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How to Warm Tortillas and Keep them Soft

Whether you are hosting a taco bar party or feeding your family, knowing how to warm tortillas and keep them soft is a must for taco night, fajitas for dinner, quesadillas, or a batch of enchiladas.

If you’ve ever tried to warm up a stack of tortillas, only to have them turn hard and brittle, you know the importance of knowing how to warm tortillas properly. Find out the best way to warm both a flour and corn tortilla and keep them warm, soft, and delicious too.

Tortillas are a staple in Mexican cuisine. They are used for so many main dishes and served on the side to stuff with your favorite filling. There are always stacks of tortillas on the tables at parties.

How to Warm Tortillas and Keep them Soft

Two Best Methods of Warming Flour Tortillas

If you are like me, often for convenience, I reach for the pre-packaged flour tortillas because they are quick and easy.

Find your best method, just follow one of these two methods to return your tortillas to their original glory just like homemade tortillas. These are perfect for soft tacos. Pro Tip. The most important thing is to make sure to use a damp paper towel or damp dish towel to help add moisture back as this lightly steams the tortillas while they warm.

Microwave Method. This is probably the fastest way to heat up a stack. Wrap five or less tortillas with a damp paper towel and place them on a microwavable plate. Microwave for 30-second bursts until the stack is warmed through, generally no more than a minute. Repeat in heating tortillas batches of five as needed. If you want to reheat more than 5 at a time, put a piece of wet paper towel between each one. I find that it is best to microwave no more than 10 at a time. Otherwise, the outer tortillas can get over cooked and rubbery before the center of the stack is warm.

Oven Method. Place a stack of tortillas in a damp dish towel.  Set them in an oven safe casserole dish that has a lid or use aluminum foil to wrap tightly on the top of the dish. Preheat the oven to 250 F/120 C and warm the tortilla shells for 20 minutes. This is a great way to heat an entire stack at once.

Parchment Paper Wrapped Shells

Two Best Methods for Heating Corn Tortillas

Premade corn tortillas are more likely to become dry and stiff over time. The good news is that they will soften up and develop a delicious toasty smell upon reheating. Let’s find out more about the best method.

Griddle. Heat corn tortillas, one at a time, in a dry skillet, griddle, cast iron skillet, a non-stick pan, or a stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. Pro Tip. No oil is needed as you are looking for a dry heat. They will not stick in a hot skillet. You are just looking to warm them up for approximately 30 seconds on each side.

Open Flame. An open flame from a gas burner is a great option for corn tortillas. Just keep the burner on medium-high heat and flip every few seconds until they are warm. Pro Tip. If there are old stiff corn tortillas, just wet them with water. Repeat the open flame warming process until they have dried and cooked through to your liking. Repeat for each one. Safety Tip. Use a tongs to place tortilla, turn and flip them quickly and easily without scorching your fingers. 

Serving Soft Taco Shells

Keeping Your Tortillas Soft After Reheating

If you are cooking for a crowd, it is nice to keep the both the corn and flour tortillas warm and soft for hours if needed. Here are five simple ways to make sure that your food is the star of the party.

Parchment Paper Hack. Separate your room temperature tortillas as this will ensure they don’t stick together when heating. Wrap them in parchment paper and microwave 30-40 seconds, until they are warmed through. Then wrap the parchment package in aluminum foil and place in a gallon plastic bag. This will keep them warm for 30 minutes. If you want to keep them warm for several hours, place your bagged tortillas in a small cooler. Take a bag out as you need it for serving your guests.

Slow Cooker Warming Method. Wrap tortillas in a damp towel, then aluminum foil. Place in a slow cooker set to medium heat. Let heat for 30 minutes to warm through or as long as you need to keep them warm.

Tortilla Warmers. Plastic warmers are inexpensive, come with lids, are microwavable, and they will keep warm and pliable tortillas for up to 20 minutes after heated. Ceramic warmers can keep them warm up to an hour after heated through. When using a warmer, a good rule of thumb for reheating tortillas in a warmer in the microwave is to add 15 seconds for every four tortillas. However, microwaving them over 60 seconds can lead to dry, brittle tortillas, so be sure not to overheat. 

Oven Warming. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap them in a damp cloth, then aluminum foil. Place them in an oven safe container and keep them in the oven wrapped in the foil until ready to use.

Insulated Fabric Pouch. This inexpensive pouch is an easy way and used in the microwave heating method. When the flaps are kept closed, it can keep up to 15 Tortillas at a time warm for over 1 hour.

Flour Tortillas Wrapped in a Towel in a Basket

Eating Tortillas Warmed

My brother-in-law makes the best Mexican food. Sometimes, he will warm the tortillas over the stove in a hot skillet or open flame. Then he will spread on a thin layer of butter. It is just scrumptious! He turns a store-bought flour tortilla into a soft, slightly sweet, and fresh tasting snack. This was a staple food for him growing up and it always reminds him of his mother.

Crunch Taco Shells

Sometimes, we like our crunchy taco shells. I will heat about 1/2-inch of oil in a 10 or 12-inch skillet. Heat it until it shimmers, about 2 minutes. When add a shell and use a fork to fold it in half. Let it cook for 15 seconds and flip to the other side. Let that cook for an additional 15 seconds.

Remove from the oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add your favorite taco fillings to your crispy tortillas and enjoy. These are great tacos. We think that both the corn and flour taste a bit sweeter when fried like this, and they are sometimes the best part too.

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