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11 Different Types of Tortillas

Photo collage of tortillas

Quicklist: Tortillas

  1. Flour Tortillas
  2. Corn Tortillas
  3. Blue Corn Tortillas
  4. Pan Arabe Tortillas / Arab Tacos
  5. Beetroot Tortillas
  6. Hoja Santa Tortillas
  7. Half and Half (mitad y mitad)
  8. Nopal
  9. Guirila
  10. Gordita Inflada
  11. Salbut

When you think of tortillas, the first few images that probably come to mind are that of delicious tacos loaded with grilled chicken and vegetables or perhaps, a neatly wrapped burrito filled with tequila-lime chicken and black beans. Sounds absolutely delicious, doesn’t it?

Tortillas are thin, round flatbreads or pancakes, originally made with maize hominy meal. They are a staple in Mexican and Central American cuisines and a foundation for most dishes. 

Related: How to Store Tortillas | Mexican Street Corn Dip Recipe | What Goes with Chili | Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe | Healthy Alternatives to Pizza

History of Tortillas

Garnachas in fair of Jocotenango, Guatemala, tortillas of corn fried with meat and fresh vegetables.

Garnachas on a grill, at a fair in Jocotenango, Guatemala — corn tortillas, topped with meat and fresh vegetables.

Tortilla comes from the Spanish word “torta,” which translates to “little, round cake.” The Aztec culture and other Nahuatl-speakers knew tortillas as “tlaxcalli” in their language.

Tortillas have been a Mesoamerican staple for thousands of years and were the principal food of the Aztecs. They were traditionally made by soaking corn kernels in a lime solution until the skin came off the corn. After that, the soaked kernels were turned into masa, corn dough.

Women ground the kernels with a stone slab. Once the dough reached the desired consistency, it was separated into individual balls.

Each ball was then placed between wetted hands, patted and flattened into a thin pancake, till it reached about eight inches in diameter. The flat pancake-like bread was then cooked on a grill.

Basic Types of Tortillas

Flour Tortillas

A stack of homemade flour tortillas

These tortillas are simply made with the help of all-purpose flour, water, fat, and a pinch of salt. Also, called wheat tortillas, these are based on the original corn tortillas. 

Traditional Mexican recipes called for lard however vegetable oil or shortening can be substituted. It is essential to work with a consistent dough. You first need to whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and then add in the lard or vegetable oil.

Keep mixing until the mixture looks something like oatmeal. Add in the required amount of water until it transforms into a smooth dough.

Cut the dough into individual golf ball-sized pieces, roll out each ball with a well-floured rolling pin, and then place the flattened dough onto a hot skillet.

Corn Tortillas

Freshly Made Corn Tortillas on a Blue Towel

The basis of corn tortillas is “masa harina,” Spanish for “dough flour.” Dried corn kernels are first boiled in lime water and then turned into a fine paste through the process of grinding. This traditional method will ensure the skin of the corn comes off easily. The corn is then ground into a paste.

Once the paste has formed properly, it is allowed to dry and then mixed with water to make the dough, masa. Just like with flour tortillas, the corn dough is divided into individual balls that are rolled out thin and even, and then cooked on a grill.

There are several variants of the basic corn tortillas, one of which is Nicaraguan güirilas. These super-thick tortillas are commonly paired with cuajada (a salty crumbled cheese) which makes a single serving very filling.

Many dishes feature corn tortillas as their key ingredient, some of which are tortilla soup, enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, and flautas, to name a few. They are also served as a side dish with soups, stews, and grilled meat.

Woman making tortillas in San Juan La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Woman making tortillas in San Juan La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Variations of Tortillas

A fresh, hand-made tortilla is likely to get any Mexican food lover super excited and thrilled, but what is even more exciting is the creativity with tortillas that have emerged over the years.

While the good old flour, corn, and Spanish tortillas are still ever-so-delicious and fun to eat, the new variations that have come about over the years will simply leave you craving for more.

Here are some of the most amazing variations of tortillas that will truly tantalize your taste buds and will probably even encourage you to come up with interesting variations of your own!

Blue Corn Tortillas

Blue corn tortilla chips

These tortillas are also commonly known as Hopi maize, Rio Grande blue, and Yoeme Blue. They are quite similar to the standard corn tortilla, except that they sport a nice, blue color that comes from the blue corn, one of its key ingredients.

The tortillas are made by whisking in dry ingredients that include baking soda, salt, sugar and blue corn flour. Then, hot water is mixed with avocado oil and is added to the dry mixture.

All the ingredients are combined into a pliable dough which is cut into ping-pong sized balls. The last step is to flatten the balls in the shape of a pancake and cook on a grill.

Pan Arabe Tortillas / Arab Tacos

Pieces of traditional pita bread with dip

These Arab-styled tacos were invented by Lebanese-Mexicans in the 1930s in the city of Puebla. They are now commonly known as Arab Tacos and feature a thin pita bread as the tortilla base which is called “pan arabe.”

Compared to traditional wheat or corn tortillas, they are thicker, softer, and sturdier in terms of texture and weight.

Arab Tacos typically use marinated pork cooked on a spit. The pita-like tortilla is prepared in a similar manner as the other types of tortillas and is filled with grilled meat of your choice, lemon juice, salsa and chipotle sauce.

Beetroot Tortillas

Beetroot Tortillas

You can probably identify a beetroot tortilla by its vibrant reddish-pink color. Beetroot tortillas are a very tasty and unique tortilla variation and are made with organic beetroot juice. You can also use natural beetroot powder which is made from 100% beets and provides a very subtle and mild flavor to the tortillas.

They are made exactly the same way as the standard corn or flour tortilla, except that you need to add the beetroot powder to your mixture when you are whisking together the dry ingredients.

Hoja Santa Tortillas

These tortillas are made with hoja santa, a very popular herb that is often featured in cuisines from central and southern Mexico. The herb has quite a distinct and complex flavor.

Hoja santa tortillas use a blend of this Mexican pepper leaf in the tortilla masa which gives them a unique, pastel green color. The addition of the herb to the tortillas adds in a very strong, herby flavor that goes really well when paired with delicious taco fillings.

Just like the beetroot tortillas, hoja santa tortillas also have a great visual appeal and if anything, the green color is likely to tempt people to try out this variation.

Half and Half (mitad y mitad)

Half and Half tortillas on cutting board.

These half and half, or mitad y mitad tortillas, combine half corn flour and half all-purpose flour, and they are sometimes referred to as the 50/50 tortilla.

The best type of corn flour to use when making these delicious tortillas is masa harina, a dried corn dough that is prevalent and used in a wide range of recipes in Mexico. The half and half tortilla blends equal parts corn and all-purpose flour with some salt and a bit of warm water.

After the mixture is worked into a dough, it’s separated into smaller balls and pressed into a tortilla shape, then cooked on a griddle or pan. These chewy, soft, and delectable tortillas have a nice combination of textures.

If you prefer yours to be a bit fluffier and chewier, increase the amount of all-purpose flour and reduce the amount of corn flour.

Nopal

Nopal tortillas on table.

Nopal tortillas, or tortillas de nopal, is derived from the nopal cactus, which explains their green color. These unique tortillas are quite common throughout Mexico since the cactus is native to the country.

They are made from the paddle of the cactus, also called a nopales paddle. Some people also eat nopal pads (or paddles) sliced in a salad, dried, or as canned food. The cactus has a very subtle sour flavor but works well in both savory and sweet recipes.

You can find nopales in most grocery stores and farmer’s markets in México, but they’re also available in many stores in the U.S. West and Southwest. Nopal tortillas can also be purchased pre-made, so you don’t need to worry about finding the nopal cactus paddles.

This cactus is low in fat and high in fiber, so it’s a healthy way to enjoy delicious tortillas for your favorite dishes like tacos and more.

Guirila

Guirila tortillas on plate.

Guirila tortillas first originated in a region north of Nicaragua called Matagalpa. These sweet tortillas are made from young white maize and are typically eaten with crema, which is a sweet or sour cream, and with cuajada, a salty crumbled white cheese from Nicaragua.

Sweet young maize is shelled, milled, and cooked or grilled, in between two banana leaves, to prevent the food from burning or sticking to the pan. Just a bit of sugar and salt is added to the mixture, although some street vendors add milk to stretch the mixture further.

Guirila tortillas are also commonly served with meat or pork, or they can be eaten alone as a quick snack. The city of Matagalpa made a huge guirila tortilla that was 650 feet in circumference at the National Corn Fair, putting these delicious tortillas in the spotlight.

Gordita Inflada

Gordita Inflada tortillas on plate.

Native to Veracruz, Mexico, the gordita inflada tortilla means “puffed-up little fat one.” These soft, chewy tortillas are derived from corn masa and combined with either wheat flour, mashed beans, or mashed plantains.

Gorditas may have a mild sweet flavor, or they can be savory. When cooked, they puff up to create a soft, chewy, and fluffy texture and shape. They can also be cooked on a griddle and then split once they are removed from the heat source.

Thick gordita inflada tortillas are often filled with a variety of delicious foods like pork, beef, or chicken, as well as vegetables and cilantro. This pliable and puffy tortilla almost resembles pita bread, which makes it a great choice for handheld meals and food truck fare.

Some people prefer to eat it plain without any filling simply as a snack or a meal. Adding a chunk of mashed plantains to the tortilla will give it a subtly sweet flavor.

Salbut

Salbut tortillas on plate.

Salbut tortillas are puffed, deep fried tortillas often topped with fresh lettuce, avocado, tomato, pickled red onions, and pulled chicken or turkey. They’re often called Yucatecan fried masa tartlets or friend puff corn tortillas.

These delicious and chewy tortillas originated in the Yucatan peninsula and are considered a staple street food throughout the nation of Belize. Salbut tortillas can be found at fast food restaurants in the region and are often served during family meals and at parties when people enjoy going out to eat.

These tortillas are fried and topped to order, making them a delicious and hearty meal any time of the day or night. This is such a popular food in the region that a salbut festival is held in celebration of its deliciousness and the many other tasty and unique foods of Yucatan.

Tortilla Dishes

Burrito

Burritos loaded with corn, quinoa and beans

These are best described as meal-in-a-wrap and you can fill them up with just about anything you like. Simply take a corn tortilla, fill it with lime chicken, beans, a drizzle of your favorite sauce and wrap it in a tortilla.

Tostada

Beef and cheese tostadas

These are made with crispy tortillas that are often layered with chorizo, pickled red onions and black beans. The soft filling coupled with the crispy tortillas offers an amazingly crunchy and delightful culinary experience.

Tortilla Soup

A bowl of tortilla soup

Typical tortilla soup is made with a brothy tomato soup topped with coriander and crispy tortilla chips. This soup makes an excellent appetizer for a three-course dinner.

Tacos

 Tacos loaded with beef and vegetables

Tacos are all about that flat tortilla folded around a tasty filling. Whatever you put inside a taco, it will definitely look and taste amazing!

Spanish Tortillas

Spanish tortilla omelette

This is not a typical “tortilla” at all. This dish was probably what the Spanish were thinking of when they first came across the Mesoamerican tlaxcalli open-faced flatbread sandwiches.

Unlike other types of tortillas, the Spanish tortilla is actually an open-faced omelet and the only feature it shares with its other tortilla cousins is the neat, round shape.

It is a dish that has originally come from the Spanish cuisine where it is called ‘tortilla de papas’ or ‘tortilla de patatas’ in the native language. These varying names basically serve the purpose of distinguishing the Spanish omelet from the original, plain omelet.

The Spanish tortilla or omelet is served as an appetizer and is usually made with eggs and potatoes and is cooked in oil. Many people also use onion for that extra kick of flavor. The key to preparing the perfect Spanish tortilla is to get the potatoes right. You can either use small, diced potatoes or cut them into very thin slices.

Season them with your favorite spices and then lightly sauté them in a little olive oil. If you are an onion lover, add thinly sliced onions to the sautéed potatoes. The next step is to remove them from the heat, after which they need to be drained and mixed into well-beaten eggs.

Slowly and gradually pour this entire mixture into a pan and let it cook over medium heat till both the sides are a beautiful golden-brown shade.

To take your Spanish tortilla up a notch in terms of flavor, you can add chopped or powdered garlic, and herbs like parsley, oregano, and coriander. Many people also add red and green peppers to their omelet to get that spicy effect.

Top Brands of Tortillas

Mission Foods

Mission Foods Carb Balance Flour Tortillas (8 ct., 12 oz.) (pack of 2)

Most Americans will recognize this famous tortilla brand that began in California’s San Fernando Valley. The company was founded in 1949 by a well-known Mexican food manufacturer, GRUMA. They began offering fresh tortillas to the residents of Cerralvo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico as Mission Foods which was acquired by GRUMA in 1977.

Today, it’s the number-one tortilla company in the US and offers tortillas in a wide variety of textures, sizes, and flavors. Mission makes flour and corn tortillas and a few healthier versions, too, including gluten-free white and yellow corn, whole wheat, and low-carb options. You’ll even find unique flavors like their Street Taco Sweet Hawaiian Tortillas and Fajita Extra Fluffy Flour Tortillas. Look for Mission Foods tortillas in almost every grocery store and online.

Mi Rancho

Mi Rancho Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla, 30 ct OU Kosher Certified NON GMO Verified (1)

This family-owned and operated brand makes authentic tortillas to enjoy. The company first began as a small Mexican market in Oakland, California, where their signature tortillas took off. Mi Rancho tortillas are organic and offer a truly authentic texture and taste.

Not only are they highly lauded by customers, but they’re also a popular option for many restaurants as well. The company began taking its exceptionally delicious tortillas to markets worldwide over the past 20 years.

Now, the company also makes a wider variety using a range of unique ingredients. You’ll find Mi Rancho tortillas made using ancient grains, artisan corn, burrito flour and more.

The company also offers both low-carb, whole wheat, and gluten-free options for those on a special diet. If you’re looking for a strictly organic tortilla brand, then Mi Rancho is an excellent choice.

Don Pancho

Don Poncho and the Puentes family began making delicious, authentic tortillas back in 1979. The company prides itself on using traditional recipes, but it has also expanded to offer more variety to its customers in recent years.

Don Pancho recognizes that it’s important to remain on trend in regard to what consumers are looking for. Aside from the brand’s range of traditional tortillas, you’ll also find a wide range of non-GMO and organic options, as well as flavored wraps like their spinach wrap and their garlic herb wrap.

All of the wraps give you a delicious flavor and a classic texture, but their larger size allows them to be used for a wide range of recipes. Look for Don Pancho street tacos, flour tortillas ranging in size from six to 10 inches, street taco tortillas, crunchy chips and more.

Hola Nola

Unlike some companies that use modern machines to make their tortillas, Hola Nola prides itself on making things in the traditional way. The company takes it slow and believes in the simple tradition of original tortilla making, and every batch is handmade in Louisiana.

They continue to use the same ingredients that they have from the day the company was founded and that includes non-GMO corn and coconut oil.

Although Hola Nola makes a range of delicious options, they’re currently only available for purchase in the southern part of the United States, but you may get lucky and find them in some grocery stores and Target in specific states.

Some of the newer offerings from Hola Nola include whole wheat tortillas, sun-dried tomato wraps, and spinach and herb wraps. Keep in mind that even these newer flavors and styles are all made slowly with delicious ingredients and a caring touch, which is part of what makes Hola Nola tortillas so special.

Ole Mexican Foods

Olé Xtreme Wellness® High Fiber | 8" Flour Tortillas | Low Carb | Keto Friendly | 8 Ct 12.7 oz.| 4 Pack Case

Founded in 1988, Ole Mexican Foods continues to be run by the woman who started it all, Veronica Moreno. She created the brand with the intention of bringing friends and families together by offering delicious and authentic handmade foods.

The company’s mission is to create a wholesome and authentic experience. Ole Mexican Foods was started by making homemade tortillas the same way Veronica made them as a child growing up in Mexico.

Fifty years later, the brand has grown by leaps and bounds, going far beyond the first tortilla, and now the company is the head of four other brands, too. This includes Ole Homestyle and Ole Xtreme Wellness.

There are a variety of awesome tortillas to choose from under the Ole Mexican Foods umbrella of brands, including the original homestyle tortilla, fajita tortillas, white corn tortillas, and a Keto-Certified high fiber tortilla.

You can find this tortilla brand in many grocery stores, although some of the Wellness offerings may only be found online at retailers like Amazon.

Where to Buy Tortillas

Tortilla Familia

American foodies and restaurants looking for a steady supply of authentic Mexican tortillas should make friends with the Tortilla Familia.

Working together with chef Pablo Parilla Campos from Mexico, the company supplies a variety of pre-made flour and corn tortillas. The order is cooked and sealed right before delivery, relying on the natural longevity of the tortillas rather than any preservatives.

Because they only use vegetable lard in the flour tortillas, all of their tortillas are friendly to those avoiding animal products. Their flour tortilla selection is limited to size variations, but the corn tortillas have interesting flavor options, such as habanero, turmeric, beetroot, and Thai chile.

As far as price goes, the tortillas are surprisingly inexpensive compared to the higher-quality options found in grocery stores. Free shipping on larger orders encourages spending a bit more to maximize the value, but the amount should be used up before they expire — even for a family that doesn’t cook that often.

There’s no wholesale option directly available on the site, so kitchen suppliers may have to dig deeper to secure bulk discounts.

Masienda

The freshest tortillas are always the ones made on the spot. Masienda can equip both home cooks and restaurant kitchens with enough authentic masa harina to make amazing tortillas every day at a much lower unit price than pre-cooked and packaged alternatives.

The company sources heirloom corn varieties like blue corn and red corn from farmers in Mexico. Chefs around the world can provide a true taste of Mexican cuisine thanks to international shipping on wholesale orders.

Unlike cooked tortillas, the shelf life of the dry meal can extend for years. If you’re willing to do a bit more work, Masienda sells a wide selection of dried corn kernels.

With a quick run through a hand mill, the kernels will transform into the freshest masa harina possible. You’ll also be able to convert homegrown corn kernels into masa harina if you learn the steps to nixtamalization.

The Molinito and Molino machines in Masienda’s store are pricer than most home kitchens will want to spend, but any restaurant wanting the pinnacle of quality from their tortillas should consider investing in one.

In addition to supplying a vast array of great products, Masienda takes steps to be transparent and beneficial with its business practices. Reports on their practices and investments with the partner farms in Mexico are available to read online.

Their report shows respect for their partners’ decisions, such as not requiring more information or organic certification – even if it would be beneficial for the company.

Mama Lola’s

Mama Lola tortillas.

Those in the Phoenix and Las Vegas areas may have already seen Mama Lola’s tortillas in grocery stores. Unfortunately for online shoppers, you’ll have to check with the grocers to see if shipping is available anywhere else.

The tortillas, chips, and chiles come from a small tortilleria in Arizona and are only available at grocers in those two states. The variety isn’t as broad as Masienda or the Tortilla Familia, but the mix of convenience and authenticity should catch the eye of chefs in the southwest.

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