In ancient times, clay pots were used for cooking food over an open fire, but obviously cooking styles and the tools used to prepare authentic Mexican fare have changed since then! You can use items you already have in your kitchen, but there are a few specialist tools that can make it easier to create fresh, flavourful and vibrant dishes from this Latino nation.
These are our selection of favourite kitchen tools to make you true Mexican MasterChef:
1. Molcajete & Tejolote (traditional stone mortar and pestle)/b>
This is indispensable for making classic salsas and guacamole. It's a pestle and mortar cut from volcanic rock used for crushing spices and herbs, and pulverising ingredients like avocado. When crushed, the aromas and flavours of authentic Mexican freshness are released. Unlike a regular mortar and pestle, the molcajete provides a better depth of flavour. You can use your regular pestle and mortar, but the flavours won’t be as intense.
2. Blender or food processor
Being quick and efficient to blend or chop ingredients, this is essential for making sauces, salsas, and moles. It also means you can whip up larger batches – no harm in making extra when it tastes so good!
3. Comal (flat griddle)
Great for making perfect roasted tortillas, quesadillas, fajitas, baked tortilla chips and empanadas. They even sear meat and cook chillis, nuts and spices for salsas and sauces. Found in most Mexican households, this cast iron, aluminium, or terracotta tool imparts an intense flavour. However, they do need to be seasoned before using. You can use a non-stick griddle as an alternative but once you taste the difference using a comal makes it’s hard to go back!
4. Heavy Casserole pot with a lid or clay pots
Generations have been using pots for cooking beans, moles, adobos, and pipianes. For recipes that require long cooking times, these types of pots are useful because they retain an even heat – and create yummy recipes!
5. Tortilladora (Tortilla Press)
How about giving homemade tortillas a go? This is specifically designed to make corn tortillas or Mexican flatbreads really easily. It consists of two cast iron plates that you press the dough between to make a flat tortilla, which is then roasted to perfection. You can also use it to prepare pie shells and press dough for dumplings, etc. - it’s very versatile!
6. Tortillero (Tortilla Warmer)
So, you’ve mastered making tortillas (or warmed some La Mexicana ones in the oven) but want to keep them warm and toasty? This is where the tortillero comes in handy as it stores your tortillas fresh from the griddle – not to mention your pancakes, bread rolls, muffins, cookies, etc. too!
7. Cuchara de Madera (Wooden Spatula)
With authentic Mexican cuisine generally cooked on rough surfaces, like cast-iron skillets and large frying pans, it's best to use wooden spatulas. They don't harm the skillet, but will absorb the delicious flavours over time.
8. Experimidoe de Lima (Lime Squeezer)
You won’t find a Mexican kitchen without limes! The acidity brightens the flavour of any Mexican dish – and it’s also perfect in a classic margarita! An excellent lime squeezer is the easiest way to extract all the zesty-goodness from the fruit and ensure there are no seeds. If you’re planning to make Mexican cuisine frequently, this is a must-have tool!
9. Vaporera para Tamales (Tamale Steamer Stockpot)
Tamale is a steamed Mexican dish that is made with corn masa, a meat filling, and a corn husk to wrap it. Often Mexicans gather friends and family together to make these delicious delicacies for parties. An essential tool in the cooking process is a tamale steamer and large stockpot, which enables them to create huge batches of the dish. It consists of an elongated cooking pot, a perforated steaming basket/rack to hold the tamales upright, and a lid. It can also be used to steam other foods, including vegetables and seafood, in large quantities.
10. Fajita Pan
This cast iron pan makes the best fajitas to serve sizzling to the table, just like at your favourite Mexican restaurant.
11. Cazuela Pan
This high-quality tapas pan is used daily in Mexican kitchens to make fillings for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chilaquiles and pozole. Able to withstand high temperatures in the oven, it’s great for making stove-to-oven favourites.
12. Mexican Wok
When deep-frying dishes like chimichangas and homemade tortilla chips, a Mexican wok is a must. Its stainless steel design also makes it ideal for preparing fillings, like fajita toppings and enchilada fillings.
13. Molinillo (Wooden Whisk)
This is a wooden, decorative stirrer crafted especially for making creamy, frothy hot chocolate. It crushes chocolate discs, then is twisted rapidly in the pot of melted chocolate to produce this ever-loved mug of warming Mexican hot chocolate. It can also be used to froth up hot or cold coffee, flavoured milk, etc.
Whatever tantalising dishes you want to recreate at home, these specialised tools will make it so much easier and help you to become a Mexican whizz in the kitchen!