Corn tortillas rolled up for enchiladas - Family Guide Central

5 Alternatives to Frying Tortillas for Enchiladas (It’s So Good!)

So I absolutely love the flavor and texture of corn tortillas in my enchiladas. I also enjoy making enchiladas at home. However, traditional enchiladas require that we fry our tortillas and I’m trying to eat healthily.

I searched around and asked, do I have to fry my corn tortillas in my enchiladas?

Frying tortillas for enchiladas is meant to soften the tortillas and help prevent cracking and breaking. It turns out, you don’t have to fry tortillas. Some of the best alternatives to frying include steaming, oil baking, coconut oil, microwave, and a skillet or griddle.

What are the alternatives to frying corn tortillas

The point of not frying your corn tortillas is because we don’t always want that much oil in our diets. If you’re starting to gain that extra weight like me, you’re going to want to look for alternatives that don’t involve frying.

Fortunately, I’ve listed 6 delicious methods you can try instead of frying.

Alternatives to FryingQuick Summary
SteamingLeast desired method. Cooking process is difficult but results in soft, moist, and rollable tortillas. No oil required.
BakingThe most popular alternative. Provides the closest texture and flavors to deep frying tortillas. Requires oil spray on the pan.
Coconut oilRecommended by families.
MicrowaveQuickest alternative. Plastic will keep in moisture and keep tortilla soft allowing for easy rolling. Oil not required
GriddleMost convenient alternative. Similar to heating up tacos. Oil not required.


Steaming is a popular method for those who would rather not dip their tortillas into oil. This method works really well in keeping the tortilla moist.

You can steam your tortillas in a number of ways.

Method 1

  1. First, dampen a small towel. 
  2. Then, wrap the dampened towel around a few stacks of tortillas. 
  3. Heat it in the microwave for about 1 minute. 

The water from the damp towel should mix and vaporize through to the tortilla.

Another way is to use a steamer pot. These are pots with more than 1 level of layers and holes in each layer. 

Method 2

  1. Pour just enough water at the bottom of the pot. 
  2. Let the water come to a boil. 
  3. Then place a few corn tortillas right over on the top later. 
  4. Steam for about 2-3 minutes.

The vapors from the boiling water should moisten the tortilla.

Keep in mind, too much moisture may cause the tortilla to break apart and become all mushy. That’s why you must limit how long you steam your tortilla.

This method is probably not the best method. In fact, it’s the one I would least likely use. It’s a lot of work and it also can ruin the texture of your tortillas if done wrong. Adding moisture to your tortillas by steam can cause the tortillas to break apart when folding them.

If the tortilla is too wet, it will become all hard and mushy and not be usable in an enchilada. To avoid this from happening, you would need to keep a really close eye on the steaming process.

Spraying oil and baking

This method uses oil. But it’s nothing compared to dipping it into a pot filled with the stuff. This is perhaps the recommendation that’s closest to the texture and flavoring of the normal method.

Method 1

  1. Start by using the oil spray to lightly coat a pan. 
  2. Then, place the tortillas flat onto the pan (without stacking them on top of each other). 
  3. Stick it in the oven at 325° for about 7 minutes.

Method 2

  1. Stray oil on the baking pan.
  2. Spray one side of the tortilla with oil.
  3. Stack the tortillas on the baking pan.
  4. Put the pan in the oven at about 325° for 4 minutes.

I feel that I like this method the most. Even though it uses oil, it’s a much healthier approach to cooking tortillas compared to the frying method.

Coconut oil

Another method, I’ve found online was the use of coconut oil. The technique was to spread a really thin layer of coconut oil on the tortilla. Then place it on a hot skillet for about 15 seconds on each side.

Once the enchilada sauce is added, the tortilla will then be able to form inside the enchilada nicely.


There’s also another approach. It’s the microwave method. This is probably the quickest and easiest method out of all on the list.

What you’ll want to do is find some microwave-safe plastic bags. These can be the brand name Ziploc bags. Simply place the corn tortilla into this bag and microwave for about 15 seconds and you’re done.

The skillet or griddle

Corn tortillas for enchiladas on a griddle - Family Guide Central
Corn tortillas for enchiladas on a griddle

Skillets or griddles are basically flat surface pans for cooking on stovetop ovens. More traditional pots used were called comals which also had flat surfaces that went over an open flame. You can find more information about comals here.

You can choose to use oil or not in this case. If you wanted to use oil, just spray a little on the comal. The rest is very similar to cooking your tortilla on a baking pan.

The only difference here is that you’ll be cooking the tortilla directly on the top of the stove. You don’t want to make it too crispy. You just want to cook it just enough to warm it up.

Make sure you flip it so that it can cook evenly on both ends.

Why are corn tortillas originally fried?

The traditional method of making corn tortilla for enchiladas is to dip that corn tortilla into a deep fryer with hot oil. However, you only leave it inside for roughly 8 to 10 seconds, until they start to darken and crisp.

Leaving them in too long may harden the tortillas.

After it comes out of the oil, red or green chile sauce is spread on both sides of the tortilla. Now, it’s ready to be rolled up without breaking apart.

There are a few reasons why corn tortillas are preferably fried.

  1. It allows the chile sauce to absorb really well into the tortilla and keeps it from breaking.
  2. Oil helps increase the flavor of the tortilla. Oil and fats alike, help improve the taste of food because they dissolve and concentrate flavor and odor.
  3. It allows the tortilla itself to be rolled up without cracking, breaking, or splitting down the middle.

The bottom line

As you can see with the above recipe, the tortillas for enchiladas don’t have to be fried. There are plenty of other ways on how to prepare corn tortillas without frying in them. Although, there is still a slight difference in taste between the corn tortillas that were fried and the ones that were not. This won’t matter much when your tortilla is coated with red or green chile.

Even though it’s not necessary to fry the corn tortilla, you can still get the great taste of corn tortillas as if they were prepared by dipping them in hot oil.

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