How To Reheat Frozen Tamales

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You have a batch of tamales in the freezer from last month that is ready to be reheated! Should you reheat tamales in the oven or in a steamer?

The biggest problem is making sure that those yummy tamale flavors and textures don’t go straight down the drain.

Well, you’re not going to believe how easy it is to revive fresh tasting hot tamales for your friends and family that are ready in no time at all.

Today, I will tell you about reheating frozen tamales in a steamer step-by-step.

How To Reheat Frozen Tamales In A Steamer

There are many ways to reheat frozen tamales. While you could use a rice cooker, crockpot, or Instant Pot, using a steamer is our preferred method for reheating tamales.

When you steam your tamales, you help them keep their original texture. The steam rehydrates them as they are being heated.

Steaming tamales also helps them keep their original flavor. They will taste like they were freshly cooked! Other methods of reheating can cause the food to heat too quickly, resulting in a loss of flavor.

Another benefit to using a steamer is you can reheat several tamales at once. They cook quickly, so you can have dinner ready for you or your family in as little as 30 minutes!

What You Need

Luckily, you do not need a lot of items to steam frozen tamales! They are easy to make and require little effort.

  • Cooked Frozen Tamales: You could use thawed tamales if you have time, but the reheating times will change.
  • An Electric Steamer: You can’t steam tamales without the equipment!
  • Boiling Water: You will need to add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water to your steamer.
  • Aluminum foil (optional): You may need aluminum foil to keep your tamales from falling over in the steamer.
  • A Timer: You will need a timer to check your tamales.
  • Tongs: You will need tongs to remove the tamales from the steamer.
  • A Food Thermometer: You will need a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your tamales.

Step 1: Add Water

The amount of water you need will depend on the size of your steamer. Typically, you’ll need 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water.

The water should not rise above the bottom of the steamer basket or touch the tamales. If the water rises above the bottom, you’ll need to remove some. If water comes in contact with your tamales, it will cause them to become mushy.

Step 2: Set The Heat To Medium

Use medium heat to reheat tamales.

Setting the heat to high may make your tamales cook faster, but they could become dry. It could also cause your water to evaporate, resulting in burning from any juices that have settled to the bottom of the pan.

Setting the heat to low may sound good if you want soft tamales, but they may become too soggy and take quite a bit of time to bring up to temperature.

Step 3: Add Tamales Carefully

How many tamales should you add? You can cook frozen tamales, several tamales at once, depending on the size of your steamer. Never stack them, only stand tamales upright in a single layer.

tamales standing upright

Place the tamales with their openings facing up so the fillings will not fall out of the corn husk if you’re using open-ended tamales.

If you have enough tamales, they should lean up against each other without falling. But if you only have a few, try placing a ball of aluminum foil in the center and lean your tamales against it to prevent them from falling over.

Step 4: Set A Timer To Heat Evenly

Set a timer for 20 minutes.

If you have 1 or 2 tamales in your steamer, they’ll likely be done at the 20-minute mark. If you have several tamales, still check them in 20 minutes. If they’re not done, check them every 5 minutes until they’re heated through.

Your tamales should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe.

It is important to check them often to prevent overcooking, which will cause your tamales to be very soggy.

Step 5: Remove Tamales

Remove your tamales with a pair of tongs to prevent burning.

Before removing the tamales, make sure they’re cooked thoroughly.

First, check to see if the corn husk has separated from the dough. This is a sign that your tamales are finished heating.

Second, check the internal temperature of your tamales. They should reach a temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.

Don’t Have An Electric Steamer For Tamales?

If not, no worries! We understand that sometimes you don’t have the equipment required for a certain method of cooking.

That is why I’ll show you another method of steaming tamales similar to the method above, and you’ll likely have the equipment on hand.

Steaming your tamales on the stove will give you a similar outcome. Your tamales will be hydrated, they will be cooked, and they will taste great!

What You Need

You only need a few items to prepare this delicious dish!

  • Frozen Tamales: Of course! You’ve got to have tamales!
  • A Stovetop Steamer: You need a large pot, a steamer insert, and a lid!
  • Water: You will need 1 – 1/2 cup of water.
  • An Oven Mitt: You will need an oven mitt to remove the lid.
  • A Pair Of Tongs: You will need tongs to remove the tamales.
  • A Food Thermometer: You will need a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your tamales.

Step 1: Add Water

Add 1 – 1/2 cup of water to a large pot. Make sure the water is not too high. The tamales should never touch the water.

Step 2: Add Tamales

Add tamales to a steamer basket/insert. All tamales should be placed in a single layer in the basket, with the open end facing up.

Step 3: Place Basket Inside Pot

Place your steamer basket, or steaming insert, into the pot and place the lid on top of the pot.

Step 4: Boil Water

Bring the water to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Remove Tamales

Use an oven mitt to remove the lid, take the steamer basket out of the pot, and remove the tamales with a pair of tongs.

Final Thoughts

Tamales are delicious, but sometimes they can be a little tricky to reheat properly from frozen.

SEE ALSO: How Long Do Tamales Last?

By steaming your homemade frozen tamales, they will taste like you just made a fresh batch. They’ll be hydrated and keep their original texture.

If you’re short on time, you can always reheat your frozen tamales in the microwave. But, they will be much drier and may not have that same authentic flavor.

When reheating tamales, either way, make sure to remove the corn husks before serving. Serve with your favorite hot sauce, and enjoy!

Written By Justin Micheal

Justin is not just the creator but also an author and editor for KitchenSanity. He does the majority of the cooking at home with his wife. His friends and family look forward to eating his delicious creations, which often leads to many questions about how they can replicate his meals at home. In his writing, he shares his passion and knowledge as a home chef from his kitchen to yours.