14 Mexican Cooking Tools Every Cook Should Own
Elevate your favorite Mexican dishes with these most-loved cooking tools.
Tortilla Press (Tortilladora)
Ask any Mexican cook and they’ll tell you that homemade tortillas are the way to go. Make them once using our step-by-step guide, and you’ll never go back to the store-bought kind. While you can always use a rolling pin, this authentic cast-iron tortilla press ($25) is specifically designed for tortilla making. Chef, cookbook author, and restaurant owner of Doña Tomás, Dona Savitsky shares this tip to help get you started, “Make sure to cut a square from a grocery store bag and use it on the tortilla press to keep the masa from sticking to it.” A reusable zip-top bag will do the trick, too.
Get more great tips and recipes from her cookbook Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking ($28). Here’s a promising review: “I have cooked two recipes so far and let me tell you they are soooo good. The pepita sauce is worth the price of the book alone!” — Shala.
Mortar and Pestle (Molcajete)
Love guacamole? That was a rhetorical question. Of course, you do. The molcajete ($40) is a classic Mexican version of a mortar and pestle gives you the power to pulverize avocado for the best-ever guac. Savitsky says, “The molcajete should be made from lave, not made from cement, as it will shed into your food!”
Tortilla Warmer (Tortillero)
Once you’ve mastered making your own tortillas (or expertly warming store-bought ones in the oven)—Mexican cooks strive to keep them warm and toasty. For this, reach for a tortillero. We love these handwoven tortilla warmers ($25) to store tortilla fresh from the griddle. Amazon reviewer Cecilia Guerra says, “Beautiful tortillero! I have been looking for a tortillero just like the ones that I remember from my childhood. I finally found one just like the one my Mom and Abuelita used to have.”
Wooden Spatula (Cuchara de Madera)
Authentic Mexican cuisine is generally cooked on rough surfaces, like cast-iron skillets and large frying pans. This means your favorite metal utensils won’t do the trick—we prefer wooden spatulas, like this one from Target ($5), when cooking tacos, fajitas and refried beans. The wood won’t harm the skillets, but it will absorb those delicious spices and flavors over time.
Tortilla griddle (Comal)
“The comal makes tortillas taste so much better,” explains chef Savitsky. Its cast-iron material works wonders for griddling up homemade tortillas, as well as other dishes like baked tortilla chips and empanadas. Try out this pre-seasoned tortilla griddle ($34) in your own kitchen.
Lime Squeezer (Exprimidor de Lima)
Mexican kitchens put limes to work in ways that extend far beyond the classic margarita. The acidity brightens up just about any of our favorite Mexican dishes. When cooks need lime juice fast they turn to their trusty lime squeezer ($22) to extract all the zesty-good flavor.
Empanada flavors vary depending on the region. In some parts of the country, you may see a savory stuffing that combines fish and olives, while in other areas a sugary plantain filling is the norm. However, in many Mexican kitchens, cooks use a shortcut by using a press, like this one ($7), to make stuffing and molding empanadas much easier.
Tamale Steamer Stockpot (Vaporera para Tamales)
Tamaladas or tamale-making parties are a favorite holiday tradition for many Mexican home cooks. Entire families will gather around to cook, wrap and steam dozens of delicious corn-husk-wrapped tamales. Get our how-to guide here. An essential tool in the cooking process is a tamale steamer and large stockpot. This 12-qt. stainless steel cookware set ($20) does the trick. Some reviewers reported fitting up to 100 tamales in one go! Now, that’s a party.
Ceramic Bean Pot (Olla de Barro Frijolera)
Generations of Mexican cooks have been making delicious bean dishes in a ceramic clay pot ($28). Dona Savitsky says, “Olla de barro frijolera cooks beans evenly. They’ve been used for a long time and, also, they make the dish just taste better!” All you need is water, onion, garlic, seasonings and you can make beans for a crowd, the old-fashioned way.
We can all relate to that envious feeling at a Mexican restaurant of watching someone else’s fajitas get delivered to their table. The smoke, the smell, the smile from the patron—it’s just enough to make you go, “I should have ordered the fajitas.” Skip that feeling and make your own fajitas at home with a cast-iron pan like this one from Sur La Table ($40). Try this flavorful chicken fajita recipe at home.
A high-quality tapas pan ($30) is a workhorse in many Mexican kitchens. The pan can be used to prepare fillings for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chilaquiles, pozole—you name it. This deep dish can contain many ingredients, and it can withstand high temperatures in the oven, making it perfect for stove-to-oven favorites.
Wooden Whisk (Molinillo)
Mexican hot chocolate is truly life-changing, and you won’t get an authentic batch without a chocolate stirrer like this one from Amazon ($12). The wooden design is absolutely stunning, and it’s crafted specifically to whisk chocolate and froth milk.
This Mexican wok ($40) is a mainstay when it comes to deep-frying dishes like chimichangas and homemade tortilla chips. Its stainless steel design also makes it ideal for preparing fillings, like fajita toppings and enchilada fillings.
The ultimate cooking tool for a modern Mexican kitchen? A food processor, like this Test Kitchen-approved model from KitchenAid ($50). Chef Dona Savitsky says, “There are so many sauces, salsas, and moles that need to be blended or roughly chopped, and the food processor is the quickest and most efficient way to do so.” Food processors are perfect for making large batches of chunky salsa, especially if you just pulse it instead of running it continuously. Get our full guide to salsa here.
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