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How Long Do Tamales Last? Does It Go Bad?

Have you ever come home with a box of tamales from the grocery store and wondered, “How long will these last?

Will they still be okay to eat if I don’t finish them in one sitting?” If so, you’re not alone.

From popular eateries to family recipes passed down through generations, tamales seem like a simple enough food that most people are familiar with… but how long do they keep after they have been cooked and stored in your kitchen?

Sure it looks ok now–will it still go bad eventually too?

We know all foods can spoil quickly–so let’s investigate what’s true about storing tamales away for later consumption.

What are Tamales?

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made of corn dough that is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper.

The dough is typically filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables, and the tamales are usually served with salsa or mole sauce.

Tamales can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to several days.

Tamales are traditionally made with a corn-based dough called masa.

The masa is combined with water and fat (usually lard) to form a soft dough.

Once the dough is prepared, it is filled with various meats, cheeses, or vegetables, and then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf.

The tamales are then steamed or boiled until cooked through.

Tamales will last in the refrigerator for up to several days.

To reheat, simply steam or boil the tamales until heated through.

Serve with your favorite salsa or mole sauce.

How Long Do Tamales Last In The Fridge?

Tamales can last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, as long as they are properly stored.

Tamales should be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in a sealed container before being refrigerated.

This will help to keep them fresh and prevent them from drying out.

When reheating tamales, be sure to heat them all the way through so that they are piping hot.

Tamales can be reheated in the microwave, oven, or even on the stovetop.

Just be sure not to overcook them, as this can make them tough and dry.

Can You Freeze Tamales?

Tamales can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Be sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer-safe container before freezing.

When ready to eat, thaw the tamales overnight in the fridge and then reheat them until piping hot.

Do not refreeze tamales that have already been frozen once.

Frozen tamales will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Tips For Storing Tamales In The Fridge

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think too much about how long your tamales will last in the fridge.

After all, they’re just leftovers, right? Wrong.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to storing tamales in the fridge, and we’ve got all the tips you need right here.

First and foremost, make sure that your tamales are completely cooled before placing them in the fridge.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.

If you put hot tamales into the fridge, they’ll not only take longer to cool down, but they could also cause the fridge to work overtime, which is a waste of energy.

Once your tamales are cooled, be sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

This will help to keep them fresh for longer.

If you’re planning on eating them within the next day or two, they can simply be stored in an airtight container.

However, if you want them to last a bit longer, pop them into the freezer.

They’ll stay fresh for up to six months when stored this way. So there you have it.

These simple tips will help ensure that your tamales are as fresh as can be when you’re ready to eat them.

How to Tell If a Tamale Is Bad?

It’s important to know how to tell if a tamale is bad, because you don’t want to eat something that has gone off.

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made from cornmeal, lard or vegetable shortening, and spices, which are then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.

They’re usually filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables, and they make a delicious and hearty meal.

However, if tamales are not stored properly, they can go bad.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • The tamales have an off-putting smell.
  • The filling is leaking out of the wrapper.
  • The wrapper is coming undone.
  • The tamales have been stored for longer than 2 days.

If you see any of these signs, it’s best to throw the tamales away.

Eating bad tamales can cause food poisoning, so it’s not worth taking the risk.

When storing tamales, be sure to keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.

This will help to keep them fresh for longer.

And when you’re ready to eat them, simply reheat in the microwave or steamer.

What To Do With Leftover Tamales?

If you’re like most people, you probably have a few leftover tamales after your latest party or gathering.

But what do you do with them? Here are a few ideas to help you make the most of your leftovers.

One of the best things about tamales is that they reheat well.

So if you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, just pop your leftovers in the microwave or oven and enjoy.

Tamales also freeze well, so if you want to save them for later, just wrap them up tightly and store them in the freezer.

Another great way to use up leftover tamales is to turn them into a tamale pie.

Just layer the tamales in a baking dish with some cheese and enchilada sauce, and bake until hot and bubbly.

Serve with a side of rice or beans for a complete meal.

Or, if you’re feeling really creative, use leftover tamales as the base for a unique twist on nachos.

Top tamale pieces with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, black beans, and jalapeños, and then bake until everything is hot and melty.

Serve with sour cream and guacamole on the side for dipping.

So whatever you do with your leftover tamales, just remember that they’re versatile enough to be used in all sorts of different dishes.


In conclusion, tamales can last in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Tamales should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Be sure to check the tamales for signs of spoilage before eating them.

If you have leftover tamales, you can reheat them or freeze them for later.

How Long Do Tamales Last? Does It Go Bad?

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Shelf Life
Servings 1 Serving


  • Tamales
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  • Store your product in an labelled container in a cool, dark place like the pantry or fridge.
  • If your food is frozen, allow it to thaw in the fridge before cooking.
  • Make sure to look for signs that your food has gone bad before eating it.
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