Do Tortillas Really Need to Be Refrigerated?

Most people who've made Mexican food want the answer to the age-old question: "Do tortillas need to be refrigerated?" No, but we're still going to. Here's why.

We’ve all wondered about this—if a package of tortillas can safely sit on a grocery store shelf, do they need to be refrigerated when you get home? The answer has more to do with shelf life than safety.

Do Tortillas Have to Be Refrigerated?

No, tortillas do not have to be refrigerated, but you’ll probably want to do it anyway. It helps them last longer. “Most tortillas don’t need to be refrigerated but doing so will help extend their shelf life,” explains the Taste of Home Test Kitchen experts.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some tortillas are more likely to grow mold than others. If you enjoy recipes with flour tortillas, you may have to use them up faster than corn tortillas. However, homemade corn tortillas vs. storebought might go bad faster.

For the most part, though, refrigerating your tortillas once the package is open can protect them from mold and bacteria for longer. This means less food waste and more tacos in your life… win-win.

The Test Kitchen team recommends storing tortillas in the fridge if the package is open or you don’t plan on using them for a while. If you need to use them up, try a quick and tasty quesadilla recipe.

The Best Ways to Store Tortillas

Refrigerating food extends its shelf life by preventing spoilage and potentially-harmful germs. “Keeping a cool consistent temperature will help prevent mold and bacteria,” explains our experts in the Test Kitchen.

It’s no secret that refrigerated tortillas are just not the same as fresh ones. That brittle, hard texture tends to put a damper on Taco Tuesday, but it’s possible to bring them back to life. While you’re prepping dinner, warm up your tortillas in the microwave or in a hot skillet. This will soften them and bring back their flavor and texture. Warm tortillas mean making enchiladas is a lot easier.

And if you have an open package of tortillas sitting in your pantry right now, don’t worry. As long as there are no signs of food spoilage such as mold or a foul smell, they should be safe to eat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), tortillas are one of the few refrigerated foods that are still safe to consume when your fridge stops working.

How to Use Up a Package of Tortillas

When you have a fresh package of tortillas, the possibilities are endless.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.