Tamales are a delicious Mexican dish: a dough made from Masa Harina flour encases fillings such as shredded chicken, ground beef, vegetables or cheese. They’re cooked wrapped in corn husks so they can be eaten straight from the husk. That means no plates are needed so there are less dishes to wash!
Like most food, it’s not uncommon in my house to have leftovers at the end of the night. I’d rather make too much than not enough. So if you get stuck with leftover tamales what is the best option? Toss them out you ask? Never! Instead, wrap them in foil and refrigerate. Then, when you’re feeling hungry, pull them out and rejuvenate them back to their former glory.
How to reheat tamales
Reheating tamales isn’t difficult at all. If you’ve got an oven, steamer, grill, microwave or stove top, you’ll be able to easily reheat tamales that taste scrumptious.
Watch the 2 minute explainer video
Or keep reading below to find out how to eat those left over tamales as soon as possible!
1. Bake in the oven at 325°F
If you’ve got time on your side I recommend using an oven to reheat your tamales. This option keeps them moist and fresh on the inside, like they’d just been made.
You can either reheat them in their corn husks or if they’ve been removed, wrap them in foil to seal in the moisture. Then place them in an oven dish and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add 10 minutes extra if they are frozen. After 10 minutes, turn the tamales to allow even 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 – low heat
If it’s a beautiful evening, instead of getting stick inside, why not heat your tamales on the grill. I avoid placing them over a high heat – low and slow is your best option.
While you’re at it, toss on some corn wrapped in foil for a complete meal!
3. Zap in the microwave: a quick option
This is a great option if you need to eat now but won’t provide the best end result. You’ll find the dough tends to dry out and it doesn’t have that same fresh flavor.
I place the tamales on a plate and cover with a moist paper towel. How long you reheat will depend on their size so heat on high for 1 minute than 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 stove top
This takes a little longer than the microwave but provides a better result. I don’t even bother using oil – just place them on your pan over a medium heat.
Cook them with their husks for about 5 minutes on each side then test to see they’re heated through.
Tip: Don’t overcrowding 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 for 15-20 minutes. Add 10 minutes if they’re frozen.
Frequently asked questions
How long can I store tamales for?
You can store tamales in the fridge for 3-5 days and in the freezer for 4 months. It is important when you reheat the tamales that they are heated through to the centre to avoid food poisoning.
Can I reheat frozen tamales?
Yes! 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 simply add 10 minutes to the cooking time.
Are tamales gluten free?
Traditional tamales are made with Masa Harina flour which doesn’t contain gluten. However, some are made with wheat flour added so it is always best to make your own using 100% masa flour and gluten free baking powder. If you’re buying your tamales from a store, check the packaging carefully before purchasing.
Tamales are a popular Mexican dish that are now eaten 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, I recommend reheating tamales in the oven. It provides a moister, fresher tasting result than the other methods.
In a hurry? You can still microwave tamales but they’ll have that slightly soggy, “reheated” texture that is okay, but not perfect.
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