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Tortillas, those Mexican flatbreads that cradle your tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and wraps, have become as much a pantry staple as sliced bread. They can be made from corn, white flour, wheat flour, or a variety of alternative flours.
If you’ve ever eaten a taco on a warm, freshly made tortilla, you know why you might want your own tortilla press. Fresh tortillas are pliable, fragrant, and dramatically better tasting than the commercial alternative.
“Fresh tortillas hold food so much better. They’re typically thicker and more fluffy, almost like a fresh flatbread versus something packaged,” says Jocelyn Ramirez, owner of the Los Angeles-based catering business, Todo Verde, and author of the cookbook "La Vida Verde."
There are benefits beyond flavor: Pressing your own tortillas lets you decide how thick or thin you want them to be. Ramirez, who grew up with guisados, prefers a thicker tortilla that won't fall apart. When you’ve got your own press, you can also experiment with flour tortillas for burritos and a variety of homemade flatbreads, such as chapati or roti.
Here are the best tortilla presses of varying sizes, weights, and materials.
Best Overall: ARC USA 8-Inch Cast Iron Tortilla Press
Easy to use
Comes in multiple sizes
Hand wash only
Must be seasoned to prevent rust
Many tortilla presses are made with cast iron—and for good reason. Ramirez thinks cast iron is the best bet for most home cooks, as “the heaviness does a lot of work for you,” This model has a slightly bigger plate than many other models, allowing you to make a bigger tortilla for when your cravings lean more burrito than taco.
All cast-iron cookware needs to be seasoned to prevent rust and minimize food sticking to the surface, and this one comes pre-seasoned with organic flax oil (one of the best oils you can use for seasoning cast iron). This makes cleaning and maintenance a breeze.
Size: 8.1 inches | Material: Cast iron | Seasoned: Yes
Best for Corn Tortillas: Victoria 6.5-inch Cast Iron Tortilla Press
Great for tacos
Easy to store
Comes with an extra screw
Smaller than other models
This press is a bit smaller than some tortilla presses out there, but that can work in your favor if what you desire are the smaller corn tortillas traditionally used in Mexico for tacos. It comes seasoned with flax oil, making it ready to use, easy to clean, and generally low maintenance.
Victoria’s plates are specially designed to avoid pinching the dough or any stray fingers, and an extra screw is included for when the first one inevitably goes missing. Its slightly more compact size makes it just a bit easier to store for those with less kitchen space.
Size: 6.5 inches | Material: Cast iron | Seasoned: Yes
Best for Flour Tortillas: Eleganceinlife 7.3-Inch Cast Iron Tortilla Press
Easy to press
Works with all flours
Produces even thickness
Can be flimsy
Doughs made from corn are typically softer and easier to press than those made from flour. This 7.3-inch press is a good choice if you’re making primarily flour tortillas because its cast-iron handle is especially heavy. The design is well balanced, which helps you get the even thickness that can be hard to achieve, especially with flour dough.
Alternative flours can be even stiffer, but this press is up to that job, as well. Those who make low-carb or paleo-compliant tortillas from flours like coconut, almond, cassava, and more will find this model to be the right tool for the job.
Size: 7.3 inches | Material: Cast iron | Seasoned: No, but has nonstick coating
“When using a tortilla press, the biggest issue you'll encounter is sticking. To overcome this, you need to cut two pieces of wax paper the size of the press plates. This way, your tortilla ball will only touch the wax paper instead of the plates.” — Andy Wang, Chef and Cofounder of Knives Sensei
Best Budget: Fox Run Tortilla Press
Doesn't come with instructions
Aluminum makes it harder to create even tortillas
Most tortilla presses are made from cast iron, but there are quite a few cast aluminum versions out there, and this material has its own advantages. For one thing, presses made from cast aluminum like this one are less expensive than the alternatives.
When she first launched her catering business in Los Angeles, Ramirez bought several cast aluminum presses to save money. It’s still plenty heavy to help you get the job done, but it’s not so difficult to move around your kitchen. There's just one caveat: “They don’t always press as evenly as cast iron, so your tortillas might be a little lopsided,” says Ramirez. This model has an attractive polished finish and compact design, making it easier to stash away when not in use.
Size: 6.25 inches | Material: Cast aluminum | Seasoned: No
Best Wooden: Central Coast Woodworks Hardwood Tortilla Press
Works for flour and corn tortillas
This handsome tortilla press will make quick work of flour or corn tortillas. “Wooden ones are more traditional because, in rural areas of Mexico, it was easier to make a wooden press than one out of cast iron,” says Ramirez. Available in 8- and 10-inch versions, as well as solid red oak instead of the pictured walnut and red oak striped design, this handmade press comes from a shop based in Santa Maria, California, and is treated with food-grade mineral oils and beeswax.
It has a long arm, which provides the ideal leverage to easily press perfect round tortillas of even thickness. The wooden construction gives it a very different look than the usual cast iron or cast aluminum models. That also makes it a good candidate for countertop storage. It’s as much a sculptural decor item as it is a tortilla tool.
Size: 8 inches | Material: Red oak and walnut wood | Seasoned: Treated with beeswax and mineral oil
“For tortilla making, there is nothing like getting fresh masa. You can pick it up at your local tortilleria. Typically, 3 pounds would make about 36 tortillas, depending on the size. If you use masa flour, select a good quality one, such as Bob's Red Mill. The most important thing is to have your masa at room temperature. If it's too cold, it will crumble (plus it signals lack of moisture), and if it's too warm, it can get sticky.”— Marissa Gencarelli, Cofounder of Yoli Tortilleria in Kansas City, Missouri
Best Looking: Verve Culture Tortilla Press
Easy to clean
Produces tortillas easily
Paint can chip
If what you want is great style in addition to utility, this eye-catching, fire engine red design may be the right choice for you. The powder-coated finish is durable and easily wipes clean. Made from heavy cast iron, the press makes it easy to press out your tortillas.
Billed as a tortilleria kit, this set includes a decorative napkin for keeping fresh tortillas warm until serving, as well as a booklet full of helpful tips and recipes. It’s a good reminder to use your tortillas for dishes beyond tacos, including another Mexican classic, enchiladas.
Size: 6.5 inches | Material: Cast iron | Seasoned: No
Best Electric: Brentwood Stainless TS-127 Steel Non-Stick Electric Tortilla Maker
Easy to clean
Can’t handle heavy pressure
If you are feeding friends or a large family, an electric tortilla press makes meal prep easier. The Brentwood Stainless Steel model par cooks and presses tortillas at the same time. Plus, the heat setting is adjustable, so you can go as soft or crispy as you like.
The nonstick plates clean up easily, and the aluminum construction provides even heat distribution. No need to check for readiness—the indicator light fires up when the press is on and at temperature—and it can prepare more than just masa. This 120-volt tortilla press also makes crispy chapati, pancakes for moo shu pork, and roti to soak up butter chicken.
Size: 8 inches | Material: Stainless steel, nonstick coated
A cast iron version, like the 8-inch ARC USA Tortilla Press (view at Amazon) is the best bet for most home cooks, as it's durable and heavy enough to do much of the work for you. For smaller corn tortillas, check out the 6.5-inch Victoria Tortilla Press (view at Amazon), which, thanks to its compact size, is easy to store.
What to Look for in a Tortilla Press
One thing to consider when shopping for a tortilla press is whether you like corn or flour tortillas. Most tortilla presses fall within 6 to 10 inches in diameter, and corn tortillas do better with smaller diameter presses, while flour tortillas need more area.
“You don't need a really heavy tortilla press to make great tortillas—in fact, it's just the opposite," says Andy Wang, chef and cofounder of Knives Sensei. "Look for a press with a lighter top plate so that you have more control over the thickness of the tortilla. The heavier models, like those made of cast iron, give you no control. You can also pick a press based on the size of the tortilla you want to make. Larger plates on the press means you can make larger burrito-size tortillas, as well as smaller ones.”
Material and Ease of Cleaning
Most tortilla presses are made from cast iron or other metal. This lends durability to the press and ensures they will be up to large batches of tortillas. Most wipe clean easily, but must be reseasoned occasionally. Wooden tortilla presses are also efficient, but prone to warping, and require more care to maintain that stunning look. They can't be submerged in water and must be dried thoroughly. You can also find electric options, which not only flatten the tortilla, but cook them, as well. Electric models tend to be more difficult to clean because they can't be submerged.
If your heart is set on a cast iron tortilla press, it makes life easier if it comes pre-seasoned. If not, it will require some initial preparation before you can use it. Another design feature to look for is longer handles. They ensure more leverage and control when you press your dough.
How do you use a tortilla press?
“Line your press with wax paper or a thin piece of plastic bag. When you make your masa ball, press down with your hands prior to placing it on the press,” says Marissa Gencarelli, cofounder of Yoli Tortilleria in Kansas City, Missouri. “Close and press with medium strength. Flip the tortilla, and then press again slightly harder. This guarantees level of thickness and round shape."
How do you season a tortilla press?
This is only an issue with cast iron tortilla presses that are not pre-seasoned. Seasoning cast iron cookware creates a natural nonstick patina layer.
- Remove the oil it may have been coated with at the factory to prevent rust. Wash it in warm, soapy water with a Dobie sponge, and dry it thoroughly. This is important because any remaining water will create a barrier to the oil in the next step.
- Coat the press with corn oil or crisco thoroughly, making sure you cover the entire surface. A cotton swab dipped in corn oil can reach any tight spaces.
- Place the tortilla press in a preheated 300-degree oven for approximately one hour to allow the oil to bake into the metal.
- Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely. Repeat this process a couple of times for best seasoning.
What else can you make with a tortilla press?
“A tortilla press is surprisingly versatile and not limited to just tortillas," says Wong. "Essentially, you can make any type of flatbread in it, such as pizza crust and pitas. I've sliced them up to make my own tortilla chips. I've also known people to make sausage and hamburger patties with one of these."
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Joy Manning is a food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in many publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post. She’s the author of "Almost Meatless" and "Stuff Every Cook Should Know." For this piece, she interviewed Jocelyn Ramirez, owner of the Los Angeles-based catering business, Todo Verde, and author of the cookbook "La Vida Verde."
Carrie Honaker, who updated this roundup, is a food writer who worked in restaurants throughout college, including Cabo’s Tacos in Tallahassee, where they handmade tortillas daily. Between her experience as a restaurateur and avid home cook, she has pressed thousands of tortillas. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast. For this piece, she interviewed Andy Wang, chef and cofounder of Knives Sensei, and Marissa Gencarelli, cofounder of Yoli Tortilleria.