How to Cook Tortillas and Beans


Tortillas and beans are the staples of Mexican cooking. You can bring the sweet smell of cooked tortillas directly from South of the Border right into your kitchen with our easy step-by-step instructions for Mexican cooking.

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Tortillas are round, thin unleavened breads that are baked on a griddle. Tortillas are most commonly made out of corn or wheat flour.

They are used in Mexican favorites such as
enchiladas, burritos, and tacos.

The most common beans used in Mexican cooking are dried red, pink, pinto, and black beans. Pinto beans are popular Mexican beans because they are pale pink in color with reddish-brown streaks. They are used as the basis for refried beans and are an ingredient in soups and chilies. They are available both dried and canned.

Black beans are also known as turtle beans. Black beans are very important to Mexican cuisine. These small jet-black beans have an earthy, meaty flavor and mealy texture. They are eaten as an accompaniment to Mexican entrees. Black beans can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. They are available both dried and canned.

Let's take a closer look at how to make homemade flour tortillas on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Cook Chili Peppers: There are a variety of chili peppers available in local markets, and each offers a unique flavor that is sure to enhance your dishes. Learn how to cook chili peppers here.
  • Mexican Recipes: From enchiladas to tortilla soup, the delicious ideas on our Mexican Recipes page are sure to be a hit at your next fiesta.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Make Homemade Flour Tortillas

Many Mexican dishes, such as burritos, use a flour tortilla base.
  1. Combine flour and salt into a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the shortening into flour until the mixture is a fine, even texture. Stir in water until dough is formed.

  2. Knead the dough on a floured surface. After dough is smooth and elastic, wrap dough in plastic wrap. Let stand for 30 minutes.

    Knead the dough for two to three minutes when making flour tortillas for Mexican recipes.
    Knead the dough for two to
    three minutes, or until smooth.
  3. Knead dough again. Divide evenly into 12 pieces for 8-inch tortillas. Shape pieces into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.

  4. Roll out dough with rolling pin, turning over frequently. Roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch circle. Place individual tortillas between waxed paper.

    Keep a ruler handy to know how big to roll out the dough when making corn tortillas for Mexican cooking.
    Keep a ruler handy to know how
    big to roll out the dough.
  5. Cook tortilla in skillet, according to recipe. If tortilla puffs up while second side is cooking, press it down gently with a spatula. Remove tortilla and place in foil until ready to serve.

    Press down tortilla when cooking flour tortillas for Mexican cooking.
    Press down on tortilla when cooking.

Corn tortillas are another delicious option. Find out how to make them from scratch on the next page.

Not what you’re looking for? Try these:

  • How to Cook Chili Peppers: There are a variety of chili peppers available in local markets, and each offers a unique flavor that is sure to enhance your dishes. Learn how to cook chili peppers here.
  • Mexican Recipes: From enchiladas to tortilla soup, the delicious ideas on our Mexican Recipes page are sure to be a hit at your next fiesta.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas

Masa harina is one of the primary ingredients in corn tortillas, tamales, and other corn-based doughs. It is available in most large supermarkets in 5-pound bags.

It is easiest to use a tortilla press to form corn tortillas. If you do not have one, you can use the bottom of a pie plate or heavy skillet.

  1. Cut two 7-inch squares of plastic bag. Combine masa harina and 1 cup of water in a medium bowl. Continue to add water by the teaspoon until a smooth stiff dough is formed.

    Add water, one teaspoon at a time, to dough when making corn tortillas.
    Add water, 1 teaspoon
    at a time, to dough.
  2. Test consistency of dough by rolling a piece of dough into a 13/4-inch ball. Flatten it slightly. Place the ball on the bottom plate of a tortilla press, slightly off-center from the handle. Cover with a second piece of plastic.

    Flatten dough in tortilla press when making corn tortillas.
    Flatten dough in tortilla press.
  3. Press down firmly to make 6-inch tortilla. Peel off plastic from both sides. If edges are cracked or ragged, dough is too dry. Mix in additional teaspoons of water until the dough presses out with smoother edges. If tortilla sticks to plastic, the dough is too wet; mix in additional masa harina, until dough no longer sticks when pressed.

    Test the tortilla to make sure it is no longer wet when making corn tortillas.
    Test the tortilla to make sure
    it is no longer wet.
  4. Cook tortilla on skillet according to recipe. Be sure to turn the tortilla quickly -- each side is finished cooking when the edges dry up. Continue flipping until both sides are dry and flecked with brown spots.

    Flip tortilla often with a spatula when making corn tortillas for mexican cooking recipes.
    Flip tortilla often with a spatula.
  5. Remove cooked tortilla from skillet and place in a kitchen towel. Tortillas will likely be slightly stiff but will soften as they stand.

What could be better than homemade tortilla chips? Find out how to make them in the next section.

Not what you’re looking for? Try these:

  • How to Cook Chili Peppers: There are a variety of chili peppers available in local markets, and each offers a unique flavor that is sure to enhance your dishes. Learn how to cook chili peppers here.
  • Mexican Recipes: From enchiladas to tortilla soup, the delicious ideas on our Mexican Recipes page are sure to be a hit at your next fiesta.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Make Corn Tortilla Chips

Once you've made corn tortillas, turning them into chips is easy. Here's how:

  1. Stack tortillas. Cut through the stack, cutting tortillas into six or eight equal tortillas.

    Cut tortillas into chips when making corn tortilla chips to go with Mexican cooking recipes.
    Cut tortillas into chips.
  2. Heat 1/2-inch of oil in deep skillet over medium-high heat.

  3. Fry tortilla wedge in a single layer for one minute or until crisp, turning occasionally. Remove with slotted spoon; drain. Salt if desired.

    Fry tortilla wedges until crisp when making tortilla chips for mexican cooking recipes.
    Fry tortilla wedges until crisp.

It's time to move onto another Mexican staple: beans. Find out how to make refried beans in our final section.

Not what you’re looking for? Try these:

  • How to Cook Chili Peppers: There are a variety of chili peppers available in local markets, and each offers a unique flavor that is sure to enhance your dishes. Learn how to cook chili peppers here.
  • Mexican Recipes: From enchiladas to tortilla soup, the delicious ideas on our Mexican Recipes page are sure to be a hit at your next fiesta.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Homemade Refried Beans

The flavor of refried beans is improved if, after beans simmer, they are refrigerated and covered overnight before completing the recipe.

  1. Rinse beans in sieve under cold running water. Pick out any debris or blemished beans.

    Rinse beans to eliminate debries or bruised beans when making refried beans.
    Rinse beans to eliminate debris
    or bruised beans.
  2. Bring beans to a boil with shortening and flavoring, as specified in recipe. Reduce heat to low. Cover and heat 11/2 hours or until beans are tender but not soft.

  3. Stir in salt, if desired. Cover and simmer beans over very low heat until beans are very soft. Do not drain. This is the point where it is recommended to refrigerate and leave overnight.

  4. Heat remaining ingredients and stir in a portion of the undrained beans. Cook and stir, mashing the beans with a bean or potato masher.

    Mash beans when making refried beans for Mexican cooking recipes.
    Mash beans.
  5. As beans begin to dry, add another equal portion of undrained beans. Cook and stir, mashing all beans. Repeat until all beans have been added and the mixture is a coarse puree. Adjust heat as needed to prevent sticking. Beans may be served as a side dish or used as an ingredient for another recipe.

Ole! With the helpful tips on tortillas and beans outlined in this article, you are that much closer to creating authentic Mexican dishes in the comfort of your own home.

Not what you’re looking for? Try these:

  • How to Cook Chili Peppers: There are a variety of chili peppers available in local markets, and each offers a unique flavor that is sure to enhance your dishes. Learn how to cook chili peppers here.
  • Mexican Recipes: From enchiladas to tortilla soup, the delicious ideas on our Mexican Recipes page are sure to be a hit at your next fiesta.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.