Can You Eat Corn Or Flour Tortillas Raw? Should You?

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We all know that you shouldn’t really eat raw cookie dough or cake batter. But have you ever wondered why? Everybody preaches this, but nobody ever takes the time to explain it.

Plus, does this “rule” apply to tortillas and other types of uncooked dough products? Can you eat corn tortillas or flour tortillas while they are still raw?

To start, it’s crucial to know what raw refers to. If it means “unheated precooked tortillas” then it is absolutely fine.

However, if it literally means raw, uncooked dough shaped into flatbreads, then you should never eat them like that.

It all has to do with killing the bacteria on the uncooked flour, mainly E.coli.

If you don’t cook the dough at some point, you are at risk of getting serious food poisoning.

Today, we will dive deep into everything you need to know about uncooked (raw) tortillas.

We will not only take a look at how corn and flour tortillas are handled in different ways but also at how you should use them, store them, freeze them, and thaw them.

And just to be extra safe, we’ve included a quick guide on how to tell if raw tortillas have gone bad.

Corn Tortillas Versus Flour Tortillas – What’s The Difference?

Before looking at whether or not you can eat either of these raw, it’s important to understand how they differ and what exactly “raw” means.

At the end of the day, despite their shape and general uses, they are not similar.

Corn Tortillas

Let’s start with the better-known of the two, corn tortillas.

These corn tortillas are made from a mixture of maize hominy meal and water.

This is an unleavened flatbread, meaning it doesn’t contain any natural leaveners (like yeast) or chemical leaveners (like baking powder).

Once the dough is made, it is divided into smaller balls.

These are then pressed into flatbreads using a special tortilla press.

Many people also like rolling them by hand, but these are more rustic in appearance.

Once they are pressed, they are usually pre-cooked before they are packaged and sold.

Precooking them involves simply frying them in a non-stick pan for a couple of seconds. This seals the outside and ensures that there aren’t any raw ingredients that will make the tortilla spoil quickly.

Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are exactly what the name suggests: tortillas made with flour instead of maize (corn).

This invention came later when tortillas became a Westernized ingredient.

The idea remains exactly the same: unleavened flatbreads used for making burritos, wraps, nachos, and enchiladas (to name a few).

The dough is made with a combination of flour and water. Some recipes do include extra ingredients that help create a specific texture, but in theory, you only need those two.

Once the dough has been made, the shaping process is the same. Flour tortillas are also precooked to help preserve them better and extend their shelf life.

The Difference

The obvious difference here is the ingredients used to make the two types of tortillas. One is made with corn and the other with wheat flour.

But this also affects their flavor and how they are used.

Corn tortillas are better suited for dishes that require a rigid or crispy shell. This includes tacos, nachos, and taquitos.

Flour tortillas are better suited for pliable functions, like burritos, wraps, quesadillas, and enchiladas.

While both are interchangeable, they do have their strengths.

Can You Eat Corn Or Flour Tortillas Raw? 

Now, it’s crucial that you understand what “raw” means. People have different definitions of it, which is why so many people are confused about this topic.

If you see raw as completely uncooked (as in the dough has been shaped but not heated or precooked in ANY way), then you cannot eat it raw.

Not only will they be extremely unappealing, but it’s also quite dangerous to eat the uncooked dough.

Raw dough, especially those made from flour, can contain some very dangerous bacteria. These bacteria have to be destroyed (through cooking) before they are safe to eat. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk of getting food poisoning.

Now, if “raw” to you means straight from the package, you can eat them as-is. Packaged tortillas have been precooked and are completely safe to eat immediately. You aren’t at risk of ingesting raw dough and the bacteria that it could carry.

These tortillas aren’t raw in any way despite some people referring to them as such.

Risks Of Eating Raw Tortillas

Uncooked flour (or undercooked flour) can contain deadly bacteria and other germs. The most common you will find is Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Unfortunately, most processing steps for creating flour don’t kill it.

The only way to safely get rid of it is by heating it, which is why all flour products are ALWAYS cooked.

This is also why, for decades, people advocate against eating raw dough, no matter how tasty it is.

E. Coli can cause mild to severe (even deadly) symptoms of diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and fever. These are even worse for people who have compromised or weak immune systems.

Are There Any Exceptions? Can You Substitute Raw And Cooked Tortillas In Recipes?

There are SOME recipes in which you can use raw tortillas instead of cooked ones. However, these are really far and few between. 

Plus, even if you can, they are much more difficult to deal with them just using cooked tortillas in the first place.

Examples of where you may be able to use raw uncooked tortillas instead of precooked ones are when making quesadillas, or taquitos.

However, some types of fillings (wet ones) will make them difficult to work with.

Do You Have To Heat Tortillas Before Eating Them?

Now, if the tortillas have been precooked (so they aren’t raw), you don’t have to heat them to eat them. Again, they are completely safe to eat.

However, heated flour tortillas are easier to work with than unheated ones. They do harden in place as they cool, giving you just enough time to shape.

How Do You Store Uncooked Raw Tortillas?

It is possible to store tortillas after they have been shaped and before they have been cooked – so actual RAW tortillas.

The key is to prevent them from drying out.

So, once you have shaped the tortilla, place it on a sheet of non-stick baking paper or wax paper.

You can also use plastic wrap sheets, but they don’t work as well and often give the dough a wrinkly surface.

Top the raw tortilla with another sheet of wax or baking paper.

You can keep stacking tortillas in this way. Place the entire stack in an airtight container to keep them from misshaping. Store them inside the fridge for up to a week.

Can You Freeze Uncooked Tortillas?

You can freeze uncooked tortillas as well. You can stack them up in exactly the same way as you would for fridge storage.

Once stacked, place them inside an airtight container.

Wrap the container in a sheet of aluminum foil. The layer of foil helps protect the raw dough against excessive freezer burn.

Freeze the raw tortillas for up to 3 months.

To thaw, do so slowly, preferably overnight inside the fridge. They should also come to room temperature before you start cooking them. This way they will cook evenly and all the way through.

How To Tell If Raw Tortillas Have Gone Bad?

Now, if you did happen to store uncooked tortillas in the fridge, you still need to make sure they are safe to eat before pre-cooking them. The same applies to precooked leftover tortillas.

Below are the most common signs of spoiled uncooked tortillas you can look out for. If you notice even one of these, discard the raw dough immediately.

The Tortillas Stick Together

Even if they were separated by a sheet of baking paper, you will immediately notice when they become sticky.

This is a sign that bacteria have reproduced to a harmful amount which changes the texture of the raw dough.

If they stick, have a slimy layer, or are excessively moist, discard them all.

Mold Growth

A very obvious sign of spoilage is always mold growth. And when it comes to food, don’t think that certain colors are safer than others.

If you notice ANY sign of mold or discoloration, it’s safer to toss the raw tortillas.

Rancid Sour Smell

Bacteria produce a unique sour smell when they multiply to certain quantities (usually dangerous levels).

If your tortillas don’t smell like anything and even if it is just a whiff of sourness, toss them.

Hard Texture

Last but not least, if your raw tortillas have become brittle, they may not be unsafe to eat, but they are no longer appealing.

They won’t be pliable when cooked and won’t have that signature chewy soft texture.

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