How To Reheat Tamales In Four Different Ways

Tamales are some of the favorite dishes not just in Mexico but the United States as a whole. They are traditionally baked in corn husks and usually made in Mexican areas.

When you buy yourself a tamale or make your own, you might be wondering how to reheat tamales after buying or having too much for dinner at night. Of course, throwing leftovers is not practical. You can always have them on your next meals.


What Are Tamales?

what is a tamale


Tamale is a dish originated in Mexico. Not a taco, or fajita, or not your typical burrito, it is composed of a seasoned meat (can be beef, pork, chicken) wrapped in cornmeal dough or any leaf paper such as plantain or green banana and steamed or baked in corn husks.

It is also served with vegetable and typical Mexican salsa. They are considered as portable foods and eaten at breakfast or dinner.

Tamale has been eaten by anyone and anywhere. In fact, you can make your tamales at home and can even be incorporated or mixed into your other dishes. It can be wrapped in different ingredients such as dried corn husks, fresh corn husks, fresh corn leaves, banana leaves (most use green leaves), and chaya leaves.

Other ingredients use some fats such as butter or lard, liquids such as meat broth, water or milk; flavorings such as salt, and other sauce that makes up the salsa.

Varieties Of Tamale

what are tamales


Veracruz – this type of tamale is made of corn and pork seasoned with Hoja sauce. You can also make this tamale with green banana leaf and use chicken seasoned in Hoja sauce.

Oaxaca – this variety is an example of a big type tamale. They are wrapped in banana leaves and has “black mole”, a specialty in the region. They also use other alternatives in making this variety such as corn husks with other moles like yellow, green or black beans with a twist of herbs like Chepil.

Yucatan – this variety uses Achiote for seasoning. In this region, they also make their tamales larger than others and cooked mostly in pits and in ovens. Unlike other tamales, the dough is made from smooth-ground masa. You can put chicken, pork or the two in this variety.

Monterey – This region likes their tamale a bit smaller than the others. They use either of the two as wrappings: smooth or coarse dough as well as shredded meat (either chicken or pork) and chilies.

North Western Mexico – it can be made with a very coarsely ground masa and with pork. It also has Mexican seasonings and is typically wrapped in banana leaves. They are also made in large sizes.

How to Reheat Your Tamales In 4 Different Ways

how to reheat tamales in four ways


Pro Tips When Reheating

  • Do not take the corn husks when reheating. Leave them. This is because according to La Mesa, the cornhusks keep the tamales together and at the same time prevent the fillings from splattering when you are reheating.
  • If you like a crispy texture and sound, you can always try to fry your tamales. When you fried it, you would notice that it may become oversaturated with cooking oil. If you don’t like this, you can always use paper towels to avoid this result.
  • Reheating a tamale from a frozen state usually takes ten minutes longer than the usual time. The recommended temperature when checking if it has reheated fully is not below 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are many methods in reheating your tamales because you can use different kinds of materials, depending on what suits you the most and what you have in your house.

1. Reheating In Steamer



  • Pan/Pot
  • Steamer rack/Colander
  • Strainer
  • Meat thermometer


Step 1: Put all the materials together – lidded with a colander or metal strainer. You can use a commercial steamer. Just make sure that it has a steaming basket which is big enough to accommodate the tamales when you reheat.

how to reheat tamales in steamer


Step 2: Fill your pot with water just enough so that the water doesn’t touch the basket or the colander when you put it.

Step 3: Put your steaming basket or colander in the pot. Make sure that the bottom part is not too near on the level where you put your water. This material keeps your tamales from the pot and above the water, so your tamales will not get wet when reheating.

Step 4: Put a small amount of salt in the water.

Step 5: Arrange the tamales according to how much your pot and basket can occupy. The tamales must be stacked, standing up. Make sure that the enveloped side of the tamale is on below and the open part is on top.

how to reheat tamales in steamer


Step 6: Turn the burner to high until the water boils. After the water boils, turn the heat down to medium-low and then cover your pan/pot with lid so that you maintain the heat inside the pot.

Step 7: Steam your tamales within 20 – 30 minutes. Make sure that you refill the water when necessary.

Step 8: To be sure, check your tamales using meat thermometer to check if the meat inside the tamales has been heated. (this is recommended especially when you froze your tamales)

Step 9: Remove your reheated tamales using tongs.

2. Reheat Using Oven

When you reheat your tamales, a microwave oven is the least appropriate to use. However, is you don’t have a choice, and you want your tamales to be reheated quickly, then go for a microwave oven.



  • Aluminum foil OR wet paper towel
  • Oven-safe platter
  • Meat thermometer


Step 1: Cover your tamales with your aluminum foil or wet paper towel.

how to reheat tamales using oven


  • Have a piece of foil that is big enough to cover each of your tamale about two times.
  • Make sure that the edges are sealed firmly enough to avoid leaks
  • Note: Avoid using plastic wraps when reheating tamales using oven. Plastic wraps can melt inside the oven, ruining your both your oven and food.

Step 2: Arrange your tamales on the oven-safe platter. Make sure that your tamales are not touching each other. This ensures that each of your tamale is reheated whole fully.

Step 3: Put your oven-safe platter inside the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4: Allow the food to cook within 15-20 minutes.

Step 5: Take out the platter and turn over the tamales. This is to make sure that the inside fillings are fully reheated.

Step 6: Reheat again within 15 minutes.

Step 7: Check your tamales.

check your tamales


  • Using mitts, remove the platter and unwrap the tamales.
  • Insert your meat thermometer to check if the meat has also reheated.
  • If you get a temperature below 165 degrees Fahrenheit, rewrap the tamales and put them again into the oven within 5 minutes in total.
  • Recheck the again. Redo the same procedure if you still get low fillings temperature.

Step 8: When your tamales have reheated fully, using your mitts, take the platter out and enjoy your tamales!

enjoy your tamales


3. Reheat Using Microwave

Just like an oven, it is not advised to reheat your tamales in the microwave. It is because you may get hot spots in the middle parts. But alternatively, you can do this when you want to reheat quicker and if you can follow procedures carefully.



  • Microwave-safe plate
  • Damp paper towel
  • 3 teaspoons of tap water
  • Meat thermometer


Step 1: Arrange the tamales in your microwave-safe plate/dish. Make sure that each tamale is parted from the other in at least one inch distance. Avoid letting them touch one another.

  • It is advised to reheat no more than two tamales at once. When you put more than two, the tamales may not reheat evenly in the microwave.

Step 2: Prepare your tamale by dampen your paper towel with 3 table spoon of water.

Step 3: Place the damp paper towel on top of your tamales. This is recommended especially because microwave dries out any food inside it. The damp paper towel would be steamed inside, and this preserves the texture as well as the taste of your tamales.

how to reheat tamales microwave towel


Step 4: Place the platter on the microwave’s center. Set your microwave into full heat up to 15 seconds. Make sure to monitor.

Step 5: Star the microwave.

Step 6: Open after 15 seconds.

Step 7: Replace the dried paper towel and put another dampen ones.

Step 8: Turn over the tamales. Put them again in the microwave up to 15 seconds, full heat.

Step 9: Using your mitts, remove the tamales. Check the fillings through meat temperature if they have reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If they have not, put them back again for another 5-10 seconds. Don’t forget to replace and put another dampen towel!

how to reheat tamales microwave test temperature


Step 10: When you notice that your tamales have cold spots, consider repositioning your tamales to provide even heat onto the whole parts of each tamale.

  • You can cut the tamales into halves if you want to make sure

4. Reheating Through Frying

Frying your tamales is one way of reheating them up! Aside from you will have a unique brownish texture, you will also have a twist of fried taste on your tamales. There are some people who say that it adds flavor to the food and it is more stylish.



  • 1 teaspoon of cooking oil
  • Frying Pan (non-stick pan is more preferable)
  • Paper towel
  • Meat thermometer
  • Frying tongs


Step 1: Place your pan on the stove

best way to fry tamales


Step 2: Set your heat to medium.

Step 3: Add your one teaspoon oil. (it is advised to use any of your favorite cooking oil – can be olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc.)

Step 4: Remove the husks from your tamales.

I have mentioned in the tips above that it is better to leave them. However, when you choose the frying method, leaving the husks is not recommended. It is because it is not practical to leave your cornhusks on your pan. Aside from it occupies a big space, you won’t eat it anyway.

Step 5: Place the tamales inside the pan. Make sure that each of them occupies an ample space in the frying pan. This ensures that your tamales will have equal amount of heat.

frying tamales


Step 6: Cover your pan with a lid to secure heat.

Step 7: Always flip the tamales over every 2-3 minutes. Use tongs when flipping tamales.

Step 8: Check your tamales using meat thermometer. Again, temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 9: When you notice that the texture is brownish and your tamales are already crispy, then your tamales are most possibly ready.

Step 10: Turn the heat off and using your tongs, remove each of the tamale and place them on the paper towel. The paper towel removes the oil residue from your tamales.

Step 11: Enjoy the crispy tamales!

Final Thought

Tamales are very tasty dishes and are considered to be some of the most favorites. While they sure have a lot of varieties, you can always find ways on how to reheat them since the basic ingredients are just the same.

Again, it is advised to reheat your tamales by steaming it. Even if this procedure might take you several minutes, this method is the best way to maintain your tamales taste. However, if you are a busy person, you can always use oven and microwave - just make sure to follow the instructions carefully.

And of course, you can always try to fry your tamales to have a unique texture and better taste!

Do you like the post? Please give us a comment below and don’t forget to share this reheating guide to your family, friends, and other tamales lovers out there!

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Hi there! My name is Cindy Mari and cooking is definitely my passion. I love looking for interesting topics about cooking and share them with everyone. Aside from being passionate about cooking, I am also a foodie at heart.

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