How Long Do Tamales Last in the Fridge? is reader-supported. When you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a small commission. Read more

Tamale is a famous dish in Mexican cuisine and is also loved by foodies worldwide. It is a dish made from corn, and its filling is usually meat, cheese, etc.

However, the ingredients of this dish can spoil fast after it is cooked. Therefore, refrigerating tamales is the simplest way to extend their shelf-life.

With that in mind, you might wonder, “How long do tamales last in the fridge?” 

Let’s read on to find the answer now!

How Long Do Tamales Last In The Fridge?

how long do tamales last in the fridge 2

How long are tamales good in the fridge?

How long do tamales last in the fridge? In many cases, you can expect your tamales to last up to a week if stored properly in your refrigerator.

Cooked Tamales

The homemade uncooked tamale can stay well for a week in the fridge. 

You need to allow it to cool down to room temperature and put it in your fridge. Otherwise, it will go bad more quickly.

When talking about the sauce, the expiry date would depend on its ingredients.

However, you rarely need to worry about preserving the sauce since it tends to run out before your tamales.

Generally, homemade tamales are relatively easy to store and manage.

Uncooked Tamales

The short answer to “How long are tamales good for in the fridge if you haven’t cooked them yet?” is from four days to a week.

You might also consider store-bought tamales, which can stay well for two to four weeks if you store them properly right after purchase. 

When you open these tamales’ packets, they will come out uncooked. Hence, steaming them later is okay!

Of course, supermarket-bought tamales won’t taste as good as something you prepare and cook from scratch, but we can’t deny their convenience.

Most instant tamales, available in supermarkets, will come in plastic packaging with clear information on their back.

When buying tamales packets, we recommend checking out their expiry date. This day is typically at least fifteen days from the manufacturing or buying dates.

However, for instant tamales, the expiry date only works on unopened ones.

How Long Can Tamales Stay at Room Temperature?


how long do tamales last in the fridge 4 1

How long can your tamales stay at room temperature?

It is feasible to safely leave your cooked tamales at room temperature for several hours (usually two hours) before they start to go bad. 

Leaving this dish out for too long will create favorable conditions for bacteria and other pathogens to invade and multiply, leading to the risk of food poisoning.

The meat-based tamale typically contains pork or chicken, which could be dangerous if you leave them out longer than two hours.

As we all know, your body is made of meat as well. So harmful contaminants will begin with feasting on the flesh inside your tamales, then harming you.

On the other hand, if you serve spoiled tamales containing fruits and vegetables, the bacterial waste products are also toxic to you. 

However, their effects are not as harmful as bacteria that feast on meat.

You also need to be careful with undercooked tamales that you buy at the store or supermarket, as they contain bacteria and all types of contaminants.

If you’ve just bought uncooked tamales but aren’t planning on cooking them right away, avoid leaving them at room temperature for longer than an hour.

Is It Okay to Freeze Your Tamales?

If you’ve ever made tamales at home, you already know this dish takes hours to complete. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people make a significant amount each time for immediate and later uses.

Therefore, it is essential to know how to keep tamales for a long time to be safe for later servings.

For long-term storage, you can’t go wrong with putting your tamales in the freezer, which allows them to stay well for up to half a year if stored properly.

If you want to keep your tamales fresh for a long time in a freezer, it is essential to pack them properly. Otherwise, it’s still okay to consume your tamales after about half a year, but their texture and flavor will likely change.

Also, before freezing your tamales, it is essential to ensure they are cooked. Freezing uncooked or raw tamales will most likely cause their texture and flavor to change gradually during freezing.

The reason is that the properties of the uncooked ingredients, such as vegetables and fruits, will degrade when frozen.

How To Tell If Tamales Are Bad?

Tamales do not typically spoil subtly, and here are some telltale signs:

  • Sour smell.
  • Leaking fluids.
  • Gray mold or dark green or spots.
  • Corn dough’s color turns from yellow to orange or pink.

The smell is often the first sign that lets you know if your tamales have gone bad. 

Since tamales often feature multiple ingredients, it can be challenging to determine which components are breached by bacteria. Yet, the pungent, sickly odor will typically be the clear harbinger of your tamales’ doom. 

On the other hand, tamale molds are usually dark gray or green, and you will usually detect them speckling the corn husk wrapper before spreading inside. In this case, you need to throw your food in the trash immediately.

If you detect that your food is leaking sour fluid, throw it away because that’s the sign of advanced decay. It even tells you that the whole batch is bad.

Last but not least, if your food’s corn dough turns orange or pink, it is time to play a game of tossing your tamale.

How To Store Tamales Properly? 

how long do tamales last in the fridge

How to store your tamales properly?

So you’ve got the answer to, “How long are cooked tamales good for in the fridge?” It’s time to learn about how to store them properly.

Here’s a quick recap of tamales’ shelf life:

Pantry Fridge Freezer
Uncooked Tamales  Four Hours One Week Six Months
Cooked Tamales  Four Hours One Week Six Months

Of course, you can only expect your tamales to reach this shelf life when you store them properly.

Cooked Tamales

For cooked tamales, we recommend letting them sit at room temperature to let them cool. As a result, you can prevent their temperature from dropping too quickly, creating the ideal conditions for bacterial growth.

Once your tamales reach around 21 or 22°C, it is time to move them to your fridge. Before freezing your tamales, you must place them in air-tight containers, such as ziplock bags or plastic food boxes with rubber lids.

With this preservation method, you can expect your tamales to last up to half a year. Yet, the shelf life of the control can be reduced to about two months if your tamales are meat-based.

Uncooked Tamales

Freezing uncooked tamales is also the best way to maintain their quality in the long run. If you have seasoned- before tamales, you shouldn’t keep them in your freezer for more than two weeks.

When discussing the storage method of uncooked tamales, some controversy arises. Some people believe that we should unwrap them before freezing. 

On the other hand, others think that we need to wrap them for better storage.

As husks will likely soften while thawing, we recommend wrapping your tamales before freezing. It is beneficial if you prefer to reheat them by baking or frying!


Can I Air Fry Frozen Tamales?

The short answer is Yes. Ensure to set your air fryer at medium settings and put your tamales in a way that doesn’t crowd them in the cooking chamber.

Can Bad Tamales Make Me  Sick?

If you let your tamales sit out too long, they can be contaminated by  Clostridium, Salmonella, or Campylobacter (if they contain meat). 

Even without meat, staph bacteria can also quickly overrun your tamales. All of these terrors can make you sick.

Why Are My Tamales Mushy?

If your tamales are still mushy, it is typically because their dough is too wet, or you aren’t steaming your tamales long enough.


Hopefully, you’ve got the answer: “How long are tamales good in the fridge?” In general, preserving your tamales is not very difficult. 

Just follow our tips, and we’re sure you are up to the challenge and get your food back in a good state for future servings. Thank you for reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *