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Food

How to Make Tacos de Canasta: Recipe for Mexican Basket Tacos

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 18, 2020 • 2 min read

Tacos de canasta, or “basket tacos” (also known as tacos sudados, “sweaty tacos,” and tacos al vapor), are common in Mexico City. The name refers not to a specific filling but rather to the vessel the tacos sit in after having been steamed. Corn tortillas are filled with anything from tinga (stew) to potatoes, then the whole packet is fried and held in a basket, or canasta, until serving.

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How to Make Tacos de Canasta

Like their fellow steamed street food treat, tamales, tacos de canasta feature many different kinds of fillings—think chorizo with mashed potatoes, chicharrón, frijoles, cochinita pibil, barbacoa, the works—and are eaten with either a salsa verde or salsa roja.

Hot oil (usually infused with chiles or spices) poured over the tacos adds a boost of flavor and helps to encourage steam in the sealed packages without thoroughly soaking the tortillas, nudging the filling toward stewed, melt-in-the-mouth territory as they sit. If it’s your first time, trust the process, and repeat: steamed tacos are delicious tacos.

Tacos de Canasta Recipe

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Cook Time
1 hr

Ingredients

  • 10–15 corn tortillas, warmed in a low oven or on a comal and held in a clean kitchen towel
  • Filling of choice, like frijoles de la olla, cochinita pibil, carnitas, or roasted veggies
  • 1 medium white onion, halved and sliced lengthwise into half-moons
  • 3–4 dried guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cilantro, for serving
  • Salsa verde or salsa roja, for serving
  1. Line an oblong basket with either a clean cloth (large enough to fold over) or aluminum foil to contain the heat. Next, fit a plastic bag around the inside of the basket, followed by sheets of parchment paper or butcher paper. Set aside.
  2. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles, garlic cloves, and half the sliced onion. When charred and crispy, add ½ cup of the oil and fry until everything is browned and deeply aromatic. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer the chile and garlic mixture to a blender or food processor, add the additional ½ cup oil and season with kosher salt, then puree until smooth. Add the chile oil to a small pot and keep warm on the stove; keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
  3. Tuck a spoonful of filling into a warm tortilla, fold it over, and place it at one end of the basket. Repeat until you have a complete layer; sprinkle a few slices of onion over the top and drizzle a bit of the hot chile oil. Repeat until you’ve used up the tortillas and filling.
  4. Fold the parchment paper over the tacos, tie off the plastic bag as tight as you can, and fold the overhanging cloth over the whole package, tucking the ends into the edges of the basket. Let the tacos rest for 1 hour.
  5. Unwrap, and serve immediately with cilantro and salsas of choice on the side.

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