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Tortilla Sizes and Types for Mexican Dinner

July 15, 2020 3 min read

Tortilla Sizes and Types for Mexican Dinner

It's your favorite night of the week, it's Mexican night, and you're stirring your salsa and planning those juicy, delicious taco fillings. Everything's ready to go, but there's one more decision to make. Which tortilla sizes are best for your tacos?

Should you be using small tortillas or large tortillas for your tacos? Should you prepare corn or flour tortillas with your tortilla press? Mexican food is all about the detail, so, in today's article, we take a look at how to pick the right tortillas for your meal!

What are the different types of tortillas?

Tortilla sizes and shapes aren't always uniform. In fact, there are so many different types of tortilla that you can either purchase from the store or even make at home using masa dough and a cast iron tortilla press. Mexican food is complex, and that complexity is reflected in the tortillas!

So many different dishes use tortillas in Mexican cuisine, but have you ever really thought about why one tortilla is used for burritos when another might only be used for tacos?

To make things simpler, there are two main types of tortillas that you'll be buying or making. These are corn and flour tortillas. Corn tortillas are often seen as more traditional and healthier, while the taste of flour tortillas are often preferred in the USA, as it's closer to flour bread, of course.

What are the sizes of tortillas?

Corn and flour tortillas can be prepared in different sizes, and different thicknesses and certain tortillas will be more suitable for particular Mexican dishes.

If you're making fajitas or enchiladas, then you're going to need larger tortillas than if you're preparing tacos. In the store, most tortillas are sold in two standard sizes. If you have a tortilla press, then you'll also be able to produce these two standard tortilla sizes at home too.

The two sizes are the following:

  • 8-inch tortilla
  • 10-inch tortillas

Flour tortillas hold their shape better than corn tortillas, so the larger 10-inch tortilla sizes are often flour rather than corn. Smaller tortillas are traditionally used for tacos, and in Mexico, truly authentic tacos need to be cooked with corn tortillas. Burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and fajitas all need larger flour tortillas, however.

Corn tortilla sizes are more likely to be smaller than flour tortillas, but you might notice that corn tortillas will often be thicker than flour. If you are hand pressing your tortillas, they are likely to be thicker than store-bought tortillas too.

Complicated? We know, there's more to Mexican cuisine than you might have realized. Here's a quick rundown of which tortillas might work best with which food:

  • Tacos: 8-inch corn tortillas
  • Burritos: 10-inch (or larger) flour tortillas
  • Quesadillas: 10-inch tortillas
  • Enchiladas: 10-inch flour or corn tortillas

Corn vs flour tortillas

We've been talking a lot about using corn or flour when you're preparing Mexican food, but what are the real differences between the two types of tortilla?

Corn is a true Mexican staple. If you're trying to be authentic, then you have to use corn. Corn tortillas have been around for centuries, possibly thousands of years. Flour tortillas, on the other hand, are more of a north Mexican and Tex-Mex thing, which is why they are used for foods like burritos.

Flour tortillas hold their shape when they are stretched, whereas corn tortillas fall apart a lot (if you buy tacos from a street food vendor in Mexico, you'll often be given two corn tortillas on top of one another to hold the shape!). A large corn burrito will fall apart a lot quicker than a large flour burrito.

Corn tortillas are gluten-free and are generally produced using a more natural process than flour tortillas (which is actually also one reason why corn tortillas fall apart quickly because there are fewer unnatural binding agents to hold it together).

Corn tortillas are seen as the healthier options, and if you opt for the smaller sizes, you'll be consuming a lot fewer calories than if you were to eat the larger flour tortillas. Flour tortillas have more carbs, whereas corn tortillas have more nutrients than flour tortillas, including important nutrients such as fiber.

Learn how to make your own healthy tortillas at home - let this easy step-by-step guide to help you:

Choosing your tortilla

Tortillas are more complicated than you might have first thought! When you're deciding which homemade tortillas to press, you need to decide between using corn or flour; then you need to decide on small or large (8-inch or 10-inch!).

After you've made these tough decisions, though, you can crack on with making tortillas and serving up delicious tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. 

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