HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


best way to reheat frozen tamales

  • s

Someone in my office was selling handmade tamale as a fund-raiser and I got mine. They are frozen. What's the best way to reheat these? They are in the husks. Microwave totally dries them out.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thawing for a while and steaming works best for me. I usually use a bamboo steamer.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Aimee

      Ok I don't have a bamboo steamer nor to I wish to invest in one for these few items. Do you think my veggie steamer would work? How long should we steam them for?

      1. re: SpongeBobSquarePegs

        You can improvise a steamer-- take a big sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it up into a thick-ish snake (like 1.5 inches in diameter). Bend the snake into a circle that fits inside a big pot, the diameter of the snake should be a few inches less than the diameter of the pot. Pour in water around half way up the snake/circle. Put your tamales on a heat-safe plate (again, diameter a few inches less than the diameter of your pot-- you want the steam to be able to circulate) and put the plate on top of the foil ring. Turn on the heat... and voila... instant steamer!

    2. Defrost before reheating, then steam them.

      Depends on the size, but frozen may take 1 hour, thawed but cold ~15 minutes.

      1. I've had good lunch wrapping a wet paper towel around a defrosted one and microwaving it -- the wet paper towel helps keep it moist.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LisaN

          If I'm just heating a couple, a wet paper towel wrapped around them in the microwave works pretty well.

        2. Another vote for steaming. We keep a supply in the freezer for weeknight dinners, and steaming them in the husk works really well.

          1. Another vote for steaming but it won't take you and hour and you don't need to thaw at all.

            This past week, I've twice popped a few tamales from a freezer bag directly into a metal steamer placed in a saucepan and turned the burner up to high. Once the water gets boiling, it's not more than 20 minutes. Heated through and delicious. Unfortunately, I'm down to my last 6 or so with nothing in sight until Christmas.

            4 Replies
            1. re: SandraV

              do you think my rice cooker/veggie steamer would be good for this too?

              1. re: SpongeBobSquarePegs

                yes! we use our rice steamer to reheat tamales all the time. takes about 30 minutes for frozen tamales right out of the freezer. works beautifully. leave the husks on til they're done reheating.

                in fact, i hv no idea how to make rice in the rice steamer (water to rice ratio for diff kinds of rice, time, etc.) -- i think i only use it for tamales!

                1. re: fat kitty

                  I have a rice cooker, but have no idea how to use it for tamales. Do you add water or just put the tamales in there by themselves?

                  1. re: mountaincachers

                    definitely add water. I think anything you put in a rice cooker requires water to steam properly. Try 2 inches in the bottom.

            2. Freezer Ziploc Bag add an ounce of water and the Tamales, 2 mins and Presto.

              1 Reply
              1. re: russkar

                You are speaking of microwaving them, aren't you?

              2. You can steam them if you want, but the way we reheat tamales (frozen or just refrigerated) here in Mexico is this:

                If they're frozen, thaw them to a temperature that's still cold but no longer frozen.

                Heat a griddle to fairly hot; put the tamales (still in the cornhusk wrappers) on the griddle and toast them until the cornhusks are nearly black on all sides. Peel and eat.

                These beat the *calcetines* (socks) off steamed ones any day of the week. The dough will be slightly crispy on the outside and softly corn-y on the inside; the filling will be hot through. Try it; you won't be disappointed. In fact, you will probably have to buy more tamales JUST to do this with them.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cristina

                  That sounds soooo good Cristina, do they have a smokey flavor?

                  1. re: Nestra

                    After reading Christina's suggestion, I tried reheating them on a panini press. Works great.

                2. Pressure cooker is the only way to go.

                  1. steaming is good. microwaving is just steaming from the inside out, so it also good

                    1. Place in glass bowl, sprinkle on some water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        who puts plastic wrap in the microwave?

                        1. re: tetsuofruit

                          I do sometimes -- just depends. I read Sam's comment as covering the bowl w/ plastic wrap. You could just use something else as a lid. What's your preference?

                      2. My friend brought tamales yesterday to have with our Christmas dinner. She picked them up frozen from a local restaurant, and when she heated them up here at my house, she just placed them 3 at a time, spoke-like on a dinner plate, covered them with a clean, fairly damp kitchen towel, and nuked them for a couple of minutes.

                        1. I got some inspiration here -- i need to serve a bunch at once and tried the improvised-steamer thing with a large crockpot and frozen tamales thawed overnight in the refrigerator -- they heated up nicely in about one hour on high