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How to Heat Corn Tortillas: Insider Secrets

June 25, 2020 4 min read

How to Heat Corn Tortillas: Insider Secrets

It's taco night, you've got your barbacoa on the grill, the cilantro is sliced, and the Salsa Verde is spicier than ever, but what do you do about the corn tortillas?

Corn tortillas are a really essential component of Mexican cuisine - especially tacos! - and heating corn tortillas the right way is the best way to dramatically improve the quality of your homecooked tacos. You want them soft and warm, to bring out the flavors and to enhance the texture. But should you chuck them in the microwave, bake them in the oven, or fry them in a pan?

Let's take a look at how to warm corn tortillas for tacos the right way!

What's the best way to heat tortillas?

So you've just been using your tortilla press to make some super fresh corn tortillas, Mexican-style. Now you need to cook those tortillas before you can eat them as part of your tasty taco dinner.

The important thing to remember is that corn tortillas need dry heat to cook well. You don't need to use any oil, and you don't need butter or lard, you just need a flat cooking surface.

When you're learning how to warm tortillas, this is the only thing you really need to remember. We often get asked, how do you heat corn tortillas so they don't break? Well, that's the answer: dry heat!

There are a few ways you can accomplish this, though, so we'll take a look at the best ways to heat your corn tortillas. Here's a quick rundown of the methods:

  • Tortilla warmers
  • Griddle (or any flat stovetop pan)
  • Oven
  • Microwave (only as a last resort!)

Tortilla warmer

A tortilla warmer is a great way to heat up your corn tortillas. These purpose-built dishes are usually ceramic and can be gently heated up on the stovetop to warm up your tortillas.

Simply place your tortillas in a stack in the tortilla warmer and gently apply heat from the stovetop. Tortilla warmers are best for reheating pre-cooked tortillas (ones you've bought in the shop, or ones that you've already cooked after pressing them).

They are also the perfect dish for actually serving your tortillas at the dinner table, as they'll keep the tortillas warm all through the meal. That means that every taco you make can be fresh and warm.

If you're wondering if it's worth investing in purpose-made tortilla warmers, then remember that these lovely dishes can also be used as a casserole dish, too, so they are rather versatile!

Griddle

Corn tortillas cook best on a flat surface, so using a flat top griddle is the perfect way to cook them through. This is the best method of cooking tortillas after they've been freshly pressed.

It's really easy too, simply heat up your griddle to medium heat. When it's hot, add your tortillas. Cook them for 30 seconds, then flip them over and cook for another 30 seconds. When they are nice and puffy, they are cooked.

You don't need any oil or any butter to cook them on a griddle. The tortillas just need the dry heat from the cooking surface applied directly to them.

You can use the exact same principle for any flat cooking surface because we know, not everyone has a griddle. Griddle pans work just as well, of course, but so do cast iron skillets.

Oven

Can you warm tortillas in oven? Yes! Preheat your oven to 350°F then wrap your tortillas in a stack of five in tin foil. Place the stack on a baking tray and let them cook without disturbance.

If you've just freshly pressed your corn dough into fresh tortillas, then you'll need to bake them in the oven for 25 minutes. If, however, they are store-bought or you are re-heating them, your corn tortilla will warm up in the oven in just 10 minutes.

If you're wondering how to keep tortillas warm, you can also wrap them in paper towel and keep them in the oven, set on a low heat.

Stovetop

The best way to warm up very fresh tortillas on the stove is to put them straight into a stainless steel skillet without any oil. Put the skillet on medium heat, and cook for only 30 seconds on one side, and then the other. Another way to do this is to leave out the skillet altogether and put the tortilla straight onto the gas flame or gas stove for just a few seconds. You're putting them directly over the flame, so remember to use tongs!

Microwave

The microwave method isn't one we recommend, but we get it, sometimes you have to use the microwave!

If you are warming your tortillas in a microwave, then you need to place them in a small stack (5 should do) on a microwavable plate. Sprinkle them with a dash of water to keep them moist, and then microwave for 30 seconds.

The problem with microwaving is that you lose a lot of moisture and a lot of the flavor, so your tortillas don't really keep the best taste or texture.

How do I get crispy tortillas?

If you're looking for a crispy, Taco Bell style taco shell, then you need to cook your tortillas in oil or butter. To get the crispy shells, you'll need a frying rack to hold your tortillas in the right position while you fry them in oil.

Learning how to heat your tortillas the right way isn't difficult and doesn't take up too much of your time, but it will really enhance the flavor, texture, and taste of your meal!


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