How To Warm Store-Bought Tortillas For The Best Possible Flavor

A staple in Mexican and Central American cuisine, tortillas are an integral component of a variety of tasty recipes, from saucy birria tacos and burritos to cheesy quesadillas and enchiladas. Of course, you could opt to make the thin pieces of flatbread at home. One major perk of doing so is that you'll be able to bite into the tortillas hot off the comal (or non-stick pan), ensuring they're warm and fresh. But, for those short on time or energy, store-bought tortillas are certainly just as good at providing a delicate and delicious wrap for all of your favorite fillings — so long as you don't skip the vital step of heating them up.

That's right; just because you don't have to cook store-bought tortillas doesn't mean you shouldn't warm them prior to eating them. This is especially true if you're using corn tortillas, which are gluten-free and thus don't have as soft a texture. But, whether you prefer flour or corn tortillas, you can easily heat them in a pan on the stove with a little water, which will help to soften them and make them more pliable and less likely to rip or crack. 

Easily heat your tortillas in a pan

Want softer tortillas? All you have to do is warm them up. This can easily be accomplished by dipping them in water and warming them in a pan on medium heat for about 30 seconds on each side. Granted, some food connoisseurs swear against using water, opting instead for simple dry heat. However, others — such as chef Rick Bayless, who believes opting for a dry skillet makes tortillas taste "just like cardboard" (per YouTube) – say steam is actually a good thing because the evaporating moisture is what helps to soften the otherwise dry tortillas, making for even better tacos, burritos, and the like. 

If you don't feel like firing up the stove, the restaurateur also recommends wrapping your tortillas in a dampened paper towel and placing them in a plastic food storage bag. Instead of sealing them closed, just fold the top over to contain the moisture and microwave them for about a minute. Alternatively, you can wrap your tortillas in aluminum foil and warm them up in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This heating method will take a bit longer — about 10 to 15 minutes — however, it's a great option if you're cooking for more people and need to heat a large amount of tortillas at the same time.

Keep your tortillas warm longer

Now that you've taken the time to warm up your tortillas, keeping them nice and toasty throughout your entire meal is essential — at least if you're keen on chowing down on only the freshest-tasting of store-bought tortillas. That's where tortilla warmers can come in handy. 

By now, you've probably seen the fancy, round-shaped containers while eating out at authentic Mexican restaurants. Typically made of plastic, woven fibers like straw or palm leaves, ceramic, or even simple styrofoam, the warmers help to, well, keep your tortillas warm and moist by retaining heat and trapping in steam. Tortilla warming pouches like the ones sold by Imusa are also a great option because they can be heated in the microwave to keep your tortillas warm for up to an hour, according to the brand. 

And, the best part is that many tortilla warmers can also be used to keep other food items, such as pancakes, waffles, pita bread, and biscuits, warm for longer — meaning your purchase will really go the distance.