How to Make Tortilla Chips or Totopos

totopos tortilla chips

Tortilla chips mean opening a fresh bag, right? Not necessarily, say some of our favorite Mexican food cooks. They are surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make. Called totopos in Mexico, homemade tortilla chips take your guacamole, salsas and dips to the next level of delicioso.

But, tbh, we realized we weren’t 100% sure how to make totopos. You fry them, that we know, but how long do the tortillas sit in the oil? Do you add salt, and if so, when? Any special techniques to get them nice and crunchy but not too crispy delicate?

So, even though she is not an abuela (though she is a mamá of four), we asked one of our favorite Mexican cocineras MariCarmen Ortíz Conway how to make this essential Mexican treat for this Abuela 101.

The recipe she emailed us 5 minutes later could not be more simple and básica.

Step 1: You take corn tortillas and fry them until they turn golden-brown. The end.

No special techniques or fryers required. No need to add salt—they don’t in Mexico. No need to cut the tortillas any special way. Just slice each tortilla in four pieces. Put them in hot oil. Y ya.

One thing, though: Make sure the corn tortillas are on the older side, even a tiny bit stale—they will be that much crispier.

And here’s the upside. Making them from scratch is worth the extra effort, MariCarmen promises.

”Totopos are lo máximo with pico de gallo or salsa,” she says. “Or guacamole or refried beans.”

And, of course, MariCarmen reminds us, as she always does, that totopos or tortilla chips—like all Mexican food—taste better acompañados by a good tequila, the favorite drink of this certified catadora and agave alcohol connoisseur. 😏

How to Make Homemade Tortilla Chips or Totopos

Recipe by MariCarmen Ortiz Conway
5.0 from 1 vote
Cuisine: Mexican

2 to 3

Prep time


Cooking time




  • 4 corn tortillas, quartered

  • 1 cup vegetable oil


  • Use corn tortillas that are a little bit old, on the stale side. Cut each one into 4 pieces.
  • Use a wide pan so that you can fry more tortilla quarters per batch. Add oil so that it’s 1/2-inch high. Turn the stove burner to medium high.
  • Let the oil heat for about 5 minutes, until it reaches about 350°. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when you dip a wooden spoon into it and bubbles starts to form around its tip.
  • You can now add the tortilla quarters to the oil. Fry in batches, laying the pieces in a single layer. When the first side turns lightly golden, flip with tongs, so the second side can do the same.
  • When the second side of your totopos is golden brown, with your tongs, scoop them out and place on a large plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any extra oil. That’s it. Están listos! They are ready to servir with your favorite salsa or guacamole.


  • You can use any kind of tortilla brand, says MariCarmen. Just make sure you use corn tortillas, not flour.

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