Learn how to heat up corn tortillas in the easiest and the best way possible. Taco night, here we come!
Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or anytime that you need some corn tortillas, you need to know the best and most convenient way to heat them up, and get them a little bit toasted. Most people warm them in a dry skillet, but there are other ways. Find out the pros and cons of the skillet, and of different methods like microwave, air fryer, toaster, and oven. I’ll share which one is my favorite for warm and toasty, but still soft, corn tortillas.
Read all about the various ways to heat tortillas and keep them warm, or click here to head straight to my preferred method.
- Video: Heating Up Corn Tortillas
- Should I Heat Corn Tortillas In The Microwave?
- How To Heat Tortillas On The Stove
- Corn Tortillas In The Air Fryer And Toaster
- How To Heat Corn Tortillas In The Oven
- Keeping Tortillas Warm
- Can You Freeze Corn Tortillas?
- Podcast Episode: Heating Corn Tortillas
- Instructions: How to Heat Corn Tortillas
Video: Heating Up Corn Tortillas
Should I Heat Corn Tortillas In The Microwave?
While you can heat soft corn tortillas in the microwave, you really shouldn’t.
For flour tortillas, covering them in a damp paper towel and microwaving for around 30 seconds works just fine. In fact, that’s what I usually do when I make my Shrimp Fajitas recipe. But this steamed sort of approach is not ideal for the texture and flavor of corn tortillas. It gives them a mealy flavor and doesn’t improve their texture at all.
How To Heat Tortillas On The Stove
Using a dry skillet on the stovetop is a more classic way to heat your corn tortillas. “Dry-skillet” means that there’s no need for any oil, just a pan (try a cast-iron skillet) heated over medium heat. Add a tortilla and heat for 15-30 seconds on each side, until it’s warm and getting some nice toasty brown spots on it. Using tongs to flip and move the tortillas around makes it easier.
But is this my favorite way? No, because you can really only do one, maybe two, at a time and I’m usually cooking for the whole family.
Corn Tortillas In The Air Fryer And Toaster
I have a similar issue with heating corn tortillas in the air fryer. You can do it, but you can only fit a few in there at a time. They also tend to fly around in there and fold up, so I don’t usually do that.
As to the toaster, I’ve read good things about this method but have never had success myself. I put a corn tortilla or two into the toaster and they flop down inside and it’s hard to get them out. Note that this does work better for flour tortillas, though, I think because they’re a bit sturdier and don’t flop over. To do this, just put a flour tortilla (bent a bit if necessary to fit it) into the slot of the toaster. Set it to toast for the shortest amount of time. Check it about partway through. You’ll have a warmed tortilla that is ever-so-slightly toasted.
But back to the soft corn tortillas. What do you do when you need more corn tortillas warm and ready for taco assembly all at once?
How To Heat Corn Tortillas In The Oven
This is the easiest way to warm up your corn tortillas! Arrange the top rack in your oven so that it’s about 6-8 inches from the top heat source. Then arrange your tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet and put it in the oven on that rack under the broiler until toasted spots just begin to appear on the tortillas, about two minutes. Those tops will have a nice toasty flavor from those spots of that got a bit darker, but they will still be soft enough to fold.
Once those tops are lightly toasted, take the pan out of the oven and use tongs to flip the corn tortillas over. You will not be putting them back into the oven though. That side that is now facing up is warm and soft and ready for you to add your favorite taco fillings (carne asada tacos are my favorite for this!). So good, and so much easier than constantly flipping tortillas one by one on the stovetop.
Now, if you happen to leave your corn tortillas under the broiler for too long and they’re a bit too hard to fold nicely, don’t worry. There’s a solution. You’ll follow the instructions below for keeping tortillas warm, and that method actually softens them a bit while they stay warm.
Keeping Tortillas Warm
No matter what method of heating the tortillas you decide is best for you, if you are working in batches or simply aren’t ready to eat them right away, you’ll want to keep them warm. Go ahead and stack them up and wrap them in aluminum foil. Open the stack and add more tortillas as you heat them. This will keep them warm and soft for a little bit until you are ready to enjoy!
If you leave them for too long and they are no longer warm, here’s what you do. You have two options. (1) Leave the tortillas in the foil and put them back into your hot or fairly warm oven just until warmed through, about 4-6 minutes. That will heat them through without making them hard. (2) Transfer the stack of tortillas from the foil to a microwave-safe plate. Place a damp paper towel over the stack. Top with an inverted microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 20 seconds at a time until reheated.
Can You Freeze Corn Tortillas?
Yes, you can freeze corn tortillas. Freeze them in the unopened packaging that they came in and this will extend their shelf life. If you have an opened package, seal it well, or transfer the tortillas to an airtight container or bag and freeze.
Thaw the tortillas by putting the package on the counter for 30-60 minutes, or in the fridge for 12 hours. You could also use the microwave. Take the tortillas out of the packaging and put them on a microwave-safe plate. Use the defrost function of your microwave, or power-level 50%, for 30 seconds at a time until thawed.
Note that you can also freeze and thaw corn tortillas that you have already heated under the broiler. So, if you make too many, that is an option. Having said that, they don’t end up as tasty as those that are freshly heated. I therefore advise that you instead turn any leftovers into tortilla crisps using the broiler, frying pan, or air fryer like in this crispy tortilla strips recipe.
Podcast Episode: Heating Corn Tortillas
Listen to me explain briefly about how to heat tortillas, along with some other great tips, by clicking the play button below:Print
I find this method to be the best and easiest way to heat corn tortillas, but there’s other options in the post above.
- 6–8 soft corn tortillas
- Arrange the top rack of your oven so that it is about 6-8 inches from the top heat source. Turn on the broiler of your oven and allow the oven to heat up.
- Place corn tortillas on a baking sheet in a single layer and put onto the top rack of the oven. Broil until they start to get toasted in a spots, about 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and use tongs to flip the tortillas over. Do not put back under the broiler. Instead, add toppings to the soft, untoasted side. With one side soft, the tacos are more pliable and easier to fold.*
- Fill tortillas with toppings immediately or stack them and wrap them in foil* until ready to eat.
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*If you accidentally overcook your tortillas and they are not pliable, stack them up and wrap the stack in aluminum foil. That will create a little bit of steam which will soften the tortillas enough that they can still be used.