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What Are Gorditas?
Gorditas are stuffed pockets of corn dough, like extra-thick tortillas with a filling. Gorditas are commonly filled with refried beans, cheese, potatoes, chorizo, chicharróns (pork rinds), braised pork al pastor, carnitas, carne asada, or even shredded chicken.
Gordita dough is made with masa harina, the same nixtamalized corn flour used to make corn tortillas. In Mexico, gorditas are typically cooked on a comal (griddle) or deep-fried. At home, you can shallow-fry the gorditas for a similar effect. When cooked, the gorditas puff up, creating a hollow inside, like a pita.
What Is the Difference Between Gorditas, Pupusas, Arepas, and Sopes?
Stuffed corn cakes are popular throughout Latin America. You can tell Mexican gorditas apart because they’re typically cut open, with the stuffing visible from one side. Some popular dishes similar to gorditas include:
- Arepas are made in Venezuela and Colombia. They are thick corn cakes that can be topped with meat and vegetables or cut in half like a sandwich. Arepas are made with special corn flour that is cooked and then dried. Arepa corn flour is different from masa harina (used to make Mexican gorditas and tortillas) because it is not nixtamalized, or soaked in limewater.
- Pupusas are made in El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. They are almost always served with curtido, a spicy fermented cabbage slaw. Pupusas are typically filled with meat, beans, or cheese before they are cooked.
- Sopes are made in central and southern Mexico. They look like thick tortillas with a rim that holds toppings. Sopes can have all kinds of toppings, but they always have a distinctive, pinched edge. Sopes are usually, but not always, smaller than gorditas. Learn more about sopes here.
Easy Homemade Gorditas Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time50 min
Cook Time20 min
- 2 cups masa harina cornflour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 1 cup refried beans
- 1 cup shredded meat, like pork, chicken, or beef
- 1 cup shredded cheese such as queso de rancho, queso Oaxaca, queso añejo, or Monterey Jack
- ½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream, to serve (optional)
- ½ cup salsa, to serve
- Make the corn masa: In a large bowl, whisk together masa harina, salt, and baking powder. Use your hands to incorporate the lard into the dry ingredients. Add 1 cup of warm water and mix using a spatula. Continue adding warm water little by little until the dough just starts to come together. Transfer dough to a clean work surface and continue adding warm water as needed, kneading the dough by hand. Test the consistency by breaking off a small ball of dough and pressing it into your hand. The dough should be cohesive, but not so wet that it sticks to your hand (you should be able to easily peel the dough back from your hand). If the dough is too crumbly, continue adding warm water. If it’s too sticky, add a little masa harina. Let the dough rest, covered with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, about 30 minutes.
- Press the gorditas: Pull off a golfball-size dough ball. Using a tortilla press or baking dish, press tortillas between two sheets of plastic to ¼ inch–thick patties. (Alternatively, use wet hands to hand-press dough.) Transfer patties to a baking dish covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Toast the gorditas: In a dry pan or comal, toast the gorditas over medium-high heat until crispy on the outside with some brown spots, about 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer the gorditas to a plate or baking sheet.
- Shallow-fry the gorditas: Keeping the pan over medium-high heat, add enough lard to the pan to coat fully. (Oil should pool up around the sides of the pan when swirled.) Shallow-fry the gorditas in oil until they puff up, about 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- Stuff the gorditas: While the gorditas are still warm, cut a slit in the side of each gordita big enough to stuff the gorditas with filling. Fill the gorditas with beans, meat, and cheese and serve warm with crema and salsa.
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