You tried to eat the whole platter of tacos. One more bite and you’ll explode, but you’d rather perish of gonzo-taco-itis than scrape it into the trash. We’re on board. Read on to learn how to reheat tacos.
Tacos started as a Mexican dish and now they’ve become one of the most popular comfort food dishes in many parts of the world.
According to studies, 95 percent of Americans love tacos and consume more than 4 billion tacos every year.
The possibilities of how you can use and eat tacos are endless and just like most fast-food items, they offer the best taste when they’re fresh.
However, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t freeze them safely for later use, which begs the question, how do you reheat tacos?
Tacos are delicious, and just like any other food item, it would be a waste of flavor and money if you throw your leftover tacos in the trash.
That’s why it’s important to understand the right way to reheat tacos effectively so that you can freeze, reheat, and enjoy this food later.
In this article, I’ll explain multiple methods to reheat different types of tacos, along with a brief history of this comfort food.
There are several methods that you can use to reheat tacos including oven, grill, air fryer, microwave, and even stovetop.
The method you should use for this purpose will depend on the type of tacos you’re dealing with.
It’s important to note that the best way to reheat tacos is to separate them into three different parts, including taco shells, meat stuffing, and cold ingredients.
The cold ingredients include vegetables, sour cream, and cheese, and you don’t need to reheat them (you can place them on a plate on your kitchen countertop, while you’re reheating meat stuffing and shells).
Once you have divided your tacos into these three parts, you’ll need to reheat meat stuffing and taco shells.
Fast way to reheat tacos
All that to say, the quick-and-dirty method to reheating tacos is usually with the microwave or air fryer.
Hard-shell tacos have probably gotten softer overnight if they were stored with their ingredients.
Remove as much of the tomatoes and lettuce as possible and reheat the remainder in the air fryer on 375F for three or four minutes, turning once with tongs. Then reassemble your ingredients and eat immediately.
For soft-shell tacos, everything is probably pretty sticky and difficult to separate, so you may just want to wrap it in a paper towel or napkin and reheat on high (or using the reheat function if your microwave has one) for 30 seconds. Turn once, and then add more time in 10-second increments and test it.
Don’t overheat it, or you’ll end up with an overheated tortilla that will become chewy and hard. Remember our CookingChew Microwave Mantra: Time, Turn, Test.
Keep reading to get step-by-step tips for how to reheat soft tacos, hard tacos, fish tacos, and shrimp tacos, freezing, thawing, and more.
Reheating Meat Stuffing
You can reheat meat stuffing using the following two methods.
Using a Stove
1. Place a non-stick pan on a stovetop at low-to-medium heat and add a tablespoon of cooking oil to it.
2. Add your meat stuffing to the heated pan and cook it for 2 to 4 minutes, while stirring constantly.
Using a Microwave
1. Add your meat stuffing to a microwave-friendly bowl and place it inside the microwave.
2. Set your appliance to medium to high heat and run it for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the stuffing gently.
4. Run it again in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.
Reheating taco shells can take more time than reheating meat stuffing, which is why I recommend you reheat your taco shells before reheating your meat stuffing so that you can enjoy warm tacos.
Regardless of the route you choose, make sure that you don’t let your reheated food sit at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is higher than 90F.
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), leaving your food at room temperature for the amount of time mentioned above can make it unsafe to eat, as it allows bacteria to multiply rapidly.
How to Reheat Soft Tacos
If you have soft tacos that you want to reheat, consider using any of the following methods to reheat them.
Using the oven to reheat tacos is the most effective, gentler method to reheat soft tacos thoroughly with fewer “hot spots.”
Whether you have homemade, store-bought, or even pre-made tacos, you can use this method by following the steps listed below.
1. Preheat your oven to 325 to 350 F.
2. Use aluminum foil to wrap your soft tacos and make sure that you cover them from all sides. The idea is to make the food airtight so that it can retain the moisture inside to prevent them from becoming crunchy.
3. Place your tacos in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes.
4. After that, check your tacos to find out whether or not they’re heated evenly. You can use a pointy tool or knife for this purpose, or you can remove aluminum foil as well.
5. If your tacos need to be reheated more, cover them using aluminum foil again and place them in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Remove your taco shells from the oven, fill them with ingredients, and serve/enjoy immediately.
Using the microwave is another excellent method to reheat soft tacos and it also prevents the food from becoming hard or crunchy, as long as you don’t overheat them. Use the following steps to complete this method.
1. Grab a paper towel and make it slightly damp (not wet).
2. Place the damp paper towel on a microwave-friendly plate. Make sure that you cover the entire plate. So, you might need to use multiple paper towels.
3. Put your tacos on the plate in a single layer so that they don’t touch each other.
4. Insert the plate into the microwave and run it for 30 to 45 seconds on high heat (15 to 20 seconds if there’s only one taco). Any heating duration of more than that will make your tacos too hard, chewy, or burnt.
It’s possible to use a grill to reheat your soft tacos, and you can use the following steps to carry out this process.
1. Turn on the grill and let it warm up.
2. Wrap your soft tacos using aluminum foil to make them airtight.
3. Place the wrapped tacos on the warm grill and close the lid.
4. Wait for about 5 minutes and open the lid.
5. Flip your tacos and close the lid again for about 5 minutes.
How to Reheat Crunchy (Hard) Tacos
Here’s a list of the best methods that you can use to reheat your hard tacos.
Using the air fryer is the best way to restore the original crunchiness and texture of your hard taco shells.
Consider using the following steps to complete this method.
1. Preheat the air fryer to 350 to 375F.
2. Wrap your hard taco shells using aluminum foil.
3. Live the air fryer basket with non-stick cooking oil using a silicone brush.
4. Place the wrapped tacos in the air fryer (in a single layer) for three to five minutes.
5. Remove the taco shells and fill them with meat stuffing and cold vegetables.
Your oven can also reheat hard tacos but the technique will be slightly different from reheating soft taco shells in this appliance. This does include the toaster oven, too.
Here’s how you can complete this process.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 to 375F.
2. Place your hard taco shells on tack racks and place them on a baking sheet. You can also insert aluminum foil into the folded taco shells if you don’t have taco racks. It’ll help them retain their shape.
3. Insert the baking sheet into your oven and let the tacos heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until they become crispy and hard according to your preferences.
The dry heat of a stovetop can help you reheat your hard taco shells easily.
Consider using the steps listed below to complete this process.
1. Place a skillet/pan on your stovetop and set it to low to medium heat.
2. Sprinkle some non-stick cooking oil on the skillet.
3. Use tongs with rubber tips to gently pick up your hard taco shell, and place it on the skillet.
4. Heat each side for 30 to 45 seconds. While heating the bottom side, you might need to hold your taco shell using tongs to keep it from flipping.
Can I Reheat Whole Tacos?
Yes, you can reheat whole tacos if you want but you won’t be able to achieve the same results that the method of reheating the ingredients separately produces.
Reheating whole tacos can make them soggy and their texture and flavor will change.
So, if you want to enjoy the best taste and maximum freshness, I recommend you use the reheating method discussed in this guide.
Can You Reheat Tacos with Sour Cream?
Yes, it’s possible to reheat tacos with sour cream, but you should steer clear of this reheating method.
That’s because the sour sauce will become runny when reheated, and make the food mushy.
Can I Reheat Shrimp Tacos?
Yes, you can reheat shrimp tacos by separating their ingredients.
Use any of the methods discussed above to reheat your taco shells and use the stovetop method to reheat your shrimp.
Can I Reheat Fish Tacos?
Yes, you can reheat your fish tacos by separating the fish, taco shell, and the rest of the ingredients.
Fish is delicate and heats up quickly, so keep an eye on your reheating time.
Fish also spoils fast, so ensure that your fish taco is still fresh enough to eat when you go to reheat it.
Use one of the methods, discussed in this guide, to reheat your taco shells, depending on their type, and use the oven for reheating the fish.
Tips on Storing Tacos
You can store tacos at room temperature for up to two hours if the temperature is less than 90F, but if the temperature is higher than that, you shouldn’t store your tacos at room temperature for over one hour.
If you want to store your tacos for a longer time, you can place them in your fridge, using an airtight container, and the food will stay fresh and edible for up to four days.
However, the temperature of your refrigerator must be 40F or below.
Storing Tacos in the Freezer
While you can store your tacos whole in the freezer, I recommend you separate them into three different parts, as mentioned above, before freezing.
It’ll keep you from going through the hassle of separating the frozen ingredients, which can be a difficult and time-consuming task.
Use the steps listed below to store your tacos in the freezer effectively to keep them fresh for up to 4 months.
1. If your tacos are still hot, let them come to room temperature. Make sure that the cooling process doesn’t take more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is higher than 90F).
2. Divide your tacos into three different parts, including taco shells, meat stuffing, and cold ingredients.
3. Wrap your taco shells in parchment paper or aluminum foil to make them airtight. Carry out this step carefully, especially if you’re dealing with hard taco shells as they can break.
4. Divide meat stuffing into multiple portions, and the size of each portion should be equal to what you’ll be using to fill one taco shell.
5. Wrap each portion using plastic wrap to make it airtight as well. Use the same technique to wrap cold ingredients.
6. Now start adding all ingredients to separate freezer bags, and remove as much air as possible from each bag to prevent freezer burn.
7. Label each freezer bag with the current date, so that you can use your frozen ingredients before they go bad.
8. Place all the bags in the freezer for up to 4 months.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the temperature of your freezer should be 0F or below to ensure food safety.
In addition, make sure that you don’t place your tacos in the freezer when they’re hot.
The Michigan State University states that hot food, when placed inside the freezer, can increase the temperature inside, which can affect the quality of food already frozen.
How to Thaw Tacos Properly
You can remove frozen taco shells from the freezer, and use any of the methods discussed above to reheat them immediately, which means you don’t need to thaw them before reheating.
However, that’s not the case with frozen meat stuffing and other ingredients.
According to the USDA, there are three different safe methods to thaw food, including the refrigerator, cold water, and microwave.
I recommend you use the refrigerator method as it’s the safest way to thaw food because it doesn’t allow bacteria to multiply in the food rapidly.
But if you’re in a hurry, you can use other methods as well.
For the refrigerator thawing method, you’ll need to remove your meat stuffing and other ingredients, including vegetables, sour cream, and cheese, from the freezer and place them inside your refrigerator overnight.
If you want to use the cold-water method, you’ll need to place an airtight/watertight freezer bag, containing stuffing/cold ingredients in a bowl of cold water.
This method will take 2 to 4 hours, depending on the food quantity you need to defrost, but make sure that you change cold water after every 30 minutes so that the food continues to thaw at a consistent speed.
If you can’t wait for 2 to 4 hours, consider placing your stuffing/cold ingredients in a bowl, and use your microwave defrost function to thaw them.
Keep in mind that the microwave can make your food soggy and affect its texture and taste, so use this method only when you’re really in a hurry and can’t use other defrosting ways.
The bottom line
Although it’s possible to reheat whole tacos, you should divide them into three parts, if possible (meat stuffing, taco shells, and the rest of the ingredients) before carrying out the reheating process.
That’s because tacos have cream and cheese that become runny and make the entire food soggy.
Heating taco shells and meat separately and joining all the ingredients immediately will allow you to enjoy warm tacos with the best taste.
There are different methods that you can use to reheat your taco shells and meat stuffing.
While you can use any method to reheat your stuffing, you’ll need to choose the reheating method wisely for taco shells, based on their type.
If you have soft taco shells, using the oven will generate the best results, while the best method to reheat crunchy taco shells is to use an air fryer.
Regardless of the method you use, make sure that you don’t let your reheated taco shells sit at room temperature for more than two hours to keep them safe for eating.
You can place them in your refrigerator using an airtight container for up to 4 days and they’ll remain fresh and edible in the freezer for up to 4 months, given that you use the correct freezing method.
- Leftover soft tacos
- Aluminum foil
- Conventional oven or toaster oven
- Preheat your oven to 325 to 350 F.
- Use aluminum foil to wrap your soft tacos and make sure that you cover them from all sides. The idea is to make the food airtight so that it can retain the moisture inside to prevent them from becoming crunchy.
- Place your tacos in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes.
- After that, check your tacos to find out whether or not they’re heated evenly. You can use a pointy tool or knife for this purpose, or you can remove aluminum foil as well.
- If your tacos need to be reheated more, cover them using aluminum foil again and place them in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove your taco shells from the oven, fill them with ingredients, and serve/enjoy immediately.
- Using the oven to reheat tacos is the most effective, gentler method to reheat soft tacos thoroughly with fewer “hot spots.”
- Whether you have homemade, store-bought, or even pre-made tacos, you can use this method by following the steps listed below.