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How to Use a Comal to Heat Tortillas

Ms. Venegas experiments with Mexican foods under the watchful critiques of her husband. The recipes need to pass a "when I was a kid" test.

Some well-loved comals: a seasoned comal is on the right.

Some well-loved comals: a seasoned comal is on the right.

Instructions for Heating Tortillas

Nothing is worse than raw tortillas. In this house, we like ours browned on the comal. This pan is simple and can be used on an induction burner, an electric stovetop, or a flame burner. It's lightweight, which makes it easy to take in and out of storage.

We own three of these: one for the barbecue, one for the house, and one for the travel trailer. Our old pan is on the right in the picture above. The pan is seasoned and has been used for 35 years. The small one is almost new and has been used only a few times. It was bought to be handy at the outdoor kitchen.

How to Cook a Tortilla on a Comal

Use this technique for corn or flour tortillas.

  1. The secret to using this pan is to let it heat up before you put the tortilla on. The handle is not for using once it is heated. It is used for putting it away.
  2. Once you have a medium-hot comal, put a tortilla on, and let it brown till you see air begin to bubble between the tortilla layers. Use the tip of your fingers to flip it and wait till the opposite side is also browned.
  3. Now put the tortilla in your covered tortilla warmer or between the folds of a freshly washed kitchen towel.

See how-to cooking pictures for a quick quesadilla sandwich below!

A comal is commonly used in Mexican cooking.

A comal is commonly used in Mexican cooking.

Add the Tortilla to Your Mexican Dinner

What does the Mexican recipe menu include in our Mexican-American household? Basically, a main dish, rice, and beans.

Spiced hamburger, rice, and beans was a regular menu when I was working full-time. Authentic like at Taco Bell! Spiced hamburger for burritos or tacos is sometimes called picadillo in Mexican families. We would usually have it in flour tortillas prepared burrito-style.

Because I married into a Mexican family, I learned how to prepare basic tortillas purchased from the market. Tortillas in the mass market are only half done, because the tortilla needs to be browned. Think of tortillas like toast. A few months after knowing my husband, the comal was introduced into the house.

No-hassle, lightweight comal for tortillas.

No-hassle, lightweight comal for tortillas.

A Family Heirloom Made of Carbon Steel

The tortilla warmers pictured are made of carbon steel and are lightweight. Mine is kept in a vertical slot over the oven for easy access and storage. It worked well on an electric ceramic cook top, and now we use it on the induction cook top. This pan also works fine on the flame in the RV trailer.

If your family eats tortillas more than once a week, you will enjoy using this Mexican-style comal. The beauty of owning it is having the seasoned pan to give to your children when cooking is no longer your duty.

Best prices are at Latino markets, but this one below is a fair price.

How to Season the Carbon Steel Tortilla Pan

This is truly a no-hassle pan. The surface will season with use. It is not porous like the iron skillet that needs seasoning to protect it from rust and food interaction. Food, heat, and oils will eventually give the top and bottom a seasoning: a testament to the well-used comal.

Cook Time for Heating Tortillas

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

3 min

1 min

4 min

Heat as many as you want

Start with a hot comal. Allow the tortillas to heat till bubbles rise. Flip and let light brown develop for extra crunch and flavor.

Start with a hot comal. Allow the tortillas to heat till bubbles rise. Flip and let light brown develop for extra crunch and flavor.

Watch the Heating Time!

Do not get distracted. If you get called to another room, just yell, "Heating tortillas," because leaving will likely result in burning.

Photo Tutorial: How to Make a Quick Quesadilla Sandwich

Heat the tortilla on a hot comal.

Heat the tortilla on a hot comal.

Flip the tortilla and add the filling.

Flip the tortilla and add the filling.

Fold the tortilla over the filling and flip to brown the other side. Your hot lunch is done.

Fold the tortilla over the filling and flip to brown the other side. Your hot lunch is done.

Questions & Answers

Question: No matter how I heat or season my griddle, pan, or comal, it burns my tortillas. I've tried everything. Why is this happening?

Answer: It is best to medium heat the comal before placing the tortilla. Then watch it carefully. No leaving to do something else is allowed! Peek under. When you see puffed bubbles form on the top, it is time to turn it over. Watch under the tortilla until it is browned to your liking. Then promptly remove it.

© 2014 Sherry Venegas

Stay by Your Comal "Proof of the Tortilla Is in the Heating"

Jerry on August 21, 2019:

I am nervous about using my comal on my ceramic cooktop - can I use it in the oven? How?

Sherry Venegas (author) from La Verne, CA on March 18, 2016:

Pam. Yes, the comal is light weight and more handy than the cast iron pan. You can squeeze more tortillas on it by overlapping and allowing for over hanging on the edges.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 31, 2015:

So crucial to get the tortillas just right.

Great hub!

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on September 10, 2014:

I think we might have to get one of these, it would probably work well for Pita Bread as well. Tortillas are best when heated properly of course.

Lauren from Florida on August 29, 2014:

I love tortillas, ideally homemade. This seems like the perfect complement to taco night!

Eugene Samuel Monaco from Lakewood New York on August 27, 2014:

Sounds great and a lot better than the microwave, which is what I use to them up. Thanks so much for sharing because I had no idead this existed :)

Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on August 27, 2014:

Mexican food always sounds good when nothing else does. You can do so many things with tortillas. The comal sounds like it would make them taste even better. It doesn't look too heavy either. Thanks for telling us about it.

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on August 26, 2014:

I had no idea what these were called, but I'm betting my husband would enjoy using this much better than our old cast iron skillet.

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