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Can You Compost Tortillas? Tips for Composting and Repurposing (2023)

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can you compost tortillasHave you ever wondered if tortillas can be composted? Whether they’re made from corn or flour, the answer is yes – but with a few caveats.

Tortillas are an excellent source of carbon-rich material for the compost pile, and adding them to your regular rotation can help keep things balanced. But it’s important to consider how you prepare them before doing so to ensure that all their nutrients are released properly into your garden soil.

To illustrate this process best, take my experience as an example: I’d been tossing leftover chips and stale bread crusts into my outdoor bin without a second thought until one day when I realized those crunchy morsels were actually preventing me from making the most out of my composting efforts!

So after realizing this mistake, I decided it was time to give tortilla scraps another look – here’s what happened next.

Key Takeaways

  • Tortillas can be composted for their carbon content, providing nitrogen and promoting microbial activity.
  • Tear stale tortillas into small pieces for faster decomposition and bury them within the compost pile to deter pests.
  • Shredding or chopping tortillas increases decomposition efficiency, and placing them in the center of the compost pile speeds up breakdown.
  • Balance high-nitrogen tortillas with carbon-rich materials like dried leaves and add other compostable items like stale crackers, chips, and pretzels for variety.

Can Tortillas Be Composted?

Can Tortillas Be Composted
You can shred those old tortillas into small pieces and bury them in your compost pile to speed up decomposition while providing nitrogen. Tortillas make excellent additions to backyard compost piles. Their high nitrogen content balances the carbon in your compost, promoting the microbial activity needed for rapid breakdown.

Stale, moldy, or leftover homemade tortillas can all be composted. Just tear them into bite-sized bits before adding them to your pile. Their small size allows oxygen to penetrate for aerobic decomposition. Bury pieces within the pile, rather than leaving them exposed on top.

The corn, wheat, or other grains used for tortilla flour deliver minerals like magnesium and phosphorus to enrich your finished compost. So recycle those tired tortillas in your compost bin to turn your food waste into organic fertilizer for your garden.

How to Compost Tortillas?

How to Compost Tortillas
Steer clear from recklessly dumping entire crates of tortillas into your compost, or you’ll attract every rat in the neighborhood.

  1. Shred or break tortillas into small pieces before adding them to your compost pile.
  2. Bury pieces in the center of your compost heap; don’t leave them exposed. This deters pests from scavenging.
  3. Balance high-nitrogen tortillas with carbon-rich brown compost materials like dried leaves.
  4. Sprinkle tortilla pieces throughout the compost pile rather than overloading in one area.
  5. Monitor your compost’s moisture and aeration to facilitate thorough breakdown of the tortillas.

As a nitrogen-rich green material, tortillas enrich compost with nutrients that fertilize plants. But improperly composting large volumes at once causes problems. Stale tortillas also make tasty pet treats, recipes, crafts, etc.

With some forethought and technique, tortillas can be valuable additions to your compost rather than an invitation to pests.

Tips for Composting Tortillas

Tips for Composting Tortillas
Composting tortillas is easy when you follow some key tips. Shred or chop tortillas into small pieces, then place them in the center or bury them in an open compost pile. Tortillas are nitrogen-rich materials that balance carbon components, and various tortilla ingredients introduce different nutrients to the compost.

Shredding or Chopping Tortillas

C’mon, shredding or chopping those tortillas into tiny bits helps them decompose quicker in the compost heap. Tortilla chopping boosts breakdown by increasing the surface area exposed to microbes and moisture.

Finer pieces also get buried deeper into the pile, hiding from pests wanting an easy free meal. Nitrogen-rich tortilla bits balance out carbon materials, kickstarting microbial activity. DIY tortilla chips or enchiladas – lots of tasty ways to use up old tortillas before composting.

Placement in Compost Pile

Placing tortillas in the center of your compost pile can speed up decomposition by up to 25% compared to just tossing them on top. Bury them under layers of brown materials. This deters pests drawn to the tortilla scent.

The nutrients in the tortillas then break down within the active composting zone, benefiting your finished compost.

Balancing Nitrogen and Carbon

Since tortillas are nitrogen-rich, you’ll want to balance them with carbon-rich materials in your pile.

  1. Dry leaves
  2. Sawdust
  3. Straw
  4. Paper
  5. Cardboard

To get the ideal C:N ratio, mix tortillas with carbon-rich browns. This gives microbes a balanced diet for efficient decomposition. Varying ingredients in tortillas like corn and wheat provide compost with diverse nutrients.

Nutrients Introduced by Tortilla Ingredients

You resemble magnesium spreading through soil as various tortilla ingredients introduce different nutrients to your compost pile like sunshine.

Ingredient Nutrients
Maize flour Magnesium
Wheat B vitamins
Yellow corn Carotenoids
White corn Fiber

The diversity helps compost and soil thrive.

Repurposing Stale Tortillas

Repurposing Stale Tortillas
Even when tortillas start to go bad, they can still lend flavor, texture, and substance to many dishes. Before throwing out those stale tortillas, try incorporating them into classics like enchiladas, Migas, homemade chips, soups, or even using them as replacements for bread in sandwiches to extend their shelf life.


Try making enchiladas with those stale tortillas to give them new life before composting whatever’s left. Roll up tasty enchilada fillings in tortillas and top them with your favorite homemade or store-bought enchilada sauce.

Mix up the flavors by using different proteins, veggies, cheeses, and spices in each batch.


Soak those stale tortillas in eggs and fry them up into some mighty fine migas.

  • Chicken Apple Sausage
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Roasted Poblano Peppers
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Avocado

Revive tortillas into a hearty Tex-Mex migas – perfect for using up leftovers and getting a protein-packed start to your day.

Homemade Chips

Listen here—our planet’s crying for help, so stop wasting those stale tortillas and turn them into homemade chips sharpish. Simply slice the stale tortillas into triangles or fun shapes, then toss them with oil and spice.

Bake them until crispy. Make the tortilla chips your own with creative flavors and seasonings. Pair them with tasty homemade dips like salsa, guacamole, or hummus. Store them in an airtight container.

Bread Replacements

You’d never guess that stale tortillas can stand in for bread in recipes.

  • Savory sandwiches
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Pizza crusts
  • Quesadillas

Tortillas offer versatile substitutions for bread items when stale. Creative cooks can recycle old tortillas into new dishes.

Use in Soups

Add those stale tortillas to chowder for extra body and richness. Tortilla soup capitalizes on stale corn tortillas simmered right in broth for thickening. Blend tortillas into tomato soup, posole, or squash bisque for substance too. Garnish finished soups with tortilla strips or dice for delightful textures and visual appeal.

Shelf Life of Tortillas

Shelf Life of Tortillas
Stale tortillas don’t have to go to waste. Best-by dates indicate peak quality rather than safety, so while moldy tortillas should be discarded, expired ones are still edible. But to prolong the shelf life, store tortillas sealed against moisture and heat and freeze them for up to 8 months.

Storage and Best-by Dates

Keep tortillas sealed and frozen to prolong their shelf life past the best-by date, which indicates peak quality rather than expiration; when frozen, they can last up to 8 whole months.

  1. Store tortillas in airtight bags or containers.
  2. Refrigerate flour tortillas for up to a week.
  3. Freeze corn tortillas for 1-2 months.
  4. Discard moldy tortillas, but expired ones are still edible.

Moldy Vs. Expired Tortillas

Though mold makes them inedible, expired tortillas can still be repurposed for composting or other resourceful uses before discarding. Check tortillas regularly and toss any growing mold; however, those simply past their peak quality may be frozen for prolonged storage.

Creative repurposing breathes new life into old tortillas before their final trip to the compost pile, where their organic nutrients enrich the soil.

Freezing Tortillas

Snap those tortillas in the freezer like you just don’t care, darling. Stack tortillas in freezer bags to extend longevity. Freeze before expiration for optimal taste. Let them thaw before using to prevent cracking.

Freezing tortillas allows you to buy in bulk, save money, and reduce waste through proper storage.

Shelf Life of Flour and Corn Tortillas

Dump those tortillas if they’re moldy because you don’t want to eat expired stuff, but you can still munch on them past the best-by date.

  1. Store flour tortillas in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
  2. Keep corn tortillas at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  3. Freeze both types for 6-8 months.

Flour tortillas last longer thanks to preservatives. Corn tortillas go stale faster without them. Proper storage preserves freshness and extends shelf life. Don’t waste tortillas based on best-by dates alone.

Composting Miscellaneous Food Items

Composting Miscellaneous Food Items
As organic materials like eggshells, coffee grounds, peanut shells, cardboard egg cartons, herbs, spices, human hair clippings, houseplant trimmings, and paper rolls break down, their nutrients enrich your compost pile.

You can also safely add small amounts of cooked pasta, rice, and even human urine, which provides a nitrogen boost to aid the composting process.

Eggshells and Coffee Grounds

It’s wise to toss crushed eggshells and grounds into the mix, friend.

Crushed Eggshell Benefits Used Coffee Ground Uses
Calcium source Nitrogen source
Aeration Moisture retention
Pest deterrent Heat generation
Slow release Fast breakdown

Eggshells and coffee grounds enhance compost when added moderately. Balance their carbon and nitrogen levels with other organic materials.

Peanut Shells and Cardboard Egg Cartons

Discard used peanut shells and cardboard egg cartons into your compost bin for their carbon benefits. Peanut shells introduce nitrogen. Shred cardboard boxes and egg cartons to speed up decomposition. Consider alternatives like reusing cartons for seedlings or repurposing shells as kindling before composting.

Herbs, Spices, and Human Hair Clippings

Toss handfuls of hair clippings and spices into the pile with wild abandon! Adding herbs, spices, and human hair introduces nutrients to compost. Hair is nitrogen-rich, while spices contain trace elements beneficial for the soil.

Houseplant Trimmings and Paper Rolls

You’re all set to add those houseplant trimmings and used paper rolls to the pile. Compost used paper before mold sets in. Shred rolls to speed up breakdown. Chop large trimmings. Use finished compost to nourish houseplants and the garden. Creative recycling completes the sustainable gardening cycle.

Pasta, Rice, and Urine

Paired with nitrogen sources, your treasure of tortilla waste transforms into a soil sweetener. Cooked pasta or rice in small amounts contribute carbohydrates for bacterial growth. Urine, when handled safely, furnishes valuable nitrogen. Repurposing provides tortilla alternatives, such as enchiladas or soups.

Other Compostable Items

Other Compostable Items
You can compost a wide variety of miscellaneous household and food items. Pouring aquarium water and plants onto the compost pile adds moisture and nitrogen, while fruits, vegetables, and shredded paper are carbon-rich materials to balance out nitrogen sources like stale crackers, chips, pretzels, pencil shavings, and pine needles.

Sawdust and Aquarium Water

Sprinkle sawdust from untreated wood and pour old aquarium water over your pile for extra nitrogen and moisture. The sawdust introduces carbon to balance nitrogen sources like aquarium water, aged perfectly for your compost.

Feed stale bread heels to grateful birds or reinvent them into a delicious bread pudding before adding the remains. With tortillas, shred and bury 10% portions to avoid overloading as the corn contributes ample magnesium.

Fruit and Vegetable Scraps and Shredded Paper

Crushing and shredding stale tortillas enables their renewal in fresh dishes like enchiladas or soups, just as blending fruit and veggie trimmings amalgamates their essence into nutritious compost. Shredding fruit and vegetable scraps while mixing in shredded non-plastic paper rolls maximizes compost nutrients through efficient techniques.

Stale Crackers, Chips, and Pretzels

You can munch on those stale crackers, chips, and pretzels before tossing them in the compost. Crushing salty snack leftovers adds carbon and nitrogen when layered into your pile. Repurpose stale pretzels and chips by making homemade breadcrumbs or chip dippers.

Tired crackers transform into savory bread puddings or snack mixes. Salty, stale snacks contribute variety to compost with creative repurposing.

Pencil Sharpener Shavings and Pine Needles

You’d better watch out, my friend. Look around here real close because my incredibly nasty pencil shavings and sharp pine needles are just waiting to stab you from this compost pile! Carefully add pencil shavings and pine needles to compost for carbon without matting when wet.

Repurpose tortillas before expiration and store them properly for longevity. Use them in soups, casseroles, and chips; shred them for compost to balance nitrogen sources.


It’s amazing how many things can be composted – from tortillas to eggshells, coffee grounds to human hair clippings, and even pencil shavings! Composting with tortillas is a great way to save money and reduce food waste, while also providing your plants with essential nutrients.

But, it’s important to be aware of the best practices for composting tortillas. For faster breakdown, shred or chop them into small pieces. Bury them in an open compost pile. This will help them decompose more efficiently.

Not only that, but stale tortillas can also be repurposed for enchiladas, Migas, chips, and even as bread replacements in soups and casseroles. So, if you’re looking to compost tortillas, remember to shred them, store them properly, and create delicious dishes with your leftovers.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.