Extra Helpings: Comal


Larry writes: I want to make corn tortillas from scratch, but the recipe says I need to cook them on a “comal.” Is this necessary?

I’ll answer your question in a bit, but first let me explain what a “comal” is to those who aren’t as adventurous in the kitchen as you, Larry.

In Mexico, the comal is the griddle on which tortillas are cooked, meat is seared and ingredients are toasted. In South America it’s called a budare (although it looks slightly different).

Traditionally, comals are round unglazed earthenware or light metal discs used over a wood fire. They’re mostly flat with a low, rounded ridge around the edge. They aren’t very deep… they won’t hold a sauce, for example.

Today, they look similar, but most comals are made of a heavier metal, like cast iron, about the size of a stovetop burner. You’ll also find elongated comals that fit over two burners.

Make sure you season and seal your comal before using (follow the manufacturer’s directions). Food won’t stick—ever (provided you care for it properly).

NEVER immerse your comal in water. Just wash it with a brush with soap and water and rinse it… that’s it. Store it when it’s completely dry.

Now, to answer your question, Larry: Is a comal necessary? To be honest, no. But I’ve found that it’s easier using a comal to make tortillas (which is what you want to do) because you don’t have to worry about burning your hands on the sides of the skillet. You can also use a comal for a lot of other things, like frying eggs or making grilled cheese sandwiches… so, while not essential, it’s handy to have one around.

Don’t use nonstick pans, like Teflon, aluminum or stainless steel. These don’t heat evenly and your tortillas will either burn or be undercooked.


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com