Pasilla and Cascabel Chilli Tortillas


Tortillas with “chile rojo” or red chilli in English like these it’s something that has been done for a long time in Mexico, the masa is mixed with a chilli paste and worked with the hands integrating that delicious chilli taste into the masa flavour and texture, the result is a beautiful bright red colored masa that is then used to make an array of Mexican dishes.

There are many example varieties of these dishes across the country, in my birth town San Luis Potosi they are traditionally used to make their famous enchiladas potosinas (check the link for my recipe ).

In the little town of Rio Verde , San Luis, where my paternal grandma is from they have their own version where the red chili tortilla is lightly fried and topped with a tomato salsa, boiled potatoes and carrots with a bit of fresh cheese crumbled on top .

This type of masa is also used to make tamales where they combine the masa with the chilli paste and then filled them with shredded beef covered in a red chilli sauce, this makes them even more succulent and with that lovely spiciness and taste that we all love in Mexico.

What changes it’s the type of dried chillies used it could go from mirasol, guajillo, ancho, etc, they normally use these varieties as they are not as spicy and give that wonderful bright red orangy hue that make these tortillas so beautiful.

This recipe was created with the halibut tacos with zucchini slaw in mind, but they could also be wonderful as tostadas, or tortilla chips to top your favourite soup during the fall, to make your favourite enchilada recipe with special touch or to simply have a warm quesadilla with melted cheese and a bit of homemade salsa . I used my favourite chilli : pasilla that I think is not appreciated as much but it’s full of flavour and also a bit of cascabel for a slightly smoky taste, both are mild and even my little ones eat these tortillas so you can be sure that your family will love them.


3 pasilla chillies.

2 cascabel chilies.

About 2 cups of hot kettle boiled water.

2 cups of corn flour ( special for tortillas).

2 tsp salt.


Tortilla press.

For better results I cannot recommend enough to buy a tortilla press this not only makes it much easier but you get better shaped and thinner tortillas . They are easy to get online and not expensive the best investment if you are a taco lover.


Wash and clean your chillies , get rid of the stems and place them in a small bowl, pour the hot water in and another bowl on top to make sure your chillies are completely submerged, leave them soaking for 20 minutes approx. or until they become soft, is not necessary to remove the seeds.

Once your chillies are soft place them in the blender as well as 1 cup of the soaking chilli water, add a pinch of salt, blend until you get a bright red smooth sauce.

To make the chilli masa combine your red chilli sauce with the corn flour and salt, mix with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, add about 1/2 a cup of hot water little by little until you get a moist but non sticky masa, knead briefly over your counter and reserve.

Then to make the tortillas follow these steps:

  1. Form masa balls with the palms of your hands

  2. Place into the tortilla press in-between two pieces of plastic film.

  3. Press your masa down forming the tortilla.

  4. Place over a really hot non stick pan and flip over after a minute or less until both sides are cooked.

  5. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of your masa.

  6. Spread over the counter to allow them to cool down and then store away.

  7. Alternatively if you are using them straight away keep them warm covered with a tea towel, you can reheat over a hot pan if necessary.


You know you made a good tortilla when the steam goes inside of your tortilla forming a pocket of hot air in the middle , this might take a little practice.

The plastic film used in between the tortilla press is just a ziplock bag that I cut into two and reuse many times, to clean I simply wipe them with a bit of spray cleaner and kitchen towel.

I have found the best and most eco friendly way to store tortillas is by stacking cool down tortillas and wrapped them in bees wax paper, then store in the fridge for up to 7 days. to reheat them simply place them over a hot pan a few second on each side.

Alternatively you can also freeze them for up to a month in a ziplock bag that you can later wash and reuse, just make sure they are completely thawed before reheating.