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), the technique used when making it, 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 and cover it with a damp paper towel. To reheat more than one, 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 F (120 C). Wrap a stack of tortillas in a damp dish towel and place them in a casserole dish of similar size. Cover the dish with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil placed tightly on the dish. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Reheating Corn Tortillas
Corn tortillas are much preferred by most Mexicans outside of the northern states. They lack gluten, the protein that makes flour tortillas so silky and pliable. Because of this, 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. This may sound crazy, but it works. 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 this process for each additional tortilla that you need to heat.
Keeping Your Tortillas Soft After Reheating
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. If you don’t have an “official” tortilla warmer, you can place the towel-wrapped stack into a slightly-larger bowl, then cover it with a plate.