Understanding Tortilla Varieties

Understanding Tortilla Varieties

Discover the Best Tortillas to Use for Each Dish

Feeling overwhelmed by the variety of tortilla options available for your Mexican meals? Here's a breakdown of the different types of tortillas you might want to consider, along with the best uses for each unique and flavorful variety.

Yellow Corn Tortillas: Tortillas made with yellow corn have a hearty, rich flavor that adds a taste of authenticity to Mexican cuisine. Fry yellow corn tortillas in hot oil, or steam them for a non-greasy (and healthier!) option. Yellow corn tortillas are great for making vegetarian tacos, enchiladas, and fresh chips.

White Corn Tortillas: White corn tortillas made with white corn have a somewhat lighter, finer texture and are slightly less flavorful than their yellow corn sisters. They do seem to hold up a little better, though, and are less likely to fall apart when stuffed with very chunky or saucy ingredients. White corn tortillas are good fried or steamed for tacos, and they can also be used successfully for quesadillas and chips.

White Flour Tortillas: Plain white flour tortillas are a great choice for burritos and quesadillas. They have a delicate flavor and texture that won't overpower the rest of the food. Heat white flour tortillas in an oven or steamer, or place them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a minute or two.

Wheat Flour Tortillas: Tortillas made with whole grain wheat might have greater nutritional value than their refined flour counterparts, but the wheat flavor really doesn't work all that well with Mexican flavors. Use whole grain wheat flour tortillas for wraps and burritos, and add plenty of salsa or guacamole to help them along. They work well with juicy sauteed vegetables like squashes—the juices help moisten the tortilla and impart extra flavor. Skip the wheat tortillas that aren't made with whole grains—they usually aren't anymore vitamin-rich than regular white tortillas, and the flavor difference is substantial.

Now that you know more about the distinguishing characteristics of various tortilla styles, experiment. Try different tortillas with different dishes, and discover what works best for you in your own kitchen.