Why You Should Never Use Oil When Warming Tortillas In A Pan

Without tortillas, there would be no Chipotle or Qdoba. Without tortillas, there would be no tacos, breakfast burritos, or flautas. And without tortillas, there would be a little less sunshine in this world. Fortunately, that's not the case, as tortillas are used every day to securely wrap and hold flavors together, providing a soft foundation for each and every bite.

If you've never made tortillas before, you're in luck, because the process is easier than you think. Tortillas require some kind of fat, as well as salt and hot water, but masa harina is used for corn tortillas while flour is the key choice for flour tortillas. In short, all of the ingredients are mixed together, then kneaded into a "smooth and elastic" ball, via The New York Times. The dough then gets to rest from all that exercise before being torn apart into smaller dough balls. These are pressed or rolled out thinly and then cooked swiftly on a skillet before quickly being consumed by those who love handmade tortillas, per Epicurious.

But sometimes, such tortillas get cold and require a touch of heat before being introduced to taco toppings or burrito fillings. So you break out that skillet once more, heat it up with a little oil, and add in the tortillas, right? Wrong. You don't need the oil. In fact, we strongly discourage it.

No oily mess

Unless you're looking to make crunchy taco shells, skip the oil and heat up the tortillas as they are in a skillet. As previously mentioned, fat is a primary component of tortillas, and according to The Kitchn, when that fat gets warm and melty, it "transforms the tortilla into something pliable and rollable." In other words, you don't need the addition of oil to heat up a tortilla because it already has fat in it.

As Home Cook World puts it, "You're not frying the tortilla, you're warming it." The outlet also recommends using a carbon steel pan or a cast iron skillet. This way, the tortilla is less likely to stick to the pan's surface. MasterClass adds that dry heat will add some crispiness to the tortilla.

To heat tortillas via the stovetop method, just crank the heat up to medium and shoot for 30 seconds per side, as noted by another report from The Kitchn. That's it: No waiting for oil to shimmer and no oily mess on the tortillas — just pure, fluffy tortilla goodness for smoked chicken tacos and borscht burritos.