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Good Tips For How Long Do Tamales Last In The Fridge

Tamales are a beloved traditional Mexican culture dish enjoyed by people all over the world. But, how long do tamales last in the fridge?

tamales laid out together

While you may find yourself with leftovers, it’s important to know how to properly store them to keep them fresh and safe to eat.

When you have extra homemade tamales or store-bought tamales that you don’t plan to eat right away, refrigeration is the best method for maintaining their freshness.

Generally, tamales can last 3 to 5 days in the fridge when stored properly. 

For the best results to avoid any potential food safety issues, it’s essential not to leave tamales at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.

The best way to maximize the shelf life of tamales, it’s crucial to wrap them in plastic wrap, a ziploc bag, a plastic bag, resealable freezer bags, vacuum-sealed bags, or place them in a sealed container before refrigerating.

It is a good idea to follow these storage guidelines, so you can enjoy delicious tamales without worrying about spoilage or wasting any of your culinary delights.

We’ve got the scoop on how long leftover tamales can last in the fridge and the best practices for storing your savory treats!

What Are Tamales?

man stuffing tamales

Tamales are a traditional Mesoamerican dish of Mexican cuisine made from masa Harina dough. Which is a corn dough made from ground corn. 

The dough is usually filled with various fresh ingredients. Such as chicken, pork, cheese, vegetables, or fruits, before being wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves.

As you prepare the fresh tamales, you’ll start by spreading the masa dough on the inside of the corn husk wrappers or banana leaves. 

This creates a pocket for the filling of your choice. Some common fillings include meat-based tamales and vegetable/fruit tamales like:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

Pork tamales are one of the most popular fillings for meat tamales.

Once the filling is added, you’ll fold the corn husk or banana leaf around the tamale dough, creating a neat package. 

These packages are then typically steamed until the dough is cooked through and the flavors of the filling have melded together.

Mexican tamales are a corn-based dish and are perhaps the most well-known variant of this dish.

But tamales can be found throughout Central and South America. Each with its unique regional twists on different ingredients and preparation methods.

Tamales are a versatile and flavorful Mesoamerican dish made from masa dough. Filled with an array of ingredients, and wrapped tamales in corn husks or banana leaves for cooking. 

Your best bet is to try experimenting with various fillings and cooking techniques to find your preferred tamale style.

How Long Do Tamales Last in the Fridge?

woman looking inside of the fridge for food

When you store tamales in your fridge, their shelf life depends on whether they are cooked or uncooked. 

Proper storage is the best thing to ensure that your tamales last a long time and maintain their delicious taste the next day.

After cooking tamales, they can last a little while anywhere from 3 to 5 days when stored correctly in the fridge. 

As you place the whole batch of cooked warm tamales in the refrigerator, it’s essential to let them cool down on a cooling rack to room temperature first. 

Wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing them in an airtight container is a great option to retain their freshness.

Uncooked Tamales

Uncooked raw tamales should also be stored at a lower fridge temperature. Keeping them cool to minimize the spread of foodborne bacteria. 

With proper refrigeration, an entire batch of uncooked tamales will remain fresh for about one week. 

Similar to cooked tamales, it’s a good practice to wrap uncooked tamales in plastic wrap. Then store them in an airtight container.

Aside from fridge storage, a great way is that you can also consider storing tamales in the freezer for longer shelf life. 

Frozen tamales can last up to 4-6 months when stored properly at the right place. 

However, it’s essential to ensure that you keep them in an airtight container or freezer-safe plastic wrap.

When it comes to leaving tamales out on the counter, you should only do so for a maximum of four hours. 

Any longer than that can increase the risk of foodborne bacteria growth, making them unsafe to eat. 

For this reason, it’s essential to refrigerate or freeze tamales not meant to be consumed right away.

Make sure to write the storage date on the bag or container that you store them in, just like the food industry standard.

Storing Tamales Properly

tamales on ceramic designed plate

In the Fridge

To store your large batch of tamales in the fridge, first, let them cool down to room temperature if they are freshly made. 

Next, wrap each tamale individually with plastic wrap. 

This step is crucial to retain moisture and keep the huge batch of tamales from drying out. 

Once wrapped, place the tamales inside an airtight container to prevent any unwanted odors from penetrating them. 

Your large batches should last 3 to 5 days in the fridge when stored properly. 

Remember to always check for telltale signs of spoilage like a sour smell, color changes, or the production of a sour fluid, before consuming them because it could lead to food poisoning.

In the Freezer

If you want to store your tamales for a more extended period, the freezer is the way to go. To freeze tamales, follow these steps:

  1. Let freshly made tamales cool down to room temperature.
  2. Wrap each tamale with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You can also place them in a ziplock bag, but ensure you squeeze out as much air as possible.
  3. If your tamales are made with corn husks or banana leaves, keep the original wrapping. But add an extra layer of protection with parchment paper. This will help preserve their shape and prevent freezer burn.
  4. Place tamales that are wrapped inside an airtight container or a freezer-safe ziploc bag.
  5. Label the container with the date and contents for easy identification.

By properly storing your tamales in the freezer, they can last up to six months. 

When you’re ready to enjoy them, reheat the frozen tamales either by steaming, microwaving, using an air fryer, a rice cooker, an instant pot, pressure cooker, or frying pan. 

Keep in mind that steaming yields better results for retaining their texture and flavor.

By following these storage methods for your tamales, you can be confident that they will remain fresh and delicious, ready to be enjoyed for a main course tamale dinner or whenever your cravings strike.

Signs of Spoilage and Mold

person laying out tamales to make them

When dealing with tamales, it’s important to recognize the signs of spoilage and mold to ensure you’re consuming fresh and safe food. 

Here are a few indicators that can help you determine if your tamales have gone bad.

One of the clearest signs is a sour or off smell. 

When tamales are spoiled, they usually develop an unpleasant odor. 

Trust your senses – if your tamales smell strange or off, it’s best not to consume them.

Mold is another sign that your tamales are no longer safe to eat. 

While not always visible to the naked eye, mold can come in different colors, including white, green, or black spots. 

If you notice any mold growth on your instant tamales, discard them immediately.

Spoilage can also be detected by checking the texture of your tamales. 

If they feel excessively slimy or sticky, it might indicate bacterial growth, which leads to spoilage. 

Be cautious and avoid eating long tamales with unusual textures.

In some cases, bad tamales may not show obvious signs of spoilage or mold. 

Consuming spoiled food can lead to foodborne illnesses. So if you’re unsure about the freshness of your tamales, it’s best to be on the side of caution and discard them.

To minimize the risk of spoilage, store your tamales properly in the fridge. 

According to The Bubbly Chef, tamales can last 3 to 5 days in the fridge when stored correctly. 

Alternatively, you can freeze your tamales for extended storage.

Remember, always be vigilant for signs of spoilage, mold, or bacteria, and take care when handling and storing your tamales to ensure safe consumption.

Reheating Tamales

close up of cooked tamales

From the Fridge

When reheating tamales from the fridge, it’s best to use an oven to maintain their texture and moisture. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a single layer of the tamales on a baking sheet tray

Keep the corn husk on to achieve a slight crisp on the outside while keeping the inside moist. 

It should only take about 8-10 minutes to reheat them properly.

If you prefer using the stovetop, you can steam the tamales by placing them in a steamer basket on low heat over a pot of boiling water. 

Make sure the tamales are not touching the water and steam them for approximately 10-15 minutes. Or until they are heated through.

For a quicker method, you can use a microwave to reheat tamales. 

Arrange them on a microwave-safe plate, making sure there is space between them. 

Heat the tamales for one to two minutes, but be aware that this method has a higher risk of drying them out compared to other methods.

From the Freezer

When reheating frozen tamales, it’s important to thaw them properly before proceeding with the reheating process. 

Let the tamales thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours, or for up to 24 hours if needed.

Once the tamales are thawed, you can use any of the previously mentioned methods (oven, stovetop steaming, or microwave) to reheat them. 

If using the oven, you can save time by placing them in a cold oven and heating it to 250°F. Allowing the tamales to thaw and cook at the same time. 

Make sure the center of the tamales is hot before consuming them.

By following these guidelines, your tamales should maintain their delicious flavor and texture. Making them enjoyable even after being stored in the fridge or freezer.

Food Safety and Contaminants

tamales stacked on top of another with garnish

When it comes to storing your tamales in the fridge, it’s crucial to consider food safety and the potential presence of contaminants. 

Proper storage techniques can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Such as Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter, and Staph bacteria, which may cause foodborne illnesses.

First, ensure you refrigerate your tamales within two hours of preparation to limit their exposure to room temperature. 

Bacteria thrive in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F, multiplying quickly and increasing the risk of contamination. 

Storing tamales in the fridge at a temperature below 40°F can effectively slow down bacterial growth and keep your food safe.

Make sure to wrap your tamales tightly in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container before putting them in the fridge. 

This practice not only helps retain their freshness but also protects them from cross-contamination with other foods in the refrigerator.

Be aware that some bacteria produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking, like Staph bacteria. 

If your tamales have been mishandled during preparation or storage, even reheating may not guarantee their safety. 

So, always keep an eye out for signs of spoilage, such as unusual odors, sliminess, or mold growth. 

If you notice any of these, discard the tamales immediately.

Keep in mind the recommended storage time for tamales in the fridge is up to a week. 

If you wish to store them for longer periods, consider freezing your tamales. Which can keep them safe for up to six months.

By following these food safety guidelines and paying attention to possible contaminants, you can ensure the enjoyment and well-being of everyone consuming your tamales.

Tips and Tricks for Tamales Storage and Reheating

girl looking side of fridge

When it comes to storing and reheating tamales, there are some essential tips and tricks to keep in mind. 

Proper storage and reheating can make a significant difference in their flavor, texture, and overall enjoyment.

Storing Tamales in the Fridge

Keep your tamales fresh by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap or layers of aluminum foil before placing them in the fridge. 

They can last for up to 4-5 days when stored this way. 

Make sure not to pack tamales too tightly to avoid crushing them.

Freezing Tamales

To extend the shelf life of your tamales, consider freezing them. 

Place the tamales in a freezer-safe container or a resealable freezer bag. 

Be sure to remove any excess air and label the bag with the date to track their freshness. 

Properly stored, your tamales should last for up to 6 months. 

To prevent ice crystals and freezer burn, ensure that your tamales are well-sealed and not exposed to the air in the freezer.

Defrosting Tamales

When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen tamales, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight. 

Alternatively, you can use a microwave’s defrost setting for a quicker option, but be sure not to heat them too long to prevent overcooking.

Reheating Tamales

One of the best ways to reheat tamales is by steaming them, which helps retain their original flavor and texture. 

Keep the tamales in their husks and steam for 15 to 20 minutes, adding an extra 10 minutes if they’re frozen.

Another option is reheating them in an oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). 

Place husk-less tamales in an oven-safe container, sprinkle some water onto each tamale, and tightly cover the container with foil. 

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and allow them to heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your tamales remain delicious and enjoyable, whether you’re eating them fresh or after storing them in the fridge or freezer.

What to Remember

two tamales stacked together

When it comes to storing tamales, you should know that they can last about one week in the fridge when stored properly. 

It is crucial to wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container to maintain their freshness.

If you need to store tamales for a more extended period, consider freezing them. 

Tamales can be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months. 

To ensure they don’t dry out, it’s important to keep them well-wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag.

When it comes to tamales at room temperature, they should not be left out for more than four hours. 

This is crucial in preventing the potential growth of harmful bacteria that could cause foodborne illness.

Remember to always check your tamales for signs of spoilage before consuming them. 

In the fridge, they should last between 3 to 5 days, but keep an eye out for any unusual odors or discoloration that may indicate spoilage.

When it’s time to reheat your tamales, steaming is your best option. 

Steaming helps retain their moist and flavorful texture. 

You can use a steamer basket or simply use a microwave with a damp paper towel covering your tamales.

By following these storage and reheating tips, you can enjoy delicious tamales in the United States with confidence and keep them as fresh as possible.

Final Thoughts

close up of cooked tamales

The longevity of tamales in the fridge depends on various factors such as the type of tamales, whether they are meat-based or vegetarian, and how they are stored.

Traditional Mexican dish tamales, especially meat-based ones, can generally last in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days when properly stored.

It is important to keep the tamales in airtight containers or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out or absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.

Additionally, larger or long can tamales may have a shorter shelf life compared to smaller ones due to their size and increased surface area.

To ensure the best quality and taste, it is recommended to consume the tamales within the first few days of refrigeration.

how long do tamales last in the fridge Pinterest image

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