Try These Traditional Mexican Cooking Tools That I Grew Up With

Celebrate Latine Heritage Month by starting right in your kitchen. Shop molcajetes, tortilla presses and more.
A cast iron <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-TOR-003-FBA_TOR-003-Tortilla-Press/dp/B00HWEIKZO?tag=tessaflores-20&ascsubtag=63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179%2C-1%2C-1%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Chp-fil-am%3D0%2C0%3A0%2C0%2C0%2C0" target="_blank" data-affiliate="true" role="link" data-amazon-link="true" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="tortilla press" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-TOR-003-FBA_TOR-003-Tortilla-Press/dp/B00HWEIKZO?tag=tessaflores-20&ascsubtag=63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179%2C-1%2C-1%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Chp-fil-am%3D0%2C0%3A0%2C0%2C0%2C0" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="0">tortilla press</a>, a handmade<a href="https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=6220&awinaffid=837483&campaign=&clickref=mexicancookingtools-TessaFlores-091522-63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179&clickref2=&clickref3=&clickref4=&clickref5=&clickref6=&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F956230377%2Fclay-lead-free-bean-pot-3-6-liters-olla%3Fga_order%3Dmost_relevant%26ga_search_type%3Dall%26ga_view_type%3Dgallery%26ga_search_query%3Dolla%2Bde%2Bbarro%26ref%3Dsr_gallery-1-12%26frs%3D1%26organic_search_click%3D1&pl=la" target="_blank" data-affiliate="true" role="link" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" clay pot" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=6220&awinaffid=837483&campaign=&clickref=mexicancookingtools-TessaFlores-091522-63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179&clickref2=&clickref3=&clickref4=&clickref5=&clickref6=&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F956230377%2Fclay-lead-free-bean-pot-3-6-liters-olla%3Fga_order%3Dmost_relevant%26ga_search_type%3Dall%26ga_view_type%3Dgallery%26ga_search_query%3Dolla%2Bde%2Bbarro%26ref%3Dsr_gallery-1-12%26frs%3D1%26organic_search_click%3D1&pl=la" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="1"> clay pot</a> for cooking beans and a volcanic rock <a href="https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=6220&awinaffid=837483&campaign=&clickref=mexicancookingtools-TessaFlores-091522-63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179&clickref2=&clickref3=&clickref4=&clickref5=&clickref6=&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F720248835%2F8-inch-molcajete-mexican-mortar-of%3Fgpla%3D1%26gao%3D1%26%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dcpc%26utm_campaign%3Dshopping_us_-home_and_living%26utm_custom1%3D_k_Cj0KCQjw94WZBhDtARIsAKxWG-_WOcF1R3JBqxPo4VYS3HrVifuIMYblJgkcZpJcjePmCP3Qpunc6rYaAv-WEALw_wcB_k_%26utm_content%3Dgo_12665398257_121762925993_511610210343_pla-303628061699_c__720248835_564906812%26utm_custom2%3D12665398257%26gclid%3DCj0KCQjw94WZBhDtARIsAKxWG-_WOcF1R3JBqxPo4VYS3HrVifuIMYblJgkcZpJcjePmCP3Qpunc6rYaAv-WEALw_wcB&pl=la" target="_blank" role="link" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="molcajete" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=6220&awinaffid=837483&campaign=&clickref=mexicancookingtools-TessaFlores-091522-63221ff5e4b027aa4061f179&clickref2=&clickref3=&clickref4=&clickref5=&clickref6=&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F720248835%2F8-inch-molcajete-mexican-mortar-of%3Fgpla%3D1%26gao%3D1%26%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dcpc%26utm_campaign%3Dshopping_us_-home_and_living%26utm_custom1%3D_k_Cj0KCQjw94WZBhDtARIsAKxWG-_WOcF1R3JBqxPo4VYS3HrVifuIMYblJgkcZpJcjePmCP3Qpunc6rYaAv-WEALw_wcB_k_%26utm_content%3Dgo_12665398257_121762925993_511610210343_pla-303628061699_c__720248835_564906812%26utm_custom2%3D12665398257%26gclid%3DCj0KCQjw94WZBhDtARIsAKxWG-_WOcF1R3JBqxPo4VYS3HrVifuIMYblJgkcZpJcjePmCP3Qpunc6rYaAv-WEALw_wcB&pl=la" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="2">molcajete</a> crafted in Mexico.
Amazon, Etsy
A cast iron tortilla press, a handmade clay pot for cooking beans and a volcanic rock molcajete crafted in Mexico.

From a young age, certain foods and ingredients would be woven into the stories that my father would tell me about his own formative years as a first-generation Mexican immigrant. He was second-to-youngest in a family of 16 that would travel around the country as migrant workers, following the crops and eating dishes resourcefully made from the fruits and vegetables that they would pick, utilizing the same cooking methods as their ancestors before them.

A bold-flavored salsa roja crafted using an ancient Mexican mortar and pestle isn’t just something to eat with chips; it’s the same salsa my grandmother would make. Husk-wrapped tamales, plump with filling and spices, will always be synonymous with family and Christmas. And a perfectly charred flour tortilla toasted on a comal is, in my opinion, truly the only way to enjoy one.

Once I moved out and lived on my own, I found myself holding on to the culinary traditions that I was raised with, partly out of comfort and partly out of pride for my heritage as a Latina.

In order to keep the magic and meaning of my culture’s food alive, and more importantly, to share it with people that might not be familiar, I gathered the cooking gadgets of my childhood into the following list. Each of these tools are endowed with a deep-rooted history and have been used in the kitchens of Mexican households 100 times over, including my own.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

1
A volcanic rock molcajete for infusing flavors into salsas and guacamole
Possibly the most significant Mexican cooking tool, in my opinion, is the molcajete: an ancient mortar and pestle chiseled from a unique basalt stone that has the ability to infuse complex flavors into salsas, pastes and guacamole. This porous-textured bowl is used to grind down chiles, seeds and herbs in order to release oils from ingredients that add a true taste difference to dishes.

I actually purchased this exact molcajete for my father after the one he inherited from my grandmother had gone completely smooth from decades' worth of use. It's authentically crafted with stone extracted from an extinct volcano in Michoacán, Mexico, by local artisans.
2
A cast iron comal for the perfectly prepared tortillas
If you're microwaving your tortillas (or worse, eating them cold), respectfully, you're doing it wrong. A comal, which is a flat cast iron skillet, is the ideal way to give the perfect amount of warmth, char and flavor to both flour and corn tortillas. This 8-inch option offers a greater retention and distribution of heat and is nearly identical to the one that I have.

Just place your tortilla on top of the heated surface until it gets small crispy pockets of air, making sure to heat both sides. Then, you have the perfect vessel for beans and rice or a delicious way to sop up runny egg yolks and crispy papas at breakfast time.
3
An enamel-coated tamale steamer
Making homemade tamales is definitely a laborious endeavor, but for me, it's one that's worth taking. During the holidays I loved to watch my tías spend hours in the kitchen filling masa (a corn-based dough) with spiced tender meats before wrapping them in corn husks and steaming them in a pot similar to this.

Although you definitely don't need a designated steamer to make tamales, it does make things easier and this 15-quart pot can also be useful for preparing other foods as well. It's double-coated in enamel, dishwasher-safe and resistant to corrosion.
4
Etsy/Mexico2Us
Two handwoven tortilla warmers
As I mentioned earlier, cold tortillas are just simply not it. Having a tortilla warmer at your table is a great way to enjoy your meal without having to get up each time to make a fresh tortilla or having them go cold. These warmers are handmade from woven palm and painted with a decorative design. For even more heat retention, you can line these warmers with a kitchen towel and wrap your fresh-off-the-comal tortillas inside.
5
A handmade clay pot for cooking beans and stocks
This handcrafted pot, or olla de barro, closely resembles the one my father often uses to simmer beans and make stocks that will flavor rice or caldo de res (my favorite Mexican dish of all time.) True to tradition, it's made using lead-free red clay and is loved for its ability to infuse flavors into its contents.
6
A cast iron tortilla press
Don't get me wrong, store-bought tortillas were definitely a household staple growing up. However, on the occasion that the tortilla press was brought out, I knew it was going to be a good day. Making your own tortillas from scratch, especially corn, is actually easier than you might think and keeping a press like this one handy makes the process even easier.

This 8-inch cast iron version has an enforced base for greater stability and resistance and the plates have been specially designed to avoid pinching you or the dough.
7
Etsy/MyCajitaCo
A hand-carved wooden whisk for frothy Mexican hot chocolate
Swiss Miss has nothing on Abuelita's hot chocolate, especially when it's made using a molinillo –– a wooden whisk that is essential for creating this frothy and iconic beverage. Traditionally, Mexican hot chocolate comes in solid discs that, when hot milk is added, are broken up and whisked in. The result is a creamy and cocoa-intense confection, with a delightful foamy layer on top.

This hand-carved whisk was crafted by a wood artisan in Mexico and features the traditional flat bottom for grinding the chocolate tablet and loose rings around the base that whip everything together. Plus, it looks really beautiful displayed on your countertop.

Before You Go

"The Shadow Of The Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Can't-Miss Classic and Contemporary Books By Latine Authors

MORE IN LIFE