It’s easy to source tortillas from a food distributor, but for operators who want to serve authentic homemade tortillas, or specialty tortillas, a tortilla press is a necessary piece of kitchen equipment. Tortillas start out as small balls of tortilla dough and must be flattened before cooking. The flattening process can be done with a traditional rolling pin, but a tortilla press:
- Is faster
- Requires less physical effort
- Produces a nicely round shape
- Flattens the dough to a more even thickness
- Provides more consistency within a batch
- May be able to cook the dough while flattening it
In commercial kitchens, a “tortilla press” usually refers to one of three items:
- Manual Tortilla Press, Tortilla Maker – Simple and economically priced, a manual tortilla press, or tortilla maker, usually features two round cast iron plates that are hinged together on one side. A handle is attached to the opposite side and provides leverage to squeeze the two plates together, flattening the raw dough in between. After pressing, the raw tortilla is cooked. These work fine for small batches.
- Commercial Dough Press – More versatile and efficient, these are commonly called commercial dough presses because in addition to tortillas, they are used to flatten balls of pizza dough and pie crusts. Thickness is adjustable, and the press consists of two round heated platens, or griddle plates, that are squeezed together by pulling down on a handle. The heated platens not only press the dough, they cook it in seconds. Some models can produce up to 1000 tortillas per hour.
- Tortilla Machine – These are generally much larger units and employ a series of rollers that flatten and shape the balls of dough. Some are designed to cook the tortillas at the same time. Dough balls are dropped into a chute at the top of the machine and tortillas emerge from the bottom on a conveyor belt. These provide a continuous flow of tortillas and some units can produce as many as 1800 tortillas per hour.
When shopping, think about the volume, speed, available labor, machine quality, and parts availability.