Tortillas are an incredibly handy resource to have in your kitchen at all times, so when you see them on sale or available in bulk, it’s not unreasonable to want to buy an annual supply all at once.
So, do tortillas go bad? Yes, tortillas go bad. Most tortillas will have a best-by or expiration date to use as a guide. The shelf life of your tortillas may vary on how humid it is where you live and whether they are properly stored, but your tortillas can last for up to 1 month refrigerated and up to 8 months frozen.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of tortillas you can buy or make and how the ingredients affect the shelf life of your tortillas. We’ll also explain the best ways to store your tortillas to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
What Are Tortillas, Exactly?
Tortillas are a staple of Mexican cuisine and they’ve become popular in most households in North and South America as well. Technically, they’re a form of thin, flat, unleavened bread.
More specifically, tortillas are made either from wheat flour or cornflour, corn being the more traditional ingredient, mixed with water and a small amount of salt.
Corn tortillas are most commonly used for dishes such as tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and chalupas, among many others. Wheat or flour tortillas are used for dishes that require a softer wrap, such as burritos.
Some dishes can be made equally as well with either type of tortilla, such as quesadillas.
With their rise in popularity, tortillas have expanded beyond Mexican cuisine and are also used more generically as wraps to hold nearly any type of filling or to serve as an alternative to bread for sandwich fixings.
Tortillas can be enjoyed heated up or as they are at room temperature. They may be baked or fried, or even made into chips. Their flavor is mild enough to go with anything, making them a very versatile flatbread.
Do Tortillas Go Bad?
Yes, tortillas will go bad eventually, as will nearly every other edible food item. Keeping your tortillas stored carefully, sealed against moisture and heat, will protect the quality.
If you purchase store-bought tortillas, it is best not to open their original packaging until you’re ready to eat them. The manufacturer’s seal is the best protection against spoilage.
Once opened, you’ll want to make sure they’re in an airtight bag and that you don’t expose the opened bag to temperature fluctuations that might create condensation or any highly humid areas.
Moisture can lead to mold and air exposure can dry out your tortillas.
Do Corn Tortillas Expire?
Corn tortillas, like all foods, can go bad over time. If you’ve purchased a package, they’ll probably have a best-by date stamped on the outside of the bag, giving you some direction as to how long they’re going to be at their tastiest.
Corn tortillas, as a general rule, will usually last up to or slightly longer than 1 week in your pantry or up to 6–8 weeks in your fridge.
Corn tortillas have a longer shelf life than flour tortillas because corn itself is a heartier grain, more resistant to mold.
Can You Eat Expired Tortillas?
Yes, you can eat tortillas that have gone beyond the best-by date printed on the package. The best-by date isn’t actually an expiration date.
It’s simply an estimate from the manufacturer for how long they think their product will maintain its best quality. Beyond that, they’re edible, though maybe not as good as they were a day or two earlier.
If your tortillas have gone bad, you can usually tell pretty quickly. Moldy tortillas will be very unappetizing and you probably wouldn’t enjoy eating them, and they can make you sick.
In most cases, a healthy stomach will destroy any harmful bacteria from a small amount of mold before it can do any damage.
But if you have food sensitivities, digestive issues or diseases, or if you’re pregnant, you may be more sensitive to moldy food of any kind.
Tortillas aren’t usually considered an extravagant expense, and we always recommend buying fresh ingredients if your food has gone bad, but there is a way to save tortillas that have gone bad.
First, if the mold is just along the edges of the tortilla, you can simply cut it off. If the mold has spread or there are small spots on the center of the tortilla, you can “wash” it with a clean cloth or paper towel soaked in vinegar.
Vinegar will kill most, if not all, of the bacteria and eliminate the smell and hopefully most of the taste, as well.
If you choose to eat a tortilla that has gone bad, it’s always a good idea to cook it first. If there is any potentially harmful bacteria, using a vinegar wash before frying it for a few minutes in a pan should kill it.
Filling it with quesadilla toppings can help disguise any leftover distasteful flavorings.
How Long Do Tortillas Last Past Their Expiration Date?
For quick reference, you can follow this chart for safely eating tortillas that haven’t been opened from their original package after the printed best before date.
|Flour Tortillas||Up to 1 week||3 weeks–1 month|
|Whole Wheat Tortillas||Up to 1 week||3 weeks–1 month|
|Spinach (or other flavored) Tortillas||Up to 1 week||3 weeks–1 month|
|Corn Tortillas||1 week–10 days||1–2 months|
|Homemade Tortillas||2–3 days||Up to 1 week|
Tortillas can last anywhere from 1 week up to 2 months, depending on how they’re stored.
In most cases, an unopened package of storebought tortillas will stay fresh in your pantry or cupboard for up to 1 week, potentially slightly longer if they’re made from corn, rather than flour.
In your fridge, that unopened package may last for a month, or even 2 for corn tortillas.
To extend their shelf life even further, you may want to consider freezing tortillas, which will allow you to keep them for up to 8 months.
How Long Do Corn Vs Flour Tortillas Last?
Corn tortillas should stay fresh in an unopened package for a week or longer if they’re kept in a cool, dry location, such as a pantry or a cupboard, that doesn’t get exposed to direct heat or major temperature fluctuations.
Once the package has been opened, they may still last this long, but you’ll have to store them carefully in an air-tight package that doesn’t get open and exposed to air, moisture, or temperature changes too often.
Flour tortillas don’t typically stay fresh as long as corn tortillas because flour is more susceptible to mold, and soaks up moisture more quickly than corn does.
In your pantry, flour tortillas will start to be risky as you come close to the 1-week mark, though you’ll usually get a few extra days from a corn tortilla.
How Long Do Homemade Tortillas Last?
Homemade tortillas are best enjoyed fresh out of the pan or oven. If you’ve made a batch larger than you can eat all at once, they should stay fresh for up to 3 days in your pantry stored in an airtight bag placed in a cool, dry location.
In your fridge, homemade tortillas will last for up to 1 week, but you’ll want to be very sure that they’re sealed tightly. The air in your fridge is very dry and it can make your tortillas hard and brittle.
If this happens, you can soften them up nicely just by warming them in a pan. There is probably enough oil on their surface already, but you can add a fresh drop to the pan if you’d like.
You can also freeze homemade tortillas and they should stay fresh for 6 months, at least. Try to freeze them in a single serving, place them in freezer-safe bags, and don’t refreeze them once they’ve been unthawed.
How to Tell if Tortillas Have Gone Bad
The easiest way to tell if your tortillas have gone bad is to stick your nose in the bag to check for any odd odors. If you don’t smell the musty tang of mold, inspect the tortillas with your eyes for any discoloration.
If your nose and eyes are confident, you’re probably pretty safe to eat the tortillas. However, there is always a slight risk that your tastebuds will pick up on something your other senses missed.
If you taste the rotten, dirty flavor of mold, your tortillas have gone bad. If not, enjoy your meal!
What Does Mold On Tortillas Look Like?
Usually, mold on tortillas will show up as blue-green spots of varying sizes, usually where they have been exposed to moisture. Sometimes mold can be white, and that is much more difficult to notice, especially on white flour tortillas.
Occasionally, depending on the type of tortilla and how it was stored, instead of spots of mold, a large portion of your tortilla will change colors, probably giving the white or yellow color a blackish tint.
If you notice this, it will probably affect not just one or two tortillas, but the entire package.
This type of spoilage is going to be very obvious and very difficult to disguise or overcome, so it’s best to just discard the package and get yourself a fresh one.
Storebought tortillas will likely have instructions on the package for the best storage conditions. Depending on the type and brand of tortillas, they may have special instructions.
Organic tortillas made with limited ingredients and no preservatives may not last as long as some other more basic versions.
While it’s always a good idea to abide by the instructions on the package, if there are none, they’re a simple food to keep fresh.
The biggest risk to tortillas is exposure to air and moisture, as we’ve already mentioned, so you want to be sure to keep your tortillas in an airtight bag. You can also wrap them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, but there’s more risk of having an air leak this way.
You also want to try to open the bag as few times as possible, restricting the amount of outside air that gets introduced to the bag.
Try not to take the tortillas out of the bag for extended periods of time and then store them again. Instead, just take out what you’re going to eat immediately.
If you do all this, even your opened package of tortillas should last for approximately 2–3 weeks in your fridge, possibly longer if you’re lucky and careful.
How to Store Tortillas
If you want to keep your tortillas fresh for longer, they should be refrigerated.
As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, tortillas may stay fresh for 1 week in the pantry or another temperature-controlled space out of direct heat. However, you’ll probably get closer to a full month of safe storage if you keep your tortillas in the fridge.
You can also freeze tortillas, and that is a great way to extend their life for up to 8 months. There are some best practices to make sure you get the best results during and after freezing. We’ve dedicated another article to teaching you exactly how to freeze tortillas most effectively.
Do Tortillas Contain Gluten?
Flour tortillas absolutely have gluten in them, as they are made from wheat and/or wheat products.
Corn tortillas, however, may be gluten-free. Corn does not naturally contain gluten, though some recipes may include additional ingredients that are not gluten-free.
If you have a serious allergy or sensitivity to gluten, it’s always important that you read the label and search for the gluten-free certification that verifies the tortillas were made in a gluten-safe environment and that there is no risk for cross-contamination.
Are Corn Tortillas Keto or Vegan?
Corn tortillas are vegan, though not all products made with corn tortillas are vegan.
Obviously, a burrito with meat is not vegan friendly, but less obviously, some restaurants or food trucks may fry their tortillas in lard, which is not vegan friendly. You may want to ask if someone is preparing the food for you.
Corn tortillas are not very keto-friendly. They may have slightly fewer carbs than flour tortillas, but it’s not a big enough difference to make them a reasonable choice on a keto diet.
The average serving size is 2 corn tortillas, and they will typically have approximately 20g of carbohydrates.
Can Dogs Eat Tortillas?
As a general rule, tortillas aren’t going to poison your dog, nor are they likely to cause digestive distress to any great degree.
However, they’re not very healthy or nutritious food for your dog, so it’s best to keep the tortillas to a minimum in their diet.
Too many processed foods such as tortillas can cause your dog to gain weight quickly and can make it harder for you to entice them into eating the more appropriate and healthy food designed specifically for them.
If your dog has a wheat or grain sensitivity, as many dogs do, flour tortillas may cause digestive troubles for them.