DIY Food

How to Heat Store-Bought Corn Tortillas

March 15, 2014

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: You've got your carnitas, your guac, your genius refried beans. Take your next taco night from good to amazing with piping hot tortillas.

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It's impossible to not love taco night. It's satisfying, serves plenty, and adapts to your whims -- carnitas one week, fried avocados or grilled fish the next. With a spread of salsa, guacamole, beans, and warm tortillas before you, it's a DIY dinner and a sanctioned chance to play with your food.

Yes, we did say warm tortillas. And no, we won't ask you to make your own, unless that's what your heart is telling you to do. The truth is, store-bought tortillas work just fine for shuttling maximal taco fillings from plate to mouth, but try telling that to the cold, rubbery tortillas that sit neglected while you eat your carnitas with a fork. Look past the microwave -- with a little know-how, you can reheat tortillas so they're worthy of the things they hold. MarionRose asked for your tips, and you had her back:

  • Enlist your oven, like lisina does: "Wrap a stack of tortillas in aluminum foil and pop them in a 350° F oven for 10 minutes or so. They'll steam inside the packet and stay nice and soft. Keep them wrapped until you're ready to use them."
  • Chef's Hat prefers to stick with the stove: "I always put them in a non-stick pan, heating both sides until they start to get some color. Takes some time, but I like it far better then putting them in the oven."
  • Alternatively, cut out the middleman and get rid of the pan. Lisabu fires up her gas stove and says: "I take tongs and hold the tortillas directly over the flame for 10 to 15 seconds on each side." Pierino loves the same "radical approach," because it gives his tortillas "a slight char and a mildly smoky flavor," whether he's using them for tacos or huevos rancheros.

How do you do taco night? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Fond of large dogs, tiny houses, pungent cheese, and dessert for dinner (or breakfast).


MichiganDave May 11, 2018
Did you notice the accompanying photo isn't a corn tortilla?
SubMon August 20, 2020
It is a corn tortilla just not one that looks like what we get from most stores.
Maven March 22, 2017
Ugh. Tortilla snobs. Woodsy tortillas. LOL. Take 8 tortillas, heat an oven to 375 with a baking sheet IN the oven, remove hot baking sheet when oven is at 375 and place corn tortillas on tray. spray with cooking spray and flip and spray the other sides. Heat in oven 10 minutes or so...we like ours a little chewy so we do 12 minutes or so. Easy peasy.
big W. July 12, 2015
I use a non stick frying pan,spray some pam oil on top
An spray the corn tortilla on both sides litely
Than heat up till your desire looks,keep on longer,it gets cruncher
Enjoy it all the time
Chris G. June 21, 2015
Woops...forgot to mention, you want to quickly put the flour tortillas between some paper towels to absorb some of the salad oil...and fill quickly while they are still warm and pliable. As Rachael Ray would say...YUMMERS!
Chris G. June 21, 2015
I love flour Tortillas, I use a #12 Cast iron fry pan, and basically make burritos out of my Tacos. I put about a half inch of salad oil in the pan, never checked the temperature, but guessing it's about 350 degrees. Quickly fry the largest flour tortillas I can find, until the large bubbles form on the tortilla, and then quickly fill them and eat them. The only way I can describe the results is they get Flaky and very tasty! Use tongs and a large spatula (wok spatula) to manipulate the tortillas. Not for kids, obviously and not for people that worry about eating fried foods! Oh, so tasty!
One last comment...there is a fine line between just right and and too done, as in the tortillas get to the point where you can't make a burrito type "taco" because they just crack and break up.
Tommy E. May 10, 2015
We deep fry corn tortilla's with a tool that folds them in the shape of a taco. but flour tortillas get the open flame from the gas stove.
Bekka H. April 25, 2015
Something I always did from San Diego is dip it in the bean juice that's in the can of pinto, or refried beans and throw it on the grill for 10-15 seconds on each side
Brigitte D. June 6, 2014
You need an iron comal to heat through and get the proper toasty finish. I've seen griddles employed for this purpose and a pan, in a pinch, but for true earthy toasty corn flavor the comal is king. You will also get some of your iron RDA as a bonus.
Sarah H. March 17, 2014
My mom would put a wire rack over the pot of simmering meat/fillings and set the tortillas on that to warm up. With a wide lid, the steam heats the shells perfectly through.
Pat E. March 16, 2014
Over the gas flame...always!
Lu March 16, 2014
on the gas range, a tip i learned from some mexicans years ago
AlohaHoya March 16, 2014
Women in the market places in Mexico heat them over a gas flame like we do at gives the tortilla a smokey woodsy flavor...
Suzanne March 16, 2014
Our waffle iron grids flip over to a smooth side. We heat the iron up to high, spray on some olive oil, and pop each tortilla in for about 30 seconds or until the steam pours out the sides. Perfect.
emptypixels March 16, 2014
Corn tortilla's are great heated in a non-stick pan if you give them a quick dip in water. I know it sounds weird, but the extra moisture is key.
annaclarice1 March 16, 2014
For flour tacos nothing beats the flame on my gas stove!
For corn tortillas I prefer a light brush of veg oil and a quick trip into my cast iron pan.
OnionThief March 15, 2014
If you have a gas stove, directly over the fire is the way to go. There is nothing better for making your tortillas taste like the delicious, sweet, rich, FOOD that they are.