Tortillas are a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine, whether you make them yourself or opt for grocery store brands.
When you find yourself with leftover tortillas after a tasty meal, you may be wondering, how long are tortillas good for?
Read on to learn more about the shelf life of tortillas. We’ll discuss how long tortilla shells last, how to spot a spoiled tortilla, and the best storage tips to keep shells tasting fresh.
Do Tortillas Go Bad?
Like all foods, tortillas will eventually go bad over time.
Thanks to their relatively high fat and oil content, tortillas may spoil or go rancid more quickly than starchy staples such as bread.
Within a few days of making or opening a tortilla shell bag, you may notice that they begin to lose some of their freshness. Tortillas will start to taste dry and tough as they lose moisture to the environment.
Fats and oils in the dough may also spoil and go rancid, causing an unpleasant smell and a bitter taste.
Tortillas can go bad even faster without proper storage. In some cases, tortillas may spoil due to factors such as temperature, moisture, mold, and pests.
Heat and Humidity
Tortilla shells fare best in a cool, dry environment such as a typical pantry or refrigerator. Too much heat may speed up the drying process or encourage the growth of unwanted mold and bacteria.
Environmental moisture can also ruin tortillas before their due-by date.
Humidity can oversaturate tortillas, leading to limp, soggy shells that won’t cook properly. Excess moisture also makes a more hospitable environment for pests and foodborne pathogens.
Thanks to a high fat and moisture content, tortilla shells make an attractive home for mold. Spores can easily settle and spread, potentially ruining your leftover tortilla shells.
While small amounts of mold may be safe to remove, eating heavily contaminated foods may pose a danger to your health .
Mold is more likely to occur in tortilla shells stored in warm, damp, and dark environments. Spores are also more likely to settle on improperly sealed tortillas and those kept at room temperature.
Most mold has trouble tolerating temperatures found in fridges or freezers.
If you leave your tortillas out in the open, mold isn’t the only thing you might find growing on the surface.
Without proper storage, tortillas can attract pests such as ants, roaches, and even rodents such as mice.
If you notice bugs or rodents living in and around old tortilla shells, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of them.
Pests can carry foodborne diseases  and other toxins that may lead to digestive discomfort, illness, or even a trip to the emergency room.
How Long Are Tortillas Good For?
Store-bought tortillas are good for up to a week when stored in the pantry at room temperature. Homemade tortillas go bad faster, usually only lasting two to three days before spoiling.
You can extend the shelf life of tortillas by storing them in the fridge. Doing so discourages bacterial growth, prevents moisture loss, and keeps oils from going rancid.
Store-bought tortillas will last four to eight weeks in the fridge, while homemade ones will last around a week.
How Long Does Tortillas Last
Up to one week
Four to eight weeks
Two or three days
About one week
How to Tell If Tortillas Are Bad
In most cases, it’s easy to tell at a glance whether your tortilla is safe to eat. Taste and smell can also give you clues about the state of your tortilla.
A bad tortilla will not have the stretchy, springy consistency of a fresh shell. Instead, it will likely feel stiff and tough during handling.
Conversely, tortillas stored in overly humid environments may feel limp and soggy to the touch.
If you notice a strong odor coming from your tortilla shell, it may indicate fats have gone bad.
The oils in tortilla shells will go rancid with time, especially when exposed to light and heat.
A rancid tortilla shell will also taste sour or bitter and may cause moderate to severe digestive upset .
If you see insects, bite marks, or mold spots growing on old tortilla shells, you should throw the batch out immediately.
Pests and molds can leave behind toxins that lead to indigestion and food poisoning.
Tips to Store Tortillas for a Longer Time
Tip 1. Tortillas keep best in an airtight, resealable container.
Doing this prevents water loss while protecting against heat and humidity. It will also reduce the risk of pest infestations and mold growth.
Tip 2. Storing tortillas in the fridge instead of the pantry will keep them fresh for longer.
The freezer can extend shelf life even further, though you run the risk of freeze-burning your tortilla stash.
What Happens If You Eat Expired Tortillas?
If you eat expired tortillas, you will most likely be fine. Tortillas can last for weeks to months past their expiration date without spoiling.
Rancid tortilla shells may give you digestive issues ranging from cramps and diarrhea to nausea and vomiting. You should avoid eating tortillas with an unpleasant smell or taste.
Tortilla shells harboring pests or molds may pose a health risk, especially for young children and elderly family members. You should avoid eating any tortillas that show signs of mold growth or pest infestations.
FAQs About the Shelf Life of Tortillas
Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions people ask about tortillas and their shelf life.
How long do tortillas last after the expiration date?
Homemade tortillas have a relatively short shelf life, only lasting around two to three days at room temperature.
Store-bought tortillas have preservatives that keep them fresh for longer, often lasting up to a week in the pantry.
How long are tortillas good for in the fridge?
Both homemade and store-bought tortillas will last longer in the fridge than they will in the pantry.
Homemade tortillas will last up to a week in the fridge, while store brands can last four to eight weeks, depending on ingredients.
How long are unopened tortillas good for?
Store brand tortillas go bad more quickly once the package gets opened.
You can expect sealed, unopened tortillas to last one to two weeks after the printed expiration date. In the fridge, they can last up to a month after expiration.
It can be a challenge to finish an entire bag of tortilla shells in one sitting, leaving many people wondering, how long are tortillas good for?
If you’re worried about the safety of expired tortillas, fortunately, it’s easy to spot a spoiled shell at a glance.
Moreover, with proper storage, you can continue to enjoy fresh and delicious tortilla shells for weeks to months after their expiration date.