A few years ago, my sister-in-law’s mother came to stay with us for the summer.
Consuelo, my sister-in-law, is from Guatemala and her mom, who we liked to call Mamita, still lives there. For 3 months straight, Mamita spoiled us with authentic Guatemalan food using the recipes she grew up making with her mother and grandmother. We would stand in the kitchen in absolute awe, watching her and taking notes in hopes that we could replicate some of the delicious meals she made for us. My absolute favorite meal of Mamita’s included her home-made tortillas!
After Mamita went back to Guatemala, I couldn’t get her delicious hand-patted tortillas out of my head! Not only did the store-bought ones lack the flavor of her tortillas, most of them were filled with ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce. Because nothing else seemed to compare to her warm, moist tortillas, I decided to try making them myself.
What a disaster! Not only did I dry out the dough, I patted the tortillas WAY too thick and then burnt them trying to get them to cook through. Needless to say, I gave up on making homemade tortillas for almost 2 years until I went to Mexico and got another taste of their deliciousness. As soon as I returned home, I began devising my plan to tortilla-patting perfection. After surfing the Internet for ways to pat tortillas correctly, I came across THIS neat little tortilla press. I decided to give it another go, so I dug out my old recipe and got to work. With the help of the nifty little tortilla press, my tortillas came out great! If you’ve never used a tortilla press before, they’re simple to use and inexpensive!
Because the taste of home-made tortillas is crazy good and they’re really not that difficult to make, I wanted to share my recipe as well as the do’s and dont’s I learned along the way. The best part is these amazing tortillas are refrigerator and freezer-friendly so you can make big batches of them!
I hope your family enjoys them as much as ours does!
Tortilla Making 101
1. A tortilla press is a MUST!
2. If you don’t cover your dough, it’ll dry out. While you’re rolling out your dough balls and pressing your tortillas, you want to keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. I typically do this with a warm damp cloth or plastic wrap.
3. Place your dough ball slightly closer to the inside of the press, rather than right in the middle.
4. You can use plastic wrap OR a gallon size ziplock baggie to line the tortilla press… but we prefer a ziplock baggie! Cut each side of the ziplock bag, leaving the bottom of the bag as is. You’ll end up with a long rectangular piece of plastic. Lay the open baggie on the press, place your dough on the baggie and fold the other half over the top of the dough ball, like a closed book.
5. If possible, use a cast iron pan.
6. Add just enough butter or oil to coat the surface of your pan. You don’t need much, but without it your tortillas will stick!
7. Do the “sizzle test.” Heat the pan on high heat before adding your tortilla. I do the “sizzle test” to know when my pan’s ready. I simply run my fingers under some water and flick water droplets on the pan. When I hear a slight sizzle, I know the pan is warm enough to add the tortillas.
8. Turn on your exhaust fan. While browning your tortillas, you’ll want your exhaust fan on.
9. You want to brown the tortillas, not burn them. After you do the “sizzle test” and your pan’s ready to go, you can lower your heat to medium, which allows those babies to brown without burning.
10. Don’t flip them too soon. This is the hard part and may take a time or two to master. Wait 45-60 seconds before flipping your tortillas. Once your pan’s hot, the tortillas cook quickly! You’ll know they’re ready to flip when they easily lift off the pan and are a light golden color. I typically cook each side 45-60 seconds. If you cook them too long, they’ll crisp up like a tortilla chip, too short and they’ll taste slightly raw.
For the full breakdown on how to celebrate dinner, fiesta style, check out our blog post How to Turn a Typical Meal into a Taco-Inspired Fiesta! (Family-Style).