Tortitas de papa con queso are simply soft potato cakes flavored with queso fresco and pickled jalapeños with a slightly crispy outside. The perfect prep and budget-friendly meal for any day of the week.
About the Recipe
Tortitas de papa con queso is one of the most popular dishes in Mexico. They make a perfect lunch and though they are enjoyed year-round, they are also one of the most traditional Mexican Lent recipes (Cuaresma).
The traditional recipe consists of savory potato patties slightly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. So hearty and filling! They can be served with a fresh salad or rice, and you can also make a tomato sauce to go with them and make the dish even better.
Recipe name translation: Tortitas=patties/cakes, Papa=potatoes, Queso=cheese.
How To Make Tortitas de Papa con Queso
Place tomatoes in a pot and cover with water. Boil tomatoes until soft and cooked through (10 to 15 minutes). Drain and allow them to slightly cool down.
Add tomatoes into a blender along with onion, chili peppers (read notes), garlic, oregano, cumin seeds, and 1 1/5 cups of water. Blend at high speed for 2 minutes or until everything is combined into a sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and then add the tomato sauce. Season with chicken or vegetable bouillon, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
Start by cooking the potatoes, first scrub them nicely under running water to get rid of any dirt they may have.
Next, place them in a large pot and cover them with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon of coarse salt and stir to dissolve. Bring the water to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until they are fork-tender. It will take from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.
Drain the potatoes and place them on a plate, then allow them to cool down a little bit. Once cooled enough to be handled, peel them.
Place peeled potatoes in a large bowl and mash them using a potato masher. If you don’t own one, use the bottom of a glass to do this. Leave the potato puree to cool down completely.
Add to the bowl the cheese, eggs (lightly beaten) jalapeño peppers, and breadcrumbs. Season with pepper and a pinch of salt, but remember that cheese has salt already!
Mix everything together until nicely combined, you can use a large wooden spoon or your hands.
The result should be a soft sort of dough that slightly sticks to your hands. Depending on the type of potatoes you will use, you might need to adjust the quantity of breadcrumbs.
Place flour on a plate and keep it next to you. Also, add 1/2 cup of oil to a large non-stick pan and heat over medium heat.
Slightly oil your hands and make a batch of tortitas about 2-inch (5cm) in circumference and half-inch thick. As you make them, dredge the small cakes in flour to coat both sides and gently pat them to remove the excess flour.
Carefully add the tortitas into the hot oil. Baste them with the hot oil as they cook on one side until they start to become golden and crispy.
Using two spatulas gently flip them to cook on the other side until evenly golden and crispy.
Remove the tortitas de papas from the oil and place them on a paper-lined plate to remove the excess oil. Keep shaping and cooking more cakes until all potato mixture is gone.
How To Serve
You have two options to serve your Mexican potato cakes:
- Add some sauce to a serving plate and then arrange 3-4 tortitas de papa over the sauce. Serve with a bowl of sauce on the side and your favorite side dish.
- Bring to a simmer the tomato sauce and add the cooked potato cakes into it. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes and then carefully serve on a plate with plenty of sauce and the side you prefer.
Favorite Side Dishes
- Arroz Blanco. Mexican white rice with vegetables.
- Champiñones a la Mexicana. Sauteed mushrooms with tomatoes, onions, and chilies.
- Ensalada de coditos. Mexican macaroni salad with ham and pineapple.
- Beet and Carrot Salad. From justbeeit.com, this amazing slaw is crunchy, tangy, and so pretty!
- Ensalada de col. Mexican cabbage salad with carrots, onions, and lime juice.
Tips and Tricks
Though the tortitas de papas con queso are very easy to make, there are a few tips and tricks you should follow. Here are some of my best tips and if you follow them, I guarantee you’ll make the best potato cakes.
- Cook the potatoes with the peel. If you cook your potatoes without the peel, you risk making your puree too watery and you also lose a lot of flavor. Potatoes can be easily peeled after they’re cooked!
- Use a neutral oil. I reccomend canola oil, peanut oil, or sunflower oil.
- Use the right pan. You want to fry your tortitas in a heavy-bottomed pan that will heat evenly. Also, the pan should be big enough to fry them in batches.
- Always test your dough. Fry first one cake, if it falls apart you can still fix the mixture, go to the troubleshooting section below to know more.
- Season the dough well. Though the cheese already contains some salt, you want to taste the dough so you can make any necessary adjustments before you start frying them up.
- Do not overcrowd the pan. Make sure there’s enough space to flip the cakes and to allow them to cook nice on all sides.
- Tortitas gets browned/burn in a matter of seconds. This means the oil is too hot, so adjust the heat and allow the oil to cool down a little bit before continuing.
- The cakes stick to the pan. Make sure you allow all pieces to fry nicely on one side before you flip them.
- Tortitas fall apart when cooking: Test the temperature by adding a pinch of the mixture into the oil, if it takes some seconds to bring out some bubbles and start frying it means the oil is not hot enough. Aim for oil to sizzle and bubble as soon as the mixture gets in contact with.
- Tortitas fall apart when cooking II: The second reason tortitas de papa falls apart when they are cooking is that the mixture doesn’t have the right texture.
The dough should be moist enough to not crumble when you make a cake, but not to the point that it sticks badly to your hands.
Even if the first batch of cakes didn’t come right, don’t worry, adjust the mixture by adding a little bit more bread crumbs if it’s too moist, or a splash of milk/cream if the mixture is too dry.
Storage and Reheating
Tortitas de papa leftovers can be placed in containers and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing.
Reheat in a pan over medium-low heat or in the oven at 350F° (175°C) for about 10 minutes.
Tortitas de Papa con Queso
For the tortitas
- 2.2 lb potatoes (red, russet)
- 1 ½ cups queso fresco (crumbled)
- 2 small eggs (or 3, please read notes)
- ¼ cup pickled jalapeños (chopped)
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (and more for dredging)
- 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
- oil for frying (as needed)
For the sauce
- 1 lb tomatoes
- ½ small onion
- 2 serrano pepper or 1 jalapeño (seeds and veins removed)
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp vegetable or chicken bouillon
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Make the sauce
- Boil tomatoes until soft and cooked through (10 to 15 minutes).
- Drain and allow them to slightly cool down.
- Add tomatoes into a blender with onion, chili peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin seeds, and 1 ½ cups of water.
- Blend until you will have a smooth sauce.
- Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the tomato sauce.
- Season with bouillon, salt, and pepper.
- Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
Make the potato mixture
- Boil potatoes with the skin on until fork-tender.
- Peel them and mash them in a bowl using a potato masher.
- Allow the mashed potatoes to cool down completely.
- Add to the bowl the eggs lightly beaten, cheese, jalapeño peppers, 1 tablespoon of flour and breadcrumbs (read notes).
- Season with a pinch of salt and mix until everything is combined.
Make tortitas and cook
- Place flour on a plate. Also, heat about ½ cup of oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Slightly oil your hands and make a batch of tortitas about 2-inch (5cm) in circumference and half-inch thick.
- As you make them, dredge them in flour to coat both sides and gently pat them to remove the excess flour.
- Carefully add the tortitas into the hot oil. Baste them with the hot oil as they cook on one side until they start to brown.
- Using two spatulas gently flip them to cook on the other side until evenly golden and crispy.
- Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper-lined plate to remove the excess oil.
- Repeat until you use all potato mixture adding more oil to the pan if needed.
Serve (option 1)
- Add some sauce to a serving plate and then arrange 3-4 tortitas de papa over the sauce.
- Serve with a bowl of sauce on the side and your favorite side dish (read post).
Serve (option 2)
- Bring to a simmer the tomato sauce and add the cooked potato cakes into it.
- Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes and then carefully serve on a plate with plenty of sauce and the side you prefer.
- Add only 2 small eggs to the mixture, and if you see the dough is crumbly, add the other egg.
- Nutritional information includes only 1/4 cup of oil in total.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.