Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Shari Mason
Tamales are a traditional Mexican cuisine treat consisting of a thick coating of corn husks wrapped around various fillings, such as meat, vegetables, and even fruit, in certain cases.
Because tamales are made with various components, each has a unique shelf life.
So how long do tamales last in the fridge? Can you freeze tamales? Let’s find out.
How Long Will Tamales Stay Good In The Fridge?
Tamales can be stored in the fridge for 6-7 days or frozen for up to 6 months. They will stay fresh and delicious for several days if properly stored in an airtight container.
Cooked and uncooked tamales can last in the fridge for up to a week, store-bought tamales can last up to a few weeks, and leftover tamales’ shelf-life is up to 3 days.
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish consisting of masa dough in corn husk wrappers or banana leaves with sauced meat, cheese, or vegetables. 
Read: Why Are My Tamales Taking So Long To Cook?
Tamales Shelf Life In The Fridge
Cooked tamales can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for several months. If left at room temperature, cooked tamales last up to 2 days.
Reheating frozen tamales is just the same technique as if they were uncooked. Place them in the steamer basket to restore their original consistency.
Read: What Cheese Do Mexican Restaurants Use?
Uncooked tamales last longer if frozen, but they can last in the fridge (without meat) from 4 days to 1 week. Do not leave raw tamales. Cook them right away if you dont have a refrigerator.
You can freeze uncooked tamales if you dont have plans of cooking them sooner to extend their shelf-life. Even homemade tamales can still be stored in freezers for up to 4-6 months.
If left at room temperature, uncooked tamales can last only an hour.
Read: What To Do With Leftover Enchilada Sauce?
Instant tamales last longer in the fridge for up to a few weeks. The freezer even extends its shelf life.
Although instant tamales are never as tasty as traditional ones, they are more convenient due to the shorter half-time cooking time.
Leftover tamales should be refrigerated immediately and can last in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. To keep your tamales fresh, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Or, roll them properly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent bacteria from contaminating them. Reheat tamales in the air fryer when you’re ready to eat them.
How To Properly Store Tamales In The Fridge
To properly store tamales in the fridge, allow them to cool to room temperature first.
Airtight containers or ziplock bags in the fridge or freezer help fresh tamales last longer without deforming them.
“I’m not a chef, but I’m passionate about food—the tradition of it, cooking it, and sharing it.”– Zac Posen, American Fashion Designer
If you stack tamales, place a napkin between each layer to absorb excess moisture. The more moisture the napkins absorb, the fewer ice crystals form that can interfere with the corn dough.
If you need to keep your tamales at room temperature, wrap them with plastic or a baking sheet.
This will keep air away from viruses already inside, slowing their growth. 
How To Tell If It Has Gone Bad
Bad tamales drip with a sour liquid. It is an indication of advanced stages of rotting.
If even one tamale is leaking, the entire batch is likely spoiled. Do not attempt to eat and throw them away immediately to avoid any health risks.
Filling and the dough of spoiled tamales will have a sour smell. In the same way as regular foods that spoil.
You must use the refrigerator to defrost the frozen tamales while preparing them.
When the cornbread becomes pink or orange, it’s decaying. If it began off yellow and then changed color, throw it. Do not eat tamales in that color.
You may notice molds, too, that are gray or green. Before spreading inside, it frequently spots the corn husk or banana leaf wrapping.
Don’t just eat the wrapper. Spots signify spores on the inside. Spores can make you sick despite being invisible. 
Is it better to refrigerate cooked tamales?
No, tamales that have been cooked do not need to be refrigerated and can be kept at room temperature for up to two days.
But if you don’t plan on consuming it too soon, you better keep it refrigerated to avoid building bacteria.
Should I freeze or refrigerate tamales?
Storing cooked tamales in the fridge is recommended if you plan to eat them sooner. It can stay fresh in the fridge for one week without affecting the taste and quality of the dough.
However, freezing tamales is better if you’re not planning to eat the leftovers or the pre-made tamales within seven days.
This prevents spoilage, as warm temperatures can build bacteria inside the dough.
Can you freeze tamales after being refrigerated?
Yes, you can freeze tamales after being refrigerated. Any tamales not consumed immediately can be safely frozen and used later.
Ensure that the tamales freeze safely in resealable freezer bags by preventing any contact between them and the air, which could result in unattractive freezer burn. 
Storing tamales in the fridge for 2-3 days is only recommended if you plan to eat them after a couple of days. Keeping tamales refrigerated is better than unrefrigerated tamales.
You can also store cooked tamales under plastic wrap at room temperature for two hours and uncooked tamales for one hour. The tamales will be safe with no early signs of spoilage.
Cooked and uncooked tamales will stay tasty in the fridge for about seven days or in the freezer for up to six months if stored in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed plastic bag.
Cooked or uncooked tamales must be refrigerated properly in a ziplock or freezer bag to prevent spoilage and extend their lifespan.
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