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Can You Freeze Tamales?

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By Lewis Brindley

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With tamales being a classic Mexican dish that takes a fair bit of effort to make correctly, is there a way they can be batch prepared in advance?

Can You Freeze Tamales?

Yes, you can freeze tamales for up to 6 months. Pack the tamales into a thick freezer bag, eliminating as much excess air as possible. Seal the bag shut, and finally, freeze the tamales.

Do Tamales Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Tamales? No

How to Freeze Tamales

Freezing tamales is much more straightforward than you might think. Follow our steps to ensure you freeze your tamales properly (and safely):

  1. Bag Up: Packing the tamales into the freezer bag as tightly as possible is the best way to make sure that you eliminate as much air as possible by displacing the air itself.
  2. Remove Air: Press down lightly on the bag while it’s open so that you remove excess air from between and around the tamales. Air is the enemy here since it can damage the tamales through freezer burn.
  3. Seal: Seal the bag tightly, ideally while you’re still pressing down on it. This will seal the bag with very little air inside.
  4. Freeze: Freeze the tamales in the centre of the freezer, where they’ll be as far as possible from the freezer burn that starts at the edge of the freezer and works inward.

3 Tips for Freezing Tamales

Now you know how to freeze them, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing tamales to have the best results:

Get Rid of that Air!
Remove as much excess air from the bag that the tamales are stored in. That will ensure that the tamales themselves aren’t exposed to water or, later, ice, as the bag of tamales freezes.

Wrap Individually
Wrapping the tamales individually can be a great way to make sure that they are stored as effectively as possible. Wrapping each tamale in cling film before placing it into the larger bag with the other tamales can be a great way to allow them to be easily separated when you come to heat and eat the tamales too.

Different Varieties in Different Bags
If you’re making many tamales, you might have varieties with different fillings. To ensure no frustrating mix-ups, store different varieties in different freezer bags, and label everything as clearly as possible. 

How Long Can You Freeze Tamales?

You can freeze tamales for up to 6 months.

The main reason they tend to freeze so well is that they’re pretty dense, leading to them having relatively little air or water content that might become damaged in the freezer.

How Long Do Tamales Last in the Fridge?

Uncooked tamales will keep in the fridge for around 3 days, whereas cooked tamales will keep for approximately 5 days. In both cases, they should be stored in a covered dish.

How Do You Defrost Tamales?

Thawing tamales is remarkably easy – simply place them on a plate in the freezer overnight.

This should allow you to ensure the tamales are thawed all the way through before reheating. The best way to reheat tamales is to steam them, as you first steamed them when cooking them.

Can You Refreeze Tamales?

This depends upon the filling of the tamales.

You cannot refreeze cooked meat and fish, or raw dairy. Therefore, if your tamales contain any of those items, they cannot be refrozen.

Other than that, tamales can be refrozen – the dense filling shouldn’t be damaged over time in the freezer, leading to a well-maintained tamale when you thaw and eat it.

Do Tamales Freeze Well?

Yes, tamales do freeze well.

The main reason for this is that they’re simple and easy to make and cook – the steaming process ensures that they’re thawed throughout and taste just as they would when you first make them.

If you’ve still got questions about freezing tamales or tamales in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Tamale Dough?

Yes, tamale dough can be frozen for around 3 months. Wrap it in multiple layers of cling film before popping it into a bag and then into the freezer.

Can You Cook Tamales From Frozen?

We advise against cooking tamales from frozen as you will not get even heating throughout, leaving you with some cold spots.


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