How to Cook Frozen Tamales in Air Fryer

In this article, we will show you how to cook frozen tamales in the air fryer. Apart from the traditional steaming method, you can enjoy this delicious Mexican food in other ways as well. Air fryer tamales are one option you would definitely fall in love with.

How to Cook Frozen Tamales in Air Fryer

Tamale is a masa or cornmeal dough wrapped around some filling like fruits, vegetables, meat with cheese, or anything else depending on your preference and steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. You can prepare tamales in advance or purchase and store them in the freezer to cook when needed.

how to cook frozen tamales in air fryer

How to Cook Frozen Tamales in Air Fryer

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2


  • Air fryer
  • Tongs.


  • Two frozen tamales.


  • Preheat the air fryer oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Remove tamales from the packaging. Defrost or put them in the air fryer basket without defrosting them. Close the lid and let them to cook for 8 minutes.
  • Turn up the temperature to 400° F and continue cooking for another 3 minutes before taking it out. This ensures more crispiness.
  • Turn off the air fryer and remove the tamales out with tongs to avoid burning your hands.
  • Serve your air fryer tamales as desired.


Important tips
  • If you prefer to thaw first before cooking, you can refrigerate overnight or place them in cold water until they completely attain room temperature. You can also thaw in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Serve your air fryer tamales on the corn husk or banana wrap, or you can as well serve them on the plate.
  • You can also use any type of filling you desire. You can have fun making unique variations by adding spices or herbs together with tamales fillings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are my tamales still mushy?

Air fryer tamales may be mushy or stick to the husk if they are not well cooked. Overly thickened masa could cause these problems too.

Nevertheless, if you open the husk or wrapping and notice the texture inside is mushy, or the masa is broken, you should let them cook longer until you achieve desired crispiness.

What is the best way to freeze tamales, cooked or uncooked?

Though you can freeze them uncooked, tamales are best frozen while cooked because their texture becomes firmer and flavors remain intact. Thus, freezing tamales that have been cooked will yield much better results than those which are uncooked.

How long can I keep frozen tamales?

Freezing tamales after they have already been cooked helps preserve their freshness and enhances the taste of the dish. As long as you want to make sure the tamales remain firm enough when you reheat them, try freezing them no longer than two months.

However, you must remember that the tamale fillings may lose moisture and soften considerably after a long storage period.

How do I know whether tamales are done cooking?

When you notice the husk turning yellowish, it means that the tamales are fully cooked. However, if the husk is not easily removed or the tamales stick to it, they still have a bit of cooking left to finish.

In such a case, remove them from the air fryer and cool them slightly before placing them back into the air fryer. Turn up the temperature again and continue frying for an extra 4 to 5 minutes. Then check once more

How long can tamales sit out of the freezer without spoiling?

Unless you want to thaw your tamales at room temperature, they should not be left to stand out of the freezer for more than 4 hours.  Any food that stays out longer than 4 hours may be unhealthy for consumption.

How do I thaw tamales?

Thawing tamales takes less time than most other foods. All you need to do is put them in the fridge to defrost overnight. If you have no time to wait, simply place them in the microwave at high heat for a maximum of 3 minutes with the husk still on.

What is the best cheese for Tamales?

Similarly to when people ask me for the best cheese for quesadillas I will go ahead and say Monterey Jack Cheese.

Which side dishes go well with tamales?

Cooked corn kernels, potato salad, bean dip, pickles, salsa, and guacamole are all good options. These would complement the flavor and aroma of tamales very well. Additionally, you can serve meatless foods like black beans, broccoli, or lentils.


Tamales are delicious traditional meals that are mostly prepared across Mexico and Central America. They are also simple to make, inexpensive, filling, nutritious, and easy to carry along wherever you go.

While they may look strange at first sight, air fryer tamales are great fun to eat and ideal for family gatherings and get-togethers with friends.

READ ALSO: How to Cook Frozen Spring Rolls in an Air Fryer.

Image Credits: The Spruce Eats.