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How to Reheat or Cook Tamales in an Air Fryer (frozen too)

Tamales are awesome! But the traditional cooking method of steaming them can take a long time. Air Fryers are known for cooking things very fast with excellent results. But, can you air fry tamales?

Yes, you can air fry tamales. Preheat the air fryer, place the tamales in a single layer, and cook at around 375°F (190°C) for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. For a crispier texture, lightly brush the tamales with oil before air frying. Flip them halfway through for even cooking.

Adjust the cooking time based on the desired level of crispiness. Air frying tamales really is the best option and the easiest way of cooking them; especially if you are short on time.

In this article, I’ll discuss the best techniques for air-frying tamales and address common questions related to this method.

I’ll begin by discussing how to properly air fry tamales, including tips for achieving that perfect texture. Next, I’ll delve into reheating tamales in an air fryer so they remain moist and delicious.

Additionally, can you put frozen tamales directly in an air fryer? I’ll provide guidance on that topic too.

Furthermore, we will address whether it’s possible to create steam within your air fryer by adding water – a crucial element when cooking or reheating tamales. Finally, should you preheat your appliance before diving into these mouthwatering dishes?

Table of Contents:


How to Air Fry Tamales

Air frying tamales is a great alternative to traditional steaming methods, as it can give your favorite Mexican dish a delicious flavor and crispy edge. If you’re looking for an easy way to cook or reheat tamales using your air fryer, follow these simple steps:

  1. Preparation: Remove the corn husks from the tamales if they are wrapped in them. Lightly spritz oil on each tamale using olive oil or vegetable oil.
  2. Preheat: Turn on your air fryer and preheat it to 330 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius).
  3. Cooking: Place the tamales in a single layer inside the air fryer basket, making sure they don’t touch each other. Cook for approximately 15-20 mins, flipping the tamales halfway through.

If you want even better results with your air-fried tamales, consider adding some water into the bottom of the air fryer before cooking. This will create steam that helps keep your tamales moist while still achieving that desired crispy texture.

To explore more creative ways of using this versatile kitchen appliance beyond just reheating frozen foods like french fries and chicken nuggets, check out our collection of delicious and easy-to-follow air fryer recipes.

Air frying tamales are a great way to enjoy the delicious flavor of this traditional Mexican dish without all the mess and hassle. Reheating them in an air fryer ensures that they stay moist and flavorful, making for a tasty meal every time.

How to Reheat Tamales in an Air Fryer

To give your tamales a crispy edge while preserving their flavor, try reheating them in an air fryer. This method helps retain their delicious flavor while giving the corn husks a slightly crispy edge. And it’s a great way to bring life back into leftover cooked tamales.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Preheat your air fryer: Set the temperature to 330 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and let it preheat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare the tamales: Remove any plastic wrap or aluminum foil from your leftover tamales. If they are still wrapped in corn husks, leave those on as they will help keep the moisture inside during cooking.
  3. Add water into the air fryer basket: To ensure that your tamales stay moist during reheating, add about two tablespoons of water into the bottom of your air fryer basket before placing the tamales inside.
  4. Arrange tamales in a single layer: Place each tamale side by side without touching one another; this allows hot air circulation for even heating.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes: Depending on how many leftovers you have, monitor closely until heated through. You may need additional time if there are more than just a few.

Note that every air fryer model has different settings; therefore, be sure to consult its manual for specific instructions. For best results, serve immediately with your favorite toppings like guacamole, salsa, or sour cream. Enjoy.

Reheating tamales in an air fryer is a great way to get them crispy and delicious without having to wait for the oven or stovetop. With that said, you may be wondering if it’s possible to put frozen tamales directly into an air fryer – let’s find out.

Can You Put Frozen Tamales in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can cook frozen tamales in an air fryer. This method is not only convenient but also gives your tamales a deliciously crispy texture. To get started, follow these simple steps:

  1. Preheat your air fryer: Set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let it warm up for a few minutes.
  2. Add the frozen tamales: Place them into the air fryer basket, ensuring they don’t touch each other for even cooking.
  3. Cooking time: Cook the tamales for about 15-20 minutes, flipping once halfway through to ensure they heat evenly on both sides.

Once they have been heated to an internal temperature of 165°F, take the tamales out with tongs or a spatula from the air fryer. Serve with your favorite toppings like salsa or guacamole and enjoy this tasty traditional Mexican dish.

In addition to cooking frozen ones, you can also use your air fryer as a way of reheating leftover cold or room-temperature tamales for a delicious lunch or dinner option.

In conclusion, frozen tamales can be air fried in an air fryer with the proper preparation and time. However, adding water to the bottom of an air fryer may not always produce steam for cooking as it depends on the model and its features.

How to Cook Tamales in an Air Fryer – step by step

Yes, you can air-fry tamales. Here’s how:

  1. Preheat your air fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.
  2. Prepare the tamales: Lightly spritz the tamales with vegetable oil or olive oil. This will help them crisp up in the air fryer.
  3. Place tamales in the air fryer basket: Place the tamales in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the basket.
  4. Cook for 10-12 minutes: Cook the tamales in the air fryer for 10-12 minutes, flipping them halfway through. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of your tamales and the air fryer you’re using.
  5. Check for doneness: Check the tamales for doneness. They should be golden brown and crispy on the outside, and the filling should be hot.

The air fryer is fast becoming an essential small kitchen appliance due to its relatively small size, versatile options for cooking a wide variety of foods, and for the speed at which it cooks.

Plus who doesn’t love the taste of fried foods without the calories?

Should You Preheat the Air Fryer to Cook or Reheat Tamales?

Preheating your air fryer is an essential step when cooking or reheating tamales.

This process ensures that the appliance reaches the desired temperature, providing even heating and better results for your delicious Mexican dish. Exploring the importance of preheating and how to do it right is necessary for achieving optimal results.

  • Even Heating: When you preheat your air fryer, it allows for a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. This means that all parts of your tamales will be heated evenly, ensuring a perfect texture and taste.
  • Better Results: By starting with a hot air fryer, you’ll achieve crispier edges on your tamales while maintaining their moist interiors. It also helps prevent overcooking since they won’t spend extra time in the appliance trying to reach optimal temperatures.
  • Saves Time: Although preheating may seem like an additional step, it actually saves time in the long run because you don’t have to guess whether or not your food is cooked through – simply follow recommended cook times once preheated.

To properly preheat your air fryer before adding tamales, simply turn it on and set its temperature according to recipe instructions (usually around 330°F – 350°F).

Allow about five minutes for most models; however, consult manufacturer guidelines if unsure as some appliances may require more or less time. Once ready, place thawed or frozen tamales into the basket without overcrowding them (cooking tips suggest a single layer for best results) and proceed with the recommended cooking time.

Can you air fry tamales? Absolutely. Air fryers are a great way to cook or reheat tamales. Here are some tips to get the best results:

  • Thaw Frozen Tamales: If using frozen tamales, make sure to thaw them first before cooking. This ensures that they cook evenly and don’t end up with a frozen center.
  • Use Non-Stick Cooking Spray: Lightly spritz oil or non-stick cooking spray on the air fryer basket to prevent sticking.
  • Don’t Overcrowd: Place tamales in a single layer in the air fryer basket to ensure even cooking.
  • Consider Adding Moisture: To keep tamales moist, you can add a small amount of water to the bottom of the air fryer basket or wrap them in a damp paper towel before cooking. Just avoid mixing too much oil and water in the same area. While that may not cause an air fryer to explode, it can create excess smoke, and be potentially hazardous.
  • Experiment with Toppings: Tamales are a versatile dish that can be customized with your favorite toppings. Consider adding salsa, guacamole, or sour cream as a side dish.

Whether you’re cooking tamales from scratch or reheating leftovers, air fryers are a convenient and efficient way to enjoy this traditional Mexican dish. So go ahead and give it a try.


How to Air Fry Canned Tamales

While homemade tamales are definitely the best, we don’t always have the luxury of time to make them.

To air-fry canned tamales from the grocery store, first, remove them from their cans and wrap each tamale individually with aluminum foil.

Place wrapped tamales into the preheated air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for approximately 10-12 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Unwrap carefully before serving.

How Long Do I Air Fry Frozen Tamales?

Air frying frozen tamales takes around 25-30 minutes at a temperature of 330°F (165°C).

There is no need to thaw them beforehand; simply place frozen ones directly onto the basket of your preheated appliance, ensuring there is enough space between each piece for proper airflow.

What Is the Best Way to Reheat Tamales?

The best way to reheat previously cooked or steamed tamales is by using an oven, microwave, stovetop steamer, or an air fryer.

The steamer method is the most traditional way to cook this popular Mexican dish, but it’s not necessarily the best method in terms of how long it takes.

Each method has its advantages, but reheating with an air fryer is fast and yields a crispy texture on the outside while keeping them moist inside.

Do You Cook Tamales the Same Way if Wrapped in Banana Leaves?

The process of cooking uncooked tamales or reheating tamales wrapped in a banana leaf is similar to cooking tamales in corn husks.

Steam the wrapped tamales in a steamer basket or pot with a steamer insert. Ensure the water is simmering but not touching the tamales. Cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours or until the masa is cooked through.

The banana leaves add a unique flavor and aroma to the tamales. Before serving, carefully unwrap the tamales, and enjoy the delicious flavors of the filling and the aromatic essence of the banana leaves.

And if using an air fryer, just follow the same steps I outlined above for regular tamales.


Air fryers are a great way to cook tamales.

Whether you’re cooking fresh tamales or reheating leftovers, the air fryer can help you achieve a crispy exterior and a moist interior. Air fryer tamales may well become your favorite way to cook and enjoy them!

It’s a better way in terms of being able to cook them quickly, and having them be tender on the inside and a little crisp on the outside. Serve your tamales with your favorite toppings and side dishes, and enjoy this traditional Mexican cuisine in a new way.

Air fryers are great. But they are not without their critics!

Some people are afraid that air fryers put out radiation. But is that really true? In a recent article, I dig into that topic to get to the bottom of it. I cover what the real dangers are, why some think they do use radiation, and the best way to use one safely.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Image by Marten Holdway from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell