How Long Do Tamales Last – Your New Favorite Leftover Meal

A Tamales is a meal that can be carried easily from one place to another. They have made from a mixture of corn dough. Corn dough is a dried kernel of yellow corn, Wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf.

After wrapping, steamed on low heat. Once it cooked and you decided to eat them, unwrapped the banana leaves or husks before eating. But make sure that before eating Tamales, you know about that how long do tamales last. I am talking about it because maybe your tamales have bad and you don’t have any idea about it.

They are the traditional dish of Mexican people that have filled with meats, beans, or cheese. We don’t know that who invented, but it’s derived from Tamale.

The taste of the Tamales are like corn cake, but one of them is very special that has a delightful taste like a strawberry. If you love to eat spicy Tamales, eat Rajas, and Verdes because they are salty and spicy.

Many countries make Tamales, but Mexica is known as the best country that makes excellent Tamales. Mexican people love to eat Tamales in banana leaves instead of corn husk. Are you wondering how long do tamales last in the fridge, without a refrigerator, at room temperature? If yes! Then continue reading.

How Long Do Tamales Last

Do you know that they are the food that doesn’t last long? Because while making Tamales, different substances of the foods used. They have made from the mixture that includes secret ingredients. The ingredients are added to food to achieve the desired result that you want. There are different ingredients in the food, but salt, oil, and sugar are the main ingredients available in every recipe. The ingredients applied to both cooked and uncooked.

How Long They Last In The Fridge?

They should be chilled first before being put in a zipped bag and kept in the fridge to preserve them. They can be kept for up to 6 months in the freezer or 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator. The shelf life of frozen meat  is only two months.

Place a paper towel under each layer of the tamales and try to squeeze out as much air as you can from the bags. to eliminate moisture

As a result, they develop less ice crystals within and on top of them. This is critical since the tamale’s texture will be ruined by the ice crystals. As a result, they will soften when reheated.

Cooked Tamales At Room Temperature

Mexican Tamales


The cooked tamales don’t last long at room temperature. It may last just a few hours. Once you cooked thm, then don’t try to keep them at room temperature because it will start going bad, and bacteria will growing on it that may be dangerous for your health.


If you have cooked tamales and don’t want to eat them within 1-2 hours, it’s the best solution to store them in the fridge. Otherwise, to enjoy the taste of the them, try to eat them within hours. Only the cooked tamales don’t go bad. Else any vegetables go rotten, and It may be cooked eggplant or something else.

Cooked Tamales At The Fridge

In the fridge, the cooked tamales will last up to a week, and it will be safe to eat if you want to eat them within a week but make sure to eat them before ending the week. After completing the week,  quality may decrease day by day, and it may also change their taste.

The dough will also become hard that may difficult to eat. If you want to become dough soft, then it’s recommended to bring your dough at room temperature. Many people reheat it to become dough soft, but it will not taste like fresh tamales. That’s why it will be better if you eat them as soon as possible.

Dough made of masa, and you can use vegetable oil instead of lard for tamales. It will be better if you add 7/8 cup vegetable oil for 1 cup lard.

Cooked Tamales In The Freezer

The cooked tamales last in the freezer for up to 6 months, It may last more than six months, but it may change the taste. People also don’t want to keep it longer in the freezer because once they have cooked so definitely, people will try to eat them as soon as possible.

The quality may lose due to freezer burn and ingredients. The freezer burn is such a condition where frozen food has damaged by dehydration and oxidation. If the air reaches to the foods, it will also decrease the quality. Either if you have any cooked vegetables and want to keep them in the freezer for a long time, it will not be safe to eat after a few days or weeks.

Uncooked Tamales At Room Temperature


This is true that tamales are made from the mixture of chicken and meats, also called ingredients. The uncooked will last at room temperature just for an hour.

If you don’t want to cook tamales right now, keep it in the freezer to stay fresher. Want to store your tamales to stay at longer? Continue reading!

Uncooked Tamales At The Fridge

The uncooked tamales will last up to a week in the fridge. After that, it will be safe to eat, but it may be hard to swallow, and the taste is not good, just like fresh tamales. It will be better if you cooked them within a week and store them in the freezer.

Cooked And Uncooked At The Freezer

The cooked and uncooked tamales in the freezer will last up to six months, and it will be safe to eat after six months but for good taste, eat them as soon as possible.

What Is The Best Way To Reheat 

reheat tameles

Are you wondering how to reheat tamales? To keep them fresh and delightful taste, we have reviewed these three easy methods that will become very helpful for you.

How to reheat  in an Oven

Reheating tamales in an oven is a quick and straightforward method. First of all, you need to preheat the oven to 425 degrees. After that, wrap your every tamale in the layers of aluminum foil tightly. The aluminum foil is produced by rolling aluminum slabs. Make sure that it’s fit and the air is not going inside. Now you need to place them in the oven for only 20 minutes. When you saw that skin is dark brown or crispy, then it means that your tamales are ready.

Cooking Time:

If you have dozens then it will takes 30-45 minutes to cook.

How to reheat  using a Microwave

This is the fastest and easy method to reheat the tamales, but only the disadvantage of this method is that it doesn’t give you crispy brown surface skin just like the oven method.

  • If you have frozen tamales, then it’s recommended to deforest it for 2-3 minutes in a microwave.
  • After that, place them in a plastic bag, if you don’t have a plastic bag, they place it on any plastic container available right now near you.
  • If you want to leave the husk on them, it’s okay. There won’t be any problem like reheating tamales an oven. While reheating  in an oven, you need to remove the husk cover from them.
  • The last step is that you need to heat tamales in the microwave for 2-5 minutes.
Cooking Time:

If you have dozen tamales then it will takes 2-3 minutes to cook.

Reheat  using a Deep Fryer

The deep fryer is the cooking method where you can drop food in a frying pan. If you want to deep fry tamales, you can as you wish, The taste will be delicious.

  • First of all, set up your deep fryer on medium heat.
  • Remove the husk from them and slowly drop into the deep fryer.
  • Leave it for 2-3 minutes and cook each tamale.
  • When you know that the surface skin is brown, then your tamales are ready. Enjoy eating!
Cooking Time:

If you have dozens then it will takes 10-12 minutes to cook.

How To Store 

store tamales

Those people who love them will cook a dozen tamales at a time, but it’s challenging to store them in the right place to stay longer. If you don’t know how to store and prevent it from becoming spoil, then follow these five steps to make it fresh for a longer time.

Store Cooked Tamales At Room Temperature

If you have cooked tamales, it’s the best way to store them at the room temperature but make sure that you have covered them with a cling wrapper. The cling wrapper is a plastic wrap and made out of PVC. They will help you to prevent bacteria inside the food. The plastic cling has tiny wrinkles that keep away external molecules.

Store Cooked And Uncooked At The Fridge

If you have decided to store cooked either uncooked tamales in the fridge, hold it in an airtight container. The airtight container keeps food fresh and blocks air and moisture. It will help any food to keep it fresh and safe. The airtight container will also help foods in preventing rancidity. Even the food will never become rancid, and the taste will be the same is it as.

If you don’t have an airtight container, then wrap them in a plastic bag but make sure to put enough tamales in the plastic bag. Most of the expert suggest putting every food in the high-grade polyethylene.

Store Cooked And Uncooked  In The Freezer

To store your tamales in the freezer, you can use an airtight container or resealable freezer bags. Now, if you are confused that which one to choose, then it depends. If you have an airtight container, store your tamales there but make sure that the airtight container is massive, and you can put all tamales quickly without being damaged.

You don’t have an airtight container right now?

Store them in the freezer bag that looks like a plastic bag, But it’s slightly thicker than other regular bags. The freezer bag will keep your foods fresh for an extended period. If you have used your freezer bag once now, you want to know that it’s safe to reuse a freezer bag and then read it. Is it safe to reuse a freezer bag?

Stored  In The Vacuum Sealer Bag

They last up to six months in the freezer either cooked or uncooked but do you have any plan to store them for more than six months? If yes! Then place your tamales in the vacuum sealer bag and stored them in the freezer. The vacuum sealer is a big that remove air from the inside, and there will be no oxygen in the bag if your bag has no oxygen so that it may last for a year.

How To Keep Tamales Warm


You can keep them warm in different ways, but it may ruin the hot tamales’ surface. That’s why I will also tell you which one is better to prevent  from becoming spoiled. You can let them in hot water, but it may ruin the hot tamales. The best way to make them hot is the use of a crockpot or rice cooker. This is how you can warm  in a rice cooker.

Put the water in the rice cooker. Once you know that it’s appropriately boiled, place them on the top. This is the best method to keepthem warm and moist as well. It will work on both rice cooker and crockpot now the choice is your which one you have used it.

How To Freeze 

If you have decided to prepared tamales, then it will be better if you cooked them once. While cooking , you have to ensure that you have picked tamales correctly for freezing. It will be better if you freeze cooked tamales because the uncooked ones change taste while freezing.

It’s relatively easy to prepare  for freezing. And it doesn’t take a long time. If you are freezing homemade ones or leftover, It is essential to cool down before preparing it.

Most of the people don’t like to freeze uncooked tamales. The main reason is that there is a bigger chance that the masa and other ingredients that are available in the tamales may not hold up well against the freezing process. It also may change their taste.

You can store the uncooked tamales in the freezer, but to do this, make sure you are taking care of these things.

Pick the tamale that wrapped in the corn husk or pack the whole unwrapped batch. Now place them in a freezer or airtight safe container.

If you don’t place in a safe container so it may go bad, and the taste will not be right, that’s why put them in a safe airtight container to enjoy the fresh taste.

Cooking Frozen Uncooked Tamales

frozen tamales

When we talk about the frozen uncooked tamales, then there are two options you need to select any one of them. If you don’t want to eat tamales right now, you can leave tamales in the fridge overnight, which is considered the best and safe way to store. If you’re going to eat them right now, then place them in the steamer to cook them right now.

The alternative of the fridge is that place frozen tamales in the steamer to cook them frozen. Before wrapping them in a corn husk, Steam them using a steamer.

How To Tell If They Are Bad

There are different signs when they go bad, Which are given below.


As I have discussed in this article’s introduction, they have ingredients made with a mixture of vegetables, meats, and fruits. If you want to know that they are bad or good, then the tamales’ first sign is the smell. Their smell will be stinky, so you will know itself that it’s lousy. The bad ones have a rotten smell.


Check out the whole tamales from different angles. If you have seen any mold there, then it means it’s going to be spoiled. As you know, they have a yellow color, so once you noticed that the tamales’ color is pink or orange, then it means it’s ruined and not suitable for eating.

Food Poisoning:

If you have dozen of them but you noticed that one of them are bad then keep the bad ones away from the good ones because it may ruin the whole tamales and after that, no one is suitable for eating.

How Long Do You Cook Without a Steamer

steam frozen tamales

If you don’t have a steamer, you need to follow these methods to cook tamales without a steamer.

  • First of all, you need to set a metal rack inside the large pot. Add at least 2 inches of water to the pot.
  • Place a metal heat-safe container inside the pot upside below, Rest on the top of the rack.
  • Survive the tamales inside the pot.
  • Place the lid on the top over medium heat.
  • You need to steam the tamales for an hour. Also, check out the water every 15 minutes. If more water is needed, add more water.
  • Remove the tamales from the container and cool them on a rack for 15 minutes.

Related Questions

How long to steam frozen tamales in instant pot?

It would be best if you placed the frozen tamales in the steam for 20 minutes. Once you know that it’s done after that, quickly remove it from the steam.

Why are my tamales still mushy?

There might be many problems that they are still mushy. Maybe you are steaming them long enough, or you are making the masa dough too wet. It would be best if you cooked until the tamale quickly uncovers away from the husk. If your masa dough is wet, then you need to steam them longer. Also, add too much water to cook the wet masa dough.

Can you fix soggy tamales?

If you want to make them soft once again, you need to put the tamales in the microwave and cook them on high for 15 seconds. Once you know that the time is over, then stop the microwave and uncover the paper towel. Now sprinkle another paper towel and wrap them again for 15 seconds. That’s the best way to make them soft once again.

How long to steam tamales?

  • First of all, you need to set up your steamer by filling 1/2 of the steamer with water.
  • Turn heat on and make it high. Once you know that the water boiled, then turn down the heat to medium. If you don’t have high heat at home, then cook the water on medium heat.
  • Now you need to arrange the tamales around the steamer according to your needs.
  • It is recommended to steam it for 15-20 minutes until tamales become soft.

Should tamales be stored wrapped or unwrapped?

Tamales should be stored wrapped to help maintain their moisture and prevent them from drying out. The traditional way to store tamales is to wrap them in corn husks or banana leaves and then place them in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer. This will help keep them fresh for a longer period of time.

If you don’t have corn husks or banana leaves, you can also use aluminum foil or plastic wrap to wrap them before storing them. However, it’s important to make sure the theys are completely cool before wrapping them to prevent condensation from forming inside the wrapping, which could lead to spoilage.

When you’re ready to reheat the tamales, you can steam them in their wrapping until they’re heated through. This will help preserve their texture and flavor.

Why are tamales so special?

They are considered special for several reasons. First, they are a traditional and beloved dish in many Latin American and Mexican cultures, often served during special occasions or holidays. They are typically made by hand, which can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, adding to their specialness.

Tamales are also special because of their unique texture and flavor. The masa (corn dough) used to make tamales is often seasoned with spices and mixed with other ingredients like meat, cheese, vegetables, or chilies. The filling is then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed, giving them its characteristic fluffy and slightly chewy texture.

Is tamale a healthy food?

They can be a healthy food option depending on their ingredients and how they are prepared. Tamales are traditionally made with masa (corn dough), which is a good source of fiber and carbohydrates. However, the filling can vary and can include ingredients like meat, cheese, or lard, which can add calories and saturated fat.

To make them healthier, you can use lean meats like chicken or turkey instead of pork, and add plenty of vegetables like peppers, onions, or spinach to the filling. You can also use a smaller amount of filling and more masa to reduce the calorie content.

It’s also important to consider how they are cooked. Steaming is the traditional way to cook them, which is a healthy cooking method that preserves the nutrients and flavor of the ingredients. However, if they are deep-fried or cooked in a lot of oil, this can increase their calorie and fat content.

Final Thoughts

That was all about how long do tamales last. Actually you can store tamales in three places to keep them longer. Now it depends on your requirements which one you want to select.

I don’t know you have cooked or uncooked tamales right now, but I have explained everything in detail where you need to store cooked and uncooked tamales to keep it fresh and make it long-lasting.

If you want to make your tamales long-lasting, then the freezer is the best option to keep it fresh for six months. Either they are cooked or uncooked.

Let me know you want to store cooked or uncooked tamales?

If you cannot purchase them from the market, it’s the best option to make homemade tamales. You don’t know how to make homemade? Don’t worry, watch this video!


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