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How To Reheat Tamales

Whether homemade or bought, tamales are often done in bulk. The thing is, how do you reheat them? This guide covers how to reheat tamales for the best results!

Tamales are top-tier. I love everything from the tender masa to the flavorful filling just works. Shredded steak, chicken, beans, cheese, chili sauce, no sauce, it doesn’t matter. One aspect that stands out about the corn husk-wrapped bundles of goodness is the soft, steamy quality. A good tamale is always tender, and the fillings are pleasantly moist but not overly so. No one wants a dry tamale. Unfortunately, if you reheat leftover tamales incorrectly, that’s precisely what you get. Or even worse, the exterior becomes dense and gummy while the filling, if it happens to be meat-based, is rendered chewy, tough, and simply unappetizing. Fortunately, this guide covers how to reheat tamales. I have included several methods so you can select the one that works best for you and your kitchen.

How To Reheat Tamales

Tamale Storage

Let’s talk storage first because if you don’t store tamales correctly, you can forget about reheating them. To start, you’ll need a large food-safe zipper bag. Once cooked, arrange the tamales in the bag in a single layer; do not remove the husks. Next, remove as much air as possible without pressing on the tamales too much and seal the bag. After the tamales are bagged, you have two options: the first is the refrigerator. Leftover tamales can be refrigerated for 4-6 days; however, it is best not to exceed 4 days for tamales with meat filling. Option two is freezer storage. Tamales can be frozen for 3 months, but I wouldn’t go past 2 months for those with meat filling.

How To Reheat Tamales

You can use several methods to reheat tamales correctly, but we’re covering the top five. In addition to being the most accessible, they’re least likely to produce undesirable results.

Steaming

Steaming is the gold standard when it comes to tamale reheating methods. They’re cooked with steam, so reheating them in the same manner they’re cooked makes perfect sense. This method holds the top spot because the tamales will taste as if they were just made. The tamales will be heated evenly and ready to eat in less than 25 minutes! To reheat tamales with a steamer:

  1. Add water to a pot or bamboo steamer. If using a pot, you want to add an inch or two of water, whereas a bamboo steamer only needs ¼ cup of water.
  2. Turn the heat to medium.
  3. Place the tamales into the steamer and close the lid. The tamales should be in their husks, of course.
  4. Heat for 15 minutes. Reheating may take up to 25 minutes for larger quantities. Remove one and insert an instant-read thermometer in the center to ensure they are heated through. It should be 160-165°F.
  5. Enjoy.

Note: Use a pot fitted with a steamer basket if reheating tamales for a crowd. The bamboo option or the steamer-pan duos are best suited for smaller quantities.

Oven

Reheating tamales in the oven is the second-best way to return them to their freshly steamed glory. This method uses foil to protect the tamales from the harsh heat of the stove for moist, tender results every time. To reheat tamales in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Also, grab a baking sheet and aluminum foil.
  2. Tightly wrap the tamales in foil, place them onto the baking sheet, and pop them into the oven.
  3. Reheat for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  4. Check to ensure that the internal temperature of the tamales reaches 160-165°F.
  5. Remove from the oven, carefully remove the tamales from the foil, and serve.

Note: You can individually wrap the tamales in foil or place them on a large sheet of foil and wrap them to create a large packet. Either way is fine. If reheating from frozen, the tamales need about 30 minutes.

How To Reheat Tamales In The Oven

Air Fryer

Everyone loves their air fryer, right? It is such a useful kitchen appliance that makes cooking significantly easier. Here’s how to reheat tamales in the air fryer:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F.
  2. Spritz the husks with cool water. If you don’t have a spray bottle, lightly splash them with water.
  3. Place the tamales in the air fryer basket and reheat for 10-15 minutes.
How To Reheat Tamales In The Air Fryer

Stovetop

Those who like their tamales a little on the crispier side can reheat them in a skillet on the stovetop. The masa gets a little firmer and browns in some spots but is still tender, and the fillings don’t dry out. In addition to tamales and a pan, you will need oil (or lard) and water. Once you gather everything:

  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  2. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan. Swirl the pan to distribute the oil evenly.
  3. Remove the tamales from their husks and place them in the skillet once hot.
  4. Reheat for 6-8 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so.
  5. Add a splash of water, place a lid on the pan, and leave the tamales to steam for 2 minutes. Check the internal temperature to ensure that it reaches a safe 160-165°F.
  6. Serve.
How To Reheat Tamales On The Stove

Microwave

The microwave is great because it offers a quick, easy, and convenient way to reheat food, tamales included. Despite that, you must proceed with caution. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing but dry, tough tamales to look forward to. Here’s how to reheat tamales in the microwave:

  1. Individually wrap each tamale in a damp paper towel. Wrap it around the husk. This will prevent the tamales from drying out.
  2. Arrange the tamales on a microwave-safe plate in a single layer with some space in between for heat to circulate. Don’t crowd them on the plate. If reheating large quantities, do so in batches.

Notes: If reheating from frozen, set the tamales on the counter to thaw before reheating. Otherwise, they will take considerably longer to heat through.

How To Reheat Tamales In The Microwave

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Monique McArthur
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