We made more than a hundred corn tortillas to answer a pressing question: Which press is best?
Published Aug. 19, 2021. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 15: Old New Mexico
A good tortilla press should do most of the work for you, cranking out consistently sized corn tortillas every time—without requiring too much elbow grease. Our winning model, the Doña Rosa x Masienda Tortilla Press, combines heft with a thoughtful design that makes it easy to apply steady, even pressure and form perfect tortillas. We also loved the less expensive Victoria 8" Tortilla Press, which offers wide plates that prevent dough from squeezing out the sides and a compact size that makes for easy storage.
People have been making corn tortillas by hand for millennia, but tortilla presses, or tortilladoras, were patented in the early 20th century to standardize and streamline tortilla making. These simple devices generally consist of two flat plates that are joined by a hinge and a handle. The plates can be made from metal, wood, or even plastic. The top plates of most presses feature a raised ridge that acts as a fulcrum when the handle is pressed down, helping distribute the weight evenly across the entire top plate. To press a tortilla, you place a ball of masa on the bottom plate and then push down on the top plate, using the handle to apply even pressure.
What makes a good tortilla press? We spoke to Lesley Téllez, a Mexican American recipe developer, journalist, and cookbook author, about what qualities she looks for in a press, and we kept an eye out for them in our testing. The most important factor she identified was weight; she recommended a press with enough weight to produce an evenly thin tortilla. She also recommended paying attention to the size of the press: Larger presses provide more sizing options when making tortillas. Bearing these tips in mind as we started testing, we soon learned that not all presses are created equal.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Chase is an associate editor for ATK Reviews. He's an epidemiologist-turned-equipment tester and biscuit enthusiast.