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How To Soften Corn Tortillas

Mexican and tex-mex dishes rely heavily on the humble tortilla. Its freshness and flavorful bite enrobe some of the cuisine’s most popular foods: enchiladas, tacos, and tostadas, to name a few. 

And the corn tortilla tends to be fragile and needs to be handled delicately, especially when it has cooled. 

While the preservatives in store-bought corn tortillas tend to keep them shelf-stable for a long time, even when wrapped well these can devolve into rigid wraps that need to be softened before using in recipes.

So we took a look at some of the popular methods of how to heat corn tortillas so they don’t break, and sometimes we were even successful! 

Keep in mind that a reheated corn tortilla should be eaten right away, and to overheat a corn tortilla means they become brittle, and their edges curl up.

If you overheat one, though, you probably have more in the bag, so start over with a new one.

You deserve to eat tasty, delicious food, and it’s okay to sacrifice a practice corn tortilla to get it soft and ready to eat.

Table Of Contents

Can you soften stale corn tortillas?

Yes, it’s possible to soften your stale corn tortillas at home. In fact, there are six ways in which I recommend softening corn tortillas. 

But keep in mind that you need to consume them right away! 

As the tortillas have gone stale, you should expect not the same quality as those freshly-made ones once were. 

Your main goal here is to ensure that the tortillas will stay pliable and won’t split when filled with your taco fillings. 

Follow these important steps below to bring your beloved corn tortillas back to life.

How to soften corn tortillas

There are various ways that you can try when it comes to softening tortillas—in a tortilla warmer, on a cast-iron skillet, in a toaster oven, and a microwave.

Scroll down to unlock these six softening methods for corn tortillas, all of which will give you the desirable results.

How to soften corn tortillas in a tortilla warmer

Estimated time required: 15 seconds or more

If you haven’t owned a tortilla warmer, then this is a sign to invest! This handy kitchen container can keep your favorite Mexican staple hot, soft, and fresh until they’re ready to be eaten. 

The best thing about using a tortilla warmer is that you can heat a stack of tortillas inside. It’s a perfect method for those who want to save time or are in a hurry. 

Tools needed:

    • Microwave-safe tortilla warmer
    • Corn tortillas
    • Damp paper towel
    • Microwave

Here’s how to heat corn tortillas using a tortilla warmer: 

1. Place a damp paper towel in the base of your tortilla warmer. 
2. Then place the corn tortillas on top. 
3. Place the microwave-safe tortilla warmer in a microwave.
4. Heat them on high for about 15 seconds. 
5. Continue heating the tortillas in 15-second intervals if necessary. 
6. Remove the tortilla warmer from the microwave using microwave mitts.

Tips on this method:

    • Ensure to place the tortillas inside the tortilla warmer one at a time to prevent them from sticking. This also allows the heat to pass between them. 
    • Corn tortillas take longer to be heated than flour tortillas so it’s best to check them every time to ensure they’re thoroughly heated. 
    • Always keep the lid on. 
    • Your tortillas can be kept warm for up to an hour in the tortilla warmer.

How to soften corn tortillas on a skillet

Estimated time required: 30 seconds

You can soften corn tortillas on a stove using a cast-iron skillet. This process takes only 30 seconds to achieve. Here are the tools you need and the steps you need to follow.


Tools needed:

    • Cast iron skillet
    • Corn tortillas 
    • Stove

Here’s how to heat corn tortillas using a skillet: 

1. Place your tortilla in a cast-iron skillet. You don’t need to add water. 
2. Warm the tortilla over medium-high heat for 15 seconds per side. 
3. Remove it from the skillet once it smells toasty or lightly browned.
4. Work on another tortilla wrap. Repeat the process. 

Tips on this method:

    • The trick is to not overheat. Baked goods need very little reheating time so in case you think that your tortilla is heated enough at around 10 seconds, flip it immediately and proceed to warm the other side. 
    • You don’t need to add water, oil, lard, or butter. All you need is a hot, flat cooking surface of the skillet.

How to soften corn tortillas in a toaster oven

Estimated time required: 5 minutes

Another technique to soften corn tortillas is using a toaster oven. The essential thing you need to do in this method is making sure to add moisture back to the dehydrated tortillas.


Tools needed:

    • Damp paper towel
    • Toaster oven
    • Corn tortillas
    • Tortilla warmer

Here’s how to heat corn tortillas using an oven: 

1. Stack corn tortillas and wrap them with a damp paper towel. 
2. Place them inside your toaster oven.
3. Heat the tortillas at 350°F for about 5 minutes. 
4. Transfer the tortillas to a tortilla warmer to keep them nice and hot.

How to soften corn tortillas in a microwave

Estimated time required: 30 seconds 

Softening corn tortillas in a microwave isn’t recommended and this method should be your last resort.


Before warming up a stack of tortillas (5 pieces) in a microwave, be sure to cover them with a damp paper towel to keep them moist and not to heat the food for more than 30 seconds. 

Longer than that will make your tortillas chewy and dry out.

Tools needed:

    • Corn tortillas
    • Damp paper towel
    • Microwave
    • Microwavable plate
    • Tortilla warmer

Here’s how to heat corn tortillas using a microwave: 

1. Place five corn tortillas in a small stack on a microwavable plate. 
2. Cover with a damp paper towel and heat them for 15 seconds. 
3. Flip then heat for another 10 seconds or 15. 
4. Remove the corn tortillas and place them in a tortilla warmer.


Tips on this method:

    • If you’re planning to warm corn tortillas up one at a time in a microwave, heat them for no more than 8 seconds. 
    • Microwaving corn tortillas results in losing moisture and flavor, it’s best to secure a damp paper towel for better results.

What is the quickest way to soften corn tortillas?

The quickest way to soften corn tortillas is in the microwave, but be careful when using this method. When you heat them too long, your corn tortillas will end up chewy and dry, which can ruin your desired recipes.

Things to do with stale corn tortillas

Don’t let stale bread go to waste! Here are a few recipes that you can make with stale corn tortillas.

1. Make some tortilla chips

My version of tortilla chips is prepared in the air fryer with ONLY three basic ingredients: corn tortillas, vegetable oil, and salt.

2. Turn them into Migas

This recipe is a breakfast staple that combines scrambled eggs, onion, jalapeño, garlic, corn tortilla chips, salsa, cheese, and toppings such as sliced tomato or avocado.

3. Create some enchiladas

Another way to make use of stale corn tortillas is by turning them into delicious enchiladas. Fill the tortillas with cheese, veggies, or meat of your choice, and savory sauce!

4. Make a homemade tortilla soup out of it

If you have a ton of stale tortillas and you want the most out of them, then making a tortilla soup should do the trick!

The bottom line

Mexican food and tex-mex positively relies on the humble tortilla as a foundation for beans, rice, avocado, al pastor, fajitas and more. 

Revive your corn tortillas with one of these easy ways to bring them back to life, freshening them to use. 

Remember that corn tortillas are very fragile when at room temperature, and especially if they are cold and you are just taking them out of the fridge. 

Learn how to soften corn tortillas the easy way and eat them up as soon as you heat them up!

How to Soften Corn Tortillas in a Microwave

How to Soften Corn Tortillas in a Microwave

CookingChew reveals the quickest way to soften corn tortillas, the microwave method.

Ingredients

  • Corn tortillas
  • Damp paper towel
  • Microwave
  • Microwavable plate
  • Tortilla warmer

Instructions

  1. Place five corn tortillas in a small stack on a microwavable plate. 
  2. Cover with a damp paper towel and heat them for 15 seconds. 
  3. Flip then heat for another 10 seconds or 15. 
  4. Remove the corn tortillas and place them in a tortilla warmer.

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