Totopos (homemade tortilla chips) are just the thing your salsas need! This crispy, crunchy, and delicious recipe is ready in 15 minutes and requires only 3 ingredients. Serve them with guacamole, soups, pico de gallo, refried beans, and much more!
Table of Contents
📖 What are totopos?
In Mexico, corn tortilla chips are known as totopos or totopitos. Because they're made with corn, each chip has a subtly sweet, nutty, and toasty flavor.
To make totopos, corn tortillas are sliced and fried in oil until crispy and golden. Depending on the purpose, they can be seasoned with just salt or other flavors like chile and lime.
📜 Totopos meaning
The word totopo comes from two different Nahuatl words (tlaxcalli + totopochtli), and very loosely translates to "toasted tortillas that are noisy to chew."
Seems like a fitting name.
The Zapotecs of Oaxaca are credited with the first totopos. In this version, corn tortillas are baked in an oven known as a comixcal or comizcal.
Since the colonial era, frying has become a common way of preparing totopos as well. Nowadays, they can be toasted, baked, or fried.
🌱 Are totopos vegan?
In general, totopos are very vegan-friendly!
One thing to keep in mind if you live near or in Mexico is the use of lard in some corn tortilla shops (tortillerías).
If you use pre-packaged or homemade corn tortillas, you don't have to worry about this though.
♨️ Can I bake tortilla chips?
Although the most common way to make tortilla chips is to fry them in oil, it's absolutely possible to use your oven!
For a lower-calorie version, spread the cut-up tortillas out on a baking sheet. Lightly brush them with oil and bake at 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes per side.
Pro tip: Fill a spray bottle with oil and lime juice to coat the chips prior to baking.
🛒 Ingredients & substitutions
For complete ingredient measurements and instructions, see our recipe card.
Oil — Fry your totopos in neutral vegetable oil with a high smoke point like canola, corn, peanut, or avocado.
Step 1 — Depending on how big your corn tortillas are, you can cut them into 4 or 6 pieces. If you want to make circular totopitos, use a round cookie cutter and press all around the tortillas until there is no more to be cut.
Step 2 — Spread the cut tortillas out on a cutting board or baking sheet to dry out for 5-10 minutes. If they are fresh, place them in your fridge to dry out faster.
Step 3 — In the meantime, heat some oil in a skillet over medium. Cook the tortillas in small batches until they turn a light golden brown color. They should only take about 60-90 seconds, so don't stray too far from your skillet!
Step 4 — Transfer the totopos to a paper towel-lined dish or a colander to drain excess oil. Season them with sea salt to taste, and repeat this process until all of the corn tortillas are gone.
Step 5 — Serve your homemade tortilla chips while warm and crispy. Happy eating!
🥗 What to serve with totopos?
Totopos are delicious on their own or served with tasty Mexican salsas like these:
Guacamole — Mashed ripe avocados, lime juice, salt, onion, and chiles.
Mango habanero salsa — Sweet and spicy salsa with fresh mangoes and fiery habaneros.
Pico de gallo — Chunky salsa made from onions, tomatoes, chiles, lime juice, and cilantro.
🌡️ Storage & reheating
No more stale tortilla chips! Follow these steps to ensure you won't have to deal with half crunchy-half chewy totopos.
Room temperature — Keep totopitos in an airtight container, and store them in a cool, dry area for up to 1 month.
Freezer — Transfer your chips to a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months.
Reheating — To freshen up your chips, there are two options. Lightly re-fry them (our preferred way), or bake them in the oven following these steps.
Note: Tortilla chips turn stale from absorbing moisture. By limiting air contact and reheating them, you can revive the crunchiness.
Spicy — Add cayenne, paprika, or ground arbol chiles to turn the heat up.
Zesty — Use lime, lemon, or other citrusy flavors to liven up your chips. For a spicy and zesty flavor, use chile-lime seasoning.
Herbaceous — Try sprinkling Mexican oregano, parsley, or cumin on for an earthy twist.
Colors — Make different colored chips by using blue, yellow, white, or red corn tortillas. Each color carries a slightly different flavor.
Shapes — Even though triangular totopos are great, you can make circles or strips depending on the recipe you're pairing them with.
🧑🍳 Top tips
Use stale tortillas — To prevent the oil from absorbing too much, it's best to use tortillas that are a few days old or store-bought.
Fry lightly — Remove the totopos from the oil when they are just turning golden as they will continue to cook for a few seconds afterwards.
Don't overcrowd — Make sure you fry the totopos in small batches so you don't overcrowd the pan.
Finely grind the salt — To help the salt better stick to your chips, make sure you finely grind it or use pre-ground salt.
Serve them warm — The texture and flavor is best right after the totopos are done cooking.
The best types of oil for frying are those with a high smoke point and neutral flavor. See our ingredients section for different options.
Yes, these tortillas chips are gluten-free because they are made from corn.
You can definitely use an air-fryer to make tortilla chips. Use a small amount of oil and cook them in your air-fryer for about 10 minutes. Just make sure to cook them in small batches.
Totopos (Homemade Tortilla Chips)
- Knife and cutting board
- Frying pan
- Oil thermometer
- Slotted spoon
- 14 corn tortillas ($0.58)
- ¼ - ½ cup neutral vegetable oil ($0.24)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.02)
- Cut the corn tortillas into 4-6 pieces, depending on how big they are. Spread them out on a cutting board or baking sheet to dry out for 5-10 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Cook in small batches for 60-90 seconds, flipping halfway, until lightly golden.
- Transfer to a paper towel-lined dish or a colander to drain excess oil. Season the chips with sea salt to taste. Repeat this process until all of the corn tortillas are gone.
- Serve your totopos with salsas like pico de gallo, guacamole, or salsa roja. Or, serve them alongside soups like pozole verde or aguachile. Happy eating!
- Oven — Spread the cut-up tortillas out on a baking sheet. Lightly brush or spray them with oil and bake at 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes per side.
- Air-fryer — Use a small amount of oil and cook the tortillas in your air-fryer for about 10 minutes. Just make sure to cook in small batches.
- Use stale tortillas — To prevent the oil from absorbing too much, it's best to use tortillas that are a few days old or store-bought.
- Fry lightly — Remove the totopos from the oil when they are just turning golden as they will continue to cook for a few seconds afterwards.
- Don't overcrowd — Make sure you fry the totopos in small batches so you don't overcrowd the pan.
- Finely grind the salt — To help the salt better stick to your chips, make sure you finely grind it or use pre-ground salt.
- Serve them warm — The texture and flavor is best right after the totopos are done cooking.
- 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.
🍴 Recipes with totopos
For more ways to serve homemade tortilla chips, be sure to check out these other dishes:
- Chilaquiles rojos — Crispy totopos covered in homemade red salsa and topped with dairy-free queso, crema, and veggies.
- Chilaquiles verdes — A similar dish to chilaquiles rojos but with green salsa instead!
- Pozole rojo — A chunky Mexican soup made with hominy, oyster mushrooms, and a lot of garnishes.
- Huevos a la mexicana — Tofu "eggs" mixed with tomatoes, chiles, and onions, then served with refried beans and totopos.