Whether it is cooked on uncooked tamales, here is the ultimate home cook’s guide on freezing and storing tamales.
These methods have worked wonderfully for me.
So, let’s get started right away.
- Banana Leaf or Husk
- Ziploc Bag or Freezer-Safe Air-Tight Container
- No special tools needed
- Prep the Tamales - Wrap the tamales tightly in a banana leaf or corn husk.
Make sure to secure it tightly so that it doesn’t fall apart when it thaws.
- Portion - Divide the tamales into portions you can easily consume in one go.
- Pack Them - Place them in Ziploc bags or freezer-safe air-tight containers.
Pack them tightly so that they hold their form better.
- Seal, Label, and Freeze - Seal the Ziploc bag or freezer-safe container.
Remove as much air as you can when sealing the Ziploc bag.
Then add a label with the date, and you are all set to freeze the tamales.
Freezing Cooked Tamales
Time Taken: 10 – 15 minutes
What You Need:
- Aluminum Foil and Cling Wrap
- Ziploc Bag or Freezer-Safe Air-Tight Container
This is the most recommended way of freezing tamales as it holds its form better and keeps the flavor intact.
Cook and Cool
Cook the tamales as you prefer.
Then let it completely cool down to room temperature.
The tamales should completely cool down before freezing.
Wrap each tamale in a foil wrap to avoid freezer burns or letting moisture build inside the packing and spoil it.
You could also double wrap it with cling wrap before using a foil for double the protection.
Divide the wrapped tamales into portions you can easily consume in one sitting.
Pack the wrapped tamales into a Ziploc bag or freezer-safe air-tight container.
Seal, Label, and Freeze
Seal the Ziploc bag or freezer-safe container, making sure to remove as much air as you can.
Then add a label with the date on it, and then you can leave it in the freezer till you need it next.
How Long Can You Freeze Tamales?
You can freeze tamales for up to 6 months.
But for best results in taste and quality, the frozen tamales are better consumed sooner rather than later.
Especially with the uncooked frozen tamales, it is best consumed within the three-month mark.
This is because the “masa” dough can easily spoil and easily break apart when it thaws.
Even if you choose to freeze the dough and the stuffing separately, the dough could still crack, if it stays for too long in the freezer, and hence will not be able to hold the stuffing in well.
This is why it is best to freeze cooked tamales.
How to Store Frozen Tamales?
You can store frozen tamales in Ziploc bags or any freezer-safe air-tight container.
If you are freezing tamales in bulk, then the Ziploc bags are the best alternative since they can help you save precious freezer space.
When storing the tamales, it is best to pack them tightly so that the shape of the tamales holds and the filling is intact.
This is more important in the case of uncooked tamales.
So, Ziploc bags are the best option because you needn’t spend time trying to find a container that can exactly fit all the tamales and be able to pack them tightly.
How to Defrost Tamales?
You can defrost the tamales by taking out the portion you need from the freezer and sticking it in the fridge for a couple of hours or leaving it in there overnight to thaw gradually.
You could also directly put the tamales wrapped in husk or banana leaf directly into the steamer.
You could also heat-wrapped tamales in a pan.
If you have frozen it without wrapping them, you have to wait until the dough thaws completely, wrap it, and steam it.
Can You Refreeze Tamales?
No, it is best advised not to refreeze tamales.
The dough of the tamales already runs the risk of cracking when frozen.
Moreover, the taste and texture of the tamales can change drastically if repeatedly frozen.
To avoid wasting the tamales once they are defrosted, prep beforehand and portion them into serving sizes that you can use up in one sitting.
Do Tamales Freeze Well?
Yes, tamales freeze well, especially cooked tamales.
They can last in the freezer for six months or so easily.
Uncooked tamales, though they freeze well, run the risk of cracking when frozen.
To get the best results out of the frozen tamales, make sure to wrap and pack the tamales properly and ensure that the filling doesn’t spill out.
Keep in mind that the dough can crack when frozen.
Yes, the fillings can affect how the tamales taste once they thaw. The best options are meat and fish fillings. These fillings freeze better and have little change in taste when they thaw.
Others like vegetables and cheese can get soggy when defrosted and can have changes in taste and texture over time.
It is better to freeze cooked tamales as the cooked version holds better form when frozen. This method also keeps the flavor more intact than when uncooked tamales are frozen.
The “masa” dough is fragile and when raw it can easily crack while being frozen and defrosted.
I hope this article has helped you find the best tips and tricks on how to freeze and store tamales.
If you have any doubts or would like to share some other ways of freezing tamales, it would be great to hear from you.
Feel free to share this with your friends and family who also love flavorful Mexican tamales.