Gorditas roughly translates into “little fatties”, which is a reference to their appearance — fat, stuffed corn tortillas — and possibly your appearance as well if you eat too many. A play on my “Healthy vs Hell-with-it” theme, these are basically Tuesday’s very healthy, low-fat and wholesome corn tortilla recipe turned into fried corn dough balls stuffed with fatty carnitas (or really anything you can think of) along with cheese, onion, cilantro, lettuce, and salsa. If you look around, you’ll find literally tens of different ways people make gorditas.

Sometimes they are just a thick, grilled corn tortillas with the “filling” piled on top; sometimes they are stuffed before cooking (more similar to the way pupusas are made); sometimes they are small and round like a fist; other times they are flat and disc-shaped. What I see in Austin most often is this type: a thick tortilla, grilled, then deep fried, split open like a pita bread and stuffed with any meats or non-meats on the menu: chicharrones, barbacoa, puerco al pastor, carnitas, aguacate, frijoles refritos, nopalitos … the possibilities are literally endless. Anything you can put into a taco, you can also cram into a gordita and it’s divine. Crispy fried exterior, creamy and smooth corny interior. Top them with the usual suspects like Cotija cheese (salty, crumbly, similar to Parmesan) or sour cream and fresh onions, cilantro, lettuce, tomato. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to Little Fatty Heaven.

And then you’ll wake up there for real after having 10 gorditas and a heart attack.






5 from 2 reviews

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4


  • Dough:
  • 2 cups (8 ounces by weight) masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (approximate)
  • Oil for frying (about a quart, or enough to be at least 1″ deep) like corn or peanut
  • Fillings (see above text for more ideas):
  • Cooked meat, shredded or chopped
  • Refried beans
  • Cheese and sour cream
  • Lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro


  1. In a large bowl, combine masa harina, baking powder, salt.
  2. Add oil and about 1 cup of water. Stir to combine. Add enough water to make a dough that sticks together into a ball, but not so much that it sticks to your hands.
  3. Divide dough into 4 pieces and pat each out to a circle about 4-5″ across and 1/2″ thick.
  4. Cook on a hot, dry skillet over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 minutes each side, or until lightly browned.
  5. Heat the oil to 360-375 degrees and place gorditas in the hot oil. After about 2 minutes, they will rise to the surface. Turn and cook another 30 seconds.
  6. Allow to cool and drain on paper.
  7. Split open along the side with a serrated knife. don’t cut yourself!
  8. Stuff with whatever you like and serve right away.




  1. Great Stone Face on April 4, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Looks great! Gorditas always remind me of Gus Arriola’s old comic strip, “Gordo“. The first time Marsha and I had one was at the sorely missed La Casita de Speedy Gonzales in Arlington, Virginia. Before Arlington got all built up, you could go to this place in two small houses connected by a corridor. It had mismatched torn furniture. If you wanted a soft drink, you had to buy one from the Coke machine out on the front porch. Their gorditas were extra-large stuffed tacos in soft fluffy corn shells. A bit of of the Southwest in Northern Virginia, now gone.

    • Hilah on April 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Interesting! The gorditas you are describing sound like what we call Puffy Tacos around these parts! I’m going to make those on the show eventually, too, then we will see if they are the same.

      • arta on September 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

        where can i buy ready made Gorditas shells? thanks, Chicago area.

        • Hilah on September 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

          I suggest finding a Latin/Hispanic grocery store.

          • arta on September 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

            i’ve looked all over and none have them. maybe cause they r rare sellers. ok, thanks.

  2. Pat Soltis on April 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

    In Central America and Venezuela they make something called “arepas”, which are also little, fat, stuffed corn cakes. There’s a latino grocery store on the near west side of Cleveland that sells “masa para arepas”. I think it’s processed differently from masa harina. The recipe that I use has me brown them in a dry skillet first, then finish baking them in the oven. My favorite filling is diced avocado and mashed potato.

    • Hilah on April 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      You are correct, Pat. Arepas dough is just regular corn meal, not the lime-treated corn meal. I think it would be similar to the “Johnny cakes” we have here in the US. Avocado and mashed potato sounds kind of weird, but I would try it. 🙂 You fill the arepas before cooking them, right? Or are they filled afterwards like the gorditas?

  3. Keith on April 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Hilah,
    Looks like another winner. Being from New England (next state ova from great stone face actually.) all my attempts at home made corn tortillas failed. I swore off buying Masa Harina and have been buying pre-made corn tortillas til I buy (or make) a proper tortilla press. This recipe looks promising though. If I buy the Masa to try it, I will just HAVE to get a tortilla press just to justify having it in the house. A quick note… your vid on the Roku channel for Navajo Fry Bread is AFU. It plays the ad but that’s it.

    OK Massa added to the grocery list again and I am off to make Fish Tacos for supper.


    • Hilah on April 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Yay! I’m glad you’re going to try again with the tortillas. The first time I did it, I too got really frustrated because the dough was sticking all over the place but then I realized I just had it too wet and now that I know that, it’s easy-peasy. Let me know how it goes!

      • Grumpy cook on November 23, 2014 at 11:41 pm

        Noo taco press! not like puffy tacos think corn biscuits. tahdah

  4. Gilbert on March 18, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Will you marry me, love your website and your cooking style.

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