How Long Do Frozen Tamales Last?

How long do frozen tamales last

Tamale is a delicious dish, and people rarely make it in small batches because it takes a lot of time and effort at the same time with little results. Therefore, Tamales will often be made in large quantities and preserved so that they can be used later or whenever needed. There are many ways to protect Tamales, of which freezing is often the most preferred method. This article provides you with information on storing and freezing Tamales as well as how long you can keep them.

How long do frozen Tamales last?

Tamales can be easily carried for a picnic or camping because it is compact and easy to eat. Therefore, people often pack and steam Tamales ready and store them whenever they want, which is both time-saving, convenient, and delicious. Refrigerated or frozen Tamales retain their original flavor and texture if stored properly.  When frozen or refrigerated, the Tamales are still good to eat.

As long as Tamales are cooked with quality ingredients and appropriately stored, they will last a very long time in the refrigerator. However, frozen Tamales taste best when stored for no more than six months. With Tamales in the fridge, you should use them within 1-2 weeks.

Frozen Tamales taste best when stored from 2 to 6 months
Frozen Tamales taste best when stored from 3 to 6 months

Further reading: What Are the Best Cheap Freezers for Home?

What inside Tamales?

Currently, Tamales are popular across Latin America, the Caribbean, the Philippines and the US. The ingredients, preparation, wrapping, filling, and size of Tamales vary depending on the country and region. However, their basic ingredients usually include:

  • Broth
  • Lard
  • Corn or sweet corn dough
  • Fillings like beef, chicken, pork (for savory tamales) or fresh or dried fruit (for sweet tamales)

This recipe has lots of variations, but Tamales are mainly made with cornmeal, also known as masa, and wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves.

Are Tamales good for your health?

Traditionally from Mexico, Tamales are usually served at dinner on New Year’s Eve or Christmas. Although high in fat and sodium, Tamales are a rich source of dietary macronutrients, vitamins (like B3, B6, B12), minerals and fiber to help support optimal health.

When stuffed with traditional pork, meat or chicken fillings, they form a complete meal that provides all the nutrients and even some resistant starch, which has been linked to many health benefits. However, lard is the main downside to this food. Tamales can be a great source of cholesterol and saturated fat which can increase the risk of heart disease.

To make Tamales healthier, you can increase the fiber content by adding some beans, chickpeas or steamed vegetables to the filling; use vegetable oil instead of lard; choose lean meats for stuffing or remove fat before cooking; use low-salt broth.

In addition, it’s better to enjoy your tamales with veggies or salad which offer a healthy meal.

Is freezing the best way to preserve Tamales?

Tamale is a dish that does not last long at room temperature because of the different ingredients of the foods to make it. Therefore, you should not leave Tamales at room temperature for too long.

Cooked Tamales and uncooked Tamales have the same shelf life that can be stored in 3 methods with room temperature, refrigerator, and freezer. Therefore, we do not need to consider these two types of Tamales separately.

At standard temperature, if Tamales were kept for more than 4 hours at room temperature, you should not eat them anymore. Since these Tamales have gone rancid due to bacterial attacks, they thrive at room temperature.

With refrigerated storage, the time you can use Tamales lasts up to 1 week. In that one week, you can use Tamales whenever you want without defrosting them, and the taste is still excellent.

The freezing is also the most optimal method for people who need to preserve Tamales for a long time. Frozen Tamales can be kept for 6 months and still retain their flavor.

Further reading: Best Top-Freezer Refrigerator without Ice Maker

Ways to freeze Tamales


People often choose to freeze cooked tamales over uncooked Tamales simply because cooked Tamales are easier to freeze and it is suitable for storing leftovers. Moreover, defrosting and reheating cooked Tamales will be much easier and faster, helping to save maximum time.

In addition, after being cooked, Tamales have achieved stability in taste, so when frozen, it retains their aroma, deliciousness, and little change in texture and shape after being reheated.

Once you’ve finished cooking Tamales or have leftover Tamales from a meal, you can freeze them right away. Don’t forget that before freezing Tamales, you should wrap each one and put it in a container. And this will help Tamales keep their beautiful texture and maximum flavor.

Don’t store Tamales while they’re still hot. Let them cool before freezing. You can also mark the shelf life of Tamales on the storage box to calculate the appropriate use.

If you want to use frozen Tamales, you can choose how many Tamales you wish to eat and reheat them. It’s convenient, right?

Freezing cooked tamales is easier than uncooked ones
Freezing cooked tamales is easier than uncooked ones


Uncooked Tamales are a bit difficult to freeze, especially with masa which is the skin of Tamales made with cornstarch or starch. Masa is very soft and easily broken, especially in terms of texture. Masa is very susceptible to spoilage and decomposition when uncooked and exposed to sudden cold temperatures. This affects the defrosting and cooking process of frozen, uncooked Tamales.

Another common problem with uncooked Tamales when frozen is that the fillings can easily fall out of the cake.

How to freeze uncooked Tamales properly

Cover Tamales before freezing. You should wrap them tightly with banana leaves or corn husks to avoid the masa being skewed or dropping the fillings from the cake.

If it’s too difficult to preserve the cake’s texture, you can freeze the fillings and masa separately. This takes up space in the refrigerator but makes frozen Tamales more delicious and beautiful when used.

Further reading:  What Does Freon Smell Like in a Refrigerator? Is It Dangerous?

Then you put the Tamales in an airtight container before putting in the freezer. In addition, noting the freezing time of Tamales is also an indispensable step when placing them in the freezer.

How to tell if your Tamales are bad

When tamales go bad, there are several signs to look out for. When spoiled, moldy and stinky smelling are often the most obvious indication because they are made mainly of vegetables, fruits and meat.

Mold spots

Once spoiled, Tamales will have mold growing on them. Usually, the mold is dark green or gray in color. You will often see it fleck with corn husks before spreading inside. Spotting on the outside often means the spores are available inside. Even if you can’t see them, the spores can make you sick when eating.

Color changing

Another sign of spoilage is when the outer layer of cornmeal begins to turn pink or orange. At first, it was normal yellow and now it’s different in color. If you find the change in color, throw away all tamales.

Sour smell

The smell is usually the first thing you notice when the tamales start to spoil. When tamales smell bad, sour or rotten (depending on the ingredients you used), it’s best to discard them.

Eating spoiled tamales can cause food poisoning. Don’t try to save the food. Throw away all tamales, just to be safe for your health.

Leaking fluids

Leaking sour fluids is usually a sign of severe rottenness or decay. It could also be a sign that the entire batch has gone bad.

How to defrost and prepare frozen Tamales

When you want to use Tamales, simply take them out of the freezer and let them cool overnight. The next day your Tamales have been defrosted and can be reheated for use.

There are many ways to reheat them, steaming method is the best way for reheating tamales. The moisture in the steam will gently rehydrate the tamales as they heat up. This is a very gentle heating method and there is little risk of tamales being dry or overcooked. Flavors can spoil if food is reheated too quickly and steaming almost guarantees that this won’t happen. You can use an electric steamer, stovetop steamer, Crock-Pot, or a rice cooker. It can be simple when reheating in a casserole pot. You need to put the corn husks on the pot to prevent the cake batter from sticking to the bank.

Besides, reheating Tamales with the microwave is also a common practice. To keep the Tamales from becoming dry and succulent, you can place a cup of water on a plate with your Tamales.

In addition, you can prepare Tamales as usual with fried, grilled recipes if you want. The finished product is still delicious and tastes like regular Tamales.

Related questions

Is it better to freeze Tamales cooked or uncooked?

You can use either method, but the best way is to freeze cooked Tamales. Here are the reasons:

  • Compared to uncooked frozen tamales, cooked Tamales can retain better consistency, flavor and texture.
  • Freezing cooked Tamales helps to save time when defrosting and reheating. They can be completely thawed in the refrigerator overnight or during the day, then reheated in the microwave, oven, pan, or steamer.
  • Freezing undercooked Tamales can lead to the dry or cracked masa and flavorless fillings. Especially when you use vegetables or dairy for fillings.

Why are my Tamales still soggy?

Your Tamales become soggy when they were not steamed long enough. You should steam the Tamales until they can peel away from the husk. Another point to keep in mind is that “the wetter the dough is, the longer you’ll need to steam your Tamales”.

How to fix soggy Tamales

To fix the soggy Tamales, you need to wrap them again and put them back in the steamer for 5 -10 minutes.

Another method, you can wrap them in a damp paper and then let them sit in the steamer for a few more minutes.

The Aluminium foil can be a choice if you don’t have the wrappings or steamer. Just wrap the aluminum foil properly around your tamales, make sure there is no air left inside the package. Then, heat it in the oven for 20 minutes (heat one side for 10 minutes).

How to avoid soggy Tamales

To avoid this unwanted result, you should:

  • Check up on your Tamales regularly while cooking. Normally, it takes about 1-2 hours to steam the Tamales. It is a good idea to check them around every 30 minutes.
  • Not over-use the fillings. Too many fillings can make the Tamale to break apart, or you cannot cook it properly.
  • Distribute the fillings evenly
  • Balance the right ratio between fillings and masa

How to tell if your Tamales are done

Usually, it takes about 1 – 2 hours to steam your Tamales. Peeling the husk is a common way to see if Tamales are done.

Once you can peel the husk smoothly and easily, they are done. If they are not, you will find it is hard or brittle.

Another way, you can take a bite and if the dough does not taste undercooked, they are ready for your meal.

Can you steam Tamales too long?

Yes, Tamales can be steamed for too long. However, the over-steamed Tamales will fall apart when you cut them. Besides, the taste, look and texture will be drastically affected, and the wrong texture is hard to fix.

How long should Tamales sit after steaming?

After steaming, the Tamales should sit for 20-30 minutes before attempting to remove the husks. You should turn the steamer off and leave the lid on with the tamales inside. This step helps to soften the Tamales and bring out the flavors.

How long do vacuum sealed Tamales last?

When wrapped in unopened vacuum sealed bag, Tamales can last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer.

Can Tamales make you sick?

Yes, they can make you very sick. If you leave Tamales out for too long, they could be contaminated with harmful bacteria like salmonella, Clostridium or Campylobacter.

Even without meat, Tamales can quickly be destroyed by staph bacteria. The staph infection is dangerous because even if you try to kill the bacteria by cooking at high temperatures, the toxins the bacteria produce can be active and still very toxic.

Do not eating spoiled Tamales. Make new ones or order fresh tamales would be the best solution.


Can You Freeze Tamales,, Retrieved on May 5, 2022


Jenny Brown
Hi, I’m Jenny. On my blog, you will find helpful advice about using and organizing the kitchen appliances. You will also receive the recommendations on choosing a compact refrigerator or freezer that best fits your demands. Besides, frozen meals from the freezer bring many incredible benefits because they ensure freshness, deliciousness, and full nutrients. Many helpful tips from experts on frozen meals will also be found.