21 Mexican Cooking Tools Every Home Chef Should Own
When preparing dinner, there's no substitute for the right Mexican cooking utensils. A Mexican chef shows us the tools used everywhere from restaurants to Abuela's kitchen.
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Tortilla Press (Tortilladora)
Ask any Mexican cook and they’ll tell you that homemade tortillas are the way to go. Learn how to make corn tortillas, and you’ll never go back to the store-bought kind. While you can always use a rolling pin, this authentic cast-iron tortilla press is specifically designed for tortilla making—and it’s one of the best Mexican cooking utensils you can buy.
Dona Savitsky—chef, cookbook author and restaurant owner of Doña Tomás in Oakland, California—shares this tip to help get you started: “Make sure to cut a square from a grocery store bag and use it on the tortilla press to keep the masa from sticking to it.” A reusable zip-top bag will do the trick, too.
Why it made our list: The enamel finish protects your press from stains and corrosion.
Mortar and Pestle (Molcajete)
Love guacamole? That was a rhetorical question. Of course, you do. The molcajete is a classic Mexican version of a mortar and pestle, and it gives you the power to pulverize avocado for the best-ever guac. Dona says, “The molcajete should be made from lava stone, not made from cement, as it will shed into your food!”
Why it made our list: For an authentic experience, this product is made in Mexico.
Tortilla Warmer (Tortillero)
Amazon reviewer Cecilia G says, “Beautiful tortillero! I have been looking for a tortillero just like the ones that I remember from my childhood. I finally found one just like the one my mom and abuelita used to have.”
Why it made our list: It’s a beautiful addition to your fiesta spread!
Wooden Spatula (Cuchara de Madera)
Authentic Mexican cuisine is generally cooked on rough cookware, like cast-iron skillets and large frying pans. This means your favorite metal utensils won’t do the trick—we prefer a wooden spatula when cooking albondigas, fish tacos and refried beans. The wood won’t harm the pan, but it will absorb those delicious spices and flavors over time.
Why it made our list: This is one of the most budget-friendly Mexican cooking utensils you can buy.
Tortilla Griddle (Comal)
“The comal makes tortillas taste so much better,” explains Dona. Its cast-iron material works wonders for griddling up homemade tortillas, as well as other dishes like baked tortilla chips and empanadas. Try out this pre-seasoned tortilla griddle in your own kitchen.
Why it made our list: You can use it for pancakes, too.
Beverage Pitcher (Vitrolero)
Aguas frescas, anyone? This 5-gallon plastic vitrolero is the perfect vessel for all of your favorite Mexican drinks. This particular model is made in Mexico and is ideal for a party or backyard fiesta.
Why it made our list: It’s BPA-free for safe sipping.
Lime Squeezer (Exprimidor de Lima)
Mexican kitchens put limes to work in ways that extend far beyond the classic margarita. The acidity brightens up just about any of our favorite authentic Mexican dishes. When cooks need lime juice fast, they turn to their trusty lime squeezer to extract all the zesty-good flavor.
Why it made our list: The non-slip handles make for an easy squeeze.
Masa Hand Mill
For truly authentic tortilla, tamales, pupusas and more, you may want to consider grinding your own masa. This hand mill makes it easy. Plus, you have the option of adding on other essentials, like heirloom corn varietals, a guide book and tortilla press. Once you’ve mastered masa, try mixing up homemade taco seasoning, too.
Why it made our list: The brand, Victoria, is one of the most trusted names in Mexican cooking utensils.
Empanada flavors vary depending on the region. In some parts of the country, you may see a savory stuffing that combines fish and olives, while in other areas a sugary plantain filling is the norm. However, in many Mexican kitchens, cooks use a shortcut by using an empanada press to make stuffing and molding much easier.
Why it made our list: This set of three ensures the whole family can get in on the empanada-making action.
Who doesn’t love salsa? And with so many delicious varieties to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one! Luckily you don’t have to sacrifice any flavor with this three-in-one dish. It holds generous servings of salsa verde, pico de gallo, guacamole, corn salsa or any other delicious dips. Set it out with your taco night toppings or a big basket of chips.
Why it made our list: This beautiful dish is made from the wood of the guamúchil tree, which is native to Jalisco, Mexico.
Churro Maker Set (Churrera)
There’s no better ending to a Mexican meal than freshly made churros. And this 10-piece set makes shaping the deep-fried treats a breeze. Simply fill the press with dough, add a shaping disc and press. It’s that easy! Once fried and rolled in cinnamon-sugar, pair the churros with Mexican chocolate dip for an over-the-top treat.
Why it made our list: Nine disc options help you craft churros of all shapes, from classic to decorative.
Tamale Steamer Stockpot (Vaporera para Tamales)
Tamaladas or tamale-making parties are a favorite holiday tradition for many Mexican home cooks. Entire families gather around to cook, wrap and steam dozens of delicious corn-husk-wrapped tamales. (Check out our guide on how to make tamales for more info). A tamale steamer and large stockpot are essential to the cooking process. This 16-quart cookware set does the trick.
Why it made our list: This stockpot is versatile enough to cook soups, chilis and other big-batch recipes.
Ceramic Bean Pot (Olla de Barro Frijolera)
Generations of Mexican cooks have been making delicious bean dishes in a ceramic clay pot. Dona says, “Olla de barro frijolera cooks beans evenly. They’ve been used for a long time and, also, they make the dish just taste better!” All you need are water, onion, garlic and seasonings, and you can make beans for a crowd, the old-fashioned way.
Why it made our list: It’s oven-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
You know the envy that creeps up at a Mexican restaurant when you watch someone else’s fajitas being delivered to their table? The smoke, the aroma, the smile from the patron—it’s just enough to make you think, I should have ordered the fajitas. Skip that feeling and make your own fajitas at home with a cast-iron pan. We’re partial to this flavorful chicken fajita recipe.
Why it made our list: It includes a wooden trivet for easy serving.
A high-quality clay dish is a workhorse in many Mexican kitchens. The cazuela is ideal for preparing rice, beans, Spanish paella—you name it. It can withstand high temperatures, making it perfect for stove-to-oven favorites.
Why it made our list: This cazuela’s finish is nonstick, making it easy to clean.
Brush Scrubber (Escobeta)
The days of endlessly scrubbing your pots and pans are over. This nifty little brush scrubber, known as an escobeta, is made from stiff grass roots that effectively clean cookware—veggies, too. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable Mexican cooking utensils around.
Why it made our list: Since it won’t melt, your escobeta can be used on hot pans to loosen food residue before it cools.
Wooden Whisk (Molinillo)
Mexican hot chocolate is truly life-changing, and you won’t get an authentic batch without a chocolate stirrer. The stunning wooden design makes it easy to whisk chocolate and froth milk.
Why it made our list: Everyone who comes into your kitchen will ask: What is that beautiful tool?
Hot Chocolate Jug
While a molinillo is essential to crafting Mexican hot chocolate, the right vessel can take your treat to another level. This handcrafted clay jug gives your drinks an earthy, authentic flavor.
Why it made our list: When not in use, display the jug as decor or use it as a vase.
This Mexican wok is a mainstay when it comes to deep-frying dishes like chimichangas and homemade tortilla chips. Its stainless steel design also makes it ideal for preparing fillings for fajitas and enchiladas.
Why it made our list: When you’re craving Spanish food, this pan is big enough for paella.
The ultimate Mexican cooking tool for modern kitchens: a food processor, like this model from KitchenAid. Dona says, “There are so many sauces, salsas and moles that need to be blended or roughly chopped, and the food processor is the quickest and most efficient way to do so.” Food processors are ideal for making large batches of chunky salsa, especially if you just pulse it instead of running it continuously. Learn how to make salsa with our comprehensive guide.
Why it made our list: This brand is a Test Kitchen favorite.
Tequila Tasting Kit
Mexican cooking utensils aren’t just for food! Whether you’re just starting to dabble in tequila and mezcal or you’re a well-versed pro, this tasting kit has everything you need for a fun night of sipping. Each set includes a corked decanter that’s the perfect size for infusing your tipple with fruit, herbs and other flavors. And, the four wide-mouthed jicara cups encourage the flavor of your spirit to really shine.
Why it made our list: Each piece is crafted by glassblowers in Tonala, Mexico.