How to Warm Tortillas

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Taking a few extra minutes to warm tortillas over direct heat makes all the difference.

Tortilla in a skillet on a stovetop.

Whether you are making soft shredded chicken tacos, enchiladas, or a layered Mexican casserole, you will be amazed at how much better your dish gets if you heat your tortillas first. Store-bought tortillas become so much better when they are warmed, especially over direct heat. The texture gets a lot softer and more pliable. This is especially true in the case of corn tortillas, which can be dry and crack when they are folded or bent. The flavor improves greatly; warming them enhances their flavor and gives them a nice toasty taste.

There are three terrific ways to get the most flavor and pliability from your tortillas on the stove or grill without drying them out. While not the best option, in a pinch, you can also use the oven or microwave.

Woman flipping a tortilla in a skillet with tongs.

Corn vs. Flour Tortillas

I love both flour tortillas and corn tortillas, and I think each has its place. A good flour tortilla is the perfect wrapper for a burrito and ideal for wrapping fajitas, while the flavor and texture of a corn tortilla are just right in traditional beefy enchiladas and tacos.

There isn’t a big difference between these varieties of tortillas when it comes to the heating process, so it really does depend on whether you’re in the mood for flour or corn. Regardless of whether you opt for pillowy flour tortillas or denser corn ones, all varieties become softer and that much more toasty and satisfying when warmed.

Tortilla in a skillet on a stovetop.

Warming Tortillas in a Pan on the Stove

  1. Heat the pan: Heat a pan that is larger than the diameter of your tortillas over medium to medium-high heat. There is no need to oil the pan or even spray it with nonstick spray.
  2. Brown the tortilla: When the pan is hot, place the tortilla directly into the pan and heat for about 45 seconds, until the bottom is browned in spots.
Placing tortilla in hot pan.
  1. Flip and brown again: Use tongs or a fork to flip it over and warm the other side for about 45 seconds.
Tortilla being placed in a skillet.
  1. Remove and repeat: Remove the tortilla to a plate or a clean surface. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. You can stack them as they are heated.

Heating Tortillas Over a Gas Flame

  1. Turn on the flame: If you have a gas stove (with a real flame), you can use it to warm tortillas. Turn your gas burner to medium so that the flame just barely reaches the top of the grate.
  2. Put the tortilla on the burner: Place a tortilla directly onto the burner and heat for about 15 seconds, until the bottom is browned in spots.
Tortilla warming directly on a gas stove.
  1. Flip: Then use tongs to flip it over and toast the other side for about 15 seconds.
Woman using tongs to flip a tortilla directly on a gas burner.
  1. Remove and repeat: Remove the tortilla to a plate or a clean surface, and repeat with the rest of the tortillas. You can stack them as they are heated.

Warming Tortillas on a Grill

  1. Heat the grill: Heat your grill to medium. (This works with a gas, charcoal, or pellet grill.)
  2. Grill in batches: Place the tortillas directly onto the grill in batches of up to 4 at a time, but no more, so you can control the browning without them burning.
  3. Flip: Heat for about 30 seconds, or until the bottom is browned in spots, then use tongs to flip it over and grill the other side for about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove and repeat: Remove the tortillas to a plate or a clean surface, and repeat with the rest of the tortillas. You can stack them as you remove them from the grill.

How Do You Warm Tortillas in the Microwave or Oven?

While the stovetop and grilled versions are the best ways to warm tortillas, you can also use the microwave or oven.

  • Microwave: This isn’t my favorite method because it doesn’t amplify the flavor of the tortillas but merely warms them. But it’s fast and efficient. Place a short stack of tortillas on a microwave-safe plate. Wet a paper towel with a little water and place the damp paper towel over the top of your tortillas. Then, pop them into the microwave for about 45 seconds. This will keep them from drying in the microwave.
  • Oven: Preheat your oven to around 350 degrees. Wrap a stack of tortillas in foil and place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. You won’t get those pleasant brown spots you get when you toast them, but you will have a warm tortilla!
Spoon scooping avocado onto a Shredded Chicken Taco.
Shredded Chicken Tacos

FAQs

How do you keep tortillas from getting soggy?

Ah, an age-old question! There’s nothing more upsetting than a soggy tortilla that falls apart when you need it most. To keep your tortillas from getting soggy, warm them as directed here. If you cook them in a tiny bit of oil in a pan, the oil will also form a bit of a barrier on the tortilla. This prevents the sauce from soaking into the tortilla too much when making a saucy dish like enchiladas, for instance.

Do you need to warm up tortillas before making a quesadilla?

You don’t need to warm up tortillas to make a quesadilla, but it does make the quesadilla better. Here’s why: If you warm up the side of the tortilla that touches the cheese before putting cheese in, then your cheese will start melting faster, and you’ll never get stuck with a quesadilla that’s burnt on the outside with hard cheese in the middle. Your tortilla will also have the best flavor if you warm it on both sides.

How do you keep tortillas warm?

You can leave your warmed tortillas folded in a napkin to keep them warm while they wait to be served. There are also specially designed serving dishes for keeping tortillas warm with lids. If you find yourself serving warm tortillas often, it’s a good purchase!

Warm Tortilla Dishes

Spooning Ground Beef Enchilada filling onto tortilla.
Easy Ground Beef Enchiladas

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5 from 2 votes

Warm Tortillas on the Stove

Taking a few extra minutes to warm tortillas over direct heat makes all the difference.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 3 People
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 6 corn or flour tortillas
  • Burrito, taco, quesadilla, or enchilada ingredients (as needed, according to recipe)

Instructions 

  • Heat a pan that is larger than the diameter of your tortillas over medium to medium-high heat. There is no need to oil the pan, or even spray it with nonstick spray.
  • When the pan is hot, place the tortilla directly into the pan, and heat for about 45 seconds, until the bottom is browned in spots.
  • Use tongs or a fork to flip it over and warm the other side for about 45 seconds.
  • Remove the tortilla to a plate or a clean surface, and repeat with the rest of the tortillas. You can stack them as they are heated.

Notes

How to Heat Tortillas Over a Gas Stove
  1. If you have a gas stove (with a real flame), you can use it to warm tortillas. Turn your gas burner to medium, so that the flame just barely reaches the top of the grate.
  2. Place a tortilla directly onto the burner and heat for about 15 seconds, until the bottom is browned in spots.
  3. Then use tongs to flip it over and toast the other side for about 15 seconds.
  4. Remove the tortilla to a plate or a clean surface, and repeat with the rest of the tortillas. You can stack them as they are heated.
How to Heat Tortillas on the Grill
  1. Heat your grill to medium. (This works with a gas, charcoal, or pellet grill.)
  2. Place the tortillas directly onto the grill in batches of up to 4 at a time, but no more, so you can control the browning without them burning.
  3. Heat for about 30 seconds, or until the bottom is browned in spots, then use tongs to flip it over and grill the other side for about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the tortillas to a plate or a clean surface, and repeat with the rest of the tortillas. You can stack them as you remove them from the grill.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal, Carbohydrates: 70g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 70mg, Potassium: 290mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 3IU, Calcium: 126mg, Iron: 2mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. Sophie says:

    Prior to reading your post, I had no idea how to warm my tacos, they either always became too hard or remained soggy, but after trying out your technique I achieved my perfect tacos!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      completely delighted to hear!