How to make gorditas

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Have you ever had gorditas? Gorditas are like tasty little Mexican pita pockets that you can stuff with all kinds of delicious fillings. Much like many Mexican other dishes, gorditas are naturally gluten free! They are made with masa harina which is made entirely from corn. Gorditas are also vegetarian, dairy free, nut free, egg free, and vegan friendly. 

This article is focused on making the outer shell of a gordita. It includes all of the tips and tricks you need to make the perfect gordita. If you are looking for simple filling ideas for your gorditas why not keep it simple with some beans and cheese gorditas

Three gluten free bean and cheese gorditas laid out on a gray plate. There is a bowl of lime sour cream and a bowl of guacamole next to the bean and cheese gorditas.

Do you need a tortilla press to make gorditas?

Do you need a tortilla press to make gorditas? If it is your first time making gorditas you can use a flat object such as a cutting board to press your dough into a tortilla shape. That being said, using a cutting board is clunky and time consuming. We highly recommend getting a tortilla press like this one if you regularly make gorditas.

What consistency should gordita dough be?

What consistency should your masa dough be when you are making gorditas? It is important to know what consistency you are aiming for in your masa dough. Depending on the brand of masa harina you use you might need to add a little more or less water to your dough. Luckily masa dough has a very minimal ingredient list so it is easy to add an extra teaspoon of water or tablespoon of masa without throwing off the balance of ingredients.

When you are making gorditas you want your masa dough to be wet enough that it can be easily shaped without crumbling but dry enough that the dough does not stick to your hands. If you have made homemade sopes, corn tortilla, chalupas, or pupusas before then you should be familiar with the consistency of a good masa dough. Masa dough for gorditas should be the same consistency as the dough used for these other dishes. 

If your dough sticks to your hands enough that it is hard to work with then that is a sign that your dough is too wet. If your dough is too wet then you should add more masa to the dough 1 tbsp at a time until the dough stops sticking to your hands. If your dough is crumbly and falls apart when you try to shape it then that is a sign that the dough is too dry. If your dough is too dry you should add water 1/2 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. 

A bowl of masa sough for making bean and cheese gorditas.

How do you shape gorditas?

How do you shape gorditas? In order to shape your gorditas you should first roll your masa dough out into small balls that are 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter. Next you need to flatten your balls of masa dough into patties that look like thick tortillas. 

If you own a tortilla press then this is a great opportunity to use your tortilla press. If you do not own a tortilla press then you can just use a heavy flat object such as a cutting board or a cookbook to flatten your gorditas. 

How thick should gorditas be?

So how thick should gorditas be? The answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask. Some people like to make thinner gorditas that are about twice the thickness of a standard corn tortilla. Other people make thicker gorditas that are closer to half an inch in thickness. If you make your gorditas thin then they will be more like pockets of pita bread whereas if you make them thicker they will be more like sandwich style arepas. For the purpose of this recipe we will be making gorditas that are on the thinner side. 

Do you use oil to cook gorditas?

After you shape your gorditas your next step is to heat them up. There are a few different methods for cooking gorditas and you have to decide which method you want to use before you make your gorditas. 

Your first option is to cook your gorditas on a dry skillet or cormal with no oil at all. There are two main benefits to cooking your gorditas without oil – it is less messy and more healthy. Your second option is to cook your gorditas in a pan with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of it. The main benefit of cooking your gorditas in oil is that it is much easier to get your gorditas to puff up and form a large air pocket when you cook them in oil. 

For the purpose of this recipe we will be cooking our gorditas without any vegetable oil. However, if you decide you do want to use vegetable oil you can still follow this recipe. Just add 1/4 of an inch of vegetable oil to your pan to fry your gorditas. 

frying a chalupa shell

How to make gorditas puff up?

For the purpose of this recipe we are making thin, pita-style gorditas. Thin gorditas are supposed to puff up and form a nice air pocket in the center when you cook them. So what causes the gorditas to puff up? Gorditas puff up when the water inside of the gorditas evaporates and starts to expand. In order to make the gorditas puff up you need to make sure that the water inside the gorditas evaporates quickly and remains trapped inside the gorditas. 

So what can you do to make sure that your gorditas puff up? Here are a few tips for making your gorditas puff up. 

  • Make thinner gorditas. It is harder to get thick gorditas to puff up than thin gorditas. If your gorditas are too thick then the tops of the gorditas will be too heavy for the burst of evaporated water to lift up. 
  • Flip your gorditas quickly. In order for your gorditas to puff up the air needs to remain trapped inside of the gorditas. If you flip your gorditas quickly after adding them to the pan it allows both sides of your gordita to start to cook. Cooked masa dough traps air inside of it better than uncooked masa dough so this helps keep the air trapped within the gorditas. 
  • Use a higher temperature. Sometimes your gorditas do not puff up because the water inside of them is not evaporating and turning into steam fast enough. If the outsides of your gorditas have cooked all the way through and thoroughly set by the time the water inside evaporates it will be hard for the gorditas to puff up. If you cook your gorditas at a higher temperature they will puff up faster.
  • Press down on the sides of your gorditas. If you press down on the sides of your gorditas periodically while they are cooking this will push the steam from the outside of the gorditas towards the middle. If more steam collects in the middle of the gorditas then they will puff up more. 
  • Fry in oil. Gorditas that are fried in oil tend to puff up faster than gorditas that are cooked without any oil. If you are having trouble getting your gorditas to puff up on a dry surface then try frying them in oil. 
  • Leave them on a little longer. Sometimes gorditas look like they are not going to puff up and then just when you are about to take them off of the pan they do. You are probably better off turning up the temperature a little bit so that you do not have to wait so long for the gorditas to puff up, but leaving the gorditas on for a little longer is another option.

A gordita shell with a knife in it opening up the pocket for the gordita filling

What to do if gorditas don’t puff up?​

So what happens if your gorditas do not puff up? First off, don’t panic! Everything is still going to be okay. You will still be able to use gorditas that did not puff up. If your gorditas did not puff up you will just need to cut a pocket out yourself to make room for the filling. 

All you have to do to create a pocket in a gordita is slip a butter knife down the center of the gordita then slide it left and right. As you slide the knife, the top of the gordita will separate from the bottom and a pocket will be created. For best results you should create the pockets while the gorditas are still hot. The inside of the gorditas will be softer and more malleable when they are still hot.

If you are having trouble getting a butter knife through the outer crust of the gorditas you can also use a sharper knife such as a steak knife or a chef’s knife. After you have made the initial hole down the middle of the gordita you should switch to using a butter knife to widen the hole. Otherwise you might cut through the surface of the gordita by accident. 

A gordita shell with no filling in it.

Variations on gorditas

There are a few different variations on gorditas that are native to different regions in Mexico. Here are some of the main differences between gorditas that come from different regions. 

  • Thickness . Gorditas can come in a variety of thicknesses. Thin gorditas are about twice the thickness of a standard corn tortilla. Thicker gorditas can be up to half an inch thick. In this recipe we describe how to make thin gorditas but you could also try making thicker gorditas.
  • Presence of oil during cooking. Some gorditas are fried in oil whereas other gorditas are cooked on a dry skillet or comal with no oil. In general, it is more common for thin gorditas to be cooked without oil and thick gorillas to be cooked with oil.
  • When and how fillings are added. Fillings can be added to gorditas in three different ways. It is most common for gorditas to be cut open and stuffed with fillings after they are made, but sometimes gorditas are not cut open at all. Instead they are piled high with toppings like a tostada would be. In other cases fillings are added to the gorditas before they are ever cooked. Gorditas that are stuffed with fillings before they are cooked are often cut open and stuffed with even filling after they are cooked.

Reheating leftover gorditas

Did you make more gorditas than you can eat in one sitting? Well, it’s your lucky day! Gorditas reheat well and they make great leftovers! You can even freeze them to keep them fresh for a few months. For best results you should follow these tips when storing and reheating leftover gorditas. 

  • Store the fillings separately from the gordita shells. When you are storing leftover gorditas you should store the gordita filling separately from the gordita shells. This is because gordita fillings tend to be wet. If you store the gordita fillings and the gordita shells together the gordita shells will get soggy while they sit in the refrigerator. 
  • Reheat the gorditas before filling them. If you are going to add a lot of filling to your gorditas then you should reheat your gorditas before filling them. When the gorditas are cold they are much less pliable and more brittle. If you microwave your gordita shells for 15 – 20 seconds before stuffing them they will be much more malleable and easy to fill. 
  • Wrap your gorditas in a damp paper towel to reheat them if they are dry. The refrigerator is a drying environment. Just like bread products, gorditas can dry out when they are left in the refrigerator. If you find that your leftover gorditas are particularly dry you can wrap your stack of gorditas in a slightly damp paper towel when you reheat them. A little water will go a long way.   

How to make gorditas

These tasty little gorditas are gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, egg free, and dairy free!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 12 gorditas

Ingredients

  • 2 heaping cups masa harina
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Mix all of the ingredients for the gordita dough then knead the dough a few times.
    The dough should be wet enough that it sticks together and can be shaped into small balls without crumbling. If the dough crumbles as you try to shape it you should add more water 1/2 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. If the dough is too sticky and it sticks to your hands so much that it is difficult to work with that is a sign that it is too wet. If your dough is too wet then you can add extra masa 1 tbsp at a time until the dough becomes easier to work with.
    A bowl of masa sough for making bean and cheese gorditas.
  • Seperate the dough into small balls that are 1 1/2 inches - 2 inches in diameter.
    rolled sough for chalupa shells
  • Prepare an area to press the dough balls. If you have a tortilla press then you should use that. If you do not have a tortilla press then you can use a heavy cutting board or cookbook to press the dough balls into flat patties.
    Grab a gallon sized ziploc bag and cut a slit down the side of the bag so that you have a flap that you can easily peel open. Put the dough balls inside this ziplock bag when you press them to prevent them from sticking. If you do not have any ziploc bags you can use 2 sheets of saran wrap to prevent the dough from sticking.
    dough ready to be pressed for chalupa shells
  • Flatten your balls of dough one at a time. Your gorditas should be about twice the thickness of a standard corn tortilla.
    You are better off making gorditas that are a little too thick than gorditas that are a little too thin. You will need to use a butter knife to cut the gorditas open and it is hard to do this if the gorditas are too thin.
    pressed dough for chalupa shells
  • Heat a large skillet or comal over medium high heat then add your first batch of gorditas to the skillet. Flip the gorditas after they have cooked for 15 - 20 seconds then continue to cook the gorditas until they start to brown on each side.
    Ideally, you should see your gorditas start to puff up a little. If your gorditas do not puff up then you can check out the section of this article with tips on how to make gorditas puff up.
    Three bean and cheese gordiitas being cooked on a black pan.
  • Slide a butter knife down the middle of the gordita to separate the top of the gordita from the bottom. Move the butter knife to the left and right to expand the pocket inside of the gordita and make room for more toppings.
    If you are having trouble cutting into the edge of the gorditas with a butter knife you can use a sharper knife to make the initial cut. After that you should use your bread knife to peel the top of the gordita away from the bottom. It is easiest to cut the gorditas when they are still hot.
    A gordita shell with a knife in it opening up the pocket for the gordita filling
  • Stuff your gorditas with your favorite fillings and dig in!
    A gordita shell with no filling in it.

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