Warming Tortillas
March 16, 2005 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of an easy, quick method for heating up refrigerated corn tortillas? I love corn tortillas, and have found some great ones here in Brooklyn that I buy for a buck a package. (I like to eat tortillas and scrambled eggs for breakfast.) But I have had difficulty coming up with some way to warm corn tortillas both effectively and quickly. One way I have tried is to do each one on a hot iron skillet without grease. This works well, but takes a lot of time, about a minute or two per tortilla. I have tried heating them in a toaster oven, but this dries them out. A microwave makes them kind of chewy. My sense is that some method involving steam might work, but I haven't found it. Any ideas anyone? I'm sure that there exists an easy, simple method somewhere.
posted by Alex Marshall to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
what about wrap in tea-towel, put in warm oven for a bit? or tinfoil?
posted by handee at 7:55 AM on March 16, 2005

I put my gas burner on low and lay the tortillas on top of it for a few seconds on each side.
posted by goatdog at 7:57 AM on March 16, 2005

I always pop them in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds, wrapped on both sides in a wet (not soaking, but definitely translucent) paper towel. They come out warm with no unpleasant chewiness every time. Good luck!
posted by saladin at 7:57 AM on March 16, 2005

A steam iron? That'd be kinda close to the steam heat they use in the local taco stands to heat the tortilla. I dunno if they make food-grade irons, though.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:59 AM on March 16, 2005

I do exactly what saladin does, and no chewiness. If yours still get chewy in the microwave, I'm sure the hot towel method would work in the oven, although you might want to cover the towel in foil so it doesn't burn as it dries out.

Barring that, maybe put them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, put the lid on, and let the steam do its work.
posted by boomchicka at 8:03 AM on March 16, 2005

Have you tried preheating a frying pan, putting the tortilla in with no grease, and *putting the lid on*? It should be quicker than a minute. You could do a few at the same time and save them in a tortilla warmer.
posted by carter at 8:09 AM on March 16, 2005

we have a thing like a metal plate, with holes in, that sits on top of a gas burner and can be used to lower/even the heat (eg when simmering rice) or for toatsing/warming bread and tortillas.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:09 AM on March 16, 2005

I used the goatdog method when I had a gas stovetop. Five to ten seconds per side is all it takes. Use tongs. "Goatdog Method"
posted by sohcahtoa at 8:11 AM on March 16, 2005

Akin to goatdog's comment, I turn my electric coil stove top on HIGH, and within seconds they're hot enough to drag the tortillas across.
posted by silusGROK at 8:11 AM on March 16, 2005

P.S. - Or, use the tortilla warmer for microwaving. Don't know what this does for chewiness, though. If I was at home, I'd experiment right now!
posted by carter at 8:19 AM on March 16, 2005

I use the saladin method, with the additional step of putting them on a plate, then covering them with another plate--basically a makeshift tortilla warmer.
posted by LionIndex at 8:20 AM on March 16, 2005

another goatdog method user here.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:29 AM on March 16, 2005

I wrap mine in foil and pop them in the toaster oven. They come out steaming.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:30 AM on March 16, 2005

I put my gas burner on low and lay the tortillas on top of it for a few seconds on each side.

posted by fixedgear at 8:37 AM on March 16, 2005

I use the googly method. I place the tortilla(s) in my trusty bamboo steamer, put the cover on it, and place it over whatever it is that I am cooking for 30 seconds or so. If I am feeling very lazy, I just lay the tortilla right on top of what I am cooking. In either case, the moisture from the other food warms and softens the tortilla. Might not work so well with eggs, though.
posted by googly at 8:39 AM on March 16, 2005

Ditto saladin
posted by grateful at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2005

Saladin does it the way I learned from a Mexican friend in LA, except maybe the flame is higher. Tongs optional for me.

Otherwise I prefer to brown them in oil. Tasty! Sprinkle with a bit of Lawrey's Seasoned Salt.
posted by Goofyy at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2005

Saladin and googly both have it right (I steam my tortillas on top of my eggs all the time)

My only other recommendation is to leave your tortillas at room temperature. They'll taste better and won't take so long to heat.
posted by stefanie at 9:33 AM on March 16, 2005

Us Mexicans use comals to cook and reheat our tortillas, both corn and flour. Microwave? Tea Towel? Toaster oven? Steam? Mi abuelita is rolling over in her grave.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:47 AM on March 16, 2005

My mom steams it inside a rice cooker and it's always come out pretty well.
posted by gyc at 9:54 AM on March 16, 2005

I'd use a tava (Indian skillet-pan-plate, on which we make rotis, parathas, theplas, etc) to heat 'em up quickly.
posted by riffola at 10:09 AM on March 16, 2005

I DO use a steam iron.. as user robocopisbleeding suggests, and it works a treat. I travel a lot, and live in a company-rented apartment for a few months at a time. I don't carry a lot of kitchen equipment, so the iron was a compromise. Without steam, you can make toast.. that's better than turning on a 220V oven for a couple of pieces of bread.

The advantage over other steamer methods is the pressure you put on it.

Get a used steam iron from the Sally Anne, scrub it well, and don't use it for clothes.
posted by reflecked at 10:24 AM on March 16, 2005

These are great suggestions! I'm going to try a few and get back with people about what I think is the best.
posted by Alex Marshall at 10:27 AM on March 16, 2005

I second just putting the tortilla directly on the burner. You can set it on the grill above the flame for a few seconds, flip it, give it a few more seconds, and be done. Great results. Even better results if you very lightly moisten the tortilla before applying a flame.

This is even something you can do with an electric burner, if that's all you have.

Apart from a good honest Lodge cast iron pan, which as with applying heat to just about all food is obviously the best method, you will find no superior way to heat refrigerated tortillas. Steam is fine for fresh tortillas, but the store-bought kind come out pretty badly.
posted by majick at 11:32 AM on March 16, 2005

I've used the electric stove coil method with flour tortillas (to make breakfast tacos) and it works well. Tongs mandatory.
posted by deborah at 11:46 AM on March 16, 2005

One way I have tried is to do each one on a hot iron skillet without grease. This works well, but takes a lot of time, about a minute or two per tortilla.

I don't understand this. The skillet should be HOT: max out your burner. It should take about 10-20 seconds per side to heat up each tortilla. With store-bought tortillas, you should be able to feel when each one is done, as they will go from being stiff and crumbly to being limp and pliable. Once you get good at it, you shouldn't need tongs: a light touch and quick fingers will keep you from getting burned. As each tortilla is finished, stack it on a plate, and cover the growing pile with a towel (paper or cloth). The heat of the newly warmed tortillas will keep the entire pile warm.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:06 PM on March 16, 2005

Goatdog way. No tongs. I have quick fingers.
posted by tinamonster at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2005

posted by omidius at 3:08 PM on March 16, 2005

Goatdog. All about goatdog.
posted by metaculpa at 3:13 PM on March 16, 2005

I also recommend goatdog's method.

I usually have the flame higher and let the edges burn a bit, especially if I'm having eggs. They taste much better this way.
posted by Penks at 4:59 PM on March 16, 2005

I put a piece of aluminum foil on top of the electric coil to keep the tortilla from sticking, and flip.
posted by atchafalaya at 5:22 PM on March 16, 2005

Damn. I feel loved!
posted by goatdog at 11:50 AM on March 29, 2005

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