Whether you are making tacos, enchiladas, or burritos, the staple of Mexican cuisine called tortillas is something that you can not avoid. I am sure that each and every person who is a fan of Mexico, as well as hot and spicy food, knows all about tortillas.
However, I will say just a few words in the introduction for those of you who are new to this amazing staple food. It is a round and thin flatbread that is made from only three simple ingredients including flour, water, and salt.
There are different types of tortillas, but according to the type of flour, there are two main types really. Corn tortillas are made from corn flour and flour tortillas are made from finely ground wheat flour. There are also spinach tortillas, whole wheat tortillas, as well as homemade tortillas.
Tortillas are very popular and since there are a few different types of tortillas, you definitely have to know how to handle tortillas properly. From there, some important questions arise like “Can tortillas go bad?” and “How long do tortillas last?”.
I can definitely say that tortillas can go bad and, in this article, you will learn what is the time frame before tortillas spoil, how to handle them properly, as well as some other important pieces of information.
How Long Do Tortillas Last? Tortillas’ Shelf Life
So, how long do tortillas last? The shelf life of your tortillas mainly depends on the type of tortilla, the “best by date”, whether the packaging has been opened or not, as well as the type of storage method.
Although tortillas are not very prone to spoilage, they can spoil eventually if you do not know some important pieces of information about them, as well as how to handle them properly.
You first need to be aware of the fact that there are different types of tortillas and that those different types have different tortillas expiration dates. So, when you buy your package of tortillas, I suggest you read the label first.
After you have read the label, you have to decide what you want to do with those tortillas, i.e. do you want to consume them right away or do you want to preserve them for some other day?
When you know the answer to that question, you will know whether you will open your package of tortillas or not.
I am emphasizing this because there are differences in the shelf life between opened and unopened store-bought tortillas. Once you’ve opened the package of tortillas, it is not a good idea to keep them at room temperature, i.e. it is best to refrigerate or freeze them.
If you do not open them, aside from the type of tortillas and the type of storage method, the printed date is also very important to know.
Do Tortillas Expire?
When it comes to store-bought tortillas, you will most likely find the so-called “best by date” on the label of the packaging. But, what does that “best by date” on the label really mean and can you eat tortillas that are past that date?
Can You Eat Expired Tortillas?
Can You Eat Tortillas Past The Expiration Date?
Since the expiration date on the original package of store-bought tortillas is most likely the “best by date” really, there is a certain time frame past that date in which you can consume those tortillas.
This is because the “best by date” represents the last date on which those tortillas will retain their freshness. More precisely, it doesn’t mean that tortillas will spoil after that date and that you will get some kind of food poisoning or foodborne illness.
Only if you see the expired “sell by date” on the label of the packaging, should you be concerned. The main reason for this statement is the fact that this date marks the last day of the product’s shelf life.
But, this type of date is not that common on the packaging of store-bought food, so the expiration date of tortillas in general shouldn’t be a thing to worry about too much.
Below, I will show you how long do tortillas last past the printed date (“best by date”) based on the type of tortillas as well as on the storage conditions.
How Long Are Tortillas Good For?
As I already said, the two most important factors that influence the shelf life of tortillas are the type of tortillas and the way of food storage. Although the shelf life of opened and unopened tortillas is different, it doesn’t play a huge role as long as the tortillas are correctly stored.
How Long Are Corn Tortillas Good For?
Generally speaking, tortillas that are made from corn flour last the longest. So, let’s take a look at how long an unopened package of corn tortillas can last under different storage conditions.
• If you store your store-bought corn tortillas in the pantry, they will last about 7-10 days past the printed date stated on the label of the original packaging.
• If you want to extend the shelf life of corn tortillas, you can store them in the fridge and they will last there for up to 6 months.
• And, finally, if you don’t want to use corn tortillas anywhere near in the future, by freezing them, you will extend their shelf life for about 6-8 months.
How Long Do Whole Wheat Tortillas Last?
Just like all the other types of tortillas, whole wheat tortillas last a little less than corn tortillas, especially if stored in the pantry, i.e. at room temperature.
• Whole wheat tortillas can last up to 7 days past the printed date if stored in the pantry.
• If you store whole wheat tortillas in the refrigerator, they will last there for up to 3-4 weeks past the printed date.
• And finally, when it comes to freezing tortillas, there is no difference since all types of tortillas, including whole wheat tortillas, can last for about 6-8 months in the freezer past the printed date.
How Long Do Spinach Tortillas Last?
Spinach tortillas are an interesting type of tortillas made from spinach and their shelf life is similar to that of whole wheat tortillas in all three storage methods.
• If stored in the pantry, spinach tortillas will last up to 7 days past the printed date.
• Refrigerated spinach tortillas will be good for up to 3-4 weeks past the printed date.
• And if frozen, spinach tortillas will last about 6-8 months past the printed date.
How Long Are Flour Tortillas Good For?
Flour tortillas are one of the most consumed types of tortillas and they are made quite simply from just a few simple ingredients including flour, water, salt, and a little fat. Since they are so popular, it is not bad to know information about their shelf life.
• If you store flour tortillas in the pantry, they will be good for up to 7 days past the printed date.
• Flour tortillas stored in the fridge will last there for up to 3-4 weeks past the printed date.
• Finally, if you decide to freeze flour tortillas, their shelf life will be extended for up to 6-8 months past the printed date.
How Long Do Homemade Tortillas Last?
And finally, there are homemade tortillas, in my opinion, the best option if you have a little time, a few ingredients, and a freezer. Homemade tortillas are certainly a better option than store-bought ones since they do not contain preservatives, but because of that, they will also stay fresh for a shorter period.
• It is not a very good idea to leave homemade tortillas in the cupboard because they will only last for about 2-3 days there, according to the USDA.
• Storing them in the fridge is a much better option since they will remain good for 5-7 days if refrigerated.
• The best option is to freeze them because they will last about 6-8 months in the freezer and they will remain fresh to a huge extent as well.
How To Store Tortillas Properly?
There are three basic storage methods for tortillas no matter what type you are dealing with. If you haven’t opened the package yet, you can store them at room temperature. However, if you’ve opened it and you don’t want to consume them right away, you have to refrigerate or freeze them.
If you haven’t opened your package of store-bought tortillas, it is best to store them somewhere in your pantry or in a cupboard.
Before you do that, make sure that the place where you are storing your tortillas is dark and cold. Tortillas should not be exposed to direct sunlight or some kind of heat source because high temperatures can lead to quick spoilage.
It is also very important that the place of storage is dry because moisture can cause mold to grow and you certainly don’t want to eat moldy tortillas.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with an opened package of tortillas, you can also store them at room temperature, but you’ll have to use them within 1 week because they won’t retain their freshness beyond that time.
If you want to retain the product’s quality for longer, I would suggest you refrigerate or freeze opened tortillas.
Although you can refrigerate both opened and unopened tortillas, opened tortillas need refrigeration more because they are more vulnerable. The same goes for homemade tortillas.
There is not a lot of science when it comes to refrigerating unopened tortillas. All you have to do is to place the package with tortillas somewhere deep in the fridge and you are good to go.
But when it comes to opened and homemade tortillas, you have to follow a few simple steps in order to refrigerate them the right way. First, you need to separate the tortillas and cover them with a cloth cover.
Then, you must let them cool to room temperature. After that, you can place paper towels around the stack of tortillas and then transfer them to an airtight container or a zip-lock bag.
When refrigerating, keep tortillas away from the door because the temperature changes a lot there.
Whether it is corn, wheat, or flour tortillas shelf life, you can definitely extend it hugely if you store your tortillas in the freezer. Also, there are no big differences between opened and unopened tortillas when it comes to freezing.
All types of tortillas, whether opened or not, freeze quite well. Aside from that, they retain their freshness and quality to a large extent.
You do, however, need to know how to freeze those tortillas properly. So, you first have to separate those tortillas because, if you don’t, they will freeze together. In order to separate them the right way, place a sheet of parchment paper between each and every one of them.
Alternatively, you can pour and spread some cornmeal between each tortilla. After that, you can wrap them using aluminum foil or plastic wrap. You can also put each tortilla in a resealable freezer bag if you have some extra bags.
Finally, place those wrapped tortillas deep in the freezer and let them stay there for up to 6-8 months. When you are finally ready to eat the tortillas, you simply have to defrost them.
You can do that by just letting them thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour. If you don’t have that much time, you can also defrost them in the microwave by adjusting the “defrost” settings and you are good to go.
How To Tell If Tortillas Are Bad?
If you’ve followed all these rules and you know that tortillas don’t go bad so easily then you shouldn’t worry too much. But, there are some people who are always suspicious, and for those people, I have prepared a list of a few spoilage signs when it comes to tortillas.
• Mold: If you feel that your tortillas are a bit slimy, then there is a big chance that spots of mold will start to appear on the surface because the slimy texture is the first sign of mold.
• Discoloration: Discoloration is almost always a sign of spoilage when it comes to most types of food. If you notice any spots of discoloration on the surface (like brown, black, or green), throw those tortillas in the trash.
• Odd Smell: Since tortillas usually have a very neutral smell, it is most likely that you won’t sense anything. However, if you sense an unusual or unpleasant aroma, don’t consume those tortillas.
• High Stiffness: Although stiff tortillas can be used in a variety of ways (like tortilla chips, for example), if they are super stiff, they shouldn’t be consumed because they have probably gone bad.
How Long Do Tortillas Last After Opening?
If you leave your opened package of tortillas at room temperature, you should consume them within 1 week because they will remain fresh only during that time frame.
Otherwise, you should refrigerate or freeze them. In the fridge, they will last for about 1 month if stored properly.
If you freeze them the right way, they will be good for about 6 months.
How Long Does It Take To Make Homemade Tortillas?
If you are making your tortillas with 4 simple ingredients that include flour, salt, water, and oil, you will need about 15 minutes to prepare those tortillas for making.
You will need about 1 minute and 30 seconds to cook each tortilla in the cooking pan. So, for example, if you are making 12 servings of tortillas, you’ll need about 16-18 minutes to cook all of them.
When you add up the preparation time and cooking time, the result will be about 30-35 minutes needed to make those tortillas.
After that, you can use them for your favorite chimichangas or burritos.
Shelf Life Of Tortillas
The answer to the question of how long do tortillas last mainly depends on the type of tortillas, whether the package is opened or not, and the type of storage method.
When it comes to store-bought tortillas, the shelf life of flour tortillas, whole wheat tortillas, and spinach tortillas is shortest at room temperature.
On the other hand, the shelf life of all types of tortillas, including corn tortillas and homemade tortillas, is the longest in the freezer.
Homemade tortillas have the shortest shelf life at room temperature and it is not recommended to store them that way. It is a much better idea to refrigerate or freeze them.
If you are still not sure that your tortillas are good for consumption, take a look at the spoilage signs which include mold, discoloration, odd smell, and high levels of stiffness.