How To Reheat Tamales At Home (3 Best Ways)

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Tamales are a holiday food and are usually made in large batches, so reheating them properly is critical. Luckily, leftover tamales are forgiving. Once you make them, you can refrigerate or freeze them, and if you vacuum seal them, you can freeze them for up to six months.

Tamales are traditionally made with spicy pork, wrapped in corn masa dough and cooked in a corn husk.

You can use any number of methods to reheat your tamales. Each one has its benefits and challenges, but whatever way you choose, you’ll be enjoying delicious snacks before you know it!

How To Reheat Tamales In The Microwave

If you’re impatient to enjoy your hot tamales, the microwave is the quickest way to reheat them.

They won’t be deliciously crispy, as with the oven method, and there is the potential for them to come out a little dry, but with the right prep, this method is ideal for those in a hurry.

Handle them with care if you plan to microwave tamales; these yummy little food packets are very moist and will produce quite a lot of steam.

How long does it take to reheat tamales in the microwave? If already thawed, the process should take between 30 seconds to one minute. Frozen tamales may take two to three minutes.

What you will need:

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Paper towels – damp


  1. Ensure the tamales are not wrapped in foil. If they are, remove it before microwaving.
  2. Wrap each individual tamale in a damp paper towel to keep it from drying out.
  3. Place tamales on a microwave proof plate, spaced out well.
  4. Heat no more than two at a time.
  5. Microwave on medium-high for 15 seconds.
  6. Remove from microwave and unwrap paper towel, which should now be dry – take note of which side was facing upwards.
  7. Wrap with a fresh damp paper towel and put back on the plate, flipped over to evenly reheat the other side.
  8. Microwave for a further 15 seconds.
  9. Remove from microwave and carefully feel the surface to ensure they are heated through. If not, repeat in 15 second bursts until thoroughly heated.

How To Reheat Tamales In The Oven

Although not as rapid as the microwave reheating method, using the oven to reheat your tamales ensures they remain moist, with a delicious, crispy exterior.

Oven reheating helps to bring out the full, rich flavor. If you have a bit of time up your sleeve, we recommend this method for top quality tamales.

How long does it take to reheat tamales in the oven? Not including pre-heating of your oven, the process should take around 20 minutes.

What you will need:


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wrap individual tamales in tin foil to retain moisture.
  3. Arrange them on an oven-safe tray at least one to two inches apart.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove from the oven and use tongs to flip each tamale over.
  6. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
  7. When the time is up, carefully remove them from the oven. They should be crispy and golden. Check that they are heated evenly; slice one open to ensure the inside is heated through.

How To Reheat Tamales With A Steamer

Reheating tamales with a steamer requires a similar time investment as with an oven, although you can walk away and let it do its thing without having to monitor the process as closely.

tamales in steamer basket

Steaming creates deliciously moist tamales. If you’re planning to steam your tamales, you should leave the tamales in a husk.

The critical issue when steaming tamales is to keep them out of the water; if they touch the liquid, they will become extremely mushy!

How long does it take to reheat tamales with a steamer? It should take around 15 to 20 minutes, or 20-30 if the tamales are frozen. For faster reheating, you can cut your tamales in half to make two shorter snacks.

What you will need:

  • Steamer
  • Water
  • Tongs


  1. Fill your steamer around ¼ with water.
  2. Remove any unnatural coverings or wrappings on your tamales.
  3. Set the steamer to medium heat and allow it to preheat.
  4. Arrange the tamales on the steamer rack – ensuring they don’t touch the water or each other. The open ends of the tamales should be facing upwards.
  5. Place the lid on the steamer.
  6. Steam for around 15 to 20 minutes, or 20-30 minutes if frozen.
  7. Use tongs to remove hot tamales from the steamer and serve.

How To Reheat Tamales Without A Steamer

There are many tools that will steam foods, including some rice cookers. You can even use your crockpot to cook tamales, though this is a waterless process.

Prepare your tamales in the traditional way, but be sure to completely seal the masa packet by folding the leaf over the top, rather than just rolling it.

Stand them on their bottoms, as you would in a steamer basket. Cook them on high for two to two and a half hours, and they’re done.

Tips For Reheating Frozen Tamales

While it’s true that tamales out of the refrigerator take less time and energy to reheat, the risk of mold is too great. Unless you know you’re going to eat them right away, go ahead and freeze.

You’ll probably have best results by cooking them fresh, then cooling and freezing whatever doesn’t get eaten. Freeze them to avoid the risk of mold, and keep them airtight to reduce the risk of freezer burn.

Tamales can stay good in the freezer indefinitely but will be best quality if eaten within six months.

With the above methods, there’s no need to thaw the tamales before heating them.

The most important consideration when reheating frozen tamales is to stop them from drying out, so ensure they are wrapped in either husks or tin foil, depending on your method.

Final Thoughts

Tamales are a delicious treat either in summer with a cookout or during winter as a hot comfort food.

If you need a snack in a hurry, the microwave is the most efficient method of preparing them quickly, but you’ll lose out on a bit of crispiness and take care they don’t dry out.

If you have time, go for the oven or steamer methods for moist, piping hot tamales.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.