The name says it all. A tortilla press, or “tortilladora” was invented for the specific purpose of making corn tortillas. Flour tortillas are usually rolled out with a rolling pin. It’s usually made of wood or metal and consists of a flat base, top, and handle. You simply place a ball or corn masa in the center of the press and press down with the handle to flatten it into a round tortilla.
Tostones (or patacones, as they’re called in Colombia) are a ubiquitous food in the Caribbean. And sure, you can make them without a tostonera, but these rustic wooden tools are pretty nifty to have around. And did you know there are two types of tostoneras?
One is used to flatten your plantain into the familiar amorphous “biscuit” shape. The other has a a hollowed-out pocket and is used to make plantain cups.
This hand-carved wooden whisk is easily one of the most beautiful kitchen tools on our list. Molinillos were invented to froth up hot chocolate and other traditional Mexican beverages, and trust us when we say that the foamy coating it gives the drink makes it sooo worth the investment.
Tamales Masa Spreader
The most cumbersome part of making tamales is spreading the corn masa over the tamal husk. You’d normally use the back of a spoon, and it’s a pain to distribute the dough evenly across the husk.
But with this handy masa spreader, you can get the job done with one smooth stroke. You’ll save a ton of time, and when you have to make a bunch of tamales for a special event, you’ll be so happy you got this tool.
Yerba Mate Gourd and Bombilla
Traditional Argentinian Mate.
In Argentina and Uruguay, mate is a social drink. But you can’t just pass around a hot mug of this herbal tea. Mate is always presented in a gourd, sometimes called a guampa and is drunk with a straw called a bombilla.
Ok we’re cheating a bit here, because many countries use some version of a mortar and pestle to grind up spices and other dry ingredients. In Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, a wooden version called a pilón is found in most kitchens.
What makes the molcajete unique is the basalt rock that’s used to make it. It’s also wider than your typical mortar and has a rough surface that’s ideal for making chunky salsas like this one.
Many cuisines use a particular type of pan to cook their traditional recipes. Perhaps the most famous of these regional variations of the frying pan is the wok.
But in Mexico, as well as many parts of Central and South America, the humble comal reigns supreme. This smooth, flat griddle pan with a slight ridge is ideal for cooking flat foods like tortillas, quesadillas and arepas. It’s also great for charring chiles and toasting nuts and spices.
Just like the comal isn’t an ordinary frying pan, the caldero is no ordinary pot. A go-to kitchen tool at many Latin kitchens, calderos have a unique design, with rounded edges and a tight-fitting lids.
Its also a kitchen favorite because its shape and material (cast aluminum) allow for excellent heat distribution. Whether you’re cooking rice and beans, braising meat, or making guisos or soups, chances are you or your abuela have used a caldero.
What kitchen tools and gadgets are a must-have in your kitchen? Let us know in the comments section!