The Best Way To Reheat Tamales Easily (Plus Awesome Pro Tips!)

Whether you made a big batch of tamales and had some extra or you brought leftovers home after a delicious meal out, you might be at a loss for how to reheat them.

I know I was the first time I unwrapped some cold tamales from the refrigerator and realized that I had no idea how to bring them back to life! With some research and experimentation, however, I was able to enjoy them as much as I did on day one.

The best way to reheat tamales so that they stay moist and delicious is the same way that they are cooked!

But there’s more than one way to do this, so I’ll break down the equipment you’ll need to make your tamales as delicious as they were when they were freshly made. While some people like to reheat in the oven or microwave, I firmly believe that the best way to reheat tamales is using steam.

Let’s get to it!


What You’ll Need

Leftover Tamales


You can reheat tamales that are cold in the refrigerator or that have been frozen. You’ll have to reheat them for longer if they were frozen, but either way is okay.

The tamales should still be wrapped, and hopefully, are stored in foil and a plastic bag to keep them fresh and moist. If they were stored properly, they’ll be even more delicious.

Large Pot With Lid


To create enough steam, you will need a big pot that can fit both boiling water and a steaming insert.

A pot like this one will be best, but you can use a smaller pot if that’s all you have available. Regardless, you’ll want it to be big enough to fit your steaming equipment inside of.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to steam anything!

Steamer Insert Or Strainer


Many cooking sets come with steaming inserts that allow you to boil water underneath the insert and put the lid on top of the insert. This creates a steamy environment that will reheat foods like tamales perfectly.

A steaming insert like this one will work well for most pots, but make sure the size fits the size of the pot you will be using. If you don’t have a steaming insert, you can also use a strainer that can sit inside the lip of your pan. Hook it inside and cover with a lid to make sure the steam doesn’t escape.

A steaming insert is the best choice, but a strainer might be more readily available for some people.



How do you create steam? With water! You’ll need to fill the bottom few inches of your pan with water to steam your tamales. Any water is fine, but I prefer to use filtered water to make sure that I’m giving the purest steam possible.

Step-by-step Instructions

1. Boil water in the large pot.

The first thing you need to do to reheat your tamales is boil water! Add a couple of inches of water to the bottom of your pot, put a lid on it, and then let the water come to a boil. Once it is boiling and the pot is filling with steam, you are ready to move onto the next step.

​** Boil water, but not too much. Make sure it won't come higher than your steaming tray.

​2. Place tamales on steaming tray or strainer.

Keep your tamales tightly wrapped. If they are not, they will fall apart while you steam them, and we don’t want them!

Layer them into the steaming tray so that they are overlapping a little bit. It’s okay if they touch - just so they each get some steam on them, they will warm up.

​3. Place steaming tray or strainer into the pot of boiling water.

If you are using a steaming tray, place it into your pot of boiling water. Make sure that the water is not touching the tamales, and be careful while doing this step. The water is very hot, and you don’t want to get burnt.

If you are using a strainer as a steaming tray, hook it securely to the top of your pot. Again, make sure that the water is not touching the tamales.

​4. Cover the pot, and let the steam do its work.

Put a lid over the top of your pot. Steam should fill the pot, indicating that your tamales are on their way to being warm!

If the tamales were in the refrigerator, steam for 15 to 20 minutes. If they were frozen, add another 5-10 minutes to ensure that they are fully cooked.

​5. Remove and enjoy!

Delicious tamales are just minutes away!

After the time is up, remove your tamales carefully from the pot. Do not burn yourself - the steaming tray or strainer will be very hot!

Now, get yourself a plate, and enjoy these tamales as if they were just made!

Pro Tip

Add A Towel

Some people like to add a towel to the steaming process, like this:

Bonus Tip

Buy A Steamer


If you think it’s too much work to boil water and use a steaming tray, you could actually use a steamer like this one to reheat your tamales.

The basic method is the same. Simple turn on the steamer, let it warm up and then add the tamales. Follow the instructions for your particular steamer, but you should only have to heat for 10 to 15 minutes before your tamales will be ready!

This method can be faster than boiling water and using an in-pot steaming tray, so you may want to invest in a steamer if you’ll be reheating or cooking foods with steam often. The results are the same, but the steamer may be faster.


Have you learned how to reheat your tamales?

I hope so! There’s nothing quite like enjoying a tamale, and it’s always disappointing when your leftovers don’t taste as good as they did the day before. Learning how to reheat tamales properly will make sure you never face this disappointment!

If you have any tips or questions, make sure to comment them below. Then, share with friends who might be struggling to reheat their tamales. It doesn’t have to be difficult at all!

Sophia Gardner

I'm Sophia, food blogger, dog lover, homemade cooking and travel passion. I really hope you enjoy my blog, i'll do my best to share great recipes, healthy living tips and just general 'food' thoughts!

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