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How to Defrost Tortillas – The Best Ways

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A type of thin flatbread, tortillas are a staple in Mexican cuisine for foods such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas.

Made with basic ingredients such as flour, water, salt, and oil, you can easily make fresh tortillas at home or buy ready-made ones from the supermarket.

While it is true that tortillas taste best warm and fresh, sometimes you have to freeze them, such as when you have leftovers and wish to store them for later use.

Freezing tortillas isn’t an issue. Come to think of it, freezing any type of food is pretty easy and straightforward. It’s the defrosting bit that you need to master in order to “revive” the food to its former glory.

So, how do you defrost tortillas? You can defrost tortillas using several ways such as letting them sit and defrost in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight, microwaving them, putting them in the oven, or reheating them on the stovetop.

Read on for step-by-step instructions for defrosting tortillas, including corn, flour, and wheat tortillas, and much more!

What Are the Most Common Types of Tortillas?

There are 3 main types of tortillas: corn tortillas, flour tortillas, and wheat tortillas. They are all prepared using the same method but the type of flour used in each is what’s different between them.

Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas are a very thin type of unleavened flatbread made from hominy or masa (a type of corn flour).

corn tortillas

They come in different colors and flavors depending on the type of corn used (white, yellow, or blue) and are generally smaller and firmer than the other varieties, do not contain shortening, and break more easily.

Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas, or white flour tortillas, are made using simple white flour, water, salt, and shortening. Some commercially-produced varieties also include raising agents such as baking soda as well as preservatives.

flour tortillas

They have a neutral flavor and can easily be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Generally used for wrapping and holding ingredients, such as in burritos and quesadillas, flour tortillas can handle a large amount of filling without breaking.

Wheat Tortillas

Wheat tortillas are the same as flour tortillas other than the fact that they are prepared using whole wheat flour instead of white flour.

wheat tortillas

Touted as the healthier version of flour tortillas, wheat tortillas are rich in fiber and have a slightly darker appearance.

How to Defrost Tortillas

There are several ways you can defrost all 3 types of tortillas (corn, flour, and wheat) depending on how much time you have and the method you prefer.

Following are the best methods to defrost frozen tortillas to ensure they don’t lose their taste, texture, and appearance:

In the Refrigerator

One of the safest and easiest, although time-consuming methods to defrost tortillas, here are step-by-step instructions for you to follow:

  • Place the frozen tortillas on the refrigerator shelf in a way that they don’t stick together.
  • Let them sit for 12 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Once defrosted, reheat or recook them on the stove, oven, or in the microwave since they will still be cold.

In the Microwave

Defrosting tortillas in the microwave is the fastest method and takes hardly a minute to do so. Here are step-by-step instructions for you to follow:

  • Place 1 frozen tortilla in the microwave, wrapped in a damp towel to lock in the moisture. 
  • Do not defrost them in a stack since they will turn soft and sticky, and the ones in the middle and bottom may absorb water from the ones on top.
  • Turn the microwave to the “defrost” setting and let the tortilla thaw for 30 seconds.
  • Flip it halfway through to make sure it is warm on both sides.
  • Check to see if it is done. If not, microwave it for another 30 seconds.
  • Do not microwave the tortillas for more than 60 seconds as they can easily turn chewy.

In the Oven

Although not the most common option, you can easily defrost tortillas in the oven. If you think about it, we cook plenty of frozen foods in the oven, so why not use it to defrost some corn, flour, and wheat tortillas?

Here are step-by-step instructions for you to follow:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Place the tortillas in a baking pan lined with aluminum foil, making sure to not stack or overlap them.
  • Let them heat for around 15-20 minutes, or until they become soft.
  • You may leave them in for a bit longer if you want to crisp them up and break them into tortilla chips.

On the Stovetop

If you make tortillas at home, it is very likely that you cook them on a stovetop. When defrosting them from frozen, it might take longer than cooking fresh ones, but it works and is a great option.

Here are step-by-step instructions for you to follow:

  • Warm a skillet over medium heat. No oil is required.
  • Place the tortilla on the skillet, heating it for 20-30 seconds on each side.
  • For corn tortillas that tend to be stiffer and need drier heat, you may heat them on an open flame using tongs for a more authentic experience.
  • Once done, set them aside to cool for a bit and serve immediately.

What Is the Best Method to Defrost Tortillas?

With so many options available to you, it all comes down to your preferred method and the amount of time you can spare.

Tortillas are pretty sturdy foods by nature that are not too altered by excess heat. Regardless, some methods work better than others in providing you with better quality defrosted tortillas that are just like freshly cooked tortillas, if not better.

If you have time, we recommend starting with defrosting your tortillas in the refrigerator overnight and then reheating them in the oven or stovetop.

defrost tortillas

However, if you are short on time and cannot wait for the tortillas to defrost in the fridge, you can heat them frozen as well. While this might not give you the best results, it is a quick fix.

Opt for the stovetop or oven; however, if time is a very serious issue, we recommend using the microwave.

The microwave would always remain our last choice, though, since it is very unforgiving and a few extra seconds can turn your tortillas from soft to rubbery.

Related Questions

Now that you know the best ways to defrost different kinds of tortillas, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!

How Long Do Tortillas Last?

Store-bought tortillas, when left in their closed packaging, will last in the pantry at room temperature for a week after their “best by” date. Once opened, they will last for a shorter period.

Homemade tortillas, on the other hand, will last for only around 2-3 days in the kitchen cupboard, which is why it is advised to store them in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of mold.

They can last for about 10 days in the refrigerator if stored properly. Any longer than that and they will start to degenerate and won’t taste as good.

To make them last longer, you can properly wrap and seal them and freeze them for around 6-8 months, though we recommend using them within 2 months for optimal quality.

What’s the Best Way to Freeze Tortillas?

If you have flour or corn tortillas that you wish to store for longer, freezing them is the way to go. If done properly, their texture and taste will remain unchanged and you won’t even notice that they have been sitting in the freezer for weeks.

It is important to ensure that the tortillas are properly wrapped and sealed so that there is no exposure to air or moisture.

If you are working with freshly made, warm tortillas, make sure they have been cooled completely, either in the refrigerator or on the kitchen counter before putting them in the freezer.

The reason this is so important is that the freezing process draws out the moisture from the warm tortillas, creating crystals and drying them out, resulting in dry tortillas with an unpleasant flavor and texture.

Next, layer the tortillas by placing a piece of foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap in between them.

This will prevent them from sticking to each other and will allow you to defrost them easily, taking out only as many as you need at a given time.

The layers also help reduce frost which toughens the dough, causing the tortillas to turn chewy and rubbery.

Once they have been properly layered, move on to wrapping them using plastic wrap or foil to avoid freezer burn.

Make sure the wrapping is tight, leaving no open gaps for air to enter. Then place the wrapped tortillas into a resealable freezer-safe bag, pressing out any excess air before sealing it.

Place the freezer-safe bag of layered tortillas into the freezer, where they will turn crisp when frozen. Make sure to freeze them lying flat so that they retain their shape.

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