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On a basic level, a tortilla warmer is a container capable of holding heat. The dedicated vessel keeps corn and flour tortillas soft, pillowy, and warm, while you finish preparing Taco Tuesday toppings, like chorizo, barbacoa, and carne asada.
While the traditional design is basket-style, tortilla warmers come in a variety of materials, such as plastic, which can be quickly nuked in the microwave, or terracotta and ceramic—both of which work wonders in the oven for gentle and uniform heating. There's also cloth, stoneware, and more. That said, this versatile tool isn't just for tortillas. It can be used for keeping perfect pancakes, naan, roti, and other munchies warm and enjoyable.
Here are the best tortilla warmers.
Best Overall: IMUSA 12-Inch Cloth Tortilla Warmer
Cloth is a preferred material for many cooks, both amateur and professional. This warmer comes in two sizes (10 and 12 inches) and multiple designs, keeping up to 12 tortillas warm for over an hour without them getting soggy. Heat your tortillas as usual and then throw them inside the polyester pouch to maintain heat or take them directly from a store-bought package, stack them in the warmer, and microwave anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute, depending on how many tortillas are inside. Even if you've never used a tool like this before, it's hard to go wrong with the directions printed on the back.
Compared to other warmers, it's lightweight and easy to store—even on your wall as a bright addition to your kitchen. Use it for pitas, wraps, arepas, pancakes, biscuits, and more. The two-sided food-grade plastic insulation will maintain temperature and keep contents soft. Just steer clear of fried and oily foods or you're bound for stains. Hand washing is recommended, although you may machine wash on gentle. Turning inside out is advised to protect the longevity of the fabric, and air drying is a must. This product is not oven safe.
For ultimate warmth, Marissa Gencarelli, cofounder of Yoli Tortilleria in Kansas City, Missouri, likes to wrap tortillas in foil before placing them in an insulated, cloth holder. This will provide an extra layer of protection against the danger of dry, crackly tortillas, while keeping everything nice and toasty.
Best Ceramic: Kook Ceramic Tortilla Warmer
Eye-catching colors adorn this hand-painted, durable warmer, which measures just under 9 inches in diameter. Made of insulated ceramic, it's microwave- and top-rack dishwasher-safe, and can hold up to 12 standard tortillas. You may not use it in the oven.
The top on this model is semi-fitted to allow steam to escape, while keeping tortillas warm. Although, as with other lidded warmers, condensation is a concern. To alleviate heat loss, line the interior with a dish towel or napkin once you remove it from the oven or microwave. This will doubly insulate your tortillas and keep the bottom ones from sticking to the ceramic. After dinner, this product can go straight into the freezer, making rallying leftovers a breeze.
Best Terracotta: Fox Run Terra Cotta Tortilla Warmer
Terracotta, or “baked earth” in Italian, is one of the oldest materials used to cook food. I own this model and love the beauty of the design, as well as the ease of use. It is slightly smaller with a 7 x 2.75-inch interior space, but it still accommodates 12 standard tortillas. It can be heated in an oven up to 464 degrees, although it is microwave safe if you're crunched for time, and the glazed interior will keep tortillas warm for up to 30 minutes. I extend this by lining the warmer with a dish towel or aluminum foil after the tortillas come out of the oven.
To use this extremely attractive warmer, soak the base in warm water, and then heat the base and lid. The glaze inhibits the natural steaming advantages of terracotta, so the moisture from the water bath keeps the tortillas soft without getting them wet. Unlike unglazed clay options, this model does not absorb oils and odors, providing for easy cleanup. Don't put it in the dishwasher, though. Just wipe it down with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Best Basket: Threads West Handwoven Tortilla Basket
These beautiful tortilla baskets come from southern Mexico, where they're hand-woven from palm straw. Get them in a two-pack of 7- and 8-inch baskets with the capacity to hold eight to 12 standard tortillas. They're meant more for a serving platter rather than a heating or reheating option, so don't put them in the oven or microwave.
Because these are traditional baskets, there is no insulation. Using a dishtowel to line the basket will aid in maintaining temperature, but it's still not the most efficient option for keeping tortillas warm. Washing should be avoided, too. As far as cleaning goes, quickly wipe with a damp sponge or cloth to preserve the integrity. Each basket is unique and lends an authentic feel to family taco night.
Best Stoneware: RSVP International Stoneware Tortilla Warmer
When choosing a tortilla warmer, you may wonder what the difference is between ceramic and stoneware. Stoneware is a type of ceramic that has a thick, porous exterior that's more durable than other ceramic materials. The RSVP Stoneware Tortilla Warmer is a heavy-duty choice for taco enthusiasts and cooks in general, as it can be used for other dishes, like baked brie. The food-safe, glazed, and lead-free stoneware can be used in the microwave or oven up to 350 degrees.
Because of the high firing temperature of stoneware, it holds heat much longer than other options—in this case, up to an hour. For family dinners, this one has the capacity for up to 20 8-inch tortillas. Placing a damp paper towel under the lid when finished heating will distribute some moisture to counterbalance the dry heat stoneware typically produces. It's safe for use in the dishwasher, though it's wise to hand wash because the material is so porous and weighty.
Best Plastic: Nordic Ware Tortilla Warmer
The workhorse of many Mexican restaurants, plastic tortilla warmers remain affordable, easy-to-use options for dinner at home. Made from durable, BPA-free, and melamine-free polypropylene, this one can comfortably hold 12 to 14 standard tortillas. It's meant for heating tortillas in the microwave only, though, and should not be placed in the oven. It can be cleaned in the dishwasher on the top shelf, but because of the resin-like plastic, it may only require a quick wipe with a damp towel.
A quick 30 to 45 seconds in the microwave yields tortillas that will hold heat for up to 20 minutes. Perhaps the biggest advantage it offers is the small hole in the cover to ventilate steam, keeping tortillas from getting soggy. With its attractive sunburst design, this kitchen accessory makes an efficient and inexpensive option for any dinner table.
Best Large-Scale: Norpro Tortilla and Pancake Keeper
If you have a big, hungry family, the Norpro Tortilla and Pancake Keeper is the solution. At almost 10 x 10 inches, it can accommodate up to 30 standard tortillas. The plastic construction is one of the thickest, sturdiest materials of any warmer on this list, is microwave safe, and can be washed in the dishwasher on the top shelf. It is not meant for oven use.
With such a cavernous interior, heat should dissipate quickly, but your tortillas will remain warm for up to 30 minutes thanks to top-tier insulation. That said, condensation can be an issue. This is often easily fixed by wrapping your tortillas in wax paper before heating.
As a bonus, this warmer makes the perfect vehicle for keeping flatbreads, chapatis, pancakes, or even beans and rice, but it is also large enough to hold pasta, veggies, or even cold dishes, like potato salad.
Best Decorative: Su Casa Bonita Blue Talavera Tortilla Holder
If you're looking for a beautiful art piece to hold your tortillas, look no further. This one is handmade in Mexico, featuring lead-free and fade-resistant paint, and each order is unique. It's microwave safe, can be used in the oven at a low temperature, and is safe in the dishwasher, but with any hand-painted item, hand washing is a better choice. This gorgeous 8 x 8 x 6-inch dish is large enough to hold 12 standard tortillas.
For best results and longevity, warm your tortillas on a griddle or in a cast-iron pan ahead of dinner, and then place them in a warmer in the oven at low temperature. This allows time for you to prepare fillings for your feast. When you're ready to open the taco bar, grab some oven mitts, pull out the warmer, and enjoy warm, flexible tortillas.
If you're looking for a trustworthy tortilla warmer to use at home, we recommend the IMUSA Cloth Tortilla Warmer (view at Sur La Table) because it's easy to use and maintains heat for over an hour. For something beautiful and unique, wow the whole family with the Su Casa Bonita Blue Talavera Tortilla Warmer (view at Etsy).
What to Look for in a Tortilla Warmer
The material you choose for a tortilla warmer is all about preference. Do you want cloth, ceramic, terracotta, handwoven, plastic, stoneware, or a special handpainted one? There are many options available, so pick what you like but also look at the ease of care, how many tortillas it holds, if it is microwave safe, and where it can be stored in your kitchen while you're selecting one too.
Size and Capacity
The size and capacity of a tortilla warmer go hand in hand. Check how many tortillas the warmer you're looking at holds, and if it can hold multiple sizes, including the large burrito-sized ones or only standard size ones. Once again, it is all up to what you want and need in a warmer.
Ease of Cleaning
How easy the tortilla warmer you desire is to clean can be a factor in selecting one. Some warmers (cloth ones) can be thrown in the washing machine, while others can be put in the dishwasher or are handwash only. There are some, such as the terracotta ones, that just get wiped down with a damp cloth.
What else can a tortilla warmer be used for?
Although it is their main function, tortilla warmers are not just to warm up tortillas. They also can be used to warm pita bread, flatbreads, pancakes, bagels, and dinner rolls. They're great to keep other dishes warm, too, such as pasta and veggies, and you can even bake in some of them.
Can you bake things in a tortilla warmer?
Some tortilla warmers are multi-functional, and you can bake food items such as brie, pasta dishes, veggies, and more. Check the manufacturer's instruction manual to make sure the one you are purchasing has this capability if you want to have the ability to do this.
Can you freeze tortillas?
You can freeze flour and corn tortillas for later use. Store-bought tortillas can be frozen in their original packaging. For ease of use, you can separate them into individual or meal portions for the family, place parchment paper between each of them, and place them in a freezer-safe bag, making sure to get as much air out as possible before freezing them. They can last for up to six months in the freezer.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who worked in restaurants throughout college, including Cabo’s Tacos in Tallahassee, Florida, where tortillas were handmade daily. Between her experience as a restaurateur and avid home cook, she has prepared and warmed thousands of tortillas. She loves her terracotta warmer, but also owns a plastic one for use when time is tight and the taco crowd is restless. Her work has appeared in many publications including Basically, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.