Can You Freeze Tamales?

Yes! 

The best thing about Tamales is how delicious they are. The second best thing about Tamales is how easy they are to make in big batches. The third best thing about Tamales is how easy they are to freeze. 

Tamales traditionally take hours to cook, so making them in batches and freezing most of them afterward is a great time-saving method.

Can You Freeze Tamales

People often worry about freezing Tamales because of their fillings. Savory Tamales often contain ingredients like cooked meat, cheese, and rice - which many people are wary of freezing.

However, the slow cooking method of making Tamales makes these ingredients safe to freeze. 

In fact, because of how tightly wrapped Tamales are in corn husks or banana leaves that Tamales can be frozen and stored for up to 6 months.

How to freeze Tamales

Here is a simple guide to freezing Tamales: 

Step 0 - Cook your Tamales (and try and resist eating them all at once). 

Step 1 - Leave your Tamales to cool. 

You want to let them reach room temperature before you prepare them for freezing. Do not leave the Tamales overnight as they may spoil. 

Step 2 -Wrap your Tamales.  

One of the important things to remember about freezing Tamales is that the corn husk/banana leaf casings are too fragile after the cooking process to cope with the freezer temperatures.

To help the Tamales keep their shape and moisture levels wrap them in either aluminum foil or baking paper. Wrap them individually. 

Step 3 - Pack you Tamales. 

There are two easy ways to pack Tamales. You can either place them in an airtight container, making sure not to overstuff the container. Otherwise, you can place your individually wrapped Tamales into a plastic freezer bag. 

Don't forget to label the Tamales with their cooking date so you can keep track of how long they've been in the freezer. 

Step 4 - Freezer Time. 

The final step is to place these lovingly packed Tamales in the freezer. 

How to defrost Tamales

There are five main ways to defrost and reheat Tamales. Some are more effective than others, below we've listed them in order of our favorites: 

Crockpot

We're starting with the best option. Defrost your Tamales using the crockpot if you want moist, tasty Tamales that taste as good as the day you cooked them. Even better you don't have to unwrap them once you get them out of the freezer. 

Pop your wrapped Tamales in a Crockpot filled with 1/5th of water (for bonus flavor mix a stock cube into this water). Set the slow cooker to a medium or medium-high heat (depending on the size of your Tamales). Now leave them for 7-10 hours, and that's it. 

It really is that simple. 

Steamer  

This is a similar method to the crockpot, but it's quicker. The speed of this method means that you won't get the same depth of flavor as the method above but you will get for Tamales quicker…. Hard choice! 

Remove your Tamales from the freezer and allow them to settle to room temperature. Fill your steamer (again add some stock to the water for extra flavor), and then add your Tamales. Keep the size of your steamer in mind, as the more Tamales you put in the longer they will take to cook. 

Leave your Tamales to steam for 35-50 minutes. Then enjoy. 

Oven 

Grab your Tamales out of the freezer, unwrap them, remove the banana leaf or corn husk casing, and then re-wrap the Tamales in the tin foil or baking paper. Make sure you have squeezed all the air out of your new parcels. 

Pre-heat your oven to 430F. 

Pop your Tamales into an over safe tin, with a two-inch gap between each, and cook for 22 minutes. Flip the Tamales at the halfway point and cook for another 11 minutes.  

Before eating your Tamales, check that they are cooked the whole way through. 

Stovetop

Remove your Tamales from the freezer, unwrap them and allow them to settle to room temperature. 

At this point add a small amount of oil to your frying pan. Add the Tamales no more than two at a time and fry them. Flip the Tamales every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Eat when the Tamales are heated the whole way through. 

This is a great way to make Greasy Tamales without the hassle of a deep fat fryer.   

Microwave

A small warning in advance, this is the quickest way to defrost Tamales, however, it is by no means the best way. You will lose a lot of the texture and taste of the Tamales, and they are very easy to burn this way. 

Remove your Tamales from the freezer, unwrap them and allow them to settle to room temperature. Then remove the banana leaf/corn husk casing. 

Wrap each Tamale in a wet paper towel and place them in the microwave. You should only be heating them one at a time. Cook the Tamale at a high heat for 15 seconds, flip the tamale and then cook for another 15 seconds. 

Allow the Tamales to cook for 30 seconds before eating them. Check they are cooked the whole way through before eating.

Factors to consider before freezing Tamales

The cooking method of Tamales really lends itself to freezing and they can be stored in the freezer for half a year.

However, it is very important to remember that it is very difficult to get Tamales to taste as good as the first day they were cooked. 

It is also possible to freeze sweet Tamales using these methods. Due to their high sugar content, we recommend only storing them for a maximum of three months. 

Remember that the corn husk/banana leaf casings don't cope well with being frozen. It is important therefore to individually wrap your Tamales. 

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Hi there! My name is Caroline Stevens, and I am an American mom of three wonderful children. I started this blog to help everyday families be more sustainable and save money by preventing food waste. I currently live in Wisconsin, and enjoy crafting, cooking at home, and traveling. I have a degree in art and previously worked in the restaurant business.