Making homemade tortilla chips is easy and when they’re this good, you’ll want to do it all the time. A pretty tasty use for tortillas that are closing in on their expiration date.
Not to brag, but I happen to make some pretty good tortilla chips. After college, I couldn’t find THE job right away, so I waitressed at an unbelievably authentic Mexican restaurant in my then hometown of Toledo, Ohio. I say then because to say I moved a lot in my life is kind of an understatement. Anyway, Don Alejo’s (#RIP) was where I gained my undying love for Mexican cuisine. Family owned and run, Don Alejo’s had the market for Mexican cuisine in Toledo and everything was cooked fresh. There were no microwaves in our kitchen to be seen. And when I say their mole was the stuff of dreams, I can still taste it. Nothing has ever compared. Don Alejo’s was my Mexican food training ground and where I learned to make pretty darn good guacamole. And they made some of the best homemade chips. EVAH.
We had two kinds of chips: traditional ones and then the ones that the locals knew about. The secret menu chips (which really wasn’t a thing back then until it became a “thing”) were made from flour tortillas. Unconventional? Yes. Unbelievably flaky and good? OMG.
THE SECRET INGREDIENT
It’s really so simple. Hot oil meets the best flour tortillas you can buy. And working up a little sweat batch by batch and trying to keep prying, hungry hands out of the double-lined paper grocery bag which is the only way to soak up the excess oil. Followed up with a healthy dose of kosher salt, these homemade chips will never make it to tomorrow in your kitchen. So plan accordingly.
Heat your oil nice and hot — 350°—use a candy or oil thermometer and place on the side of a wide stockpot. It’ll take a little bit so that gives you time to cut your flour tortillas into triangles or strips.
Once the tortillas are cut, you’ll batch cook them. Gently put a single layer of the tortillas into the oil which will bubble up happily (or so I like to think). Keep an eye and then fish those babies out.
After a brief visit to a paper towel lined sheet pan, place the cooked chips into a double-layered brown grocery bag and season liberally with salt. The bag is perfect for absorbing the excess oil. And makes a great serving vessel! Because you might not be able to keep some curious hands away. You’ll repeat these steps with every batch.
I am sure we could try to make these healthier. But when something is as perfect as these chips: WHY? Being an modern, old school kind of girl, I’m a big believer in balance being best. Because these chips are so hearty, you can call on your heartiest dip for them. Definitely some fresh guac. And of course, a chunky salsa. Because there’s nothing worse than seeing a sad bowl of salsa with a soggy chip in it, is there?
Homemade Tortilla Chips
- apron, gloves
- large dutch oven
- fry/candy thermometer
- longer set of tongs
- two grocery bags – one tucked inside the other and opened
- baking sheet lined with a couple of layers of paper towels.
- 2 packages flour tortillas, approx 6" in diameter; any kind works!
- 3/4 bottle canola oil, approximate amount
- kosher salt, pour a small amount in a small bowl
- Lay several layers of paper towels on a large sheet pan and set next to the stove.
- Place one paper bag inside the other and open. Set aside.
- Place a wide set, deep dutch oven or heavy stockpot on the stove.
- Pour oil into pot to about 1/3 of the way up the sides.
- Starting at medium-high, heat the oil to 350° checking periodically with a fry/candy thermometer.
- While oil is heating, cut tortillas into 8-10 triangles depending on the size of the tortillas. If using larger tortillas, you can also cut them into longer strips.
- Once the oil comes to temperature, place a single layer of tortillas into the pot. They'll puff up and the oil will bubble up. Use tongs and you will have to keep an eye on the temperature. Adjust the burner heat as needed to keep the temperature steady but watching so the chips don't burn.
- Cook for approximately 1 minute. Flip once and cook for about 30 seconds more or until the desired color is reached.
- When the chips are ready, fish them out with the tongs, a large slotted spider or spoon and immediately put them briefly on the paper towel lined sheet pans and then into the double lined grocery bags. Repeat with the remaining tortillas cooking them in batches.
- Salt generously.
- Can be made one day ahead. Fold bags over and clip closed. If it's humid out, they may not last as long. Cool completely before putting in ziplocs or plastic container.
As the chips cook, the time to cook each batch will shorten.
Keep an eye on the oil temperature and wear gloves if needed.