It can be a little tricky to make corn tortillas, but the results are just so delicious that it’s definitely worth a shot! Rolling out the dough, especially flour dough, can be an absolute pain not to mention, so a tortilla press is used to save time and energy. The versatile tortilla can be filled with any filling imaginable and is used in a wide variety of Mexican dishes. They make great choices for event catering because people can make their own filled tortillas with whatever prepared ingredients are laid out, making it both practical and fun. Tortillas are also superb for freezing as they take up very little space when lying flat or even curved already into tacos.
How To Choose A Good Tortilla Press
Picking a good tortilla press is not difficult. The heavier it is, the easier it will be to flatten your dough evenly and quickly. For that reason many of the best tortilla press out there are made from cast iron for weight. Some of the better models not only press but also cook the tortillas. Taking only a few minutes to get hot, they make it super easy to cook tortillas in one simple step quickly.
Best Tortilla Press Recipes
This recipe makes around eight corn tortillas in 30 minutes, including prep time, perfect for busy folks!
- 1 cup of warm water
- 2 cups masa harina
- Pinch of salt
If you can’t find masa harina you can use this recipe instead for flour tortillas:
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- Five tablespoons shortening (or half that and half lard for better taste and consistency)
The method for making tortillas is pretty much the same, whether you are using corn or flour dough. Mix the ingredients to form a pliable dough. If the mixture is too moist and sticky, then add more dough, if it is too dry, add more water, until you get a nice pliant dough.
Section the dough into about 12 balls then lay the balls out on a layer of plastic or wax paper and cover with the same to prevent them from drying out.
Leave for 30 minutes. This makes the dough less springy and easier to roll. Some say letting the dough rest in a refrigerator is even better.
Place the dough ball on the tortilla press and press down firmly. If you don’t have one, you can use a rolling pin on a dusted surface to try to get the dough into a round flattened shape. Remove and place on a floured plate or piece of plastic/wax paper for cooking later. Place layers of plastic or wax paper between the stacked tortillas to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Heat up a small quantity of cooking oil of your choice in a frying pan. The dough will start bubbling almost immediately if the temperature and consistency of the dough are right. Cook on both sides until golden brown, about a minute or so on each side.
- Warm water is recommended as it makes the dough easier to work with.
- It is important that the mixture not be allowed to dry out else the tortillas will crack at the edges.
- Adjust the ratio of shortening to lard to change the texture. Lard produces heavier tortillas and can even alter the taste slightly.
- Use plastic or wax paper to prevent the dough from sticking to the tortilla press.
- If you overcook the tortillas and they become hard, they can still be cut into strips and fried for use in dips such as salsa or guacamole — especially corn tortillas, which have a stronger taste on their own than flour tortillas.
Masa Harina vs. Flour Dough
Normal flour has gluten whereas masa harina is made from corn flour and is gluten-free. Masa Harina is made using a process referred to as nixtamalization. This process uses limewater to create an alkaline environment, and the kernels are soaked and cooked. It has been used for generations, and one beneficial side effect is that it unlocks Vitamin B3, also known as niacin. It’s also what produces the characteristic slightly sour taste of tortillas.
Tortillas can be filled with just about anything lying around in the fridge. Shredded meat such as chicken or beef with vegetables, beans and generous sprinklings of herbs and spices make for wholesome and delicious tortilla fillings.
Spicy Beef Quesadillas
This recipe is a variation of an old favorite. The best thing about it is that you can substitute many of the ingredients with whatever you have available or according to your dietary preferences. For a vegetarian option simply omit the meat or replace it with a can of your favorite beans. The added tomato, avocado, and cream cheese make these taste very much like nachos (especially if corn tortillas are used) and are great for lunchboxes.
Four corn or flour tortillas (see tortilla press recipe above)
- 500g ground beef
- One onion, finely chopped
- Two garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 400g jalapeno peppers or a hotter/milder variety of chili pepper, finely chopped
- One tablespoon taco seasoning (or make your own, see below)
- Four tomatoes, finely chopped
- Two avocados, mashed
- One tub cream cheese
- 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
- Four tablespoons oil, for frying
- OPTIONAL: ¼ cup leafy greens, coarsely chopped (spinach, kale, lettuce, and fresh sprouts)
Combine the following ingredients, generally a ¼ tsp of each or according to taste, to make your own taco seasoning:
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- onion flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- dried cilantro
Fry the onion, beef and garlic for about 7 minutes on high heat in a large frying pan, until the mince has browned. Add the tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and taco seasoning, mix well and cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the meat is cooked through. If you want to make the meal even more nutritious easily then at this stage, you can mix in the chopped leafy greens.
On open buttered tortillas, spread equal portions of cream cheese, avocado, and grated cheese. Then add the cooked beef mixture and fold each taco in half.
In a large frying pan heat one tablespoon of oil. When the oil is quite hot transfer a folded tortilla to the pan and fries on both sides till the cheese has melted. Cut in half and serve on its own as a light meal or as part of a larger course.
Now that we have covered the essentials to choosing the best tortilla press and the basic recipes needed to make corn or flour tortillas, we are sure you will enjoy many more happy Mexican meals with your loved ones! If you never have used a tortilla press, feel free to see this article on how to use a tortilla press for the first time.