Main dish Tex-Mex

Chicken gorditas

Chicken gorditas DSC7388 1

Every spring I get an itch to return to Texas as it just might be the best time of year to be there. The bluebonnets and other wildflowers are in bloom, the temperatures are mild, and after winter there’s an overall sense of joy throughout the state, perhaps best reflected in San Antonio’s celebration known as Fiesta.

Fiesta occurs every April and it lasts for about two weeks. The festival was started in 1891 as a way to honor the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, from the Texas Revolution in 1836. It’s a rich and complex festival with a royal court, parades, pilgrimages, and countless other events.

If you ask any homesick San Antonian what they miss most about their hometown, you’ll usually hear a tale about Fiesta. And while there are many traditions surrounding the celebrations, the thing people discuss the most is the splendid array of foods.

chicken gorditas | Homesick Texan

On offer at Fiesta are tacos, kebobs, queso flameado, tamales, sopapillas, Mexican corn, and more. But the dish my friends deem the most beloved are the gorditas—round, thick masa cakes that have been fried, split in half, and then stuffed with a variety of fillings. I had friends from San Antonio in college who would skip classes in order to make the six-hour drive just to get their fix. They are that good.

Now, you can stuff gorditas, which in Spanish translates to little fat ones, with just about anything. And in Texas, you’ll most commonly find them stuffed with meat, cheese, iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes. Basically, it’s your traditional crispy taco fillings sandwiched between a thicker, slightly crisp round shell.

chicken gorditas | Homesick Texan

While they’re becoming more common throughout the state, gorditas are most prominent in San Antonio and in West Texas towns such as El Paso. And like many Tex-Mex dishes, there is indeed a Mexican counterpoint also known as gorditas, though the difference between those and what you find in Texas is that in Mexico they stuff there’s with meat or beans, cilantro, onions, and maybe a sprinkle of cotija cheese.

In New York, I can often find Mexican gorditas at both taco trucks and in taquerias. However, they are always done the Mexican way, which is fine but sometimes I have a craving for a Tex-Mex-style gordita. So in honor of Fiesta and thinking forward to Cinco de Mayo, I decided to make a batch.

You’ll see gorditas stuffed with a variety of proteins, such as taco meat, refried beans, and chili colorado—anything goes. So for mine I decided to use shredded chicken tossed in a simple tomato and jalapeño salsa. As for making the gorditas themselves, if you’ve made homemade tortillas you can make gorditas, as it’s basically the same process except you include a frying step at the end to make them puffy and crisp.

chicken gorditas | Homesick Texan

To serve, you simply slice in half the gordita and then stuff with the chicken, cheese, and vegetables. Then you take a bite, think of old San Antonio, and say to yourself you are so happy that spring is finally here.

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Chicken gorditas DSC7388 1
5 from 1 vote

Chicken gorditas

Servings 6
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the chicken:

  • 1 3-pound chicken
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, cut in half
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Or
  • 1 3- pound cooked chicken, roasted or poached, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Ingredients for the salsa:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Ingredients for the gorditas:

  • 1 3/4 cups masa harina
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lard or shortening, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Oil for frying

Ingredients for serving:

  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salsa


  1. To cook the chicken, place the chicken in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Add to the pot the cilantro, jalapeño, salt, and peppercorns. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken with tongs from the water and place in a large bowl. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the chicken. Toss the chicken meat with 1/4 cup of the cooking broth (reserving the rest of the broth for another use if you prefer), then taste and add salt if needed.

  2. Alternatively, if you want to skip making the chicken you can shred an already cooked 3-pound chicken and toss with 1/4 cup of chicken broth.

  3. Meanwhile, to make the salsa, place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeños in a medium pot. (Don’t worry about chopping the garlic, onion or jalapeños, as you’ll be putting it in a blender or food processor after it cooks.) Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the onion, garlic and jalapeño are softened.

  4. Turn off the heat and cool for 10 minutes. When cool, pour into a blender and add the cilantro and cumin. Puree until well blended and everything is chopped. Add salt to taste.

  5. Pour the salsa back into the pan and add the shredded chicken. Stir to combine the chicken with the salsa, turn the heat on low, and cook the two together until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh lime juice. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. (After you make the gorditas, you can reheat the chicken on low if it’s not warm enough for your tastes.)

  6. To make the gorditas, whisk together the masa harina, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the lard and water and stir until a soft, smooth ball is formed. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Divide the dough into 12 balls. Roll or press out each one until it’s about 4-inches wide.

  7. Cooking the gorditas is a two-step process, where you first cook them in a skillet before frying. So first, in a lightly oiled skillet, on medium heat cook each gordita for 1 minute on each side. Transfer the cooked gorditas to a tray and repeat until all are cooked.

  8. For the frying, line a sheet pan with paper towels. Heat up 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet to 350°F. One at a time, gently lower the gordita into the oil and fry on one side for about 30 seconds or until it’s golden brown and puffed. With tongs, flip the gordita and fry for 10 more seconds. Remove from the oil and drain on the paper-towel-lined tray. Repeat until all are fried.

  9. When cool enough to handle, split open the gordita by slicing it on one end with a small, sharp knife halfway around its circumference. Stuff the gorditas with chicken, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese, and serve with salsa on the side for garnishing on top.

Recipe Notes

It’s best to serve the gorditas immediately after frying, though if you want to do some of the work ahead, you could do the first skillet step and then store the gorditas for a couple of days in the refrigerator, then bring back to room temperature before frying. You can also make the chicken ahead of time—it will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. If you’re making the entire dish at the same time, often I’ll make the salsa and do the first step of cooking the gorditas as the chicken is cooling before shredding it. Then after I’ve tossed the chicken with the salsa, I’ll then do the second, frying step for the gorditas.

  1. Do you really fry the Gorditas for 30 minutes??

  2. Lisa Fain

    Unknown–No, you do not! Thank you for seeing that! It should read 30 seconds and has now been corrected.

  3. Trying to explain that Tex-Mex isn't just tacos, enchiladas, tamales and burritos is hard sometimes. I love gorditas and have eaten both types.

  4. Lisa Fain

    Nancy–This is so true. Tex-Mex is a rich and varied cuisine!

  5. This San Antonian is firmly in the "Avoids Fiesta Like the Plague" camp. I know, I know– I'm a no fun stick in the mud! 🙂 It just really isn't what it used to be. I do always make sure to get my gordita fill at the Rodeo every February!

  6. Rocky Mountain Woman

    There's a little Mexican restaurant near my house that has homemade Gorditas. Several of my extra pounds are directly related to them. They're so good….

  7. Lisa Fain

    Stacey–Sounds like how a lot of my Austin friends feel about SXSW these days. I can relate–as I've grown older I'm not much for overly crowded events.

  8. Lisa Fain

    Rocky Mountain Woman–Those were pounds deliciously earned!

  9. Matt Robinson

    These gorditas are amazing and I am wishing I had a couple right now. I actually had some while I was in El Paso a few years ago and they were awesome. Thanks!

  10. Lisa Fain

    Matt–Well, you need to get cooking!

  11. I'm with Stacey. I've never been a fan of the Fiesta crowds, though I do miss getting off of school for the Battle of Flowers.

  12. Can you leave out the all-purpose flour or substitute something else for us gluten-free people?

  13. TexasDeb

    Lisa: I heard you can sub bacon fat for lard in recipes for tortillas (and by extension gorditas). Do you think that would work? It's hard to buy a little lard.

  14. Lisa Fain

    Lauren–It's always fun to get off school when you're a kid!

  15. Lisa Fain

    CCL–You can use all masa harina or substitute the all-purpose with some GF flour mix.

  16. Lisa Fain

    TexasDeb–I haven't tried it but it would probably work. Also you can just use regular oil or shortening.

  17. Lisa–I'm a teacher now and believe me, it's just as fun to get off school as an adult. Maybe more fun.

  18. Anonymous

    Growing up in San Antonio but now living now in upstate NY, what I miss the most are the bluebonnets in the spring, Texas BBQ and Fiesta.

    In high school, I was a member of an ROTC drill team and we marched in the Fiesta Flambeau Parade each year. I left SA in 1961 after graduating from high school. I took my wife there in 1968 for Hemisfair. I was amazed at what had been done to turn a weed infested creek in downtown into a wonderful area to visit. We go back periodically and always go down to the River Walk to see what more they have done.

  19. Just made this recipe. The chicken and salsa were SOOOO GOOD. I will def be making them again. I might have just found my fav salsa ever with this recipe (THANK YOU!) Somehow the gorditas though didn't puff up and were kinda dense…any ideas how to fix that.

    –Texas transplant to Ohio

  20. WHAT THE WHAT!!!??? A RECIPE FOR GORDITAS???? Yes, I know that was all caps, but I couldn't help myself. A fellow ex-pat Texan and San Antonian myself, a do-it-yourself-recipe for gorditas negates all inter web protocol. Gracias, amiga.

  21. There is just something about the fried corn tortilla in gorditas and puffy tacos that is just so good. It's like the best hot sandwich you ever ate and the flavors are so simple. Your chicken recipe sounds great, I like the mean filling to be simple, a good mildly spiced beef picadillo is also wonderful. The cool contrast of the lettuce and tomato in that fried corn container… they are just the perfect food. I like to add some fresh chopped onion into the assembly process too.

  22. Lisa Fain

    Lauren–I can imagine!

    Rollin–What a great story! The River Walk is such a treasure. I can't imagine San Antonio without it.

  23. Lisa Fain

    Kerrie–If the gorditas aren't puffing, check that your oil is hot enough. Also make sure that your baking powder hasn't expired. I'm so glad you liked the chicken and the salsa and best wishes with your future gorditas.

  24. Lisa Fain

    Jana–De nada, mi amiga.

  25. Lisa Fain

    BAM–It is indeed like the best sandwich. And chopped onions are a welcome addition!

  26. Mark Hall

    Just discovered your blog and LOVE the recipes! Even though I'm from North Carolina I've always loved Texas and native Texans!

  27. karen herod

    Congratulations on your James Beard award for best individual food blog! You deserve it and have worked hard for it!

  28. Ugggghhhhh I'm dying to go have a nice lunch with my sweet momma in our favorite little gordita spot in kerrville right now. Heading straight over to see if Southwest is running any specials. LGA -> SAT!

  29. First, Congratulations on the James Beard award – just saw the list in the NYTimes!

    Second, I made these with all masa and bacon fat vs lard…I think a previous commenter(s) had those questions. Anyway, wonderful – I've cooked gorditas on a comal but never fried them. Both ways are good but of course, frying elevates almost anything 🙂

  30. Ann (Rooney) Wassermann

    Congrats lisa

  31. Craig Horwitz

    I also found your site after checking out who won the best food blog award on the JBF site. Diggin the Gorditas. Nice work!

  32. Becky Mochaface

    Is masa harina something I would find at a regular grocery store or would I need to go to a specialty store?

  33. Lisa Fain


    Karen–Thank you so much!

    Amanda–Hope you make it back home soon!

  34. Lisa Fain

    Liz–Thank you! And good to know it works well with bacon fat.

    Ann–Thank you!


  35. Lisa Fain

    Becky–Depending where you live, you may find it at your regular grocery store, either in the baking aisle or in the Mexican food aisle. If not, then you'll have to go to a Mexican grocery. You can also order it online.

  36. Caroline {TheBarbeeHousewife}

    Mmmm! These look so delicious!

  37. These look so delicious!!

  38. My wife and I made your gorditas the other night and they were amazing. We can't stop talking about them! Honestly, we haven't tried a recipe of yours that hasn't been a huge, huge hit!

  39. MissCoffee Tabs

    Thank you so much for these recipes. I left for college to another coast entirely and you have no idea how much I miss my Texan food. 🙂 You're my hero.

  40. I got way behind in blog reading because— I went home to San Antonio for Fiesta! 😉 Really, I did! I love gorditas, but I have to say my favorite used to be found at the Poteet Strawberry Festival and were called "Marriage Encounter Gorditas," because the Marriage Encounter group from the Catholic Church there made them. However, since I haven't been to Poteet in at least 10 years, I'm thrilled to have your recipe!

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