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Ah, the humble tortilla… From “hugging” our favorite burrito ingredients to serving as a crunchy bed for cheesy quesadillas, this versatile flatbread can add a new dimension of flavor and texture to just about every Mexican (or Mexican-inspired) meal.
But, even though store-bought tortillas are the epitome of convenience, nothing hits the spot quite like the homemade version. OK sure, making tortillas at home feels like a daunting (may we add, tedious) task when you first hear about it. But, it can be a total breeze if you’re equipped with the right tools. That’s where a tortilla press steps in.
This easy-to-use kitchen appliance is designed to transform a dull, homemade tortilla dough into the tasty flatbread we know and love. So, if you’ve had it with the preservative-packed store-bought tortillas, it’s time you invested in a tortilla press that’s worthy of your countertop. That said, here is our best tortilla press guide and everything you need to know to put them to full use ASAP.
Best Tortilla Press Reviews
Taking into account everything, from size and material to efficiency and convenience, we present you with the top 4 tortilla presses to buy in 2018.
If you want to make tortillas in the most authentic way possible, then this high-quality wooden press is a great place to start. Made of red oak and walnut, the Hardwood Tortilla Press comes in three shapes to accommodate everyone’s needs, whether they have a small or large kitchen.
- Sturdy Material
Red oak and walnut are two of the most durable and hulking types of wood out there. So, the material of this wooden press alone guarantees you’ll enjoy flat (not uneven) tortillas for the years to come.
- Eye-Catching Design
A quick look will convince you that this press is a true masterpiece, from the colors to the finishing touches. Many people claim that it’s a functional work of art.
- Easy to Clean
Coated with beeswax and food grade mineral oils, this tortilla press featured two well-polished plates (top and bottom) which can be easily cleaned using a wet paper towel.
- Size Variety
The product comes in three different sizes; small (about 8”), medium (about 10”) and large (about 11.5”). You have the chance to choose between the three sizes, depending on your needs and countertop size.
- High Price
Compared to many tortilla presses out there, this one doesn’t come cheap. However, considering the materials used and the fact that it’s handmade, the high price is actually understandable.
If you want perfectly flat tortillas but are not interested in cast iron presses, then this aluminum tortilla maker is an excellent alternative. Ready to find out why this one stands out from the rest of its kind?
- Heavyweight Aluminum
Unlike most aluminum presses, this one is made of heavyweight aluminum. That means that it’s actually sturdier and doesn’t require much pressure on your behalf.
Thanks to its relatively small size, this press can be used to make other goodies besides tortillas such as moo shoo pancakes, pita bread, focaccia and much more.
- Easy to Clean
Both plates have a smooth surface. So, you can easily remove any tortilla traces with a wet towel.
Given its simple, easy-to-use design and small size, this press is also suitable for use by children. You can engage them in the tortilla-making process, making things more interesting in the kitchen for you and your little ones alike.
- Still Not As Efficient As Cast Iron Presses
Even though this tool is slightly heavier than its peers, it’s still no match for cast iron presses. So, it may produce flat tortillas, but they are still thicker than the ones made by cast iron presses.
If you are looking for a high-quality tortilla maker that delivers 100% of the time, then this cast iron press is a no-brainer. But, that’s not the only reason you should pick this “tortilladora.” Let’s take a close look at its top qualities and negligible downsides.
Given the tool’s material (cast iron) and high-quality design, it’s actually quite affordable.
- Sturdy Design
Fun fact: Cast iron is one of the most stable materials out there. As a result, this type of presses guarantees you can make flat tortillas every time you step into the kitchen.
- Easy to Clean
The plates are flat, making it easy to get rid of remaining tortilla crumbs after use. All you need is a wet paper towel.
- Easy Storage
Despite its bulky size, you’ll have no trouble storing it.
- May Rust With Time
Even though it will take some time, the inside coating of this tortilla maker may gradually come off. Clean it properly to maintain it as long as possible.
If you are looking for a press that doesn’t just flatten the tortilla dough but also cooks it for you, then we have the perfect choice just for you. This electric tortilla maker spares you the extra time over the stove without discounting on taste. Here is everything you need to know (both good and bad) about this all-in-one device.
- Cooking on Demand
Besides flattening the tortillas, this unique maker is also designed to cook them as you press the dough down. However, you can use this feature on demand merely by plugging the device.
- Large Tortillas
Sporting two 10-inch surfaces, this tool can help you make big tortillas to satisfy even the hungriest guests.
- Coated Finish
It’s equipped with non-stick, coated plates, preventing the tortillas from sticking and making a mess as you cook.
- Even Heat Distribution
Since the plates are reinforced with non-stick coating, the heat is distributed evenly.
- Easy to Clean
The surfaces of the device’s plates are meticulously flat, making cleanup a breeze.
- Slightly Expensive
Compared to others, this tortilla maker is somewhat expensive. However, it comes with many extra features which justify the price.
- Long Cooking Time
Some customers have reported that the press takes too long to cook the tortillas.
What Is A Tortilla Press?
Also referred to as “tortilladora” in Mexico, the tortilla press is a round-shaped tool that is used to make corn tortillas. This device consists of two flat round surfaces (about 8 inches each) and a handle which is used to squeeze them together. Sometimes, the press is equipped with an electric unit which when plugged, cooks fresh tortillas on the spot.
To sum up, this tool is designed to crush (and sometimes cook) balls of corn dough until flat round tortillas are formed. However, keep in mind that this device should only be used for making corn tortillas, not flour.
What Is Up With Store-Bought Tortillas?
Tortillas are one of those foods that are best consumed fresh. While many store-bought tortilla brands do their best to achieve that and still contain all the right ingredients (yellow corn masa flour, water, traces of lime), others are not that health-conscious and feature a bunch of controversial additives in the name of “freshness.” You gotta agree, though; Benzoic acid and cellulose gum don’t sound that healthy.
Some brands also contain sugar or other types of sweeteners. While these flavor enhancers may be necessary to balance out the bitterness of other additives, you need to remember that tortillas are not supposed to contain anything sweet. This way you actually sneak more sugar (and calories) into your body without even knowing. Not cool!
Why Use A Tortilla Press?
If you want to ditch the store-bought stuff for good but still yearn for an occasional burrito, taco or tostada, then investing in a tortilla press is a champion’s choice. However, indulging in your favorite Mexican treats whenever you feel like it is just one of the reasons to buy a tortilla press. Here is why this device should become a countertop staple.
Fresh Equals Healthy
As mentioned above, mass-produced tortillas may contain questionable substances which won’t do your health any favors in the long-term. However, this is not the case when you are in control. Making homemade tortillas helps you steer clear of the artificial stuff merely by choosing the ingredients yourself.
Simple to Use
Despite their intricate looks, tortilla presses are very easy to use. In fact, perfectly shaped, round tortillas are one squeeze away as this tool doesn’t require any special skills such as chopping, cooking or measuring.
Saves You Money
If tortilla-based snacks are a staple around your house, then this device is bound to pay for itself down the line. Unlike the ones available at stores, homemade tortillas cost way less since you can make them in bulk. In this case, buying a household tortilla press is more like an investment.
Types of Tortilla Presses
Even though all tortilla presses are designed to complete the same task, they’re not always made using the same materials. So, chances are you’ll come across various types of the tool in your quest to find the best tortilla press for you. From aluminum to cast iron, here are the four most common types of tortilla presses and their unique qualities.
Wooden Tortilla Press
Still used in Mexico, wooden tortilla presses are usually made of pine wood. Choosing this material is intentional as pine wood is one of the cheapest and softest wood varieties out there. As a result, this type of presses tends to cost less than others. Not too mention that they are lighter and easier to move around. Thanks to the sturdy and durable nature of pine wood, these tools can also be used outdoors.
On the flip side, high-end wood tortilla presses are made of maple, oak or mesquite. All these wood types are kind of expensive and more cumbersome than pine, increasing the total budget and weight of the devices. However, tortilla presses that are made of these types of wood tend to look better than their pine “cousins,” especially after they’re sanded and oiled. Some even say that they give off a royal-like vibe.
No matter the type of wood used, there’s an issue with this kind of presses, and that’s their massive size. Unlike their aluminum, plastic or cast iron counterparts, wooden tortilla makers are usually big in size and can be difficult to store. As a result, they may take up lots of counter space which you may not have the luxury to afford.
Keep in mind, though, that the massive size of wooden presses is not always a problem. In fact, their sturdy and hulking structure may come in quite handy in various cases, one of them being when you press the dough.
Wooden presses are a perfect choice for those of you who want a glimpse of the authentic tortilla-making experience. The tool’s material (wood) is also an excellent fit for anyone who loves the outdoors. That said, you can use wooden tortilla presses during a barbeque, a beach trip or even a family camping excursion.
Cast Iron Tortilla Press
Cast iron presses are -without a doubt- the most popular type of tortilla presses out there. They are also slightly heavy which makes them hard to move around. But, as with wooden presses, their bulky size makes them a safer choice as they are super steady when you get to the pressing part. Plus, the tortillas come out perfectly shaped (no uneven thickness, whatsoever) thanks to the additional weight.
Most of the work in cast iron presses is done by the top plate. Taking advantage of gravity’s effect, the top plate tends to exert the most pressure on the dough ball, forcing it to turn into an even flatbread. That’s why you should really focus on using the top plate as efficiently as possible.
Even though it’s not common, the sturdy material of cast iron presses may scratch, mark or (rarely) crack the counter’s finish. Of course, that only occurs if you are pressing the dough way harder than you should, which is not often required thanks to the tool’s innate bulky structure.
Cast iron tortilla presses are ideal for those of you who want to make perfectly flat tortillas as quickly and efficiently as possible. They are also recommended to those who have enough space on their counter since they are not easy to move around or store.
Aluminum Tortilla Press
Weighing distinctively less than wooden and cast iron presses, aluminum tortilla presses are quite easy to handle and store. However, this doesn’t mean that they are better than the other types. In fact, what they lack in weight, you have to make up in pressing strength. And it’s only a matter of time before they break under the extra pressure.
Their light weight also seems to interfere with the tortillas’ final shape. As the top plate is not bulky enough, it ends up bending in the middle where the dough ball usually lies. That means that the dough is not evenly distributed throughout the bottom plate and is uneven in thickness.
However, these aluminum tools usually cost less than the other types of tortilla presses. But, you have to ask yourself: What matters most? Saving money or making perfect tortillas every time?
Plastic Tortilla Press
The plastic presses are probably the least favorite type of tortilla presses and for a good reason. Given their light weight and flimsy material, these tools are not equipped to put enough pressure on the dough and, thus, produce uneven tortillas.
Besides that, plastic itself usually contains a harmful chemical known as BPA. When consumed in specific quantities, this substance is said to cause various side effects such as metabolic disorders and even cancer. However, that doesn’t mean that all plastic presses contain the chemical. But, if you do decide to opt for a plastic one, make sure to check if it’s BPA-free.
What to Check When Shopping For the Best Tortilla Press
When you’re in the market for a high-quality tortilla press, every detail can make a difference. From the tool’s size to how quickly it can be cleaned, there are a lot of factors which you need to consider. To make your choice (and life) easier, we’ve gathered around the six most essential questions to ask yourself when shopping for a tortilla press.
The first thing you need to consider is whether you need a simple tortilla press or something more than that. What does this mean? The market is packed with electric tortilla makers which not only flatten the tortilla dough to perfection but can also cook it. If you want to stick to the basics, you can either opt for a wooden or a non-electric cast iron press.
However, if you want to save as much time as possible when making tortillas and skip the cooking part, then the conventional types are not for you. Instead, go for an electric tortilla press which will do all the cooking for you.
The thing is that most tortilla presses can be quite bulky. That’s why you first need to consider how much counter or cupboard space you can actually afford. If you do have enough space, then don’t be afraid to give wooden or cast iron presses a spin. Thanks to their sturdy structure, these two can flatten the tortillas almost perfectly. However, if your kitchen is rather small, you can always opt for aluminum or plastic presses.
Given their simple design, these tortilla-making tools are very easy to clean. All you need to do is rinse both plates (top and bottom), and it’s as good as new. However, some are easier to clean than others. That mostly depends on the tool’s materials. That said, cast iron presses are usually the easiest to clean. Also, note that tortilla presses are not dishwasher safe.
Inner Coating (For Cast Iron Presses Only)
Word of advice: The inside coating of cast iron press tends to scrape away with time, leaving some of its remnants in the tortillas. That said, you need to choose a tool with a high-quality finish to prevent the cast iron from rusting. So, as a solution, manufacturers recommend you either buy presses enriched with a silver or powder coating or tortilla makers that have no coating (paint) at all.
Many electric tortilla presses come with a built-in indicator light which automatically turns on when the flatbreads are cooked. However, this feature is not that common, so you may need to do a little extra digging to unearth such press models.
How to Use A Tortilla Press
Even though it may look scary to a newbie, using a tortilla press is actually a straightforward task. If you’re still not convinced, these eight foolproof steps will guide through the magic that is known as “making my own tortillas.”
- Step 1
Prepare the dough. You can either buy the dough (often called masa) at a local Mexican store or make some yourself, depending on your needs and health goals. Divide the dough into golf ball-sized balls and set them aside.
- Step 2
Prep the tortilla press. Even if you’ve bought a non-stick maker, you can never be too safe. So, to avoid dough drama, cut two squares of wax paper or plastic. Make sure they are just about the size of the tool’s plates. Then, place one of them on top of the bottom plate.
- Step 3
Place the dough on the press. Take one of the dough balls and locate it at the center of the maker.
- Step 4
Cover the dough balls with the second wax paper or plastic.
- Step 5
Press down the dough. Firmly grab the tool’s handle and press down on the dough as hard as possible.
- Step 6
Lift the handle. You’ll notice that the dough has flattened a bit but not enough. Flip the tortilla over.
- Step 7
Press the dough down for a second time as firmly as possible. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to flatten the tortilla to your liking.
- Step 8
Remove the waxed paper or plastic. Now that the tortilla is flat enough, peel the waxed paper or plastic away. It’s cooking time!
Whether you are a big fan of burritos and want to cut back on the store-bought stuff or just love to enjoy an occasional taquito without all the additives, tortilla presses are the way to go. These budget-friendly tools are the perfect excuse to start eating healthy without giving up on your favorite Mexican dishes. Are you up to the challenge? Then, get your tortilla press today!