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What's The Best Way To Thaw Frozen Tamales?

Stacked tamales
Stacked tamales - Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/Getty Images

What do you get when you wrap your favorite combination of meats, cheeses, vegetables, or peppers with masa and use a corn husk to tie it all together? The Mesoamerican delight we call tamales. Whether you make your own corn tamales, buy some from a roadside vendor, or rely on a store-bought version, tamales are the ultimate freezer meal. Simply pop them into your freezer and pull them out whenever you have a craving or need an easy dinner. You can store tamales in the freezer for a few months.

There are a few ways you can go about thawing your tamales in preparation for cooking. The first is to simply put them on a plate (to catch leaks) and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. If you're pressed for time you can place tamales in a sealed air-tight, leak-proof storage bag or container and submerge them in cold water. In order to keep the water temperature from dropping, replace it with fresh, cool water about every half hour until they're defrosted, about one to two hours.

Read more: The 15 Best Frozen Chicken Nuggets, Ranked

Why Thaw Tamales

tamales on tray
tamales on tray - Image Source/Getty Images

The truth is, you don't have to thaw tamales before cooking them. These little gems heat up perfectly from a frozen state. Then again, perhaps it's worth questioning why so many cooks feel it's necessary to unfreeze them first. Some cooks argue they can suffer from cold centers or uneven cooking without a defrost. But read the directions on any package of frozen tamales and they'll usually note that you can simply pop them into the steamer right out of the freezer. Still, if you're in the camp that feels this can cause issues with inconsistent heating or a mushy exterior, there's certainly no harm in giving them a thaw.

While the thaw or don't thaw issue may be debatable, one indisputable reality is that a thawed tamale cooks faster than a frozen one. So if cook time is a priority, remove them from the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight. Tamales are a labor of love to make from scratch, so having the ability to grab them from the freezer is a blessing, but they're not an instant meal. Planning ahead will shorten your cook time and get your meal on the table faster.

How To Heat Tamales

steaming tamales in pot
steaming tamales in pot - Jpavlish/Getty Images

There are several ways to cook up those coveted corn-covered concoctions, and they all begin with steaming. Tamales are wrapped in corn husks, or sometimes banana leaves, in order to maintain their shape and hold in moisture. Once the masa and ingredients are packaged up, the tamales are steamed to cook them through. Prepared tamales can be frozen before or after the steaming process. If they're not steamed before freezing, they must have a steam bath before considering any other cooking methods.

However, if they were steamed before freezing, you can cook tamales several ways. The first is to put them into a steamer basket to warm them through. Place them vertically so they are standing up. Check the water in the bottom of the steamer frequently and add more as needed. Steam the tamales for around 20 minutes if thawed, and 40 minutes or more if frozen. You'll know they're done when the husk easily peels away from the masa. You can also cook thawed or frozen tamales in the oven, the microwave, a skillet, a pressure cooker, or even the air fryer, although they may not be the best methods for reheating tamales if you want to avoid drying them out.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.