How to Heat Frozen Tamales


Whether you make tamales once or twice a year and freeze them or buy pre-made ones, the processes you can use to reheat them is the same. Tamales last up to 6 months in the freezer, so keeping a batch on-hand is easy.

There's no need to defrost tamales before heating them, although if they are already thawed, be sure to keep an eye on the time. Thawed tamales will take about half as long to heat as frozen ones.


  • Leave tamales wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves when you reheat them. The husks or leaves will trap moisture, helping to keep the tamales moist.


Place your desired number of tamales in a microwave-safe container. Add a teaspoon of water per tamale. Loosely cover with a lid or plastic wrap and heat on High for 2 minutes per tamale.


  • Be careful when removing the lid or plastic wrap as steam may be trapped inside the container.

Stove Top

You will need a steamer pot to heat frozen tamales on the stove. An inexpensive vegetable steamer insert will work well.

Fill a pot with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer.

Place frozen tamales in the steamer insert. Put the insert into the pot with the simmering water. Steam the tamales for 20 to 25 minutes.


    • Do not overcrowd the steamer. If the tamales are touching, use a bigger pot or heat them in two batches.
    • Do not let the tamales come into contact with the simmering water.


You can recreate a steamer in your oven. This technique works well to heat larger numbers of tamales than you could fit into a stove top steamer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fill a roasting pan with 1 inch of water. Set a rack into the pan. If the legs of the rack are too short to hold it out of the water, set small ramekins at each corner of the roasting pan to raise it up.

Lay the frozen tamales in a single layer on the rack. Cover with aluminum foil and set in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tamales are heated through.


  • Since the tamales are pre-cooked, you don't need to worry about reaching a safe internal temperature as long as they are appetizingly hot all the way through.

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