All about huaraches food, a traditional Mexican meal with a long history. Plus, an easy and tasty recipe to make them at home and enjoy this authentic dish.
This particular food is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the most popular dishes of Mexican cuisine and have a snack full of flavor throughout the day.
What Are Huaraches?
Huaraches (food) are a traditional Mexican dish made of a thick corn masa tortilla with an oval shape to which is added some ingredients on top.
Such ingredients are typically refried beans, vegetables, and sometimes meat. The final huarache dish is served drizzled with salsa to deliver a nutritious, and fulfilling meal to enjoy for breakfast.
Huaraches food can be categorized under the popular category of antojitos, which translates to “little cravings” and refers to some type of foods that includes, picaditas, garnachas, or chicken tostadas.
The Origin Of Huaraches Food
If you search for “huarache” on search engines, you will likely find photos and information about a type of sandal. And that is not a mistake.
It turns out that these sandals, more specifically their shape, are where this dish’s name originates from.
The word itself is derived from the Purépecha language that calls it kwarachi, but the origins don’t stop there, as there are a few legends and stories about this particular dish.
One of my favorite stories tells that a lady named Carmen Gomez Medina was known for selling a particular type of sopes in the canal of Calzada de la Viga. Her food was not only delicious but also “different”.
The sopes she made were not typically rounded, but with a larger and oval shape to hold more ingredients and satisfy her hungry customers.
She also used to sell tlacoyos (a similar dish) in that place, and when she was displaced to the Mercado de Jamaica, around 1950, her food was already popular and appreciated by the locals and foreigners, who started to call those huaraches, due to their similarity to the sole of a sandal.
The Masa Dough
Masa is a type of dough made with corn flour and used to make tortillas, sopes, and other types of Mexican foods, including huaraches.
To make this type of dough a special treatment to the corn is necessary, this treatment is called nixtamalization and was developed by Mesoamerican civilizations by treating the corn kernels with an alkaline solution such as lime or ashes.
In Mexico, masa can be bought at the tortilla stores by weight, but in other countries, you’ll need to make your own by mixing masa harina and water. There are several brands of masa harina (harina para tortillas), so do a little research before buying yours.
Pay special attention to this ingredient and make sure you are using the real nixtamalized corn flour instead of regular corn flour since it won’t give you the same result.
Masa dough should be smooth and have a texture similar to play-dough once prepared, it shouldn’t either be too dry or too soft as you will need to easily shape a huarache.
Huaraches Recipe – Step by Step
Before starting with the recipe, prepare your utensils (read the recipe card below). And make also the salsas and toppings you will like to add.
Step 1 – Cook the meat:
Cut the meat into strips and slice the onions, you will also need some spices such as garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Next, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the meat. Season with the spices and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Now, add the onions to the pan and keep cooking until the onions are soft and translucent and the meat has cooked through (about 10 minutes). Cover and set aside.
Step 2 – Make the huaraches:
Start by combining masa harina, salt, and water in a bowl. Then knead for 2 minutes to achieve a smooth and non-sticky dough.
Heat a griddle or a comal over medium heat.
Now, divide the dough into 10 balls and keep them covered with a damp towel. Using your hands and a smooth surface, create a log of about 6 inches long and 1 -inch thick (15×3.5cm).
Now, place the log between 2 sheets of plastic and use a heavy dish to flatten it.
Then, use your hands to shape the masa into the typical sandal form. Make sure is not too tin (like a tortilla), but a little thick.
Carefully, peel the sheet on top and flip the huarache onto your hand (you can also moist a bit your hand).
Remove the last sheet and then place the huarachi onto the hot griddle.
Allow cooking for one minute, then carefully flip it and cook for 1-2 more minutes or until is nicely done and with some dark spots on the surface.
Repeat the steps until all masa dough is used and keep the pieces nicely wrapped in a kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft.
Step 3 – Assemble:
- Place a huarache flat on a plate.
- Spread a nice spoonful of refried beans making sure to cover it nicely.
- Next, add some meat (or any other dish you want to add).
- Add some pico de gallo, you decide how much.
- Last, drizzle with salsa and top it with cheese.
Mexican huaraches food is so versatile and can include many other toppings. The options are vast and can go from meat and cheese to even vegetarian/vegan-friendly alternatives. Here are some suggestions to top this dish.
- Chorizo and potatoes (pork)
- Chile rojo (beef)
- Chilorio (pork)
- Tinga (chicken)
- Picadillo (beef & pork)
- Mexican Sauteed Mushrooms (vegan)
- Calabacitas (vegetarian)
Salsas & Salads
Storage and Re-Heating Instructions
To store your huaraches food leftovers, make sure everything is cooled to room temperature, then wrap the huarache tightly with cling film, this will help them to remain soft and not dry out. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Meat can be stored in containers with a tight lid for up to 3-4 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freeze.
for reheating a huarache, first heat up a griddle or a pan, lightly oil it, and heat up each piece for 2-3 minutes flipping it from time to time.
Are huaraches food fried?
Not really. The traditional recipe is made by cooking the huarache on a hot griddle (comal) and serving it with toppings.
Are they healthy?
Depending on the toppings, a huarache made with meat cooked with little oil, beans, salads, and fresh salsas can be a healthy meal. Just don’t go crazy with cheese and other heavy ingredients.
Are they gluten-free?
Yes, since they are made with masa harina, but make sure your toppings are also gluten-free.
Mexican Huaraches Food Recipe
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 ½ cups water (read notes)
- 1 tsp salt
For the meat
- 1 ½ lb beef chuck steak (cut into small bites)
- 1 medium onion (sliced)
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt (to taste)
Cook the meat:
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the meat. Season with garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
- Mix in the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent and the meat has cooked through (about 10 minutes).
- Cover and set aside.
Make the huaraches:
- Combine masa harina, salt, and water in a bowl.
- Knead for 2 minutes to achieve a smooth and non-sticky dough.
- Heat a griddle or a comal over medium heat.
- Divide the dough into 10 portions and keep them covered with a damp towel.
- Using your hands and a smooth surface, create a log of about 6 inches long and 1 -inch thick (15×3.5cm).
- Place the log between 2 sheets of plastic and use a heavy dish to flatten it.
- Use your hands to shape the masa into the typical sandal form. Make sure is not too tin (like a tortilla), but a little thick.
- Peel the sheet on top and flip the huarache onto your hand.
- Remove the last sheet and then place the huarache onto the hot griddle.
- Cook for one minute, then carefully flip it and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
- Repeat the steps until all masa dough is used and keep huaraches wrapped in a kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft.
- Place a huarache flat on a plate and spread a spoonful of refried beans
- Add some meat, then top with pico de gallo.
- Drizzle with guacamole salsa and add some cheese on top. Serve immediately.
- You might need to adjust the water accordingly to the humidity and weather in your kitchen, just make sure to add it little by little and combine until you’ll achieve a smooth dough.
- You can use other types of cheese such as Cotija, queso ranchero, feta, etc.