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How to Use a Tortilla Press: EVERYTHING You Need to know

June 23, 2020 6 min read

How to Use a Tortilla Press: EVERYTHING You Need to know

Tortillas are a great addition to almost any type of food. If you are looking to make truly authentic homemade corn tortillas or flour tortillas, a cast-iron tortilla press will give you the best results.

The tortilla press, also known as a tortilla maker, is a simple metal tool that has a base, top, and handle. It crushes balls of corn or flour dough, to create corn or flour tortillas. Best of all, it can be operated from the comfort of your own kitchen, so it is perfect for making homemade tortillas.

But, when it comes to the tortilla press, how to use them effectively is often not known. So, how do you use them, and what else can you use them for? We will try to answer those questions, and more, in this article.

Tortilla press FAQs

How to use tortilla press

Before you begin making your tortillas in a press, you need to protect it from any sticking. This can be done using parchment paper, or wax paper. When buying our cast iron tortilla press, we give 100 sheets of parchment paper.

Once you have protected the inside layer of the press, it is time to start pressing!

You will need some dough. Tortilla dough is commonly known as masa - a Latin American term, it means dough that has been made from maize flour and ground corn. Most grocery stores and supermarkets sell bags of corn flour called Masa Harina.

How to use a tortilla press:

  1. First, place your tortilla dough ball into the center of the press on top of a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Then, lightly press down on the ball of dough with your thumb - this is done to make sure that the thickness of the dough is uniform throughout.
  3. Cover the ball of dough with another sheet of parchment paper.
  4. Place the top of the press down and flatten it with the lever.
  5. Push the lever back into its original position and carefully lift the top of the press and remove your tortilla.

How do you keep tortillas from sticking to the press?

Parchment paper.

The best method is to cut one piece of parchment paper in half so that both pieces are large enough to cover the entire surface of the tortilla press.

We recommend cutting your parchment paper into 2 separate pieces rather than just folding it. Folded parchment paper can cause the tortilla to end up shaped badly.

With corn tortillas, in particular, it is imperative to us parchment paper - without protection, the tortilla is likely to stick to the press and must be slowly peeled away. Not only will that ruin the tortilla, but it will also require more cleanup time.

Flour tortillas are less likely to stick, but we still advise using a protective layer (and as a last resort something like cooking spray) no matter what type of tortilla you are hi

If you make tortillas either in large quantities or on a regular basis, a cast-iron tortilla press is ideal. It quickly creates round, flat, and thin disks. They are also affordable, easy to use, and can save a ton of time compared to manually pressing with a rolling pin.

Lots of people prefer to cook homemade tortillas, even though store-bought tortillas are of great in pinch, a tortilla is best when eaten within a short amount of time after it has finished cooking.

As mentioned above, it is possible to press manually, but using a press is the easiest option to produce that perfect tortilla.

Are there other uses for tortilla presses?

Despite the name, tortilla presses aren't just limited to pressing tortillas. Its main function is to flatten dough, so you can use it to make a whole range of foods. Tortilla press uses are endless!

Whether you are craving pita bread, homemade dumplings, or empanadas a tortilla press can come in very handy. Or maybe you have always wondered how Mexican restaurants end up with perfect tortilla chips? The secret is all in the press!

Tortilla presses are great for churning out large quantities of tortillas quickly, and if you are planning to make tortilla chips, you will need plenty!

Can I press tortillas without the press?

Yes, but having a tortilla press makes the job much easier.

If you get caught in the unfortunate position of needing to press tortillas without a press, we recommend using a rolling pin and cutting board.

Pressing a tortilla by hand:

  • Place a sheet of plastic wrap or cellophane onto the cutting board, and your dough ball on top.
  • Then, press down on the dough with the palm of your hand in order to flatten it.
  • Begin using the roller to evenly roll the tortilla until it is thin enough and in the correct shape. (If you don't have a rolling pin to hand, a drinking glass or a water bottle are viable substitutes.)

Can I roll corn tortillas after using a tortilla press?

Corn tortillas are notoriously difficult to roll without breaking or cracking, but you can roll them if you handle them properly.

Rolling corn tortillas:

  • Using a cast-iron skillet, add a small amount of oil on medium-high heat.
  • Once the skillet is hot enough, dip your freshly pressed tortilla in and flip it over at continuous intervals so that warms evenly.
  • After a couple of minutes of flipping, pull the tortilla out and place it on a paper towel so that the oil can drain off.
  • Once the oil has drained off, roll your tortilla while it is still warm!

How do I stop tortillas from tearing or breaking?

The main problem with thin tortillas is that they can easily tear or break, even after they have been in the tortilla press. This is mainly because they need moisture to stay more flexible, something that doesn't happen when they are dry.

Once you have pressed and cooked your tortillas, wrap them in a damp towel on a plate until they are ready to be served.

How do I cook tortillas after using a tortilla press?

Once you have removed the tortilla(s) from the press, you can then cook them however you choose.

One of the most common methods of cooking corn tortillas is to do so in a comal. A comal is a small, flat griddle that is commonly used in Mexico and South America.

Cooking tortillas:

  1. Place the tortilla on a comal or pan that has been preheated to a medium-hot heat.
  2. Allow the tortilla to cook for about 30 seconds before flipping.
  3. Cook the tortilla until it starts to lightly puff.

It is good for the color to start to darken, although you do not want your tortilla to become too dark as that will mean it has overcooked. As we mentioned before, it is imperative to cover the tortilla with a towel or cloth to avoid any moisture escaping, and to prevent the tortilla from cracking or tearing.

Reheating tortillas:

In the microwave: Place the tortilla on a plate and cover it with a damp paper towel and place it in the microwave. Turn the microwave on for 30 seconds and one minute, on a high setting.

In the oven: Preheat the oven to around 250°F and wrap your tortillas in a damp towel. Place them in a dish that is close to the size of your tortillas, tightly cover the dish with a lid, and place it in the oven for 20 minutes.

What can I serve tortillas with?

The tortilla is a traditional food item in Mexican cuisine, but it is versatile enough to be served alongside a range of different main courses, or on its own.

You could serve as a flatbread, as part of a salad, or a quesadilla.

Sweet tortilla chips are also a great idea. Once you have pressed the tortillas, they can be fried to make homemade tortilla chips. These are commonly cut in triangles and can be served with different condiments such as fresh mango and tomato salsa, or guacamole.

Tortilla press takeaways

Whether you are a novice in the kitchen or a Mexican food cooking pro, you can up your game with a good tortilla press.

Now that you know how to use a tortilla press, the only thing you have left to do is grab one and start pressing!

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