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What is a traditional Gordita?
You’re searching for the answer to this question because you’re curious about the delicious Taco Bell gorditas (which are super Americanized), or were served traditional Mexican gorditas at a restaurant or by a friend. Well dear reader, I’ve been working with Mexican foods for years and I can answer this question for you!
A traditional gordita is a ‘chubby’ taco-like food that is made by baking or frying a thick disk of masa harina cornmeal dough that is filled with meat, cheese, beans, or a combination of ingredients, then topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, queso fresco or cotija cheeses, and salsa.
I’ll be answering some other commonly asked questions about gorditas, such as if they are healthy and how to cook them properly in the paragraphs below, so if you’re curious keep reading- I have more to share!
Gorditas can be cooked by toasting them on cast iron or by being deep fried. Some great cooks do both-first toasting, then a quick fry, which I think creates the best flavor of all. Other great cooks will mix additional ingredients into the masa harina dough, such as cheese or potato. I think this creates a superior tasting gordita that no Taco Bell can match! I’ve designed my gordita recipe to incorporate these techniques (down below at the end of this article) for you to try at home.
What are Mexican gorditas made of?
Masa harina is the main ingredient used to make the taco-like chubby gordita; plus any number of delicious savory fillings can be stuffed inside such as refried beans, various meats, chiles, cheeses and vegetables. I mentioned some of this in the paragraph above.
Masa harina consists of finely ground nixtamalized cornmeal; ‘nixtamalized’ meaning corn kernels soaked in lime (the chemical, not the juice) altering the flavor and texture, then they are drained, dried, and ground.
Nixtamalized cornmeal (masa harina) is also used to make corn tortillas and tamales, so it should taste very familiar to you if you are already familiar with Mexican food. If you’ve never had the chance to taste a freshly made corn tortilla hot off the comal, you should. It doesn’t even compare to store bought. especially if it’s lightly fried and sprinkled with a dash of salt. That’s my favorite way to enjoy them when I make them at home.
How to make gorditas with Maseca?
Maseca is the most commonly trusted and available nixtamalized corn meal brand available in the United States. Making gorditas with Maseca is very very easy. Let me explain how.
Gordita dough, tamale dough, and corn tortilla dough all start out the same way; simply mix dry maseca with water (or broth) and knead it by hand for a few minutes to create a soft dough (called masa) with a ‘playdough’ like consistency. The ratio is approximately 2 cups dry maseca to 1 and 1/2 cups of liquid. That’s it!
(I’m talking about a freshly opened package of playdough, not the dried up old stuff you find in your carpet or in a kids bedroom!)
So many people stress over whether they have mixed their dough correctly. Take it from me- DON’T! You can always adjust by adding more cornmeal or liquid if you think you need to. But it will taste and cook about the same even if you’re off a little with your dough. So don’t worry about it!
As I mentioned earlier, some people will customize their gordita masa by adding Mexican cheeses like cotija, or all-purpose flour and baking soda for a lighter version, or mashed potatoes, or pureed red chile sauce! You are free to experiment with what you like and customize your gordita masa however you like.
There is NO GLUTEN in Maseca, so you can knead it forever and it won’t get tough. So have fun with it! Enjoy the feeling of it in your hands as you mush it through your fingers. Eventually you’ll get that nice smooth dough ball that doesn’t stick to clean dry fingers.
Why didn’t my gorditas puff up?
There could be two reasons why your gorditas didn’t puff up- you’ve got to have adequate moisture and heat to achieve the steam inside to puff the gordita.
Steam within the masa is the key to getting gorditas to puff up. If you ended up mixing your gordita masa too dry, (or it sat out uncovered for too long), it won’t have the necessary moisture to create steam inside and puff up the gorditas when placed in hot oil.
Speaking of hot oil, that’s the other reason your gorditas may not be puffing up. If your oil isn’t hot enough it won’t create the steam needed inside the gordita to puff. If you don’t have a food thermometer to test your oil- use the wooden handle test- simply place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles vigorously right away, it’s ready. If you are getting just a few bubbles, the oil is not hot enough.
Are Gorditas Healthy?
It depends on how the gordita was cooked and what is stuffed inside.
Gorditas that are just cooked on a comal (not fried) and filled with, say, beans and vegetables then topped with fresh ingredients like salsa, lettuce and tomato, would be fairly healthy. Like most recipes, gorditas can be slimmed down to a ‘skinny’ or ‘light’ version.
But if your gordita has been fried in oil and is stuffed with cheese and chicharrones (fried pork fat), you’re not going to be losing any inches off that waistline by enjoying this type of gordita. (But boy would that be delicious!)
Making easy gorditas (featuring Hatch Chile beef filling)
The filling is made first, and the toppings prepared before the gorditas. That way you can stuff the filling into hot, freshly fried gorditas, which taste the best!
Mix masa harina, cotija cheese (I didn’t have any so queso fresco was substituted) mashed potatoes and warm chicken broth by hand for the masa. The additional cheese, potatoes and chicken broth add so much delicious flavor!
Next, shape dough into large dough balls and flatten into a ‘chubby’ disk with parchment paper and a heavy plate, measuring cup, or skillet. You can shape them by hand but that takes some practice!
Toast/roast the chubby disks of gordita dough on a comal or in a cast iron skillet until spotty golden/dark brown in spots.
Then a quick dip in some hot frying oil to cook further, add more flavor and a little ‘puff’ to make it easier to cut the gorditas open and stuff!
Carefully slice open a freshly fried gordita on it’s edge to create a pocket for the filling.
Stuff the gorditas with your prepared Hatch chile ground beef, queso fresco, and the other usual taco toppings. Take your first bite and experience the unique crunch and taste of a true Mexican gordita! Making gorditas easy and fun ;0)
What are Hatch Chile Peppers?
Hatch Chile peppers are world famous for their delicious flavors, produced by the unique climate and soil composition that exists only in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico. These factors combine to grow exceptional-tasting chile peppers with smoky, sweet, and hot flavor notes. More people discover Hatch Chiles each year, and their popularity continues to grow.
Growing up in New Mexico where chile peppers are an integral part of the culture, I know that Hatch chiles have earned a reputation for being the best of the best. I personally only use authentic Hatch in all my cooking because it simply tastes amazing. You should be able to find canned Hatch chile in any supermarket these days, or you can order it directly like I do. Frozen chile is much, much better tasting than canned!
The Hatch Chile Store is the premiere website for ordering your Hatch chile– they are incredibly good at shipping fresh authentic chile right to your door, whatever variety and hotness lever you prefer. It’s where I get all my Hatch Chile, and I must say the flavor really does stand out above any other chile pepper variety.
Head on over now to The Hatch Chile Store to stock up on the most delicious Hatch chile you can buy anywhere- they’ve always got great deals on your favorite products!
Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!
You know what else is fantastic? Simply giving this recipe a star rating and a comment below! Your comments and ratings are greatly appreciated by me AND the Google algorithm. Thank you!
Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!Print
Easy Gorditas Recipe
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
Traditional Mexican gorditas made with corn tortilla dough (masa) pressed into a chubby round, browned on a hot cast-iron skillet, then fried and stuffed with delicious Hatch chile meat.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 and 3/4 cups very warm chicken broth or water, divided
- 1/2 cup prepared Hatch green chile sauce (or substitute with just diced green chile)
- 1/2 cup Hatch red chile sauce
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
- Any combination of the following toppings: shredded lettuce or cabbage, crumbled cotija or other Mexican cheese, Mexican crema or sour cream, diced tomato, salsa, diced white onion
- 1 and 3/4 cups masa harina + extra for working into dough if necessary
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (I use instant mashed potatoes to save time)
- 1 and 3/4 cups chicken broth or water, divided
- 2–3 cups vegetable oil or your frying oil of choice
- Make the filling first: Place ground beef in a skillet set over medium high heat. Stir in the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, while breaking up any large clumps of meat. Let the beef cook without stirring for approximately 3-5 minutes to form a deep brown crust on the bottom. Pour in 1/4 cup chicken broth, reserving the rest. Stir, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom, and continue to cook and stir often until no pink spots remain. Remove from heat and divide into two small mixing bowls. Stir green chile sauce into one bowl and red chile sauce into the other. Cover and keep warm.
- For the Gorditas: Place the masa harina, cotija cheese, and mashed potatoes into a large mixing bowl. With clean hands, gently stir ingredients together with your fingers for a few seconds to loosely combine.
- Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and work it into the dough by hand for about a few seconds. Repeat with another 1/2 cup broth. Finally, add an additional splash of broth and work the dough by hand until it forms a firm dough ball. You are aiming for the consistency of soft play-dough. (At this point if the dough is sticking to clean hands, knead in a spoonful or two more of masa harina; if it is cracking a lot around the edges when worked then knead in a splash more broth.) When the dough is smooth and does not stick to clean hands, knead and fold the dough ball for an additional 5 minutes longer.
- Set a large cast iron skillet or a comal over medium-high heat. Lay out a piece of parchment paper next to the skillet. Remove a portion of dough approximately 3 ounces in weight, or about the size of a large lemon, and roll into a ball. Place a ball between two pieces of parchment paper and press with the bottom of a frying pan, plate, or large measuring cup to create a disk about 1/3 inch thick. (Alternatively, shape into a flattened disk by hand, slowing working and turning the dough with your fingers and pressing against the palm of your hand. Smooth out any cracks along the edges of your dough disks. Place on the parchment paper and repeat until no more dough remains.
- Place gorditas onto the hot cast iron skillet and cook each side until spotty-golden brown and dry. In a separate medium-size skillet set over medium heat, add vegetable oil to a depth of approximately 1 and 1/2 inches.
- When the oil reaches 350 degrees F, place spotty-browned gorditas gently down into hot oil and fry for approximately 20 seconds on each side, or until they puff slightly, float to the top and turn golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and set onto a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining gorditas.
- While the gorditas are still warm, insert a sharp knife into the edge and genty slice 2/3 of the way down towards the center, working the knife along the edge of the gordita and through the center until you can open the gordita by simply squeezing the sides. Do NOT cut all the way through dividing it into two pieces. The goal is to create a ‘pocket’ in the gordita to hold the filling.
- Next fill the gorditas with the prepared meat filling and a spoonful of queso fresco cheese (reheating the meat if necessary), then stuff/top with your choice of additional toppings listed above and serve while warm. Gorditas should be eaten by hand.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: lunch or Dinner
- Method: fry
- Cuisine: New Mexican
- Serving Size: 1 gordita
Keywords: Gordita, Hatch chile, New Mexican, Mexican, masa harina