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THE TIP

An Ingenious Way to Heat Store Bought Corn Tortillas

Nothing replaces freshly made corn tortillas but out of convenience, we often resort to stacks of store-bought tortillas. The problem with these is that, although they’re inexpensive, they tend to be dry and tough, even after heating. Heating them in the microwave softens the outside but adds no crunch or char to the outside. Heating them in a dry pan on the stove (the most used technique) lightly chars the outside but dries the tortilla out.

So, how do we get the perfect corn tortilla that’s pliable and tender but lightly charred with crispy edges? After some research, we came across an ingenious technique.

  1. Heat a dry non-stick skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Quickly dip a tortilla into a bowl of cold water then place in the pan.
  3. Cook on one side for approximately 30 seconds or until charred and spotted in places.
  4. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds.
  5. Wrap in a thick kitchen towel.
  6. Repeat the process and add the heated tortillas to the stack.

At first, it might seem crazy to dip a tortilla into water. But, this actually works! A quick dip lightly coats the tortilla in water, which converts into steam when it hits the pan. The water will evaporate quickly allowing the tortilla to char without drying out.

Then, as the warmed tortillas are stacked on top of each other and wrapped, the residual steam will continue to soften them until ready to serve. If you need to heat a bunch of tortillas for a crowd, just turn your oven to 200 degrees F and keep towel-wrapped stacks inside. If the towel are thick, they should be fine at this low temperature.

Now, invite some friends over and have a real taco party!

 


  • casualobserver77

    This didn’t work for me. The water evaporated immediately, failing to cook the ’tillas to the point of bubbling like this recipe recommends, and they came out extremely chewy and tough like cheap leather. Microwaving them in a tortilla pocket remains the best way to get corn tortillas soft and delicious.

  • Doug

    do not do this in a cast iron pan, water in a hot iron pan can cause it to crack

    • Frugal Hausfrau

      Doug, I think worries about this recipe in a cast iron pan are unfounded. I understand, in theory, a cast iron pan can be damaged if it is extremely hot and a sufficient amount of cold water is added at once, however, I’ve used cast iron all my life – I’m 54 now, and I even cooked as a child and teenager with my mom’s and I’ve never had a problem with cast iron and water – or any liquid.

      Although not recommended by the manufacturer, I routinely clean my cast iron skillet by heating it and then adding about a cup of water – much like cooks clean a griddle in a restaurant. I’ve never had a problem and have been doing this with my big cast iron skillet for 32 years…

  • Allison Moss-Fritch

    Corn tortillas heat very well in the microwave…steamed between layers of moist, but wrung out, paper towel…which may be reused. Pop the warm, tender, now ready to fill tortillas in an inexpensive tortilla warmer available in most Mexican sections of the grocery store.