Food & Recipes

How to Reheat Tamales That Taste Fresh and Fabulous

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After spending hours in the kitchen creating your delicious meal, hopefully you know how to reheat tamales. Because let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is toss those babies out. But if you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what to do with all of your leftovers, we’ve got you covered. With just a few basic tips for packaging and storing your fresh tamales, and some quick reheating hacks, you’ll be on your way to tamale paradise in no time.

How to Reheat Tamales in a Steamer

If you own a steamer or steaming pot, give this method a try — especially if your goal is to reheat tamales without drying them out. Steaming tamales keeps them from overcooking or drying out, and it also helps to preserve their original flavors. One question that comes up often with this method is “how long do you steam tamales to reheat them?” Well, that depends on your tamales. Refrigerated tamales take about 10 minutes less than frozen tamales. To get the lowdown on how to reheat tamales in a steamer, follow these seven steps. 

  1. Set up your steamer.
  2. Fill the steamer with ¼ cup of water. 
  3. Turn the heat on the steamer up to medium.
  4. Place the tamales in the steamer with the open end up (make sure you leave them in the husk). Try not to put too many tamales in the steamer at one time. It’s better to do a couple of rounds of reheating rather than pack your steamer full. 
  5. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re wondering how long to steam tamales that are frozen, the answer is simple. Just add five to 10 minutes to the total heating time.
  6. Once the timer goes off, check the internal temperature of one tamale. Your tamales are ready to eat once they hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  7. Carefully take them out of the steamer using tongs. They will be very hot!

How to Reheat Tamales in the Oven

Sure, using a steamer is one of the best ways to reheat a tamale, but what if you don’t have one? The good news is, if your kitchen is equipped with the basics, you can easily figure out how to reheat tamales without a steamer. The oven is a top choice for many leftovers, and tamales are no exception. And if you want to know how to reheat frozen tamales in the oven, we’ve got you covered. You can follow the same steps you would for refrigerated tamales, the only difference is you’ll want to add five to ten minutes to the total cooking time. Below, food expert Monica Henin of AddonKitchen outlines her steps to reheat tamales in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove the tamales from the refrigerator or freezer. 
  3. Wrap each tamale with aluminum foil. Henin recommends wrapping each tamale two or three times with the same piece of tin foil. 
  4. After the tamales are wrapped, squeeze each tamale to remove any trapped air. 
  5. Place the tamales in an oven-safe dish or platter. Make sure to leave space between each tamale. This helps them heat evenly. 
  6. Put the tamales in the oven and heat for 20 minutes. At the halfway mark (10 minutes) take the dish out of the oven and flip the tamales. Return to the oven for the remaining 10 minutes. If your tamales are frozen, extend the heating time by five to 10 minutes, for a total time of 20 to 25 minutes. 
  7. Unwrap one tamale and check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Your tamales are ready to eat once they hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How to Reheat Tamales in a Crock-Pot

Reheating tamales in the Crock-Pot is a breeze, especially since you can toss them in and forget about them. The only thing you need to consider is time. Since a Crock-Pot or slow cooker takes longer to reheat food, you’ll need to allow for extra time when using this method to reheat homemade tamales. 

  1. Get your Crock-Pot or slow cooker set up.
  2. Set the temperature on high.
  3. Take your tamales out of the refrigerator and place them in the Crock-Pot or slow cooker. When you arrange them, make sure to stack them with the open end up (leave them in the husk). Try not to put too many tamales in the Crock-Pot at one time. It’s better to do a couple of rounds of reheating rather than pack your Crock-Pot full. 
  4. Sprinkle the tamales with water.
  5. Cover the Crock-Pot and cook/reheat for about one hour. At the halfway mark (30 minutes) check on the tamales. If they are not heating as fast as you like, try rearranging them. This can help ensure that all the tamales heat all the way through. 
  6. When the timer goes off, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Your tamales are ready to eat once they hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How to Reheat Tamales in the Microwave

When you’re short on time and hunger strikes, the microwave is your best bet for a fast meal. While not the most ideal way to reheat a tamale, it does work in a pinch. The key to a successful microwave reheat is to make sure the tamales are warm all the way through. Since the microwave tends to reheat food unevenly, it’s a good idea to rotate the plate at least once during the heating time. 

If you need to reheat frozen tamales, you want to take them out of the freezer and let them thaw in the refrigerator. This may take a few hours, but it will make reheating the tamales in the microwave a whole lot easier! The next tip for making the most out of the microwave method is to know how to reheat tamales without drying them out. Fortunately, all it takes is a wet paper towel. Now that you’re ready to give this method a try let’s go over the steps on how to reheat homemade tamales in the microwave.  

  1. Use a microwave-safe plate that’s big enough to fit all of your tamales. 
  2. Arrange the tamales on the plate, leaving enough space between each of them. You don’t want them touching. If you can, only reheat a few tamales at a time. 
  3. Wet a paper towel, and either wrap each tamale in a towel or place the wet paper towel on top of the tamales. 
  4. Heat the tamales in the microwave for one to two minutes (depending on the power of your microwave). An alternate method is to heat the tamales for 15-30 seconds, then flip them over and heat for another 15 to 30 seconds. You can repeat this process until the tamales are heated all the way through. 
  5. Remove from the microwave, take off the paper towels, and let cool before serving. 

How to Freeze and Save Leftover Tamales

You put in the hard work, and now you have some leftovers. If you want to save a stash for a later date, you need to store and freeze your tamales properly. First, make sure the tamales are cooled completely before wrapping them. To freeze your leftovers, leave the cooled tamales in the husks, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and place them in airtight food storage containers or freezer bags. Most experts will tell you that properly packaged tamales can stay in the freezer for up to six months. If your tamales have chicken, pork, or beef in them, you may want to eat them between two and six months later (and no later than that).

This post was written by Sara Lindberg.

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