How Long Do Tamales Last In The Fridge? Answer Here!

Tamales are an essential part of any Mexican party table, but by the time you get to read this article, it has infiltrated feasts all around the world. This wonderful corn-based wrap with flavorful and diverse fillings is finding its way into our hearts and we can’t blame it!

Yet, what if the table has more tamales than everyone can eat, and you are forced to store them? How long do tamales last in the fridge? Read on the answer and other useful knowledge!

What is Tamales

How Long Do Tamales Last In The Fridge

A tamales is a Mesoamerican dish – typically connected to Mexican cuisine specifically. The food is made of corn-based dough or masa, which has a banana or corn leaf after being steamed. When you eat tamales, you can throw away the leaf and eat the food inside, or lay it out like a little plate in case things get messy!

Within the dough, there is a wide range of fillings. Your Abuela can put meat, cheese, and chilies in for a delicious dinner tamale or fruits and vegetables for a delightful dessert tamale. The corn dough is light enough to elevate its fillings while having its own unique aroma. In terms of taste, tamales have a minty and are somehow similar to the taste of the anise.

Depending on the filling, you will get different health benefits. Meat, cheese, and chilies allow you to get enough energy to go through the day, while fruits and greens fillings should give you a great dose of delicious fibers and minerals.

How Long Do Tamales Last In The Fridge?

Though tamales can stay good up to a week in your chilling compartment, the circumstances might be different, so you should treat your tamales case-by-case. Another similar case would be pasta’s temperamental expiry date.

Cooked Tamales

Homemade uncooked tamales are the ones adhering closest to the one-week mark.

As you bring out the fresh tamales platter to the dining room, you can speculate as to how many portions will end up in the fridge. Be sure to allow the tamales to cool down to room temperature before shoving them in the chilling compartment of your refrigerator, or they will spoil much more quickly.

As for the sauce they come with, the expiry date should depend on the ingredients involved. You usually should not worry much about that department, though, as the sauces will surely be gone before the tamales run out!

Homemade tamales are quite easy to manage and store, and it is the standard answer for the question of “How long can tamales stay in the fridge?”.

Uncooked Tamales

The answer to “How long do tamales last in the refrigerator if they are uncooked?” is around the same duration as well – from 4 days to a full week.

There is a different alternative, though. Store bought tamales can last anywhere from 2 weeks to a month at best if you keep them in the freezer immediately after buying. They will come as uncooked when you open the packet, so you can steam them later!

Instant tamales from the frozen section of the supermarket are incredibly long-lasting. Of course, they will not taste as good as anything Abuela prepares and cooks from scratch, but they sure are convenient. You should be able to find instant tamales in plastic wraps, with the information written clearly on the back.

When you pick up the tamales packets, you can immediately check for the expiry date. Usually, the day will be a half to a full month away from the buying date or manufacturing date.

However, you should remember something when using instant tamales. The expiry date that’s a few weeks away only works if you have not opened the packet. Similar to the frozen egg rolls.

How To Tell If Tamales Is Bad

How To Tell If Tamales Is Bad
Signs of bad tamales

No matter if it’s dessert tamales with delicious fruits or appetizer tamales with chilies and meat, the food is bound to lose its quality in the refrigerator. Especially after leaving the cornhusks or banana leaves, tamales quickly return to room temperature and start fermenting.

It is, after all, perishable, so knowing “How long can tamales be refrigerated?” should help as well.

Fruit fillings are very easy to spoil, as anyone should know if they have ever cut up fruit and try to store them. The fruit has lots of sugar in them, which quickly turns sour once it comes in contact with bacteria from the air. Meat fillings will usually last quite a while: It’s actually seasoned and sauced meat that is quick to turn bad.

The answer to “Can you freeze uncooked tamales?” is a definite yes, and it is highly recommended. The uncooked ingredients have less of a chance of inviting new bacteria in.

Just be sure to keep them in a tight container, and you will be very safe. The method on how to tell if tamales are bad is quite simple, as well: just look out for mold or a change of color on the cornflour.

How To Store Tamales

After asking the question of “How long are tamales good for in the fridge?”, you should think about how to keep them good for that long.

Read the next paragraphs on how to store tamales, both cooked and uncooked tamales:

Cooked Tamales

In order to store cooked tamales, you should let them sit out and cool to room temperature first. This prevents the tamales’ heat from dropping too fast, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in. Once you allow the tamales to reach around 21–22°C, you can move on to actually putting them in the fridge.

In detail, try your best to find an air-tight containment – either a ziplock bag or a plastic food box with rubber lids. Place the tamales in the container next to one another, so they are lightly squished against one another and keep each other intact.

With this storage method, the food can even survive to six months. However, keep in mind that the time will cut down to 2 months if your food includes meat inside.

Uncooked Tamales

The best way to store uncooked tamales is by freezing them in the frozen compartment. Raw ingredients can return to sub-zero temperature only once so as to keep them for longer. If your tamales are seasoned beforehand, they should not stay in the freezer for more than two weeks.

Once you have placed your uncooked tamales in an airtight container tucked away in a safe corner, you can leave wondering, “how long do tamales cook?” for later!

So, how long can tamales stay out? – The answer to this question mainly depends on the surrounding temperature and storage condition. Based on the standard food industry rule, your tamales can only “survive” within 4-hour no more if being stored at 40-80F.

Meanwhile, it can only last around 90 minutes when being placed at 80-130F. This is also the reason why you must cool the uncooked tamales in a short period of time.

When it comes to storing methods for tamales, there are some controversy raised from that. To be more specific, some people consider that it is a must to unwrap the food when freezing it. At the same time, others reveal that we should wrap the food for better storage. What is the precise answer, then?

As husks will soften while thawing, it would be best if you got already wrapped tamales. This is especially true if you want to reheat your food by frying or baking!


How Long Do Tamales Last Unrefrigerated?

Tamales can stay outside for only 4 hours before they go bad.

The soft corn coating does not do much to shield the inner fillings, which are notorious for spoiling easily. So if you take the babies to the table at 6PM, you should wrap up servings at around 9PM, for tamales to be enjoyed in later meals as well.

Is It Better To Freeze Tamales Cooked?

It is an agreed-upon consensus that tamales freeze better after they are cooked. They are a lot softer and easier to manage taste-wise once you know how they taste before heading into the fridge.

Can You Air Fry Frozen Tamales?

Yes, you can. Be sure to set the air fryer at medium settings and place the tamales in a way that does not crowd them in the cooking chamber.


That’s all you need to know about the answer to “How long do tamales last in the fridge?” As we’ve mentioned above, the food can last up to one week. Yet, be mindful that this figure is not fixed, as it depends on the food’s state.

Overall, tamales are not food you should tiptoe around, but they can be quite a hassle when it comes to reheating. With our help, we’re sure you’re up to the challenge and bring the dish back from its frozen state!

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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