Who wants to throw out a perfectly good taco if you can save it and reheat it the next day?
I tested 5 different ways of reheating tacos, trying each method with hard and soft shell tacos, to find out which one was best.
The best way to reheat hard shell tacos is in the oven or air fryer. Set the oven to 350°F (180°C) and warm the tacos for 5-7 minutes. For soft shell tacos, use the stove. Brush a skillet with oil and heat the tacos on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes each side.
How I Tested Reheating Tacos
I went to Taco Bell and made a big taco order, getting a few different types and a mixture of hard and soft shell tacos. I took the tacos home and put them in the fridge. The next day, I tested reheating them in the following ways:
- Oven: Works for soft and hard tacos.
- Microwave: Quick and easy but only good for soft tacos.
- Stove: My favorite method.
- Air Fryer: Good for crisping hard shell tacos.
- Deconstructing them: Not worth the effort.
Reheating Tacos In The Oven
Time: 5-7 minutes
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- For soft tacos: Sprinkle each taco with water or wrap them in slightly damp paper towels before placing them in the oven.
- For hard tacos: Place these in the oven as they are, without any cover.
- Heat the tacos in the oven for about 5-7 minutes.
Timings will vary depending on the size of your tacos and how much filling you have. You might want to leave them for a little longer if you’ve got lots of meat in there.
Results: The oven method is a good option for reheating tacos. My soft tacos were a bit dry but tasty, and the hard tacos had regained some crispiness. The major downside is it’s pretty slow if you’re using a conventional oven, so not great for a quick snack. Toaster ovens are quicker.
Reheating Tacos In The Microwave
Time: 1-2 minutes
- For soft tacos: Keep them in their paper wrapping or cover them with a damp paper towel.
- For hard tacos: Place them directly in the microwave.
- Microwave on high in 30-second intervals until hot.
The damp paper towel will create steam and rehydrate the soft tortillas. If you don’t have the original wrapping or a damp paper towel, you can also place a glass of water into the microwave alongside the tacos.
Results: The microwave was the quickest method and worked pretty well for the soft tacos. The tortillas were soft and the filling was moist. But I wouldn’t recommend it for hard shell tacos, the soggy parts just got soggier.
Reheating Tacos On The Stove
Time: 4-6 minutes
- Brush a little oil on a skillet and heat it over medium-high.
- Add the tacos to the skillet. Press them down lightly and fry for 2-3 minutes on one side.
- Carefully flip the tacos and repeat on the other side.
I like to press down on the tacos when they’re heating to make sure there’s even contact with the pan – this helps everything heat evenly so you don’t get burnt spots (although some people like the burnt spots!).
Be careful when you’re flipping the taco, you don’t want all the filling falling out.
Results: I was pretty impressed with the stovetop method for both types of tacos, I thought it gave them both a bit of life. The shells crisped up and the cheese was melty. Next time I would put extra cheese in.
Reheating Tacos In An Air Fryer
Time: 4-5 minutes
- Set your air fryer to 350°F (175°C).
- Place hard shell tacos in the air fryer and heat for 4-5 minutes.
If you take your eye off the ball, it’s very easy to burn food in the air fryer (I’ve done it so many times!). Make sure to check the tacos regularly.
And don’t overcrowd the basket. If the air can’t flow properly, the tacos will steam and won’t crisp up as effectively.
Results: The air fryer works wonders for hard shell tacos, making them nice and crispy. But I don’t recommend it for soft-shell tacos because I found they dried out too much.
Time: 5-6 minutes
- Remove all fillings from the shell and set aside any stuff you want to keep cold.
- Warm the meat or main veggie filling in a frying pan.
- For soft shells, sprinkle with water and heat for a few minutes in a low oven.
- For hard shells, re-crisp in a 350°F (175°C) oven or air fryer.
- Once all the parts are heated through, put your taco back together.
If you don’t want to heat up the oven for the soft shell tacos, you can also mist them with water and heat them in a second frying pan.
The water is important to get them soft again (like with all the other methods).
Results: This method is more time-consuming and fiddly than the other methods but means each part of the taco can be reheated in the ideal way. The resulting taco was tasty, but for me personally, I don’t think the extra effort was worth it.
How to Store Leftover Tacos
If your tacos are already assembled, let them cool to room temperature and remove any really wet ingredients like salsa. Place the tacos in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for 1-2 days.
If you have homemade tacos and all the components are still separate, keep them separate and store everything in different containers. The fillings need to go in the fridge, hard taco shells can be kept at room temperature, and for soft tortillas you can either freeze them or keep them in the fridge.
I like to freeze tortillas separated by layers of parchment paper. They last forever and don’t take long to thaw because they’re so small and thin.
Can You Freeze Tacos?
Tacos are tricky to freeze because of all the different components. If the tacos are just cheese, meat or beans, and the shell then you can freeze them somewhat successfully, but once you start adding extra toppings I don’t recommend freezing.
Soft shell tacos will freeze much better than hard shell tacos, which will lose all their crispiness.
To freeze tacos:
- Let them cool to room temperature and remove and salad or sauces.
- Wrap the taco tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer bag.
- You can separate individual tacos with parchment or wax paper.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- When you want to eat the tacos, thaw them at room temperature before reheating in a skillet or the oven.
Disclaimer: The tacos won’t be as good as fresh tacos, so make sure to manage your expectations!
How To Reheat Tacos [Tested Methods]
- 1 portion Tacos
- Cover the tacos with a damp paper towel.
- Put the tacos in the microwave and heat in 30 second bursts until hot.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and remove any salad or sauces from the tacos.
- Heat the tacos uncovered for 5-7 minutes.