14 Mexican Cooking Tools Every Home Chef Should Own
Elevate your favorite Mexican dishes with these most-loved cooking tools.
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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 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.
Why it made our list: The enamel finish protects your press from stains and corrosion.
Love guacamole? That was a rhetorical question. Of course, you do. The molcajete 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!”
Why it made our list: For an authentic experience, this product is made in Mexico.
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 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.”
Why it made our list: It’s a beautiful addition to your fiesta!
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, 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.
Why it made our list: Priced at $8, this utensil is a bargain.
“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 in your own kitchen.
Why it made our list: You can use it for pancakes, too.
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 to extract all the zesty-good flavor.
Why it made our list: The non-slip handles make it easy to squeeze.
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, to make stuffing and molding empanadas much easier.
Why it made our list: This set of three ensures the whole family can get in on the empanada-making action.
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 does the trick. Some reviewers reported fitting up to 100 tamales in one go! Now, that’s a party.
Why it made our list: This stockpot is versatile enough to cook soups, chilis and other big-batch recipes.
Generations of Mexican cooks have been making delicious bean dishes in a ceramic clay pot. 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.
Why it made our list: It’s oven-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
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. Try this flavorful chicken fajita recipe at home.
Why it made our list: It includes a wooden trivet for easy serving.
A high-quality tapas pan 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 dish can withstand high temperatures in the oven, making it perfect for stove-to-oven favorites.
Why it made our list: It doubles as a great serving dish for your favorite salsa!
This Mexican wok 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.
Why it made our list: When you’re craving Spanish food, this pan is big enough for paella.
The ultimate cooking tool for a modern Mexican kitchen? A food processor, like this model from KitchenAid. 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.
Why it made our list: This brand is Test Kitchen-approved.