how to reheat tamales

Mexican food is a real treat because it is so unique. Filled with spicy, aromatic flavors, one of my favorite Mexican foods is tamales. When I make them, I usually make extra, so I soon learned how to reheat tamales.

Most people call this using up leftovers. But I invented my own word – ‘plan-overs’. You are probably wondering what plan-overs are. It is food that you have planned to have left over after a meal, saving you time and effort when you need food, but don’t have time to cook.

Tamales are a firm favorite in my house. This Mexican dish can best be described as a scrumptious parcel of food, made of dough that is made from corn, and filled with assorted fillings, such as meat, chicken, vegetables or fish. The whole parcel is then wrapped in either a corn husk or a banana leaf in which it is cooked, but is then discarded before you eat.

So you have had a crazy day, and are so pleased that in your freezer you have those tamales that you made last week. But what do you need to do with them to make them all yummy again?

How To Reheat Tamales

There are numerous methods that can be used to reheat tamales. I will give you simple instructions for each method. These will all work well with both home-made tamales and store-bought frozen tamales. 

Must You Defrost Tamales Before Reheating Them?

Tamales can be reheated from frozen, but it will take a little longer. The end result will be better if you defrost them first, by taking them out of the freezer the night before, and then leaving them to defrost in the fridge overnight.

How To Reheat Tamales In A Steamer

This can be done on the stove in a pot with a steamer basket. Fill your pot with about two inches of water. Put the tamales, still in their husks, into the basket, and place in the pot, making sure that the water does not actually touch the tamales. Try to stand them up, rather than stacking them on top of each other. 

Cover with a lid and steam for about 20 minutes. If your tamales are frozen, it will take about 35-40 minutes. Remove the husks before eating. This method can also be used in an electric steamer.

How To Reheat Tamales In A Pan

Using this method will make your tamales deliciously brown and crispy, but is not as healthy as steaming. This works best for tamales that have been thawed already. 

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and heat over medium heat. Remove the husks first. Carefully lower the tamales into the hot pan and cover, to prevent the oil from splattering. Using tongs, turn every 2-3 minutes until nicely browned and heated through, which will take approximately 10 minutes. Place on a piece of paper towel for a minute to drain the excess oil.

See Related Article: How to Reheat Crab Legs – A Quick Guide

How To Reheat Tamales In The Oven

how to reheat tamales

Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Wrap individual tamales in foil and place in an oven-proof dish. Place in the hot oven. Turn the parcels after 10 minutes to ensure even heating. Remove after another 10 minutes and unwrap. This method works well with the tamales still in their husks, or without them. 

How To Reheat Tamales In An Air Fryer

This method will take a lot of the moisture out of your tamales, so it is best to heat them in their husks

Place the tamales in the basket of the air fryer, and set the timer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn them over and repeat. If they are frozen when you put them in, you will need about 11-12 minutes on each side.

How To Reheat Tamales In A Microwave

This is the best method if you are in a hurry, but it should only be used as a last resort because it is not as good as the other methods. 

Wrap your thawed tamales individually in a piece of paper towel. Place on a plate in the microwave, 2 at a time, and heat on full power for 15 seconds. Remove, wrap in a new paper towel, turn over, and repeat. You may need to do this 3 or 4 times until they are hot enough, depending on your microwave’s power.

Whichever method you choose to use to reheat tamales, they are bound to be delicious. Cook, freeze, reheat, and enjoy.

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Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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