Tlacoyos are oval-shaped patties made fresh on the sidewalks of Mexico City, often on charcoal-fired grills. In this healthy recipe, fresh tortilla masa works best, but if you can't find it, masa harina is a good substitute. Look for fresh tortilla masa and cactus paddles at Mexican grocery stores. Source: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2017

Lesley Téllez


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Peel and quarter onion. Finely chop three-quarters of it and set aside.

  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining onion wedge and garlic. Cook, turning often, until blistered and golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Remove the onion and garlic and discard.

  • Add beans, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (Use caution, it may splatter.) Coarsely mash the beans with a potato masher. Add more water by the tablespoon and keep mashing until half the beans are smooth. Set aside.

  • If using fresh cactus, cook in a medium saucepan of boiling water until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Set aside.

  • Combine masa harina and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add 1 cup water and knead together until combined, then add 1/4 cup more water. Knead for 5 minutes, adding up to 1/4 cup more water, to form a very soft, moist dough. To test if it's moist enough, break off a piece, roll it into a ball and flatten it. If the edges crack, add more water and knead until combined. (If using fresh masa: Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with a few tablespoons water. Knead firmly, adding a little more water if necessary, until very soft and creamy.)

  • Divide the dough into 8 portions, about 1/4 cup each, and cover with a damp cloth. Roll one piece of dough into a ball. Place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll into a 5-inch circle with a rolling pin or very lightly press with a plastic wrap-lined tortilla press.

  • Remove the top layer of plastic and spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the beans down the center of the dough. Using the bottom sheet of plastic to help you, fold both sides of the dough toward the center to enclose the filling. Pinch the seam closed. Place between sheets of plastic or return to the lined tortilla press. Roll or gently flatten into a 1/4-inch-thick oval patty. Repeat with the remaining dough and beans.

  • Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When hot, reduce heat to medium and cook 2 tlacoyos at a time until the sides look slightly dry, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes more, adjusting the heat as necessary. Place in a clean dish towel and wrap tightly to keep warm.

  • Serve the tlacoyos warm, topped with the reserved onion and cactus (or pickled cactus), cheese, cilantro and salsa.


Equipment: Rolling pin or tortilla press

Tips: To prep cactus paddles, aka nopales: Wear gloves or grip with a towel. Using a vegetable peeler or a knife at a 45-degree angle, shave off the thorns and eyes on both sides and all the way around the edges. Rinse well.

Nutrition Facts

195 calories; 5.5 g total fat; 2.3 g saturated fat; 11 mg cholesterol; 342 mg sodium. 292 mg potassium; 29.9 g carbohydrates; 6.2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 8.8 g protein; 472 IU vitamin a iu; 4 mg niacin equivalents; 4 mg vitamin c; 58 mcg folate; 195 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 56 mg magnesium;