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How to Reheat Tamales (6 Easy Ways)

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Tamales are a traditional Mexican delicacy. These are steamed, corn-based little parcel filled with cooked meat, beans, cheese, or fruit filling.

The beauty about these neat little tasty parcels is they can be made in advance and reheated to enjoy on any occasion. They can be reheated from the fridge or even from frozen.

But rewarming these little morsels is an art. The goal is for those times to taste as good as they did on day one.

Always mostly enjoyed served hot, it is essential to get the reheating process right so as not overcook them during the reheating process as this will spoil the great taste of these delicious parcels.

How to Reheat Tamales in a Steamer

Almost every household has a steamer, and if not, it is pretty straightforward to make your steamer at home. All you need is a pot, a sieve, and a lid.

Anything that can hold food above boiling water is theoretically going to steam. This is an excellent method to reheat tamales as it prevents the dough from drying out.

I like to use a traditional bamboo steamer. Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, arrange your tamale parcels neatly in the steaming basket.

Try to keep the tamales upright so the steam can move around and get in-between the parcels and try and prevent them from touching each other or overlapping.

Place steamer over pot making sure the water isn’t touching the parcels at the bottom. Then cover with a tight-fitting lid, and steam for 20 minutes or until warm on the inside.

How to Reheat Tamales in the Microwave

This is probably the most convenient and easiest way to reheat tamales.

But with the microwave method, you must add a sprinkle of water to the parcels so they don’t dry out when reheating. This is the most common mistake people make, resulting in the worst tasting reheated tamales.

I would suggest placing them on a microwave-friendly plate, space them out nicely and ensure they are not overlapping each other. Sprinkle them lightly with some water and then cover them with another microwave-friendly plate or, even better, one of those microwave plate covers.

Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Please make sure you check after 1 min each time, as it’s better to reheat them more than to dry the tamale out.

How to Reheat Tamales in a Crockpot

Reheating Tamales in a crockpot is an excellent method because you can forget about them. As a crockpot generally takes time to cook, it is essential to time reheating.

Set the temperature on the highest setting, and arrange your tamales evenly in the pot with the open ends facing up. Make sure not to overcrowd the pot with too many tamales, and rather reheat the tamales in smaller batches.

Once tamales are arranged, sprinkle with a little water and place the lid tightly on top. Leave to reheat for approximately one hour, checking every 30 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook.

Shuffle them about if need be to ensure even heating. Do not lift the lid too many times; this will allow all the hot air to escape and prolong the whole heating process.

How to Reheat Tamales in the Oven

This is an excellent method for heating large amounts of tamales as long as the tamales are wrapped with foil. The foil is to prevent them from drying out.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius on the fan setting. On a large baking tray or slide, place the tamales evenly and prevent them from touching. This will allow for even reheating.

Sprinkle with a splash of water and wrap tightly with tin foil. Ensure the edges are wrapped tightly to prevent the steam from escaping. The more steam that escapes, the longer the tamales will take to reheat, and the possibility of them drying out in the oven is even greater.

Leave them to reheat for approximately 20 minutes. Remove the tray 10 minutes through heating, open up foil to flip the parcels over this will ensure they are heated all the way through- reseal the tinfoil around the edges and continue to reheat for the remainder 10 minutes.

How to Reheat Tamales in an Air Fryer

This method will dry out your tamales the most; it is important to moisten the husk wrapping before heating in the air fryer.

Set your air fryer to a mid-range temperature, moisten the husks parcels with a bit of water, place them in the frying basket. Try standing them upright and rather heat them in smaller batches.

Leave them to reheat for 8 minutes and then check on them and rearrange if necessary to ensure even heating. Let them go for another 8 minutes.  Serve and enjoy

How to Reheat Tamales in a Pressure Cooker

To reheat your tamales in a pressure cooker, you must have a steamer basket that fits the pressure cooker pot, and that will allow the lid to fit tightly and securely.

Fill your pot with 2 cups of water. Arrange the tamales in the basket, with their opening ends at the top. Try minimizing overlapping to ensure even heating. Close the lid tightly and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, let the pressure release naturally, then open the pot and serve.

As we all know, pressure cookers can be dangerous, so please handle them with care.

Reheating Frozen Tamales

Reheating frozen tamales is an art. And it is important to note that the actual storing of tamales before being frozen is of utmost importance if they are to be reheated again and served.

The parcels should firstly be cold before being frozen, and it is recommended that they be placed in a Ziplock bag or an air-tight container. This prevents them from absorbing any excess moisture; it is this excess moisture that will result in soggy tamales when reheated.

The best way to reheat frozen tamales is the old-school steaming way. Place the tamales in your bamboo steamer, be sure not to overcrowd the steamer, and cover with a lid. Place the steamer over the pot of boiling water, and steam for 20-30 minutes.


There is nothing better than eating a hot, juicy tamale, and this is how they should always be enjoyed. But when we make too many and need to freeze them, the method of reheating them can really make or break the meal.

You may also buy them frozen in bulk for a future planned diner evening with friends, and again the timing and reheating method need to be perfect.

As we’ve mentioned above, one can reheat these tasty morsels in many ways, and it will boil down to what you are comfortable with doing and which method you have mastered.

If you are making your tamales from scratch, you will know the time and effort needed to prepare them, so the freezing and reheating of them are imperative to get right to not waste all your effort.

The biggest problem with reheating tamales is that they tend to become very dry. This is because the dough will absorb any excess moisture from the filling as it reheats. Our preferred method of reheating frozen and cold tamales is the steamer method.