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How Long Do Tortillas Last? Do Tortillas Go Bad?

Got a packet of tortillas that’s a week or two past the printed date, and not sure if they are still okay to eat? How long do tortillas last?

Or you’re wondering how to store your leftover tortillas so that they stay fresh the longest. And how long are leftover tortillas good for, exactly?

If you’re having any questions about storage practices, shelf life, or spoilage of flour or corn tortillas, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive right in.

All the info in this article applies to both corn and flour tortillas. While corn tortillas are seen as more authentic than ones made with flour because corn is a staple in Mexican cuisine, the storage practices for both are pretty much the same. There might be slight differences, but these aren’t important for a regular tortilla consumer (like me, and probably you).

Tortillas package

How Long Do Tortillas Last?

An unopened tortilla packet retains quality for at least a week past the date on the label. Possibly two to three weeks if you keep it in the fridge. Once you open the package, eat the tortilla wraps within 5 to 7 days, or freeze them.

While virtually all tortilla sellers have their own recommendations for their products’ shelf life, those general guidelines work well for most cases.

Tortillas always come with a date on the label, and that date is usually between 3 and 6 months of making them. And, as you can imagine, it’s not like they go bad a day or two after that date.

No matter if your label says “best-by,” “sell-by,” or “use-by” next to the date, it means the same for tortillas. That’s the date those tortillas are (pretty much) guaranteed to offer the best flavor and overall quality, not an expiration date.

Tortilla packet: date on label
Tortilla packet: date on label

So, how much time past the printed date do you have? Usually, it’s between a week and two weeks, but your 3-weeks-past-printed-date tortillas might still be okay to use, especially if the pack sat in the fridge. It’s all about quality.

If you’re not sure if your tortillas have gone bad, there’s a section on spoilage later in the article.

Once you open your packet, you have about a week to use any leftover wraps.

Some manufacturers recommend eating theirs in only 3 days of opening, while others go with 5 or 7 days. Either way, assuming that your wraps will retain decent quality for 5 to even 7 days is a pretty safe bet.

Two prepped tortillas

How Long Do Homemade Tortillas Last?

Your homemade tortillas should keep quality for a day or two if you leave them on the counter, or up to a week in the fridge. If you need more time than that, freeze those tortillas.

Those rough estimates work for most plain corn and flour (whole wheat or not) tortillas and are quite similar to what Chris Scheuer suggests in his recipe for homemade tortillas you can find on the Café Sufre Farine blog.

If the recipe you’re following uses any ingredients that easily spoil, read the author’s recommendations regarding storage practices. Or play it safe and store the wraps in the fridge and use them within 4 days.

Whole tortilla
Whole tortilla

How To Store Tortillas

An unopened tortillas packet can sit at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer. Choose room temperature if you’re going to eat the wraps soon, the fridge if you need more time, or the freezer if you need the wraps to last well beyond their date. Once you open the package, refrigerate or freezer the leftovers.

If you’re leaving your tortillas at ambient temperature, make sure they’re in a dry and dark spot away from moisture. A cupboard in the kitchen or pantry works perfectly for that purpose.

While most producers recommend storing unopened tortilla packets at room temp, refrigeration is also an option. Sure, wraps harden a bit when they’re stored in chilling conditions, but it’s not all bad.

Tortillas with chicken and veggies

The upside is tortillas tend to retain quality for longer if they sit in the fridge. So if you’ve bought a pack that’s nearing its date, or you expect it to sit in storage for a few weeks, place it in the refrigerator instead.

When you open the pack, make sure the leftover tortillas sit refrigerated and sealed tightly. Some bags are resealable, but if yours isn’t, consider transferring the wraps into a freezer bag. This way, tortillas won’t pick up any moisture or odors from the fridge.

Some sellers say you can store their tortillas at room temperature after opening the package. You certainly can do that, but remember that the wraps keep quality for longer if refrigerated.

Last but not least, let’s talk about freezing tortillas.

Tortillas topped with hard cheese

Can You Freeze Tortillas?

You can freeze tortillas, and they freeze remarkably well. If you have a big bunch you’re not sure you’re going to use before they go bad, freezing is the best way to solve that problem.

Your tortillas, both homemade and store-bought, can sit in the freezer for at least 3+ months without any significant loss of quality.

The only issue with freezing corn or flour tortillas is that they freeze together. That means you have to do a bit of planning before you toss them into the freezer.

There are two ways to go about that.

Tortilla closeup

Freezing Tortillas In Groups

First, think about how many tortillas you need for a meal. Then put as many wraps into a freezer bag or container, and chuck it into the freezer.

If you’re going to use the whole packet for a single meal, you can just toss it into the freezer without even opening it first.

When the time comes, you grab the bag, put it in the fridge overnight to defrost it, and use the thawed tortillas the next day.

Freezing Tortillas Separated By Wax or Parchment Paper

If you want to grab a tortilla or two (or six) easily, you need to separate them.

To do that, you place a sheet of wax or parchment paper between each tortilla. Or place each one into a separate freezer bag if you have as many. Or pour and spread some cornmeal between each.

Once separated, you either wrap the bunch using plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or place it in a large freezer bag, and put it into the freezer.

Going with a freezer bag requires less hassle each time you need a tortilla because you don’t have to unwrap the whole thing just to grab a wrap or two.

When it comes to defrosting, your options are:

  • leave the tortillas spread out on the counter for like 30 to 60 minutes (flip them after 20 minutes, so the bottom warms up as well)
  • use a non-stick pan to defrost and reheat them in mere minutes

Choose whichever freezing option works best for your situation.

Prepped tortillas on plate

Do Tortillas Go Bad? How Can You Tell If Yours Are Bad?

Tortillas don’t last forever, and at some point, they either grow mold or the quality is so bad they are not usable anymore.

Throw out tortillas that:

  • Are moldy or have any odd discolorations. If there’s any fuzzy action on the surface or there are any discolored (most likely green, black, or brown) spots, the wrap is done for.
  • Smell off. If your nose says there’s something wrong with those tortillas, it’s most likely right. Please note tortillas might pick up odors from other foods in the fridge if they aren’t sealed tightly.
  • Are super stiff. Tortillas start out quite pliable but tend to stiffen over time. Of course, some stiffness is okay, and you can fix that by warming up the tortilla, but if applying heat doesn’t make the wrap pliable again, discard it for quality purposes.

Besides the above, pay attention to storage time.

If yours sit in the refrigerator for like 2 weeks of opening the packet, they might still be okay, but I’d give them a thorough check before eating. And if they’re chilling in the fridge for like a month, I’d toss them no matter the quality.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tortillas

Do Tortillas Need To Be Refrigerated?

As long as the package is unopened, tortillas don’t require refrigeration. But if you need them to stay fresh for as long as possible, store them in the fridge. Once you open the packet, refrigerate the leftovers.

Can You Eat Expired Tortillas?

Yes, as long as they’re 2 to 3 weeks past printed date tops, and they seem perfectly safe to eat. Use the list above to check if your tortillas are fine to eat.

Summary

  • Unopened tortillas keep for about a week or two past the printed date. If you refrigerate them, they might retain quality even longer.
  • Store leftover tortillas in the fridge sealed tightly. They should retain quality for about 7 days. If you need more time, freeze them.
  • Throw out tortillas that are moldy or have discolored spots, smell off, or are super stiff.

References