Tlacoyos | A Prehispanic Mexican Recipe

Tlacoyos are a Prehispanic Mexican dish that consists of a corn thick tortilla stuffed with mashed black beans, cooked on a griddle, and served with different toppings such as salad, salsa, and cheese.

Mexican tlacoyos de frijol served with various toppings and salsas.

Without a doubt, this dish is one of the most popular Mexican snacks in the country and one of the healthiest as well. You can prepare it at home with our video recipe and enjoy it with a warm café de olla in the morning, just as Mexicans do.

What are tlacoyos?

Tlacoyos are a Mexican preparation of pre-Hispanic origin. A sort of empanada prepared with corn dough (blue or yellow) with a thick consistency and a rhomboid shape.

Typically they are filled with mashed black beans, fava beans, or dried peas (alverjón).

The name tlacoyo is a deformation of the Nahuatl word tlahtlaōyoh, which means empanada de maíz desgranado (empanada made with corn masa), referring to the corn dough patties that were sold back in time in the regional markets such as Tlatelolco.

From the same word derive the other names given to this dish, such as clacoyos, tlayoyis, tlayoyos, tlatloyos. All referring to this nutritious and delicious Mexican dish.

Tlacoyos topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and spicy tomato salsa.

Where to find tlacoyos in Mexico

Tlacoyos de frijol are sold mostly in the center of the Mexican republic and it’s not a popular dish in the north. They are sold at stalls and restaurants along with other types of street food.

In my state they are not so popular and, to be completely honest, I didn’t even know of their existence.

It wasn’t until many years later, when we took a road trip through central Mexico with my family and some friends, that we sampled this amazing street food.

I remember we were sitting in a restaurant in Texcoco and waiting for the barbacoa we had ordered to be served at our table (we were starving!). Agustin (a friend) said to us that first, they will bring us some tlacoyitos along with the consomé, you know, to open our appetite.

When they arrived we noticed they were stuffed with black beans so we devoured them in less than a minute along with the steaming barbacoa consomé.

Tlacoyos de frijol served on a clay plate with various sides.

Fillings and variations

Besides the traditional mashed black beans filling, potatoes, and dried peas; modern recipes use other fillings to make this snack, such as cheese, chorizo, zucchini blossoms, mushrooms, and other vegetables.

A healthy snack

Tlacoyo is undoubtedly a very healthy and nutritious Mexican snack. Where normally the snacks like garnachas are fried in lard or oil; this one instead, is cooked on a griddle with no oil added and is prepared with fresh and nutritious ingredients such as nopales salad, lettuce, and pico de gallo; not counting the different sauces to accompany it and that are prepared without fat or heavy ingredients.

One more proof that our ancestors knew how to feed themselves and used ingredients such as corn, beans, and chilies in the healthiest way they could.

Tlacoyos Recipe (step by step + VIDEO)

Start by preparing the red salsa

  • Roast the tomatoes together with the onion and garlic clove, you can use a griddle (comal), iron skillet, or even the oven.
  • Once these ingredients are roasted, proceed with the chilies. Remove the stem and open the guajillo peppers with a kitchen shear, carefully remove as much of the veins as possible and all the seeds, then remove the stem from the arbol chilies.
  • Roast the chilies for a few seconds and take care that they do not burn.
  • Once roasted, put them in a blender and add a cup of boiling water (it has to be very hot to soften the chiles).
  • Add the roasted tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Once the resting time has passed, blend everything to make the salsa.
  • Transfer to a bowl or jar and add salt to taste. Set aside.
Tomato and chili salsa on an immersion blender.

Prepare the pico de gallo:

  • Cut the tomato into cubes, chop the onion, cut the green chilies into small pieces.
  • Put everything in a bowl and add the finely chopped cilantro.
  • Add the lemon juice and a little salt.
  • Mix the ingredients very well and add salt. Set aside.
Preparing pico de gallo on a bowl.

Prepare the beans:

Heat lard or oil in a small pan over medium heat, add the beans and mash until pureed. Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Black beans mashed in a pan.

Prepare the masa dough:

  • Place masa harina in a medium bowl.
  • Add a little salt (optional) and slowly pour the water little by little while mixing with your hands.
  • Knead little by little until you obtain a moist and easy-to-handle dough that doesn’t crumble in your hands and has a smooth consistency similar to playdough.
Corn masa ready inside a bowl.

Make the tlacoyo:

  • Divide the dough into 5 portions, this recipe is for 5 large pieces but if you want them to be smaller you can divide it into 8-9 portions.
  • Take a portion of dough and make a ball, roll it into a thick disc with your hands passing it from one hand to another (check up the video below).
A portion of masa flattened on a hand.
  • In the center of the masa disc, add some mashed black beans and distribute them a little.
  • Close by joining four sides, in the end, you should have a sort of rhombus shaped tortilla.
A collage showing how to shape tlacoyos.

Give it the elongated shape typical of the tlacoyos while flattening with your hand carefully, so that the beans do not come out.

A hand holding a shaped tlacoyo.

Repeat the steps with all the dough portions placing the raw pieces on a plate lined with cling film to prevent them from sticking.

Cook

  • Heat a griddle or comal over medium-high heat.
  • Place 2 or 3 tlacoyitos and cook for two minutes.
  • Flip and cook the other side for about 3 minutes.
  • Keep cooking flipping every minute until each piece is cooked through.
  • As tlacoyos de frijol come out off the griddle and are fully cooked, transfer them between a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.
The tlacoyos cooked on a comal.

Assemble

Place the tlacoyos on a platter, add some chopped lettuce on top, then add pico de gallo. Drizzle with the tomato and chili salsa and finish with cheese on top.

How To Serve

The traditional way of serving this street food in Mexico is by just adding nopales salad on top and some hot salsa. But here’s are also other toppings you might want to try:

PICO DE GALLO: This refreshing salsa is one of the most loved when serving this dish, use the recipe we share in this post or try this pineapple pico de gallo.

OTHER SALSAS: Besides the red salsa we propose in this post, try also our tomatillo green salsa, a smoky salsa de molcajete, or this amazing fake guacamole! And, if you’re into very spicy food, this delicious Mexican chili oil is to die for.

EXTRAS: You can also add Mexican crema or sour cream, but if you want to try real Mexican cheese, head over our queso fresco recipe.

Prepare Ahead and Store

You can make the salsas and the filling up to 3 days ahead and keep them in the fridge stored in airtight containers.

For reheating the leftovers, just use the same griddle where you made them, and once it is hot enough, set the heat to medium-low and reheat each piece for 5-7 minutes flipping them a couple of times.

Watch How To Make It

Similar Recipes

  • Tetelas. Oaxacan corn pockets stuffed with beans and cheese.
  • Sopes de pollo. Corn cakes topped with a chicken mixture.
  • Picaditas. Traditional sopes from Veracruz.
  • Huaraches. Corn cakes with an oval shape, topped with refried beans, carne asada, and salsas.

Tlacoyos de Frijol

author Maricruz
Tlacoyos are a Prehispanic Mexican dish that consists of a corn thick tortilla filled with mashed black beans, cooked on a comal and served with different toppings such as salad, salsa, and cheese.
prep 1 hour
cook 20 minutes
Resting 15 minutes
total 1 hour 35 minutes
serving 10

Ingredients 

For tlacoyos

  • 3 ½ cup masa harina
  • lukewarm water (as needed)
  • salt (optional)

For mashed beans

  • 1 ½ cup cooked black beans
  • 1 Tbsp lard (or oil)

For salsa

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 3-4 arbol chilies
  • 2 small guajillo chilies
  • ½ medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt

For pico de gallo

  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 green chilies
  • cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • salt

Instructions
 

Make pico de gallo:

  • Cut the tomato into cubes, chop the onion, cut the green chilies into small pieces. Put everything in a bowl and add the finely chopped cilantro.
  • Add the lemon juice and a little salt. Mix the ingredients very well and add salt. Set aside.

Make the beans:

  • Heat lard or oil in a small pan over medium heat, add the beans, and mash until pure.
  • Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Make the masa dough:

  • Place masa harina in a medium bowl. Add a little salt (optional) and slowly pour the water while mixing with your hands.
    Corn masa ready inside a bowl.
  • Knead little by little until you obtain a moist and easy-to-handle dough that doesn’t crumble in your hands and has a smooth texture.

Make the tlacoyos:

  • Divide the dough into 5 portions, this recipe is for 5 large tlacoyos but if you want them to be smaller you can divide it into 8-9 portions.
  • Take a portion of dough and make a ball, roll it into a thick disc with your hands passing it from one hand to another (check-up the video).
  • In the center of the masa disc, add some mashed beans and distribute them a little.
  • Close by joining four sides, as if they were the corners of a painting, in the end, you will have a sort of rhombus-shaped tortilla.
  • Give it the elongated shape typical of the tlacoyos while flattening with your hand carefully, so that the beans do not come out.
  • Repeat the steps with all the dough portions and place the raw tlacoyos on a plate lined with cling film to prevent them from sticking.

Cook

  • Heat a griddle or comal over medium-high heat. Place 2 or 3 tlacoyos and cook for two minutes. Flip and cook the other side for about 3 minutes.
  • Keep cooking flipping every minute until each piece is cooked through.
  • As the pieces come out off the griddle and are fully cooked, transfer them between a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.

Assemble

  • Place the tlacoyos on a platter, add some chopped lettuce on top, then add pico de gallo.
  • Drizzle with the tomato and chili salsa and finish with cheese on top.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 834mg | Potassium: 384mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 846IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I never heard about tlacoyos before, but because of this post I was curious about it. I had masa Harina at home and canned black beans, I also had rotisserie chicken so I added that to the filling too. They weren’t that beautifully shaped like yours but defo they were delicious. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Gracias, thank you, merci! Tlacoyos de frijol negro are my favorite garnacha because, as you said, they are healthier than other types or snacks in Mexico.
    Loved your detailed recipe, can’t wait to try it tonight!

  3. 5 stars
    I made those corn pockets yesterday and they were delicious. I must confess they didn’t come as pretty as yours but they were for sure something I’d do again. Tlacoyos are a full vegan meal and can’t wait to bring some to work and share with my colleagues:) thanks 😊