Three taco shells with toppings

Can Tacos Be Eaten Cold? (Preparation and Reheating Tips)

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Tacos can throw you into a feeding frenzy if you’re not careful. They don’t feel as heavy as some of the other fast foods and are packed with lots of various flavors that take your taste buds on a joyride. However, unlike most foods that are eaten straight out of the oven, tacos taste good even when they are cold.

Yes, tacos can be eaten cold. In fact, there are a bunch of cold taco recipes that people eat on a daily basis. Some are healthy and nutritious, while others are simply there for the taste. However, eating a cold taco is not the same as eating one straight out of a refrigerator.

Cold tacos are a different category of food that is specially made from ingredients that are kept at room temperature. The food stored in your refrigerator does not qualify. You may reheat the taco and the ingredients, wait until they are at room temperature, and then proceed to eat a cold taco. Let’s take a deeper dive into the topic.

How to prepare a cold taco?

A cold taco is a quick dish that can be prepared in a few minutes. It’s mostly eaten by tourists while traveling, and it is a perfect dish for outdoor barbecues and buffets. The most flexible part of this recipe is the filling, as you can prepare a wide variety of it.

I remember having this dish for the first time on a trip to Zambia. We were driving around in a jeep when the organizers finally pulled to a stop and arranged this little picnic of sorts. There was no way to heat things up in them, so they produced airtight containers filled with fillings. As for wraps, we have two choices, lettuce leaves, and tortillas.

The fillings consist of tuna and mackerel, chicken salad with mayonnaise/tandoori chicken, curry powder, potato salad, and Waldorf salad. They had a bunch of other herbs and spices that made the dish taste delicious, but we didn’t realize what they were.

As for the dressing, the organizers used chopped onions and thinly sliced avocado pears. And finally, they used red onions and tomatoes, mixed with Feta cheese and salad cream, to bind the whole thing together. As for meat, we had only chicken.

This was the first time we tried eating a cold taco, and it was a pure delight. I had never eaten a cold taco before that, but after that first encounter, I became a fan, and I still eat them to this day.

Preparing a taco dip for your cold tacos

Tacos are incomplete without the right dip, and this applies doubly for cold ones. Here is a simple cold dip recipe that’ll go nicely with your cold tacos.

1. Microwave an 8 oz packet of cream cheese to soften it up and two teaspoons of taco seasoning. Stir well.

2.  Take a microwave-safe bowl and place the cream cheese uniformly at the bottom of the dish. I usually prefer Food Storage containers because they are quite spacious and are highly rated.

3. Add 1/4 cup of taco sauce and 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning in 16 oz refried beans.

4. Stir nicely and place it uniformly over the cream cheese.

5. Pour 1 can of tomatoes and green chilies over the beans and add another teaspoon of seasoning.

6. Add 8 oz of freshly shredded cheddar cheese on top of everything and garnish with some chopped green onion.

7. Wrap the entire bowl with saran wrap and place it inside the fridge for a couple of hours. Once it’s chilled, you can start eating with your previously made cold tacos.

I love this dip because it can be eaten both cold and hot. So if I decided to go with a hot dip, I would have to simply bake it at 350°F for 15 minutes, or until everything is nicely melted and the bubbles start to appear at the sides. 

So, if you want to try out the usual hot tacos, here is how you should go about preparing them.

How to prepare refrigerated tacos for a second serving?

Before reheating your tacos, remove all of the wet ingredients to prevent them from sagging into the tortilla. You should also cook the meat separately to preserve the texture of the tortilla.

How you reheat your tacos depends on the type of tortilla. There are usually two types of tortillas, hard and soft, and each of them has its own method of reheating and storing. Hard taco shells are the classic cuisine of Mexico. They are usually small and have a crunchy texture. Therefore, preserving the crunchy texture is a top priority.

However, soft-shell tortillas are more forgiving. They are known for their tender, chewy texture and respond better to heating. But you should still separate the fillings before heating to prevent excess sogging. Let’s discuss how to heat each type of taco in more detail.

How to reheat hard shell tacos?

The easiest way to heat hard shell tacos is with an air fryer, stove, or oven. Overheating causes them to crumble, so it’s necessary to heat them equally all over the surface. All of the devices are quite efficient at uniformly heating the tortillas, inside and out.

Here are a few ways to heat hard shell tortillas.

1. How to reheat tacos on a stovetop – Hard tortillas respond best to drier heat. It seals in the flavor and makes it a lot crunchier. To begin, place a skillet on the stove that’s set to medium heat and wait until it’s heated up.

Place the tortillas on the pan and wait 30-45 seconds, before flipping to the other side. Repeat until both sides are golden brown or you’re satisfied with the crunchiness.

2. How to reheat tacos with an oven – Ovens are quite efficient at reheating food items, and the tortilla is no exception. Heating a single tortilla might be overkill, so it’s best if you put in more than three to four tortillas at once. Now preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet. Hard tortillas tend to stiffen up quickly, so it’s best to use taco racks to maintain the forms. I tried heating the tacos without a rack, which caused them to horribly bend out of shape—never again.

Finally, place the tortilla in the oven for 10-15 minutes. You can bake it longer if you prefer a crunchy texture.

3. How to reheat with an air fryer – Air fryers have become quite popular in recent years because they use less oil compared to other cooking methods. Furthermore, during a little experiment, I also discovered that they performed significantly better than micro ovens, and the Ninja AF101 is one of the best fryers on the market.

I usually start by preheating the fryer to 350 – 400°F for 5 minutes. Then I mold the aluminum foil into a taco shape and insert the tortilla into it. Some people are quite insecure about putting foils into their fryers, which is understandable; in that case, you can fold the taco to fit the rack. Use a silicone brush to apply a thin layer of oil to prevent it from burning.

How to reheat soft shell tacos?

Soft-shell tacos should be warmed in the microwave, on the grill, or in the oven. Stoves and air fryers disperse heat too quickly, causing the tortillas to crumble. Here are a few ways to heat soft-shell tortillas.

1. How to reheat tacos with a microwave – A microwave is more effective for heating soft shell tortillas because it helps you maintain the smooth, chewy texture instead of frying it to a crisp. To begin, place the tortillas on a damp paper towel and put the whole thing on a microwave-safe plate. Set the heat setting to high and cook for 20 seconds.

2. How to reheat tacos in an oven – Preheat the oven to 350°F. Then wrap the tacos in aluminum foil and place them in the oven for 10 minutes. I prefer to keep them for 15 minutes because it leaves a better crunch without affecting the softness too much.

3. How to reheat tacos on a grill – Cooking over a grill is much easier since you don’t have to take out the fillings. Heat up the grill and place the aluminum-wrapped tacos over it. Cook each side for 5-6 minutes (maybe a bit longer depending on your taste) before serving.

If this is your first time, I suggest gently poking the tacos to ensure that they are still soft and tender.


Hopefully, this answers your question about tacos and whether or not they can be eaten cold. As long as they aren’t out for too long, it’s ok to eat them. And if you like to try something new, there are a bunch of new ways mentioned here to help you out. Good luck.

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