Totopos: Mexican Tortilla Chips

Totopos are delightful, crispy, and addictive Mexican corn chips super versatile and simple to make. You can serve them with a variety of sauces and dips or season them with spices.

Totopos served with guacamole and pico de gallo salsa.

What Are Mexican Totopos?

Totopos or totopitos are a basic Mexican recipe consisting of deep-fried or baked triangles of corn tortillas. They are known outside of Mexico as tortilla chips or nachos.

Those crispy chips are widely used in Mexican cuisine, either as a base for Sopa Azteca and chilaquiles or as an appetizer along with salsas and dips in many restaurants.

The word totopo comes from a combination of the Nahuatl words totopochtli and tlaxcaltotopochtli those two words combined translate into “to crunch/toast” and “toasted tortilla” which is an interpretation of “a tortilla that makes noise when chewed”.

The ancient pre-Hispanic cultures of the region of Oaxaca and Chiapas were the first ones to make triangles out of the corn tortilla disc and toast them in a clay oven called comixcal.

Crispy and golden tortilla chips (totopos).

Mexican totopos are traditionally made of nixtamalized corn tortillas, usually old and stale as those become sturdy and are best for holding up salsas and dips.

In Oaxaca and Chiapas, the recipe is still made in the simple but traditional way by just leaving the tortillas toast on a comal or in a clay oven. They are often made of blue corn tortillas.

Ingredients Needed

  • TORTILLAS: Preferably use stale corn tortillas.
  • OIL: Use a type of oil for frying, we recommend sunflower or corn oil.
  • SEASONING: For plain totopitos use only salt, any type you prefer.

How To Make Totopos

You can cut them into any shape you like such as triangles, strips, squares, small circles, and diamond shapes as well. Feel free to get creative.

To cut them in triangles just pile 3-4 tortillas then cut into 6 wedges (like a pie). For cutting round tortilla chips, use a 2-inch cookie-cutter.

Tortillas cut into various shapes on a cutting board to make Mexican totopos recipe.

Now, you can proceed to fry the tortillas or you can stale them:

Option 1: Spread the tortilla triangles onto a single layer on a countertop or table. Allow them to dry for a few hours. You can also cover them with a clean kitchen towel and leave them there overnight.

Option 2: Place tortilla triangles on a baking sheet or plate, try to separate them a bit so they won’t stick to each other, and create moisture. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for at least one hour then proceed with the recipe.

Tortilla triangles arranged on a baking tray.

How To Fry Them

There are a few things you need to know about frying homemade totopitos chips:

Use plenty of oil: If you want those tortilla chips to be crispy and evenly golden you will need enough oil. Just enough for the tortillas to be well covered.

Oil should be about 340°F (170°C), if you don’t have a cooking thermometer just make sure the oil won’t smoke because that means it is too hot.

Totopos frying on plenty of oil on a pan.

Fry in small batches: Don’t overcrowd the pan, if it’s your first time making tortilla chips, you might want to use a small pan and work in small batches until you feel confident with the recipe.

Don’t forget to flip them: They need to cook on both sides, so flip them a couple of times to allow them to fry evenly on both sides.

Medium fried totopos on a pan.

Remove them at once: Use a spider strainer to remove all chips at once, Depending on the temperature and the thickness of the tortilla, it will take from 40 seconds to 1 minute for them to be ready.

Removing fried totopos from the pan.

As you take them out of the oil, place them onto a paper-lined plate to absorb excess oil, then sprinkle with salt and enjoy.

Make Them healthy

So, if you want to enjoy those Mexican corn chips but cut down the calories, here are two options that use very little oil and therefore are far healthier:

  • Baking: Place the uncooked tortillas on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 375ºF (190ºC). You can use a cooking spray or olive oil to lightly brush them. Then bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and crispy.
  • Air frying: Lightly spray the tortilla triangles with cooking spray on both sides. Add them to the air fryer basket without overlapping them. Cook for 3 minutes at 350°F (176°C), then flip them and keep cooking for 2-3 minutes more or until nicely gold and crispy.
A collage with two photos showing oven baked totopos chips.

Recipe Variations

If you wanna enjoy these crispy bites as they are, you might want to add some flavor. Here is what we recommend:

  • Salt. The most common choice, just as they come out of the oil, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt.
  • Spicy. Add a pinch of your favorite chili blend powder, for a smoky taste, we recommend chipotle or guajillo powder.
  • Garlic. You can either fry 3-4 garlic cloves with the skin on in the same oil where you are frying the chips, or you can add a pinch of garlic powder once they are done.
  • Herbs. Oregano, thyme, marjoram, or even basil.

How To Eat

You can eat these just like you eat tortilla chips or nachos. Here are a few ideas of what to serve with:

Tortilla chips a.k.a.totopos served with various salsas.

How To Store

Allow the chips to cool down, then place them in an air-tight container or a resaleable bag and store them at room temperature.

These are the perfect snacks that stay on your kitchen counter or in the cabinets crispy and crunchy for up to 6-7 days.

Super Tip: Make a large batch of totopos and store them to make chilaquiles verdes any day of the week!

FAQ

Can I make this recipe with flour tortillas?

Yes, you can. Even though these crispy bites won’t be as good since flour tortillas won’t get as crispy as the corn ones, the taste is definitely different because flour tortillas are made with shortening, oil, or butter.

Can I use leftover tortillas?

Yes! The Mexican corn chips recipe is perfect to recycle your tortillas. The older, the better.

Is this recipe vegan?

Yes, it is. Use your favorite vegetable oil for frying. We recommend corn or sunflower oil.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

If you use nixtamalized corn tortillas, yes, the recipe is 100% gluten-free.

Can I flavor them?

Of course, use your favorite powdered spices and herbs to flavor these corn chips, make sure you do it when they are still hot so the heat will bring out the aroma too!

Totopos Recipe

Mexican Totopos Recipe

author Maricruz
6
Homemade tortilla chips (totopos) with only 2 ingredients. Make those crispy corn chips to enjoy with your favorite salsas.
prep 5 minutes
cook 10 minutes
total 15 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions
 

  • Make batches of 4 tortillas piled and cut them into 6 wedges, like a pie.
  • Line a baking tray with 2 or 3 layers of kitchen paper towels.
  • Heat a good amount of oil in a medium frying pan (about 340°F/170°C).
  • Carefully, add a batch of tortilla wedges into the oil making sure they're all in a single layer and immersed in the oil.
  • Fry for about 1 minute, flipping once or two times to allow the chips to fry evenly.
  • Remove with a spider strainer and place onto the tray lined with paper towels.
  • You can leave them plain or season them with salt if you want.
  • Repeat until all tortillas are used.

Notes

  • Baking: Place the uncooked totopos on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 375ºF (190ºC). You can use a cooking spray or olive oil to lightly brush them. Then bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and crispy.
  • Air frying: Lightly spray the tortilla triangles with cooking spray on both sides. Add them to the air fryer basket without overlapping them. Cook for 3 minutes at 350°F (176°C), then flip them and keep cooking for 2-3 minutes more or until nicely gold and crispy.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I didn’t know corn chips have such an amazing background history and I didn’t know they were called totopos, thank you so much for the informative post and recipe.