Tetelas are delicious triangle-shaped pockets of corn masa stuffed with beans and cheese. They are easy to make and can be topped with salsa, avocado, queso fresco, and even nopales.
Tetelas are originally from the state of Oaxaca Mexico so don’t be surprised if some folks from Mexico have never heard of them or tried them. This is the case for me and my family. We are from the northern region of Mexico and I first heard of these through my friend Denise’s food blog. What makes tetelas unique is their shape and that they can be stuffed. Aside from that, there aren’t any ingredients that differ from a bean and cheese taco. The experience is definitely worth it though and they are perfect for taking on the go as an easy snack or meal.
When I say that Tetelas are easy to make, I mean it. It is not a quick recipe but an easy one; some may even say it’s therapeutic. If you’ve made corn tortillas before then you are already about 90% there! For those that have never made corn tortillas, it is super easy: you mix 2 ingredients together (Masa Harina & Water), shape them into small balls of dough, use a tortilla press to flatten them out, and then cook for a few minutes on the griddle. The only difference for tetelas is to add stuffing on top of the dough once the tortilla has been pressed but before removing it from the tortilla press. Using the plastic wrap, fold all three sides of the tortilla over the beans/cheese to create a triangle-shaped pocket.
Masa Harina/Harina de Maiz
Harina de maíz (corn flour) – also known as masa harina and not to be confused with cornstarch. You can get this at any Mexican grocery store or large groceries such as Foodmaxx, Lucky’s, Albertson’s, Safeway, and Whole Foods. Brands that are Mexican-mom approves include Maseca, Minsa, and Goya.
Harina de maiz (masa harina) is nixtamalized corn flour which is dried corn cooked and soaked in an alkaline solution. This is a special process that was developed by the Mayan and Aztec people. The Nixtamalization makes the corn easier to digest and it also helps nutrients be more readily available. Many corn tortillas made in the united states do not use this process. Look for the word “nixtamalized” when buying corn tortillas or masa harina.
I used blue harina de maiz for these but you can use yellow/white corn flour which is also very authentic. FUN FACT: blue corn tortillas turn pink if you add an acid such as lime! Super fun to play around with.
Making Tetelas without a Tortilla Press
I highly recommend investing in a tortilla press to make them more often (trust me, you’ll want to!). Click here for one of the most recommended tortilla press out there.
If you don’t have one, not to worry! You can still make this recipe. You can use a heavy baking dish or a rolling pin! Click here to check out more details on how to make tortillas without a press.
Tips for Best Results
- Use the right kind of corn flour. Look for the word “nixtamalized” when buying.
- Only use warm water to make these tortillas. Warm water is best used to rehydrate the flour, it helps activate the bits of corn skin, also known as pericarp.
- Keep warm water accessible to sprinkle on your hands when rolling into dough balls.
- Use parchment paper or plastic to press your tortillas on a tortilla press.
- Cook tetelas on medium heat on a griddle (also called comal in Spanish).