Keeping a reheated tortilla soft will vary greatly depending on its original texture, which is a product of ingredients used (corn or wheat flour, plus other elements), technique used when making, and how long it’s been since the tortilla was made.
Restaurant tortillas are sometimes made right on premises, making them ultra fresh and wonderfully warm and moist. Others use pre-packaged tortillas just like most of us do at home, but they’ve mastered the art of reheating.
To return your tortillas to their original glory, try one of the following methods:
Reheating Flour Tortillas
Store-bought flour tortillas lose moisture over time and will become dry or stiff if improperly heated. To reheat them, they should be lightly steamed so that no more moisture is lost.
- Microwave: Put a tortilla on a plate, covered with a damp paper towel. Alternate tortillas with paper towels. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to one minute, depending on how many tortillas you have.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit / 120 Celsius. Wrap a stack of tortillas in a damp dish towel and place in a casserole dish of similar size. Cover with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil tightly on the dish. Place in oven for 20 minutes.
Reheating Corn Tortillas
Corn tortillas—much preferred by most Mexicans outside of the northern states—lack gluten, the protein that makes flour tortillas so silky and pliable.
As such, they have a much more rustic texture to begin with and will become stiff almost immediately upon cooling. Fortunately, corn tortillas will soften considerably and become deliciously fragrant upon reheating.
- Griddle: Freshly-made tortillas (up to several hours old) can usually be successfully reheated over low to medium temperature on a comal, griddle or skillet. Place the tortillas on the hot surface in a single layer, turning after about 30 seconds to heat evenly. This method will work well for most packaged store-bought and refrigerated tortillas, as well, though they will take longer to warm up and become soft.
- Open flame: Really stiff corn tortillas -- say, a day old and not refrigerated -- are often reheated with this method in Mexico. Wet a single tortilla completely under the faucet. (I know, it sounds crazy -- just try it!) Place the wet tortilla directly on the open flame of a gas stove. Leave it a few seconds, then turn the tortilla over. Keep “roasting” and turning your tortilla until it has heated and dried to your liking. Repeat for each additional tortilla that you need to heat.
Once the tortillas (flour or corn) are heated, wrap them in a damp towel and transfer them to a basket, plastic, or polystyrene tortilla warmer to keep them nice and hot. Don’t have an “official” tortilla warmer? Place the towel-wrapped stack into a slightly-larger bowl, then cover it with a plate.
Edited by Robin Grose