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Homemade Tortilla Chips


Back when I was a kid (into the far reaches of ancient history...the 50's and 60's), our family would vacation at Huntington Beach in Southern California, and on the beach there was a snack bar where they served tortilla strips (does any else remember these?).  They made them right there and served them in one of those paper tray things with a red sauce that we all just loved.  I’m sure it was pretty awful stuff, but the tortilla strips were so great.  They were different from store-bought tortilla chips in that they really were just fried up tortillas.  They tasted like corn and they were warm and crisp, and well, we loved them.

Fast forward to my adult life where I still absolutely love tortilla chips (maybe too much), but avoid them and the fat and salt inherent in those addicting little things.  So several years ago, I started making my own tortilla chips and was so happy to find that they tasted just like I remembered those tortilla strips I loved back in my youth on the beach in SoCal (minus the grease).

I know that lots of people make their own tortilla chips by frying them, but we love the real corn flavors that come through when they are baked.  The big bonus is that they are really super duper low in calories so you can eat them with impunity.  Or salsa.  Or guacamole.

Although this is a really simple procedure, there are several tricks to getting your chips perfect.  The dryer the tortilla, the crisper they’ll come out.  If you have a convection oven, use it!  The convection really crisps them up.  I’ve tried lots of different tortillas for these, but to get the real authentic flavor, use the yellow corn tortillas.  The white will work fine, but we don’t think they have as much flavor.  Just experiment until you find the right combination of tortillas, temperature and cooking times for your oven. 

Here are some great recipes to use with your chips!

Pico de Gallo Guacamole
Herbed Yogurt Cheese
Artichoke Salsa
Arroz con Pollo

Homemade Tortilla Chips
For a printable recipe, click here

Corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 for convection)*see below

Cut your tortillas into wedges.  I usually cut regular-sized tortillas into 4ths, and when I find the extra large ones, I cut them into 6ths. Cut them however you want, just know that the smaller they are, the faster they'll burn..um cook.

Lay the tortillas out on a baking sheet (I use 2 sheets) and spray with cooking spray (like Pam).  Give ‘em a good sprinkling of salt (however salty you like your chips) and pop ‘em in the oven.

Set the timer for 6 minutes.  After 6 minutes, swap the baking sheets from top to bottom racks and bake for another 6 minutes.  In my oven, they come out perfect at this point, but check at 5 minutes to make sure they're not getting too brown.  Sometimes I just turn off the oven after 10 minutes and let them sit in there with the door partially open.  They get really crisp.

The chips get crispier as they cool, but I love ‘em warm too.

*For convection, these cook up in exactly 10 minutes, no need to swap out the baking sheets.

Reader Comments (24)

Those look delicious!

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChocolate Shavings

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane! I can taste those HB chips and sauce right now. I can't wait to try these chips -- they look so easy and I bet they taste divine.

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudi

So glad you remember those, Judi. I was hoping I wasn't the only one. Throw some guac on those chips and enjoy!

February 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Oh yummy!! The next time I make corn tortillas, I'm going to make these. I always fried my chips, but I like the look and feel of the baked ones. Have you tried making your own corn tortillas? They are amazing and only require 3 ingredients!

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMemoria

I do often make my own corn tortillas, Memoria. We love them, but they don't make very good baked chips - too moist, I think. If you try making these with the homemade tortillas, let me know what you think. Maybe I need to let them dry out a little before baking them. But I hope you enjoy these.

February 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

My husband and I were high school students when we traveled to Huntington Beach every day of the summers we could and enjoyed those strips and sauce. The strips are the easy part. I want that sauce!!!!! Anybody have THAT recipe?

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSharon W

Oh, we've hunted, Sharon. We've researched and we just can't locate it. One gentlemen who also spent his summers at Huntington Beach said that he thinks they're still serving it out on the pier and that the sauce is a closely-guarded secret. I can still taste it though and have often thought that I should just try and re-create it from that memory. I'll let you know how successful I am. Thanks for stopping by!

January 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Grew up in late 60's at Newport Beach munching on "Strips". You can replicate their thin red sauce using dry Peqin peppers and blending with stewed tomatoes garlic powder,salt and pepper. Thin with a little water if neccesary. They served ours in little wax paper bags. Life was good in So. Cal. beaches back then.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLobo 74

Wow! Thanks, Lobo! I'm definitely going to try that! Oh, yes, life was very good in So. Cal. beaches back then. Sigh.

April 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Hi here in the UK we probably don't have the spray oils that you have over there but we can get spray low calorie olive oil and vegetable oil will they do the job?
The last time I made tortilla Chips I used corn
Oil but they didn't properly crisp could I have used too much?
Look forward to hearing from you

July 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhil

If you want to bake these (they get really crisp) without the spray oil, just brush each tortilla lightly with vegetable oil before you cut them into quarters, then just place them on your baking sheet and bake away! Make sure your oven is hot enough too. And another reason that they might not crisp up is that the tortillas are too fresh or moist, so let the tortillas sit out on the counter for a little while before you make them up. They'll work great!

July 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

They have the "beach strips" at 1st Class Pizza on Brookhurst and Ellis!! I was so thrilled when I found the strips and cheese they served at Dwight's when I was a teen :)

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTeeny

Really? Thanks for letting me know, Teeny! I'm definitely checking them out next time I'm in town.

October 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Here is a recipe I use to replicate:

Beach Cities Strips & Sauce

STRIPS (a slightly altered version of the excellent title-post recipe):
Preheat oven to 400 degs. Lightly spray two cookie sheets with olive-oil cooking spray. Cut 8 to 12 corn tortillas into 1 in. strips. Lay out onto the cookie sheets. Lightly spray tortilla strips then sprinkle with salt. Place cookie sheets on two shelves (not too close to heat source). Bake 5 mins. Then swap the cookie sheets and bake another 5 mins.

1 can (7-3/4 oz) El Pato Tomato Sauce (yellow label)
1/2c Karo Light Syrup
3T white vinegar
1/2t garlic salt
1/4t black pepper

Mix sauce ingredients. Pour onto stack of hot tortilla strips. Close your eyes and you're back in the 60s, on summer vacation, at the Balboa Fun Zone!

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Ward

Thanks, David! Sounds great! Can't wait to try your sauce... And be transported back to those beach days!

July 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I have also been searching for Dwight's secret cheese strip sauce. I've been able to recover bits and pieces of the recipe. This is what I know so far: vinegar (maybe apple cider?), chilli powder (kind?), brown sugar, garlic, tomato puree, and possibly anchovy paste. Sounds similar to the former posted recipe. Detective work is fun!!!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchris g

Sounds like a winning combination of ingredients there, Chris! Never thought about anchovy paste in there, but maybe we'll have to give it a try! Thanks for the great detective work!!

September 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I grew up in HB and have been trying for 20 yrs to recreate strip sauce. I even spent an entire weekend with a close friend who grew up in Newport trying to get it right. We weren't successful, came close but no joy, but we went through a lot of strips, tomato sauce and wine. Our spouses thought we were nuts, waxing poetic about that sauce. I'm going to try David's recipe this week!

Thanks for the memories!

March 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSandyToes

So great to hear from you, Sandy Toes! LOL!! Love the idea of going through all the strips, tomato sauce and wine. We'd love to hear back from you about David's sauce!!

March 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

So ---- nobody really know the recipe for Dwight's strip sauce? I find that hard to believe. I won't even tell you my age but back in the 60's I practically lived on that sauce. How may kids worked there over the last 50 years and they don't know the recipe? Did it come out of a bottle from a manufacturer and if so, what was the brand and what did they call it? Somebody help!!!!!!!

March 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Magnolia

LOL!! There MUST be someone out there who knows how this stuff was made!!

March 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Thanks for this post! I'm from HB and grew up eating strips and cheese. For years I have experimented with the strip sauce recipe and I feel like I'm finally close to getting it. These chips will make the perfect snack accompanied with that spicy, sweet sauce!

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Dwight's is still there in HB, The strips and cheese are still the same and you can buy the sauce in quart size to go.

May 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwhereismusicmarket

Maybe we'll have to get them to sell it online! Thanks for that info!!

May 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

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