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Oct 3, 2007 06:47 PM

Reheating tamales

I'm planning on testing out tamales this weekend as part of a plan for a party in a few weeks. Never made them before. Every recipe I read online says that they freeze very well, so I'm tempted to make a huge batch and freeze. That would help a lot, since I'm planning a number of other dishes as well. But there are distinctly differing opinions on how to reheat. Some say you MUST steam them directly from the freezer, others say resteaming makes them soggy and you should heat them gently in the oven on low. Which is it? And can I really get away with freezing? And does anyone have other tamale hints?

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  1. Whenever I've re-heated tamales I've always steamed them and they come out lovely, not soggy at all.
    I put them in the steamer still wrapped as I bought them (or as I wrapped them, if homemade) generally this means in either a banana leaf or a corn husk, which is then tightly wrapped in plastic. 20 minutes in the steamer and they are hot and moist.
    We just made a big batch last week actually, and to save time, we wrapped them as described above and put them straight into the freezer. They take about as long to cook as they do to reheat, so although we did this cause we were dog-tired and too lazy to steam them, from a practical stand point you could freeze them uncooked, and steam them fresh for your party.
    Just curious, what are you filling yours with? We did a pork shoulder with pine nuts and tomato in a corn husk and a chicken mole with fresh corn and roasted poblanos in a banana leaf. It is definitely something that takes practice. -For me anyway!

    6 Replies
    1. re: rabaja

      There are different ways to reheat your tamales. you can stem them, and you can warm them in your oven or microwave. which ever way you do it, they will be great. on your
      post you talked like you made a lot to reheat I myself with at many I would use my oven,
      after I let them almost defrost, then put them in the oven for a while to warm up.

      1. re: rabaja

        Wow, those sound great. I hadn't decided yet - I have a pork shoulder I want to use, but I hadn't worked it out from there. Would you be willing to share recipes?

        1. re: curiousbaker

          We basically just winged it, no actual recipes. My bf wanted to do pork and I wanted to do chicken so we just took charge of each seperately and tried to make tasty fillings.
          One think I would caution on, try to keep your meat/filling as moist as possible. Once it gets into the masa it can be rather "handled" and to me a little dried out. We were both cautious of cooking gently, I poached the chicken thighs and he braised/slow roasted the pork, but if you make a hard packed oblong ball to go inside the masa, it can be alittle much and almost seems dry once steamed-although it wasn't completely.
          I hope this makes sense, I know it may sound strange.
          I bought a packege of mole from a local farmer here in SF and cooked in down in stock and added chocolate and pureed it. Itwas good and I'd buy it again, much easier than starting mole from scratch, which is a whole other project on its own!
          People also said not to over process the meat, leave it diced or pulled, in pieces, nots strings and this is very good advice.
          As far as my filling, I just added what we had around, some leftover corn and poblanos...potato would've been good too.

          1. re: rabaja

            One place you can go for information on tamales is ( and click
            on the mexican food and it will have recipes and teach you how to do anything about tamales.

        2. re: rabaja

          I don't have much experience with steaming. Do you boil the water at full tilt, or simmer, or somewhere in between?

          1. re: ajs228

            you want the water to boil hard enough to create some good, hot steam. Once it's up to temp and covered, you should be able to turn the heat down a little. This will help you to avoid evaporating all the water

        3. We always just steam out tamales directly from the freezer without any problem. The lady who taught me to make them always also serves them with a fried egg for breakfast or dinner. Always delicious. We usually make a big batch around Christmas time, some traditional pork and a vegetarian one with corn, canned creamed corn, cheese and green chiles that is also tasty.

          1. I'll resurrect this thread with a question. We're planning to make tamales ahead of time for a holiday party in a couple of weeks. Would you steam them ahead of time, or freeze uncooked? I was thinking the latter, but Tamales 101 only mentions freezing after steaming. Thanks!

            1. I lived in Mexico for 10 years and a friend used to make tamales for us. We always froze part of them and then reheated them in the microwave without any problems. I prefer tamales with pork filling. Salsa chile arbol is excellent on tamales and easy to make.

              Salsa Chile Arbol

              1 can tomatoes in sauce or juice (or use equivalent amount of fresh)
              Chiles arbol to taste (or use powered if avaliable)
              Garlic to taste
              Salt to taste

              Puree the tomatoes. If using dried chiles, cut stems off and fry them in the skillet for a short time. Pure the chiles with a little tomato. Then put the tomatoes in a saucepan, add the pureed or powerdered chiles, garlic and salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Keeps well in the refrigerator.