How to Cook a Frozen Tamale in a Steamer Basket

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Tamales freeze very well. This is fortunate because if you're going to the trouble of making tamales, you might as well make a big batch. You can transfer frozen tamales directly to a steamer basket without defrosting them first, as long as you allow extra cooking time. A folding vegetable steamer basket can double as a tamale steamer -- simply open it in a pot and stack it with tamales.

Things You'll Need

  • Medium-size saucepan
  • Food thermometer
  • Open the steamer basket in a medium-size saucepan, one with a diameter larger than the tamales. Add about 1 inch of water to the pot -- enough to not boil out but not enough to reach the level of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil and put the frozen tamales directly into the steamer basket. Spread out the tamales as much as possible to allow room for the steam to circulate. Cover the pan and lower the heat.

  • Cook the frozen tamales for 20 minutes to half an hour or longer if necessary. The dough already is cooked, so you are steaming them just to heat them through and soften them. Cooking time varies based on how many tamales are stacked in the pot; the more tamales there are, the longer it takes for them to cook.

  • Check the inside temperature of the steamed tamales with a metal-stem thermometer after 20 minutes to see if it has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it has not, steam it for five minutes longer and check it again. Continue steaming and checking the tamales at five-minute intervals until they reach 165 degrees.

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