in mind that the tamales should be consumed within 3-4 days after thawing in the refrigerator to maintain their taste and freshness.

Cold Water Method

If you’re short on time, the cold water method is an effective way to thaw frozen tamales quickly. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the frozen tamales in a leakproof plastic bag or container, ensuring that they are sealed properly.
  2. Fill a large bowl or sink with cold water and submerge the bag with the tamales completely.
  3. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a consistent cold temperature and aid in the thawing process.

Using this method, the tamales should be thawed in approximately 1-2 hours. Once thawed, it is essential to reheat the tamales immediately and not refreeze them.

Reheating Methods

In this section, we will discuss various methods to reheat frozen tamales, ensuring they taste just as delicious as freshly made ones.

Steamer Method

The steamer method is the most traditional option and usually provides the best results. To reheat tamales using a steamer:

  1. Place tamales in a steamer basket with the open end facing upwards.
  2. Fill the bottom of the steamer with boiling water.
  3. Steam tamales for around 15-20 minutes, or until heated through, ensuring the steamer doesn’t run out of water.

Oven Reheating Tamales

Oven reheating is another option for those without access to a steamer. You can reheat tamales in the oven by following these steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
  2. Wrap each tamale individually in foil, keeping it wrapped in its original corn husk or banana leaf.
  3. Place wrapped tamales on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.

Microwave

For a quick reheating option, you can utilize a microwave:

  1. Wrap tamales in damp paper towels to add moisture.
  2. Place tamales on a microwave-safe plate.
  3. Heat on medium-high for about 1-2 minutes per tamale, depending on the microwave’s power and quantity of tamales.

Instant Pot

An Instant Pot can also be used to reheat tamales:

  1. Place tamales on a trivet or steam basket inside the Instant Pot.
  2. Add 1 cup of water to the pot.
  3. Close the lid and set the release valve to “sealing” mode.
  4. Set the manual or pressure cook function to high pressure for 5 minutes.
  5. Allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the lid.

Rice Cooker

Another steaming alternative can be done using a rice cooker:

  1. Place tamales in the rice cooker’s steamer basket.
  2. Add enough water to the rice cooker to steam without submerging the tamales.
  3. Steam for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

Air Fryer

To reheat tamales using an air fryer:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 370°F (190°C).
  2. Place tamales in the air fryer basket or on a tray.
  3. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.

Frying Pan

A frying pan can be used to reheat tamales:

  1. Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Place tamales in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until heated through and slightly crispy.

Slow Cooker

Reheating tamales in a slow cooker:

  1. Place tamales at the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Add a small amount of water or broth for moisture.
  3. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 2-3 hours, or until heated through.

Grill

Using a grill to reheat tamales can add a delicious smoky flavor:

  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. Wrap each tamale in foil, keeping it wrapped in its corn husk or banana leaf.
  3. Place wrapped tamales on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until heated through.

Griddle

To reheat tamales on a griddle:

  1. Preheat griddle to medium heat.
  2. Cook tamales for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until heated through and slightly crispy.

Deep Fryer

For a crispy twist, you can deep fry your tamales:

  1. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Carefully lower tamales, one at a time, into the hot oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown and heated through.

Panini Press

A panini press can also reheat tamales:

  1. Preheat panini press to medium heat.
  2. Place tamales on the press and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through and slightly crispy.
How to reheat frozen tamales

Preparing Large Batches

When you need to reheat large batches of frozen tamales, it’s essential to use a method that ensures even heating and maintains the quality and flavor of the tamales. This section will discuss three methods: Double Boiler, Shuck House, and R10 Social House.

Double Boiler

Using a double boiler is a popular method for reheating large batches of frozen tamales. It allows for gentle, even heat and helps to retain moisture. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill the bottom pot of the double boiler with water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Place the frozen tamales in a single layer on the top pot of the double boiler.
  3. Cover and steam for 20-25 minutes until the tamales are heated through.
QuantitySteaming time
10-15 tamales20-25 minutes
16-25 tamales25-30 minutes

Chef Cindy Loren from Los Angeles recommends this method for large batches, as it allows for better control over the reheating process.

Shuck House

Shuck House, a famous tamale spot in Redondo Beach, recommends using a large steam pot when reheating tamales in bulk. This method ensures that the tamales are cooked in uniform batches.

  • First, line a large steamer basket with parchment paper, then add a layer of two or more tamales on the parchment paper.
  • Continue adding tamales in layers separated by more parchment paper.
  • Fill the bottom of the steam pot with water, just below the steamer basket.
  • Set the heat to medium-high and wait for the water to boil.
  • Put the steamer basket over the boiling water, cover with a lid, and steam for 30-40 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure the water doesn’t run out.

R10 Social House

R10 Social House, a popular restaurant in Los Angeles, suggests baking the tamales in the oven as an alternative method for reheating large batches. This helps to maintain the texture and flavor of the tamales.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. Arrange the frozen tamales in a single layer on a baking sheet, leaving space between each tamale.
  3. Cover the tamales with a layer of aluminum foil.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tamales are heated through.

To ensure the most delicious and evenly heated tamales, follow these expert tips for reheating large batches of frozen tamales.

Accompaniments and Storage

Homemade Guacamole

To make your own guacamole, follow these simple steps:

  1. Mash two ripe avocados in a bowl.
  2. Add the juice of one lime.
  3. Mix in 1/4 cup chopped red onion and 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve your homemade guacamole alongside your reheated tamales for a delicious and complementary addition.

Rice and Beans

Rice and beans are another tasty side option for tamales. Here’s a quick recipe:

  • Cook 1 cup of long-grain white rice according to package instructions.
  • In a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté 1/2 cup diced onion and 1 minced garlic clove until translucent.
  • Add 1 can of black or pinto beans (drained and rinsed) to the pan with the onions and garlic.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then serve with your reheated tamales.

Freezing Tamales

To properly freeze tamales, follow these steps:

  1. Cool freshly made tamales to room temperature.
  2. Wrap each tamale individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  3. Place wrapped tamales in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
  4. Label the bag with the date and store in the freezer for up to 4 months.

When you’re ready to reheat your frozen tamales, they can be steamed, microwaved, or baked in the oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I steam tamales without a steamer? You can steam tamales using a makeshift steamer:

  • Place a heatproof plate on top of a trivet or metal stand.
  • Add enough water to the pot to cover the trivet.
  • Arrange your tamales on the plate, standing up with the open ends facing up.
  • Cover the pot and steam for the recommended time.

Can I steam tamales in a rice cooker? Yes, you can steam tamales in a rice cooker. Follow these steps:

  • Add water to the rice cooker.
  • Place the steam rack inside and arrange the tamales vertically, with the open ends facing up.
  • Cover and cook for the recommended time.

How do I reheat frozen tamales in a microwave? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Wrap each tamale individually in a damp paper towel.
  2. Place them on a microwave-safe plate.
  3. Heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.

How do I reheat frozen tamales in an air fryer? To reheat frozen tamales in an air fryer, follow these steps:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Place the frozen tamales in a single layer.
  3. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through, turning them halfway for even cooking.

How do I reheat frozen tamales in the oven? Here’s how to reheat frozen tamales in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Wrap each tamale individually in aluminum foil.
  3. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Is it okay to boil tamales? Avoid boiling tamales as it may cause them to become soggy. Steaming is the preferred method for reheating tamales.

Can I reheat tamales using a panini press? Reheating tamales in a panini press is not recommended because it may cause uneven heating and alter the dish’s texture. Stick to steaming, microwaving, air frying, or oven reheating for best results.

Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)