Tamales are a delicious Mexican dish, perfect for eating out of hand like tortillas, a taco or burrito. A dough made from Masa Harina flour encases fillings such as shredded chicken, ground beef, vegetables, or cheese. They are wrapped in corn husks and then cooked in a pan.
If you cook a batch of tamales and end up with leftovers, you may not know what to do with them. The answer is simple: wrap them in foil and refrigerate. Then, when you’re feeling hungry, reheat the tamales using one of the methods below.
5 options for reheating
Reheating tamales isn’t tricky. If you’ve got an oven, grill, microwave, stovetop, or steamer, you can reheat tamales that taste like the freshly made version.
1. Bake in the oven
If time is on your side, use an oven to reheat your tamales. This option keeps them moist and fresh on the inside, like fresh ones.
You can either reheat them in their corn husks or wrap them in foil to seal in the moisture.
- Place the tamales in an oven dish and cook for 15–20 minutes at 325°F (160°C).
- Add 10 minutes of extra cooking time if they are frozen. After 10 minutes, turn the tamales to allow even heating.
Tip for reheating tamales
If you have a crockpot, you can use one of these instead. Extend the cooking time to allow for the slower, less intense heating.
Want to learn more about the best cookware for your needs? Check out my massive guide to cookware which goes into heaps of detail about what to look out for when choosing the right pan for cooking.
2. Heat on the grill
Instead of getting stuck inside, why not heat your tamales on the grill?
- Wrap tamales in foil if they aren't already encased in corn husks.
- Add the tamales to the grill and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Avoid blasting them with high heat.
- While you’re at it, cook some corn wrapped in foil for a complete meal.
3. Zap in the microwave
A microwave is an excellent option if you are in a hurry. However, this option won’t provide the best result. You’ll find the dough tends to dry out, and it doesn’t have that same fresh flavor.
- Place the tamales on a plate and cover with a moist paper towel. How long you reheat them will depend on their size. A good starting point is to heat them on high for 1 minute, then check how they look.
- If needed, continue heating at 30-second intervals.
Warning: The corn husks really trap that heat in, so be careful when you remove them.
4. Revitalise on the stovetop.
Reheating on the stovetop takes a little longer than in the microwave but provides a better result. Avoid using oil, as the corn husks or banana leaves will stop it from burning.
- Place the tamales in the pan over medium heat.
- Cook them with their husks for about 5 minutes on each side then test that they are heated internally. Continue heating if required.
Don’t overcrowd them in the pan. Leave a bit of space between each tamale.
5. Heat in a steamer
You can also warm up tamales in a steamer, which is a good option if you don’t have time to keep checking that they’re ready. Steaming means you’re less likely to burn them.
- Fill the steamer to ¼ full, then set to medium and allow the water to heat for 10 minutes.
- Cook for 15–20 minutes. Add 10 minutes extra if they’re frozen.
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Frequently Asked Questions
You can store tamales in the fridge for 3-5 days and in the freezer for four months. When it comes time to eat them, follow food safety guidelines by checking that the tamales are heated to the center. This step will deal with any unwanted bacteria.
You can reheat frozen tamales in a microwave, conventional oven, or steamer. If you’re reheating in a microwave, leave them on the bench to thaw for 30 minutes before heating on high. If you’re reheating in the oven or steamer, avoid thawing and add 10 minutes to the cooking time.
Traditional tamales are made with Masa Harina flour, which doesn’t contain gluten. However, some use wheat flour, so it is always best to check the ingredients thoroughly. If you’re buying your tamales from a store, check the packaging carefully before purchasing.
Watch the 2-minute explainer video
Tamales are a popular Mexican dish that’s popular in many parts of the world, including the U.S. If you cook too many, don’t worry. They are excellent reheated the next day (or several days later). If you’re after the best option, it's best to reheat tamales in the oven. They'll be moister, fresher-tasting, and more enjoyable.
In a hurry? You can still microwave tamales, but they’ll have that slightly soggy texture that is okay, but not perfect.
What’s your favorite method for reheating tamales? Let us know in the comments below.