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How Long Do Trader Joe’s Tamales Last? (Explained)

How Long do Trader Joe's Tamales Last

Tamales have been gaining popularity – and sales in almost every store, including Trader Joe’s. But when buying these delicious treats to take home, it’s fair to ask how long you can expect them to last.

Trader Joe’s is a store known for a wide variety of products at affordable prices, and their delicious tamales are no exception to the store reputation, with a shelf life that can go from 5 days to 2 months, depending how you handle them.

For more on Trader Joe’s Tamales and how long they last, keep reading.

How Long Do Trader Joe’s Tamales Last?

Assuming they don’t get eaten as soon as they get heated, the shelf life of Trader Joe’s tamales depends partially on their ingredients, partially on how they’re packaged, and partially on where you store them – the fridge or the freezer.

Given reasonably airtight storage and high-quality ingredients, tamales can be expected to last:

Fridge: Expect them to retain their flavor 3-5 days

Freezer: Can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

For best results, a vacuum sealed container or other type of airtight storage is recommended.

What Different Types of Tamales Does Trader Joe’s Have?

Trader Joe’s has listed only one type of tamale on their website, but other sites and in-store shoppers say they have 4 varieties of tamales appearing regularly on their shelves:

  • Trader Joe’s Beef Tamales
  • Trader Joe’s Chicken and Cheese Tamales
  • Trader Joe’s Cheese and Green Chile Tamales
  • Cedar Lane Sweet Corn Tamales

While not widely advertised, some stores also have the following:

  • Cedar Lane Pulled Pork Tamales

Of course, being Trader Joe’s, there’s every chance that your local store may have more than just the brand name tamales, or just these four varieties.

To find out what’s available at the local Trader Joe’s it’s best to call and speak to their Customer Service department.

Do The Ingredients Change How Long The Tamales Last?

The type of the ingredients definitely influences how long tamales last, which may be a factor between the Trader Joe’s and Cedar Lane brands.

However, consumers also say that vegetarian tamales have a slightly longer shelf life than their beef and chicken counterparts.

For the Trader Joe’s Brand tamales, that means that in the fridge:

  • Chicken and Cheese: Last 3-5 days
  • Beef: Lasts 3-5 Days
  • Cheese and Green Chile: May last as long as 7 days

And in the Freezer:

  • Chicken and Cheese: 3+ months
  • Beef: 3+ months
  • Cheese and Green Chile: More likely to last 6+ months

How Do Trader Joe’s Tamales Compare Other Brands in Terms Of Shelf Life?

While still sealed, tamales remain good up to and sometimes a little past their ‘sell by’ date. But what about once the bag is opened and the tamales are cooked?

Trader Joe’s tamales actually have a fairly standard shelf life after cooking. Some brands say they’ll last a full week in the refrigerator without going off but, as always, the actual shelf life is determined by storage conditions.

Likewise, most brands don’t recommend storing tamales in the freezer for longer than 6 months. Longer may risk freezer burn or a change in the taste when cooked or reheated.

What Are Some Signs That Your Tamales May Be Going Off?

There are several signs that tamales may be going off, or going entirely bad. If the tamales pulled from storage show any of these signs, it’s probably best to dispose of them without any fanfare.

  • Mold: If you see dark or pale mold spots on the dough or on the husks, it’s a good sign the tamale has been exposed to too much moisture, and it’s probably going to be bad all the way through
  • Hardness: The dough should be pliable. if it’s getting hard and cracking, then it’s dried out and it probably won’t have the desired taste, even if it is somehow rehydrated.
  • Sour Smell: A sour smell most often means the dough, or the masa, has gone bad and spoiled, so don’t eat it.
  • Changing Color: Sometimes the corn dough can change color. This is usually a sign that something has gone wrong, generally bacteria or mold changing the dough. It’s best not to take any chances, even if it otherwise smells and feels all right.
  • Slimy Texture or Leaking Fluids: If the husk feels slightly slimy, or the ends of the tamales are leaking liquids, it’s generally a bad sign. The best option is to simply toss the tamales without further investigation.

Bottom line, if there’s any concerns, take it to a tamale expert, or just dispose of them, rather than taking any chances with your health.

Are There Ways To Extend the Shelf Life of Trader Joe’s Tamales?

Are there ways to extend tamale shelf life? Absolutely.

Start with planning to store the tamales in the freezer. That will guarantee a much longer shelf life.

Seal tamales in an airtight container, with a limited amount of moisture. The less water and condensation there is in the packaging, the less chance for freezer burn and/or mildew sneaking in.

Vacuum seal the tamales if possible. The tighter the seal, the longer the tamales are likely to last. In fact, vacuum sealed tamales may last as long as 3 weeks in the fridge, and up to a year in the freezer.

Wrap the tamales in extra corn husks or banana leaves for an extra layer of preservation. This will help draw moisture and increase their shelf life, even if stored in the fridge.

Final Thoughts:

Trader Joe’s tamales have a pretty good shelf life, as long as they’re handled properly.

Once they’ve been heated the first time, they’ll last as long as a week if sealed in airtight containers in the fridge, and several months of packed up and stored safely in a freezer. And you can’t go wrong adding corn husk wrappers or banana leaves for an extra layer of protection.

However you choose to store the tamales of your choice, they’re sure to provide a tasty snack for you to enjoy later – just don’t leave them too long.


Shane is a fitness enthusiast who also has a passion for trying and cooking new foods. His favorite stores to shop at include Trader Joe's, Wholefoods Market, Sprouts, Stater Brothers, and Target.

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