How Long Does Tamales Last in The Fridge Cooked and Uncooked

Tamales are a cherished part of traditional Mexican cuisine, known for their delicious blend of masa harina and flavorful fillings. This delicious dish is Tamales are made by spreading a layer of masa harina dough which is a certain type of corn dough on a soaked corn husk, then adding a filling of meat, cheese, or vegetables. The husk is folded over and the tamale is steamed until the masa is cooked and holds its shape. The most important question that got you here though is how long does tamales last in the fridge? Let’s discover that together.

Tamales are a delicious traditional dish enjoyed in many Latin American countries and are a labor of love to prepare. But how long can you store these tasty treats in the fridge without sacrificing quality and taste? Let’s explore the shelf life of this delicious traditional Mexican dish.

How Long Do Tamales Last in The Fridge Cooked and Uncooked

How to Tell if Tamales Are Bad

Knowing when tamales have gone bad is essential for food safety to avoid food poisoning. Spoiled tamales may exhibit off odors, mold growth, unusual textures, or peculiar tastes. Keep an eye out for any visible signs of decay. Trust your senses and prioritize food safety to avoid consuming spoiled tamales.

Understanding the 3-5 Day Rule

The shelf life of tamales can last for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator, allowing you to enjoy them over multiple meals. It’s important to consume them within this timeframe to ensure optimal taste and freshness. For longer-term storage, the best way to preserve tamales for a long time is by freezing them, as they can maintain their flavors and textures for up to 3 months in the freezer.

How Long Does Tamales Last In Fridge and How to Store them?

If you find yourself with leftover tamales or want to store them for future consumption, knowing the proper way to store them in the refrigerator is essential to retain their flavors and textures. Here are some expert tips to ensure your tamales stay fresh and delicious:

Proper Storage:

  • Place the tamales in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. This is a great way to prevent them from drying out and absorbing other odors in the refrigerator. If you want to store them for a longer period of time, the best option is to put them in a freezer bag or ziplock bag instead and freeze them. When you are ready to serve them again, let them thaw for a couple of hours. Using bags to store them will prevent ice crystals from forming on top of them which is what will happen if you use a container.

Shelf Life:

  • Tamales can last  3-5 days in the refrigerator when stored correctly. After this time, their quality may start to deteriorate, and they may become unsafe to eat.

Identifying Spoilage:

  • Keep an eye out for any signs of spoilage, such as off odors, a sour smell, signs of mold growth, unusual textures, or strange tastes. If you notice any of these indicators, it’s best to discard the tamales to prioritize food safety.

By following these simple storage guidelines, you can enjoy your tamales for several days after they’ve been cooked, without compromising on their taste and quality.

How Long Does Tamales Last in the Fridge Raw?

Tamales are a beloved dish known for their rich flavors and cultural significance. If you find yourself with an abundance of tamales and wonder about their shelf life, it’s crucial to understand the proper storage techniques. Storing raw tamales in the refrigerator requires attention to detail and adherence to food safety guidelines to ensure the preservation of their quality.

Raw tamales can be refrigerated for approximately 3-4 days before they begin to lose their freshness. It’s important to consume or cook them within this timeframe to enjoy their optimal texture and flavor. Beyond this period, the raw tamales may start to deteriorate, affecting their taste and edibility.

Storage Tips for Raw Tamales

  1. Preparation: Prior to refrigeration, wrap the raw tamales in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to shield them from moisture and odors in the fridge.
  2. Airtight Containers: Consider placing the wrapped tamales in an airtight container to further safeguard them from external elements and prolong their shelf life.
  3. Labeling: To track the storage duration, label the containers with the date of preparation to ensure you consume them within the recommended timeframe. It is also best to set up a reminder a few days before the storage date ends so can consume them before they spoil.

By following these storage practices, you can retain the quality of raw tamales and relish their authentic taste when prepared for consumption. Remember, proper refrigeration is essential in preserving the delicious essence of raw tamales until you’re ready to enjoy them. 

Now that we’ve covered the guidelines for storing raw tamales in the refrigerator, it’s important to understand the nuances of freezing tamales for prolonged preservation.

How Long Does Tamales Last in The Fridge After Cooking

Cooling Down Tamales Before Refrigeration

After preparing or purchasing tamales, it is crucial to allow them to cool down before refrigerating them.

  • Do not store warm tamales because the warmth will cause them for bacterial growth.
  • Allowing tamales to cool down prevents condensation buildup, which can make them soggy.
  • Placing hot tamales in the refrigerator can also raise the temperature inside the fridge, affecting overall food safety.

To cool down tamales efficiently, unwrap them and let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour before placing them in the refrigerator.

Best Containers for Storing Tamales

The ideal containers for storing tamales are airtight and moisture-resistant. Consider using plastic or glass containers with secure-fitting lids to help prolong the tamales’ freshness. Alternatively, heavy-duty resealable plastic bags can also be used. It’s important to ensure that the containers are clean and dry before placing the tamales inside to prevent any potential contamination.

The Role of Corn Husk Wrappers in Preservation

Corn husks play a crucial role in preserving tamales. They act as a natural protective layer, shielding the tamales from excessive moisture and preventing them from drying out. When storing tamales, the corn husks help maintain the ideal level of moisture, contributing to the tamales’ overall freshness and flavor. It’s advisable to keep the corn husks intact when storing tamales to maximize their shelf life and quality.

When storing tamales, it’s important to follow these guidelines to ensure they remain fresh and safe for consumption. By allowing them to cool down properly, choosing the right storage containers, and recognizing the role of corn husks in preservation, you can prolong the shelf life of your tamales and enjoy them at their best.

Identifying Spoiled Tamales

When it comes to identifying spoiled tamales, your senses can be your best allies. By paying attention to the smell, color, and texture of tamales, you can quickly determine whether they are safe to eat or have gone bad.


Fresh tamales should have a pleasant, inviting aroma that reflects the flavors of their ingredients. If tamales emit a sour, rancid, or off-putting smell, it’s a strong indicator that they have spoiled. The presence of a foul odor signifies the development of harmful bacteria or mold, and consuming such tamales could lead to foodborne illness.


Visually inspect the color of your tamales. While colors can vary based on ingredients, spoiled tamales may exhibit discoloration, such as dark spots or an unnatural hue. Mold growth can manifest in different colors, including green, black, or white, indicating that the tamales have deteriorated and should be discarded.


The texture of tamales should be moist but not excessively slimy or dry. Spoiled tamales might feel slimy to the touch, indicating bacterial or mold growth. Conversely, tamales that have dried out excessively could also be a sign of spoilage. Texture changes can be a clear indication that tamales are no longer safe for consumption.

By being mindful of the smell, color, and texture of your tamales, you can safeguard yourself and others from consuming spoiled food.

For more information on food safety and identifying spoiled food, refer to reputable sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration.

What to Do with Suspected Spoiled Tamales

So, you’ve found yourself with some tamales that seem a bit off. Don’t panic! Follow these steps to determine if they’re spoiled and what you should do about it.

Signs of Spoilage

If your tamales have an unusual smell, off-color, or a slimy texture, they may have spoiled. Check for any visible mold as well. These are clear indicators that the tamales have gone bad.

Confirming Spoilage

To be certain, take a small bite of the tamale. If it tastes sour, has an odd flavor, or causes any discomfort, it’s best to assume they’re bad tamales and it’s best to discard them.

Disposing of Spoiled Tamales

If you suspect your tamales have spoiled, it’s crucial to dispose of them properly to avoid any health risks. Wrap the tamales in a plastic bag to prevent any potential contact with other food in the trash. Then, discard them in the outdoor garbage bin as soon as possible.

Avoiding Spoilage in the Future

To prevent the likelihood of future spoilage, ensure that your tamales are stored at the appropriate temperature and consumed within their recommended timeframe. Consider freezing any leftovers promptly to maintain their freshness.

By following these guidelines, you can confidently handle suspected spoiled tamales and take necessary precautions to prevent such incidents in the future.

How Long Do Tamales Last in The Fridge

Extending Tamales’ Shelf Life

Wondering how long does tamales last in the fridge and how to make them last longer? Freezing is the perfect way to extend the shelf life of your tamales. By following proper freezing techniques, you can keep your tamales fresh for an extended period and enjoy them at your convenience.

The Freezing Option

To freeze tamales, ensure they are completely cooled. Individually wrap each tamale tightly with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label the bag with the freezing date for easy tracking.

How to Thaw and Reheat Frozen Tamales

When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen tamales, it’s important to thaw them properly to maintain their texture and flavor. Thaw the tamales overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave for a quicker thaw.

To reheat frozen tamales, there are a few effective methods. You can steam them for 15-20 minutes until heated through, or place them in a skillet with a small amount of water over medium heat, covering the pan until the tamales are thoroughly heated.

By freezing your tamales and following the correct thawing and reheating methods, you can savor their delicious flavor for an extended time, allowing you to enjoy this traditional dish whenever the craving strikes.

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Tips for Enjoying Leftover Tamales

Creative Ways to Serve Refrigerated Tamales

Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover tamales? Don’t let them go to waste! With a little creativity, you can repurpose them into delicious new dishes. One of the most popular and flavorful ways to enjoy leftover tamales is by incorporating them into a hearty bowl of chili. You can also elevate your hot dogs by adding reheated tamales, borracho beans, and jalapenos for a tasty Mexican twist. Another option is to create a cheesy tamales dip with a touch of habanero peppers or tabasco sauce, perfect for parties, special occasions, or a cozy night in. If you prefer a lighter option, consider adding tamales to a Mexican corn salad for a burst of flavor. The possibilities are endless, and you can let your imagination run wild with these culinary creations.

How Long Do Tamales Last in The Fridge Cooked and Uncooked

Safety Tips for Reheating Tamales

When reheating tamales, it’s important to ensure they reach an internal temperature of 165°F to guarantee they are safe to eat. You can reheat tamales by steaming them, microwaving them with a damp paper towel, or baking them in the oven. Always make sure to discard any leftover tamales that have been left at room temperature for more than two hours, as they can become a breeding ground for bacteria. By following these safety tips, you can enjoy your tamales without any worries about foodborne illness.


Now that you know how does tamales last in the fridge, you can ensure that these delectable treats stay fresh and delicious for an extended period. Remember that correctly stored tamales can last 3-5 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer, allowing you to enjoy them at your convenience. By being mindful of the signs of spoilage and following the recommended storage practices, you can savor the flavors and textures of delicious tamales for an extended period, enhancing your culinary experience.

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