Panuchos are a Yucatecan specialty that involves freshly made corn tortillas stuffed with refried black beans. In this plant-based recipe, try them topped with shredded jackfruit, pickled onions, and sliced avocados for a flavor explosion!
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Of all the Mexican dishes we've had the privilege of trying, this vegan take panuchos Yucatecos is one of our absolute favorites. This snack is full of flavors popular in the Yucatán Peninsula like achiote, citrus, and black beans.
What are panuchos Yucatecos?
Panuchos Yucatecos are a specialty antojito originating from the Yucatan (of course), and something you need to try at least once!
While somewhat similar to salbutes (another Yucatecan dish), there are some subtle differences that make panuchos one of a kind!
So, what are they?
Panuchos are made from fresh corn tortillas. Once they puff up on the comal, they're cut open (like a pita) and stuffed with refried black beans. Genius, right?
Once cooked, toppings like shredded chicken (jackfruit in our case), pickled onions, avocado, chiles, and cabbage are added to create the most drool-worthy snack.
Are panuchos vegan?
Unfortunately, panuchos fall into the not vegan category for a few reasons.
For one, most recipes utilize lard to fry the panuchos (it can also be in refried beans too). Our fix? Vegetable shortening, vegan butter, or flavorless coconut oil.
A common topping for panuchos is shredded chicken or pork in the form of cochinita pibil (another Yucatecan specialty). Instead, we use shredded jackfruit with a simple cochinita pibil-inspired marinade.
Our goal is to learn, enjoy, and share the incredible flavors and cooking techniques of Mexican cuisine in a compassionate, cruelty-free way.
This dish is a Yucatecan specialty, specifically from the state capital of Mérida. The origin story goes like this:
A man, named Don Hucho, owned a small inn that offered food and shelter to travelers on their way to and from Campeche.
One day, a hungry traveler needed something to eat. With limited ingredients, Don whipped him up a piece of bread with onions and boiled eggs.
Somewhere along the way, this dish evolved into bean-stuffed tortillas topped with a variety of different meats and vegetables.
We're not exactly sure where panuchos took a turn from the original, but they are delicious nonetheless.
Serve your panuchos hot off the skillet and loaded with toppings. While completely customizable, pickled onions and avocados are two of the more common choices. If that's not your jam, you can try other garnishes like:
There's no right or wrong way to serve your panuchos recipe in our opinion. The only rule is that you should enjoy them!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: panuchos are made using fresh corn tortillas for all their soft, sweet, and toasty flavors. In order to easily cut into them, it's important to achieve a "puff" when you cook the tortillas. It's always so satisfying seeing that puff!
Health: the corn used to make tortillas goes through a special process called nixtamalization. In short, it allows certain vitamins (like niacin) to be better absorbed by humans. Plus, corn tortillas are filled with fiber and magnesium.
Refried black beans
Taste: for panuchos Yucatecos, you need to have sweet and creamy refried black beans stuffed into the tortilla. Black beans are the most common variety found in Yucatecan cuisine, but you can also use pinto or bayo beans if that's what you prefer.
Health: we love cooking with black beans because they have an exceptional macro and micronutrient profile. They contain heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and iron. On top of that, there are 15 grams of protein in just one cup of beans. That's some serious plant-based protein!
Taste: with a very "meaty" taste and texture, jackfruit is our first choice to replace the pork commonly used in this recipe. Sticking with a similar marinade, we use a combination of achiote, herbs, vinegar, and citrus to emulate the sweet, tangy, and earthy flavors of cochinita pibil.
Health: unlike pork, which is high in saturated animal fats and cholesterol, jackfruit is lower in calories and contains loads of vitamin C and B. You can feel better about eating more, all while lowering your risk of heart disease.
Taste: you'd be hard-pressed to find panuchos Yucatecos without a pop of pink from pickled onions. With the addition of sliced habaneros, this topping adds crunchy, spicy, and tangy notes to the recipe.
Health: one surprising fact about red onions is their potential in regulating blood pressure. Yes, you read that right! Not only that, a few compounds found in onion have actually shown anti-diabetic properties.
If you have questions about this panuchos recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: rehydrate the jackfruit in a pot of boiling water for around 20-30 minutes with vegetable stock and some salt. You can also leave it to sit overnight in room temperature water.
Step 2: mix the achiote marinade in a small bowl, then sauté the onions and garlic before adding the jackfruit. Mix in the achiote mixture, oregano, and cook for another few minutes to combine.
Step 4: make a batch of masa for the tortillas, adding more water or flour to achieve a texture similar to play-dough. Keep the masa covered so it stays hydrated while you're heating a cast-iron skillet to medium-high.
Step 5: form dough balls (about 50 grams each) and press them between two pieces of plastic in either a tortilla press or on your counter with the bottom of a baking dish. The tortillas can be slightly thicker than regular corn tortillas.
Step 6: cook the tortillas on the first side for 10 seconds. Flip and cook for another minute or so, then flip once more and cook until the tortilla puffs up. Keep the cooked tortillas in a towel or warmer while you cook the rest.
Step 7: cut around the tortilla edge and pull up the top layer to form a pocket (like a pita). Add a spoonful of refried beans, close the tortilla up, and spread it around evenly inside. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Step 8: heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium, and cook the panuchos on each side until golden brown. To serve, top them with shredded jackfruit, pickled onions, and avocado slices. Happy eating!
This panuchos recipe is simple to make, and all the ingredients involved store incredibly well.
Corn tortillas will last in the fridge for about 3-4 days with or without the beans in them. We suggest adding the beans at the time of cooking.
As for the jackfruit, it'll last in your fridge for about a week. For the best preservation of flavor, store it in an airtight glass container.
And if you keep your pickled onions in a mason jar, they will be good in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Corn tortillas (without the added beans) will freeze for 7-8 months as long as you're using a freezer-safe bag.
The jackfruit will last in the freezer for about 2-3 months, but most likely longer.
When you want to use these ingredients again, just thaw them overnight in the fridge and follow the same cooking instructions.
💭 Pro tips
We'd like to share some tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this panuchos recipe:
- Go oil-free. If you want a healthier version of panuchos, leave out the oil! We like them both ways.
- Add some spice. The jackfruit marinade is quite mild, so if you like spice then double down on habaneros in the pickled onions.
- Use cast iron. We really love cooking with cast iron because the taste is like nothing else. Give it a try to see what you prefer!
- Save time. Make your tortillas a day or two early if you know you're going to be making panuchos. It will save some time when you go to serve them.
- Soak the jackfruit. Don't forget to soak your jackfruit so it's extra tender and easily pulls apart for this recipe.
🍴 Tasting notes
There is something about this combination that makes our mouths water just thinking about panuchos. They're:
If you try this vegan version of panuchos, 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!
- Large stockpot
- Chef knife & cutting board
- Cast-iron skillet
- Tortilla press
- Mixing bowls
- 1 ¾ ounces jackfruit ($4.93)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder ($0.05)
- 1 ounce achiote ($0.28)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar ($0.02)
- ½ navel orange, juiced ($0.10)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- ¼ small white onion, diced ($0.06)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.08)
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano ($0.02)
- Salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- 2 cups masa harina ($0.25)
- ½ teaspoon salt ($0.01)
- 1 ½ cups warm water ($0.01)
- Neutral oil for frying
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in vegetable stock powder, a pinch of salt, and the dehydrated jackfruit. Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, or leave it to soak overnight in room temperature water.
- In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, orange juice, and achiote mix to smooth out as many clumps as possible. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add in diced onion and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add in the minced garlic for another 1-2 minutes. Lastly, add in drained jackfruit, oregano, and the achiote mixture and continue cooking until well combined, about 5 minutes.
- Prepare a homemade recipe of refried black beans (or use store-bought).
- Prepare a batch of pickled onions. Note: we added a few sliced habaneros, but this is optional.
- Add the masa harina and salt to a mixing bowl and combine. Then, pour in 1 ½ cups of warm water to start and mix together using your hands.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes to hydrate the flour. Add more water or flour to achieve a texture similar to play-dough. Keep the dough covered with a tea towel so it stays moist (add more water as needed).
- Preheat a seasoned cast-iron skillet or comal slowly to medium-high while you roll and press the tortillas. If you are using a regular frying pan, preheat it with no oil.
- Break off pieces of masa to form small balls (about 50 grams). Roll each piece of dough between your palms until smooth.
- If you have a tortilla press, cut a zip lock bag into 2 pieces that will fit into the press. Open the press and place a ball of dough in the center on a piece of plastic. Place the other plastic piece on top and close the press down to form tortillas slightly thicker than normal (about ⅛-inch thick).
- Gently add a tortilla to the hot pan and cook on the first side for 10 seconds. Flip and cook for 60-90 seconds, then flip once more and cook until brown spots are forming and the tortilla puffs up, about 40 seconds. Keep the cooked tortillas in a towel or warmer.
- Cut around the tortilla edge and pull up the top layer to form a pocket (like a pita). Add a spoonful of refried beans, close the tortilla up, and spread it around evenly inside. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium, and cook the panuchos on each side until golden brown. To serve, top them with the shredded jackfruit, pickled onions, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime. Happy eating!
- If you don't have a tortilla press, you can achieve similar results with the bottom of a baking dish or flat plate.
- 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 plant-based versions of popular Mexican snacks, check out our:
- Sopes for an easy-to-make antojito that starts with a base of masa and ends with refried beans, spicy salsa, and vegan cheese.
- Garnachas to highlight crunchy corn bases topped with spicy red salsa, shredded jackfruit, and a tangy cabbage slaw.
- Picaditas for another corn-based bite topped with salsa verde, salsa roja, chopped white onions, and creamy vegan queso.
- Mulitas to try jackfruit carnitas, melty vegan cheese, guacamole, and spicy salsa smashed between corn tortillas.
Yes, you can replace dried jackfruit with canned jackfruit in this panchuos recipe. The weight of the rehydrated jackfruit is 350 grams for reference.
If you don't have achiote paste you can use the following:
1 ½ tablespoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon of cumin.
Because panuchos are made with masa harina, they are free of gluten. You just have to ensure any additional ingredients not listed in our recipe are also gluten-free.