If you're a fan of tasty snacks, garnachas Mexicanas should be at the top of your list to try! Fried corn cakes are topped with spicy red salsa, shredded jackfruit, and a tangy cabbage slaw to create a unique blend of flavors and textures.
Table of Contents
We love all the different ways corn can be utilized in Mexican cooking, and these garnachas are no different.
Try making this recipe as a snack, main dish, or appetizer to find out how simple ingredients can turn into a true crowd-pleaser.
What are garnachas?
If you're a wine lover, you may be confused with the name of this recipe. Yes, Garnacha (Grenache) is a type of grape grown in Spain, but it's also a Mexican antojito!
Similar to sopes and picaditas, Mexican garnachas (or garnachas Mexicanas) start with a thick tortilla, which is then fried and topped with a tomato-based salsa, shredded meat, crumbled queso, and pickled cabbage slaw.
Before you get too attached to these toppings, be aware garnachas are popular in many states across Mexico, so there will always be slight differences in ingredients.
In fact, garnachas are not just a Mexican snack. This antojito can be found in Belize and Guatemala — of course with different toppings.
Are garnachas vegan?
Because garnachas typically utilize shredded beef and lard, they are unfortunately not vegan-friendly. But, an easy swap for beef is shredded jackfruit and coconut oil or vegetable shortening for lard.
If you're short on time, you can even make your garnachas without any meat at all!
The best part about this tasty snack is how easy it is to customize, and how simple it is to make 100% plant-based.
It can be a little tricky to pinpoint the exact origins of certain foods in Mexico. With a high amount of immigration, Spanish influence, and diversity within the country itself, information becomes muddy.
As we mentioned, the word "Garnacha" comes from Spain where it's used to designate a grape varietal.
Garnacha (the food) is thought to have its roots in Oaxaca, as is the case with many other well-known Mexican dishes.
Even though Mexico City, Veracruz, and other states prepare slightly different versions, it seems the ones from Tehuantepec (Oaxaca) are the most popular.
Nowadays, garnachas are commonly sold by street vendors or served in restaurants. However, they can also be found during Festival Velas, which celebrates the new harvest.
Serve your garnachas Mexicanas hot off the skillet with different toppings. Some delicious options include:
We have a feeling you'll love this vegan and gluten-free version of garnachas. Let us know your favorite toppings in the comments down below!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
What it is: this type of corn flour is unique in that it goes through a process called nixtamalization. The kernels are soaked in an alkaline solution (typically lime water), then cooked, dried, and turned into powder. The end result is a more easily digestible, safer to consume, and of course, tastier flour.
Health: being made from corn, masa harina is safe to consume for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerances. It also contains nutrients like calcium, B-vitamins, and zinc.
Where to buy: masa harina should be available in most larger grocery stores. If you have trouble finding it, try a Latin market if you live near one. The most common brand is Maseca, but there are tons of more natural varieties as well.
For more information, check out our detailed guide on masa harina.
Taste: to emulate the texture and taste of shredded beef, it's young jackfruit to the rescue. It's slightly sweet, yet easily takes on the flavors of seasonings — perfect for a garnachas recipe.
Health: compared to other fruits, jackfruit has a notable protein content. Although not as much as meat, it contains over 3 grams of protein per cup! But, what we love most is the fact that jackfruit is filled with vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, C, magnesium, and potassium.
Taste: with juicy flavors from tomatoes and smoky notes from morita chiles, this salsa roja does not disappoint. Throw in some garlic and onions for good measure, and you’ll be topping more than just garnachas with it.
Health: tomatoes are one of our favorite foods because of their rich antioxidant content — specifically lycopene. This compound is associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Pretty impressive little fruit!
Taste: adding a fresh, crunchy, and zesty element to the garnachas is a cabbage slaw. Shredded cabbage, carrots, and jalapeños are topped with a simple sauce of vinegar, oil, and salt to create the perfect garnish.
Health: although it flies a little under the radar, cabbage should be at the top of your healthy foods list. 85% of your daily vitamin K needs are contained in just one cup. This vitamin is important to help your blood clot, so make sure you include more cabbage in your diet!
If you have questions about this vegan garnachas recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: soak the jackfruit in a pot of water with vegetable stock powder and salt for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Step 2: combine the cabbage, carrot, and jalapeños in a mixing bowl. Season with the vinegar dressing and transfer it to your fridge to chill.
Step 3: sauté onions and garlic with the soaked jackfruit. Mix in some tamari and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed.
Step 4: prepare your masa. For more details, check out how to make corn tortillas. Keep the dough covered while you're pressing and cooking each one.
Step 5: break off small pieces of masa (about 30-35 grams). Add each one to a tortilla press lined with 2 pieces of plastic. Press gently to form tortillas slightly thicker than normal.
Note: if you don't have a tortilla press, use the bottom of a flat baking dish or plate and follow the same process.
Step 6: in a cast-iron skillet over medium, cook each tortilla for about 60 seconds on the first side, or until brown spots are forming. Flip and cook until they start to puff up, about 80-90 seconds. Keep warm while you finish cooking the rest.
Step 7: simmer the tomatoes, de-stemmed morita chiles, and onions until soft. Drain and transfer everything to a blender with the garlic. Blend on high until smooth, then season the salsa in the same pot with a little oil.
Step 8: top the garnachas with shredded jackfruit, then add them in batches to a large skillet with more oil. Add a spoonful of salsa roja on each one, and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy.
Garnachas Mexicanas are simple to make and perfect to keep in the fridge for a midday snack. Follow these tips to keep them fresh!
Store your garnachas in the fridge without toppings and they'll last for 2-3 days. If you don't finish them all, freeze the rest to use up at a later date.
The base of garnachas will freeze well in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 7-8 months. When you're ready to serve them again, just thaw what you'll be using overnight in the fridge.
Reheat your garnachas on a cast-iron skillet or pan for about 30-45 seconds per side or until heated through. You can also heat them again in the oven at 350 degrees F for ~10 minutes.
💭 Tips & variations
We'd like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with this garnachas Mexicanas recipe:
- Go oil-free. If you want healthier garnachas Mexicanas, omit the oil completely. They still taste delicious!
- Try a different salsa. Try a different salsa like salsa verde or salsa taquera.
- Use cast-iron. If you own a cast-iron skillet or comal, use it to create a more complex taste.
- Add the salsa while cooking. To warm your salsa and infuse it with the jackfruit, add it to the garnachas while they're cooking.
- Make them ahead of time. If there's a gathering coming up, try making the salsa, jackfruit, and tortillas ahead of time.
- Soak the jackfruit. To have ultra meaty, pull-apart jackfruit make sure you soak it for at least 1-2 hours before cooking.
🍴 Tasting notes
Your tastebuds aren't going to believe what's happening when you take your first bite of vegan garnachas. They're:
If you try this garnachas mexicanas recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- Cast-iron skillet or comal
- Tortilla press
- Mixing bowls
- 2 cups shredded cabbage ($0.11)
- 1 medium carrot, shredded ($0.14)
- 1 large jalapeño, thinly sliced ($0.03)
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar ($0.15)
- ½ tablespoon olive oil ($0.06)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
- 1 ¾ ounces dehydrated jackfruit ($4.93)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable stock powder ($0.10)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- ½ small white onion, diced ($0.12)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.12)
- 3 tablespoons tamari ($0.54)
- 2 cups masa harina ($0.25)
- ½ teaspoon salt ($0.01)
- 1 ½ cups hot water ($0.01)
- 4 Roma tomatoes ($0.64)
- 3 Morita chiles, de-seeded ($0.06)
- ¼ white onion ($0.06)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled ($0.08)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, and jalapeños. Season with vinegar, oil, and salt to taste. Transfer to your fridge until you're ready to serve.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in vegetable stock powder, a pinch of salt, and the dehydrated jackfruit. Let it sit covered for around 2 hours, or overnight, then drain the liquid.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add in diced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent. Add in the minced garlic for another 1-2 minutes. Lastly, add in the jackfruit and tamari and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the masa harina and salt to a mixing bowl and combine. Then, pour in 1 ½ cups of very warm water to start and mix together using your hands.
- Knead the dough to form a ball that's sticky enough to stay together, but not coming off on your hands. Add more dough or more water to achieve a texture similar to play-dough. Keep the dough covered.
- Break off pieces of dough to form small balls (about 30-35 grams). Add each one to a tortilla press lined with 2 pieces of plastic. Press gently to form tortillas slightly thicker than normal (about ¼-inch thick).
- If you don't have a tortilla press, place your ball of dough between the same 2 pieces of plastic on your counter. Press the dough down with the bottom of a baking dish or flat plate.
- Preheat a cast-iron skillet or comal up to medium. Cook each tortilla for about 60 seconds on the first side, or until brown spots are forming.
- Flip and press down on the tortilla lightly until it starts to puff up, about 80-90 seconds. Remove from heat and keep warm in a towel while you continue cooking the other tortillas.
- Add the morita chiles, tomatoes, and onion to a medium saucepan of water. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until softened. Drain and transfer to a blender with the cloves of garlic. Blend on high until smooth.
- Heat olive oil in the same saucepan over medium. Add the blended salsa back in and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until thickened to your liking.
- Heat coconut oil or vegetable shortening in a large skillet over medium. In the meantime, add the shredded jackfruit to the garnachas.
- Cook the garnachas in batches, and add a spoonful of salsa on top of each one. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Transfer out of the pan to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Continue the same process until all of the garnachas are cooked. Serve them with a garnish of cabbage slaw, guacamole, crema, cotija, or queso fresco on top. Happy eating!
- The weight of the rehydrated jackfruit is 350 grams for reference if you use canned or fresh jackfruit.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more corn-infused snacks and appetizers, check out our:
- Sopes for an easy-to-make antojito that starts with a thick corn base and ends with toppings like beans, salsa, and vegan queso fresco.
- Picaditas to try a thinner version of these corn cakes topped with green or red salsa, zesty onion, and crumbled queso.
- Mulitas for meaty jackfruit carnitas, vegan cheese, creamy guac, and spicy salsa loaded between two homemade corn tortillas.
- Squash blossom quesadillas to make a simple but delicious meal with edible flowers, melty vegan cheese, and fresh vegetables.
Garnachas are typically shallow-fried, but this recipe can easily be made oil-free for a healthier alternative. You can also use other varieties like avocado oil or olive oil if you prefer.
Yes! Since the base is made from masa harina, garnachas don't contain any gluten. Just make sure the toppings you choose are also gluten-free.
We would rate this salsa roja about a 3-4/10 on the spice scale, but it's a very subjective scale. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the morita chiles.