The Ultimate Guide to Reheating Frozen Tamales: The Best Techniques Revealed

How to reheat frozen tamales: The Best Way

Tamales are a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed on many occasions. Whether you have made a large batch of tamales to freeze or purchased them frozen, it is important to know the best way to reheat them to ensure they are tasty and fresh. In this article, we will explore different methods for reheating frozen tamales without compromising their quality.

The Steaming Method

Steaming is widely considered the best method for reheating tamales because it helps retain their moisture and prevents them from drying out. Here’s how to steam frozen tamales:

  1. Steam on the stovetop:
    • Fill a saucepan with about 2 inches of water.
    • Place a steamer insert in the pot, making sure the water does not touch the tamales.
    • Place the tamales upright in the steamer with the open ends facing up.
    • Steam tamales for about 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to avoid overcooking.
  2. Steam in a steamer:
    • If you have a multi-level steamer, steam the tamales on a single level.
    • Avoid stacking the tamales directly on top of each other to prevent them from becoming soggy.
    • Steam tamales for 20-30 minutes, checking temperature and texture periodically.
  3. Steam in a rice cooker or Instant Pot:
    • Elevate the tamales above the water level using rolled-up aluminum foil or a round metal rack in the rice cooker.
    • Place the tamales upright in the rice cooker with the open ends facing up.
    • Cook on high from frozen for about 20 minutes, checking the internal temperature and steaming for additional time if necessary.

The Oven Method

Reheating tamales in the oven is a simple method that can produce good results. However, it is important to take precautions to prevent them from drying out. Here’s how to reheat tamales in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
  2. Wrap each tamale individually in aluminum foil or cover the baking pan with foil to retain moisture.
  3. Place the wrapped tamales in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes if frozen or 15-20 minutes if thawed.

The griddle or stovetop method

For a quick and traditional way to reheat tamales, you can use a griddle or frying pan. This method provides a crispy outer crust while keeping the inside hot. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Defrost the tamales until just thawed.
  2. Heat a griddle or skillet over high heat.
  3. Place the tamales, still wrapped in their corn husks, on the hot griddle or pan.
  4. Allow the husks to blacken before flipping the tamales.
  5. Make sure the tamale is hot inside and the shell is mostly black on all sides before serving.

Alternatively, you can remove the husks and cook the tamales directly on the griddle with a little cooking oil or olive oil. This method results in a crisper outer crust, but requires less cooking time.

The microwave method

Although not the ideal method, the microwave can be used to reheat tamales when you are short on time. Keep in mind that microwaves do not distribute heat evenly, so results may vary. Here’s how to microwave frozen tamales:

  1. If the tamale is frozen, place it on a microwave-safe plate, leaving it in the shell.
  2. Cover the tamale with a bowl or splatter guard to prevent moisture loss.
  3. Microwave on medium or 50% power for 3 minutes to defrost the tamale.
  4. Flip tamale over and microwave 2 minutes on medium power to thoroughly heat.
  5. When thawed, microwave on high for 1 ½ minutes on one side, then flip and microwave for 1 minute on the other side.

It is important to monitor the tamale closely to avoid overcooking and drying out the dough.


Reheating frozen tamales can be done in several ways, but steaming is generally considered the best option because it helps retain moisture and preserves the texture of the tamale. However, other methods such as using an oven, griddle, or microwave may also produce satisfactory results, depending on your preferences and time constraints. By following these reheating methods, you can enjoy delicious and flavorful tamales without compromising their quality.


Can I reheat frozen tamales in the microwave?

While it is possible to reheat frozen tamales in the microwave, it is not the recommended method. Microwaves can cause uneven heating and can dry out the tamale. Steaming or using an oven is generally a better option for maintaining texture and flavor.

How long should frozen tamales be steamed?

Steaming frozen tamales typically takes 20-30 minutes. However, the exact time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the tamales. It is important to check the temperature and texture periodically to avoid overcooking.

Can I reheat frozen tamales in the oven without removing the skins?

Yes, you can reheat frozen tamales in the oven without removing the skins. Wrapping each tamale individually in aluminum foil or covering the baking pan with foil will help retain moisture and prevent them from drying out during the reheating process.

How do I keep my tamales from getting mushy during steaming?

To prevent tamales from getting mushy when steamed, avoid stacking them directly on top of each other. Instead, steam them in a single layer or use a steamer. This will allow the steam to circulate evenly and prevent them from getting too soft.

Can I reheat tamales on the stovetop without a steamer?

Yes, if you don’t have a steamer, you can still reheat tamales on the stovetop. Simply fill a saucepan with a few inches of water, place a heat-safe colander or metal strainer in the pot, and place the tamales in the colander. Cover the pot and steam the tamales until heated through.

Can I microwave tamales if I’m short on time?

While microwaving frozen tamales is a quick option, it is not the ideal method as it can result in uneven heating and potential dryness. If you’re pressed for time, it’s best to use the microwave on a low power setting to defrost the tamale first, then finish heating it in the oven or on the stovetop for better results.