10 Types of Tortillas for a Final Touch to a Perfect Meal
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
If you're a taco lover just like many other North Americans, and are planning to make some delicious tacos at home, you should learn about the different types of tortillas.
When you think about Mexican cuisine, what image comes to your mind instantly? A burrito, guacamole, or a neatly wrapped loaded taco? Any dish with a tortilla, certainly.
Each type of tortilla has a somewhat different taste and flavor. Hence, the ways of cooking are also different. A staple of Central American and Mexican cuisine, tortillas are round flatbreads typically made from corn or wheat flour.
Let's dive deep into the world of tortillas and get to know all the types of this fascinating food item.
10 Types of Tortillas
As tortillas are pretty popular in many different parts of the world, people started to add various flavors and change the shape of this flatbread as per their needs. Most tortillas broadly fall into categories based on their base ingredient.
It can be flour-based or corn-based. Below are the most common tortilla types with their unique shapes and flavors.
Also known as 'Wheat tortilla', this type of tortilla is a derivative of the original corn tortilla. The flour tortilla is among the most popular and widely used tortilla in Mexico and America.
In many areas, flour tortilla is often sold as whole-wheat tortilla since the tortilla is made from finely ground wheat flour.
You'll be able to make flour tortillas by mixing all-purpose flour, fat, water, and a pinch of salt. Mostly, lard or vegetable oil is used as a source of fat. If you want to make the most delicious flour tortilla, you have to make sure that you make a smooth and consistent dough.
To make a perfect flour tortilla, take flour, water, and salt in a bowl. Then whisk the mixture (any types of whisks will do) and slowly add vegetable oil or lard until it reaches an oatmeal-like consistency. After that, make small balls from the dough and use a rolling pin, or our favorite of the rolling pin substitutes, a tortilla press, to roll or press out the balls.
Take a hot skillet and fry the flattened dough with oil until it gets a nice golden color. Flour tortillas have a nice round shape, and the size can vary from 18cm to 30cm. As the tortilla contains a large amount of gluten, it has a mildly sweet flavor.
The wheat flour gives this flatbread a nice whitish color and a sturdy yet soft texture. It can easily hold a generous amount of filling like veggies and meat. So, flour tortillas are a better option to make tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Deep-fried flour tortillas make for a delicious snack as well.
White Corn Tortilla
It's the classic form of tortilla used widely in most restaurants in North America and Mexico. The basic ingredient of white corn tortilla dough is dried white corn kernels. To easily peel off the corn skin, the corn kernels are boiled in lime water first.
Then the kernels go through the grinding process and turn into a very fine paste. After that, the paste is dried and mixed with water for making the perfect dough.
You need to make small balls from the dough and roll them into circular shapes. White corn types of tortillas usually have a diameter of 10cm to 20cm.
As you can assume, the color of this type of tortilla is milky white. The moisture level of white corn tortillas is higher than flour tortillas. Hence, the tortillas are thicker and easier to shape. White biting a small white corn tortilla piece, you'll feel a natural grassy sweetness.
Also, the roasted corn and like combo provide a nutty aroma to this flatbread. In many areas, these tortillas are consumed as a healthier replacement for bread. White corn tortillas are used in many mouthwatering delights like enchiladas, flautas, and quesadillas.
For all health-conscious people, nopal tortillas are a great choice over any other tortilla type. In this tortilla, the prickly pear cactus Nopal is added to give it a unique taste and color. This edible plant is eaten fresh or mixed with many famous Mexican dishes.
Nopal cactus pads contain high amounts of fiber. To make this type of tortilla, nopal juice is mixed with the regular corn or flour dough. The size and shape of different types of tortilla of the Nopal variety are just like the typical ones.
What makes them unique is the pale green color and the characteristic sour and sweet flavor of cactus. The taste is similar to the taste of watermelons, and it might have a note of detoxifying green beans.
Yellow Corn Tortilla
Prepared from local yellow corn, this type of tortilla is equally popular and versatile as the white corn tortilla. Although the size, shape, and fragrance of the white and yellow corn tortillas are quite similar, there are a few differences in usage and moisture content.
Yellow corn tortillas have a lower moisture content. Hence, this type of tortilla is drier, thinner, and coarser. This means the tortilla will easily crack if you try to bend or shape it. So, these tortillas are mostly used in dishes that don't require much shaping or manipulating.
Use the right types of spatulas to pick them up and shape them before frying them. Yellow corn tortillas taste best when deep-fried into chips, and wrapped to make tacos and tostadas. Of all the different types of taco shells, this is the most popular and common.
Unlike most other tortillas, this type isn't the regular taco shell that Mexicans and Americans are used to. It is best described as an open-faced omelet.
In the traditional Spanish language, Spanish types of tortillas are called 'tortilla de patatas' and it only shares the perfect round shape with other tortilla types.
Instead of corn or wheat, the Spanish tortillas are prepared from eggs and potatoes. The tortilla is cooked in oil and made as an appetizer. Apart from some types of eggs and potatoes, you'll need vegetable oil, onion, and salt to make this dish.
You need to cut the potatoes into thin slices and season them with spices. Then, take some onions and sauté them with the potatoes in olive oil. Mix some well-beaten eggs in the sautéed potatoes and pour them into a pan. Keep cooking until both sides achieve a golden-brown color.
Although Mexico is the place where most variations of tortillas are found, Güirila was originated in Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. What makes this tortilla so popular is the fresh and sweet taste that comes from the base ingredient, the young white corn.
Sometimes street vendors add milk to the recipe to increase the sweetness further. This round-shaped tortilla is mostly combined with the local cheese Cuajada, cream, and meat. The thickness and diameter of this young white maize tortilla vary from place to place.
If you want to add some vibrant colors to your plate, beetroot tortillas are the perfect dish for you, made with the juice of various types of beets. With its stunning purple color and amazing health value, this tortilla is a favorite of health-conscious people.
You can use flour or corn to make the dough for the beetroot tortilla. As for the beetroot juice, it is mixed with dry ingredients. The flavor of beetroot tortillas is somewhat earthly, with a mildly bitter undertone.
Hoja Santa Tortilla
Made from a popular herb named Hoja Santa, this type of tortilla is commonly sighted in Southern and Central Mexico. Due to the addition of the herb, Hoja Santa tortillas have a beautiful green color and spicy flavor.
The tortilla is prepared by mashing the leaves of this peppery herb into the wheat or corn dough. With its spicy flavor and tenderness, the Hoja Santa tortilla can be used in any Mexican dish with meat or vegetable filling.
Pan Arabe Tortillas
A fusion of Latin American and Middle Eastern cuisine, the Pan Arabe types of tortillas is used to prepare the meat-filled dish tacos Arabes.
This type of tortilla is softer, thicker, heavier, and somewhat larger than most other flour tortilla variations. Typically, a Pan Arabe tortilla has a diameter of 17cm to 40cm.
The preparation of this tortilla is similar to its other counterparts, deep fried or baked in any types of ovens or oven alternatives. In most areas, the tortilla is used to wrap roasted and marinated pork, salsa, lemon juice, and traditional chipotle sauce. These types of tortilla wraps are really something special.
Blue Corn Tortilla
Commonly known as the Rio Grande blue, Hopi maize, and Yoeme Blue, this type of tortilla displays a gorgeous blue color. The color comes from the key ingredient blue corn which gives the tortilla a sweet flavor as well.
In comparison to the other corn tortilla types, blue corn tortillas have a smaller size, richer proteins, nutrition, and antioxidants.
This type of tortilla has a nutty flavor that is combined with the rich flavor of avocado oil while cooking. You can use this beautiful-looking tortilla to make tacos, enchiladas, and flautas.
Types of Tortillas for the Perfect Taste & Flavor
Corn tortillas are slightly healthier than wheat-based ones. However, if you want to spice things up and add more nutritional value to your tacos, beetroot or nopal tortillas are just the right ones for you.
So there you have it all. Now you know all the interesting facts and making process of various types of tortillas. In general, corn or wheat-based tortillas are just fine for wrapping delicious meat and veggies.