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!
Homemade Tortilla Chips
For a printable recipe, click here
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.