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Can I Prepare Tortilla Roll Ups the Night Before?

by Julie Christensen, studioD

Classic tortilla roll-ups call for a zesty cream cheese filling, but newer renditions may include deli meats, chopped vegetables and lettuce. In most cases, you can make tortilla roll-ups -- sometimes called tortilla pinwheels or wraps -- ahead of time, although some ingredients don't store well. Moist, juicy vegetables, including lettuce, tomatoes and red peppers can get soggy, so plan your filling carefully for the most appealing results.

Wrap It Up

Tortilla roll-ups don't require cooking after you've assembled them and they actually taste best cold or at room temperature. Because of this, they're an ideal choice for making ahead. Bring flour tortillas to room temperature so they're easy to roll. Make your filling with softened cream cheese, green chilis, diced vegetables, such as red peppers and green onions, and shredded chicken, if desired. You can also add seasonings, such as cumin or chopped cilantro. Spread the filling 1/8-inch thick over the tortillas, leaving the edges of the tortillas bare. Roll the tortillas tightly and slice 1-inch pieces. Place the tortilla roll-ups in a covered container and refrigerate them.

Keep It Safe

Flour tortillas can be stored at room temperature, but cream cheese is perishable, as are cut vegetables and shredded meat. Store the tortilla roll-ups in a refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. You can set them out a few minutes before serving time to take the chill of them, but refrigerate any leftover roll-ups within 2 hours of serving.

Tips for Success

The biggest challenge in preparing tortilla roll-ups ahead of time is preventing sogginess. If you use canned or fresh tomatoes, drain them in a sieve before you add them to the cream cheese mixture. Drain green chilis, as well. Use no more than 2 or 3 tablespoons of cut vegetables because these may become watery during storage. If you're making tortilla sandwich wraps with deli meats and lettuce, it's best to refrigerate and serve them within a few hours. The lettuce tends to get mushy after that. Use several different kinds of tortillas for a colorful display. Try whole-wheat, tomato or spinach-basil tortillas, as well as traditional white flour tortillas.

Taste Matters

So long as you drain the ingredients thoroughly before mixing them together, making tortilla roll-ups ahead actually improves their flavor. The chilis and other seasonings meld with the cream cheese during storage and the cream cheese softens the tortillas slightly. Although you can safely refrigerate tortilla roll-ups for up to three days, they taste best when eaten within 24 hours.

About the Author

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images