Why It's A Mistake Not To Use Fresh Tortillas When Making Tacos

Tortillas are one of the simple pleasures of Mexican food. A walk through the city market just isn't the same without stopping to see the abuela at the tortilleria and grabbing a single, warm tortilla sprinkled with salt. When they're fresh and still warm, the texture is perfect and pliable – the perfect vessel for holding all manner of delicious things. It doesn't matter whether they make their way onto your plate for breakfast in the form of chilaquiles or tacos al pastor for lunch; it matters that they're there.

Corn tortillas have been around for literally thousands of years since the Aztecs used maize and water to create flatbreads. Their technique of soaking maize with lime (not the citrus fruit) is still how tortillas are made today in a process called nixtamalization, per International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. They're toothsome and are ideal for tacos that have braised meats, like a cochinita pibil. Corn tortillas are also ideal for tostadas and taquitos. Flour tortillas are more popular near the Mexico-U.S. border. They're buttery, soft, and absorbent, making them great vessels for cheesy dishes like quesadillas or if there's a lot of filling, such as burritos, according to Food Republic.

No matter which tortilla you're using, though, fresh is best.

Fresh tortillas are easy to make at home and worth the extra effort

If you're not using fresh tortillas for your Taco Tuesdays, fine, but you would be missing out on a whole other level of taco satisfaction; the filling is the co-star, not the main attraction. Sadly, not all of us are so lucky to live near a tortilleria where fresh tortillas can be had any time of day – and if you are, good for you, we hope you take advantage of it. But if you're up for it, you can make your own corn tortillas or flour tortillas at home.

 They're easier to whip up than you might think, and if you have little hands that want to help, it's a great opportunity for them to get involved. If you do decide to make corn tortillas at home, though, make sure you're buying the correct corn flour. Look for brands that use the word masa on the bag, like Maseca. This is the nixtamalized flour; otherwise, your tortillas won't have the same texture because American cornflour is just finely ground corn meal, and is not interchangeable, per MasterClass.

Sometimes we're lazy or pressed for time, and that's totally okay – just make sure you're looking for the best tortillas at your supermarket.