Can You Eat Flour Tortillas Without Cooking Them?


Tortillas are one of the most popular dishes today. This Mesoamerican dish, today most often associated with Mexico, is eaten around the world and due to its inherent nature, it has a lot of varieties, since it allows the person who prepares them to be creative. Today, we are going to talk about raw tortillas and whether you can eat them like that or do they have to be cooked. 

You can consume flour tortillas without cooking them. Unless they are still raw dough, most brands will have partially cooked their tortillas enough so they are safe to eat. Since the tortillas are only slightly cooked it is safer to heat them up further.

Raw tortillas, whether they’re unprepared dough or precooked store tortillas, shouldn’t be eaten raw because you will not get the full flavor and there are potential health risks associated with it. 

Since our article is focused on raw tortillas, we are going to deal with the practicalities of eating and preparing them, but also with some of the risks associated with raw tortillas. Keep reading to find out more. 

Can I Eat Raw (uncooked) Tortillas? What Happens If You Eat Them?

The quick and simple answer is – no. Now, let us see why. 

There are, essentially, two types of raw tortillas. One is the dough itself and the other type is actually a pre-prepared, but uncooked tortilla. The first variant is still not a tortilla per se, but rather the necessary prerequisite to prepare a tortilla, while the other is a tortilla, but not completely prepared for eating. 

As you probably know, eating raw dough is unhealthy and has a lot of possible health risks. This is true for all types of dough, whether it’s for cookies, bread, or tortillas. The dough might feel like an interesting “challenge” for your taste buds and your stomach, but we advise you not to be so bold as to actually try it. Usually, most people associate eating raw dough with the hazards of eating raw eggs and the presence of Salmonella, but most people don’t know that even raw flour dough has its risk as it might contain a lot of bacteria, related to E. coli. Heating the dough kills a lot of these bacteria and prepares the raw ingredients for eating, but consuming raw products is a health risk, confirmed even by the FDA.1

In case you actually try or accidentally ingest raw dough, here are some of the symptoms you should watch out for:

Symptoms of eating raw dough
Associated with SalmonellaAssociated with E. coli
Painful, severe abdominal crampsDiarrhea (often bloody)Nausea and vomitingKidney failure (complication)Hemolytic uremic syndrome (complication)Stroke (complication)Death (complication)DiarrheaFeverAbdominal cramps

As for uncooked tortillas, they won’t do so much damage to your health, but they can be potentially dangerous (depending on how your body reacts to the flour) and you will not get the full flavor. The heat releases all of the ingredients in the tortilla, so you’ll definitely enjoy it more if you heat them up in some way. 

What To Do With Uncooked Tortillas?

Well, the answer is rather simple – cook them! Whether you’ve prepared the dough yourself and now have a raw tortilla or you bought uncooked tortillas in your local store, you should never eat them or serve them like that. You need to heat them up, using any of the usual methods. You don’t have to eat them burning hot, but you do have to heat them up. 

Why? Well, it’ll taste better (trust us), even if you don’t add any other ingredients and you’ll reduce the risk of potential health hazards. 

How Do You Prepare A Raw Tortilla?

Now that we’ve established that you definitely have to preheat your tortillas before you eat them, let us see how you can do it and how each of the methods work. We’ve included five methods for you to try out:

  1. Heating them in a pan – this is the best method if you don’t need many tortillas, i.e. you’re not preparing a feast for guests. It’s very simple, actually. You just put the tortillas in a pan (you don’t even need oil or butter), add a bit of sizzling water after the pan is warm enough and let it all heat up for about thirty to forty-five seconds on each side on a medium to medium-high flame. You’ll know it’s ready when you feel the characteristic aroma. You can leave it a bit longer if you like more crispy tortillas, but be careful to not leave them on the pan for too long, because it’ll ruin them completely. 
  2. Use the gas burner directly – this is a rather tricky method and is also good when you need just one, two, or three tortillas, not more. Turn on the flames on your gas burner to medium-light or medium (you don’t really want a bonfire) and take out your tongs. Take the tortilla and hold it above the flames, turning it when necessary for some time, until you see and smell they are ready. Then remove them and repeat the process until you’re done with your meal. It might take some time to get used to, but it’s a simple and practical solution if you want a quick meal. 
  3. Use your oven – this is a good method if you need a lot of tortillas for you and your friends. The method is simple, although be aware that you won’t get much color, like with the above-mentioned methods. You need to group your tortillas in stacks of five or six and then wrap each stack in aluminum foil. You then place the stacks in your oven, preheated to 177 °C (350 °F), and leave them for eight to ten minutes. They’ll remain pale, but at least they’ll be nice and warm. 
  4. Microwave them – another quick and practical solution for preparing a smaller amount of tortillas quickly. You put them on a plate or something (whatever you prefer), close the microwave, and let it do its job. You’ll get nice and warm tortillas ready for eating very quickly. If you’re faced with the problem of uneven heating, which is not that uncommon, there is a good online guide on how to avoid it.3 Still, you should avoid microwaving them, as you won’t get the full flavor.
  5. Steam – this is a very unconventional method, but it’s effective and it reduces both the time necessary for the preparation of tortillas and the number of utensils you’ll need. Basically, you just need to prepare hot steam, put the tortillas above the source of the steam, and in about a minute or so, they’ll be nice and warm. You have different ways of producing steam so we’ll leave that part to your personal creative genius. 

How Do You Tell If A Tortilla Is Cooked?

Finally, if you’re not experienced enough, you might wonder how you can tell that a tortilla is done and ready for eating. One good sign is the specific aroma tortillas have – once you smell it, it’s probably done or near there. Still, it all depends on the type of tortilla and the method of preparation. 

If you microwave them, you’ll know they’re ready once they become soft, but try to avoid this method. With the other methods of preparation, you can easily tell that a tortilla is done if it bends normally without resistance and/or breaking. Also, if you’re using a pan – if the tortilla still sticks to the surface, it’s not ready yet. Another good sign is air bubbles, which also indicate that the process is done. 

And that’s it for today. We hope we’ve helped you with your tortilla-related questions and that you found the answers you were looking for. Apply our advice and – have a good meal!

Homemade Tortillas

Check out what happened when I made homemade tortillas for the first time. How To Make Thin Flour Tortillas (With Pictures)

The safest and healthiest tortillas can be homemade. This way you can ensure the ingredients are pure and the preparation is sterile.

Making your own tortillas can tricky, I tried it myself and they turned out okay. I definitely still have room for improvement.

Sources

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/raw-doughs-raw-deal-and-could-make-you-sick

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/no-raw-dough.html

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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