How to Cook Frozen Tamales

Tamales are a delectable dish for anywhere between midnight snacks and family dinners. If you're vegan, make fruity tamale. If you're a heavy meat eater, make a beefy one. Love cheese, make a cheesy one. The options are endless and can all be backed in one crispy dough. We have listed a number of ways on how to cook frozen tamales. Although, the timing may depend on the quantity and nature of the tamales, but the difference will be around 5-10 minutes.

Also here is a Wiki page on tamales

How to Cook Frozen Tamales in the Oven

Heating tamales in the oven helps bring out its flavors but it also may dry out the fillings inside. Nevertheless, it’s easy and handy if you don’t have a steamer.


  1. Your first step is to preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. If your tamales are defrosted, it takes only 15-20 minutes to bake. If they are frozen, you should expect at least 25 minutes of baking time. 
  3. As for the aluminum foil, you have the option of wrapping each item individually or simply wrapping the entire tray and placing the tamales in a baking sheet or rack. 
  4. Align your tamales in one layer.
  5. Find beautiful tamales ready for you.

If you want them brown and crispier, you can try out the following:

  1. Remove the corn husks
  2. Butter up a roasting pan
  3. Place the pan with the tamales inside into the oven
  4. Wait for a good 30-45 minutes depending on the amount. You should expect dark brown and crispy tamales.
  5. Serve.
How to Cook Frozen Tamales

Photo by: cestsibon

How to Cook Frozen Tamales in the Microwave

This is indeed one of the fastest and easiest ways of heating tamales, although you shouldn’t be surprised if you find them not turning brown.


  1. Defrost the tamales in the microwave for 3 minutes
  2. Place the thawed food in an oven-safe container with a loose lid and set it up in the oven.
  3. Take the tamales out within 2-5 minutes and carefully remove the lid to avoid steam burns.
  4. Serve.

How to Cook Frozen Tamales on a Stove Top

Stoves have always been the traditional ways of heating tamales passed down by our grandparents, especially those who had a member in the family who needed to avoid greasy food. 


  1. Take a pan, something particularly with a narrow base and heat it up on the stove at a medium temperature.
  2. Pour one 1tbsp of olive oil and heat it up for a few seconds
  3. Remove the corn husk from the tamales and gently place them on the pan.
  4. Flip your tamales after around 3 minutes and continue to flip until they are nice and crisp.
  5. Serve.

How to Cook Frozen Tamales in the Fryer

If you’re worried about trans-fats, this method is definitely not for you. However, if taste is all that matters to you, little extra calories won’t hurting anyone. Yes, deep-fried tamales that are frozen still taste as good as the fresh ones. If you are of-course worried about the trans-fats, you can use olive oil, or perhaps extra virgin olive oil.

  1. Grease up your deep-fryer with oil and heat at a medium temperature.
  2. Defrost the frozen tamales in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove the corn husk and gently place the tamales into the fryer.
  4. Give the doughy miracle around 3 minutes and wait for them to turn crispy. Handfuls of tamales will require at least 10 minutes to fry.
  5. Place them on a paper towel and serve.

Photo by: NeONBRAND

How to Cook Frozen Tamales by Steaming

Steaming is the healthiest and affordable way of heating up frozen tamales. The method brings out the natural earthy flavors of the doughy deliciousness. 

If you are thinking of steaming your tamales, we recommend you divide them into two or more batches that they can heat up evenly and not mush up. 

Moreover, since tamales can be of different sizes, make an effort to use a steamer stock-pot or simply any steamer that doesn't touch the water at the bottom.


  1. Set the steamer at a medium temperature with a moderate amount of water.
  2. Place the frozen tamales at the edge of the steamer with the ends lying upwards.
  3. Steam for 20 minutes until ready.

Steam for 5 - 10 minutes more if the food is frozen. You can expect more than 10 minutes depending on how frozen they are.

It is ideal to keep checking them after the 20 - minute term. Over-steaming is problematic as the dough turns soggy and the fillings inside turn moist. This often happens when the tamales are filled with a higher water concentration vegetable such as tomatoes. 

Keep your eyes on your tamales and when they're ready, steadily take them out and serve.

How to Cook Frozen Tamales without Steamer

For those going old school trying to steam tamales without appliances, there's always a way. You probably have seen this method if your parents are from the countryside. Since you are not using a steamer, you will need to rummage your drawers for a large steamer pot, a round metal rack, and a heat-safe bowl. 


  1. Pour water into the steamer pot till it covers 2 inches.
  2. Place the metal rack inside the middle of the pot and insert your heat-safe bowl. 
  3. Your tamales go inside this bowl. If you don't want your tamales to stick, you can place them vertically as their edges reach the top. This leaves more room for them to get steamed.
  4. Turn on the stove and heat the tamales for an hour, while checking the water level at a 15-minute interval.

Carefully bring the tamales out when they are done. Expect them to be looking piping hot and delicious.

The best part about tamales is that they can be brought home frozen and heated up in a number of ways, each method keeping them fresh as they were first made.

These can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months and in the fridge for perhaps less than a week. The FDA however recommends any frozen food to be eaten for at best 3 months and rules for the refrigerator end in 3 days.

Cook any way you like and enjoy. Hope this helps!

You can also read on how to cook polish sausage.