Tetelas are a traditional Mexican dish made from a triangular-shaped corn masa harina dough that’s filled with black beans and cheese. This authentic recipe is cooked in a dry skillet and is perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
The first time I tried tetelas, I fell in love! These triangular delights are stuffed with a rich mix of beans, onions, jalapeños, and garlic. When you cook them in a skillet, you get that irresistible crispy outside while the inside remains soft and flavorful.
The filling is simple and delicious, and they’re ready from start to finish in under an hour! Next time you’re looking for a snack or a unique dish to share, tetelas are definitely worth a try!
What Are Tetelas?
Tetelas are a traditional Mexican dish from the state of Oaxaca made from a nixtamalized corn masa harina dough. They’re typically filled with a mixture of black beans and Oaxaca cheese and are known for their unique triangular shape.
Although tetelas may seem similar to tlacoyos, gorditas, huaraches, or other traditional Mexican recipes, there are a few notable differences. For one, their beautiful triangular shape is irregular for Mexican dishes. They also aren’t fried, making them a healthier option, particularly considering the filling is vegetarian.
- Masa harina: I used white corn masa harina, but you could use blue, yellow, or red masa harina. My favorite brand of masa harina is Masienda, but any brand will work.
- Water: A little warm water helps form the tetelas dough.
- Salt: A touch of fine salt for flavor and balance in the dough.
- Beans: Canned black beans work great for this recipe’s filling, but you could also use homemade black beans. You would need about 1 ½ cups cooked black beans with ⅓ cup cooking liquid.
- Cheese: Shredded Oaxaca cheese melts so well, but feel free to use Monterey Jack or Chihuahua if you prefer.
- Vegetables: Onions, garlic, and jalapeño add flavor to the bean filling. Feel free to omit the jalapeño if it’s too spicy for your liking, or use a serrano pepper instead if you want something with a little more heat.
How to Make Tetelas
Make the filling: Start by frying the onion, garlic, and jalepeño in a little olive oil in a hot skillet. Add in the black beans and bring them to a simmer.
Blend: Transfer everything from the skillet into a large blender and puree until smooth. You could also use an immersion blender or a potato masher if you prefer.
Make the corn masa dough: Knead together the masa harina, water, and salt in a large bowl. The dough should be wet but still workable, and it should not be completely sticking to your hands.
Form the dough into 15 small equal-sized balls, then cover them with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel to keep them moist while you assemble and cook the tetelas.
Press, fill, and fold: Using a tortilla press lined with parchment paper or plastic (a zip-top storage bag is perfect for this), press and flatten each ball using a tortilla press.
Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the black bean mixture and 1 1/2 tablespoons of shredded Oaxacan cheese in the center of the masa.
Fold over the left side of the masa, followed by the right side, then the top. Gently press down each time you fold to seal the beans and cheese inside the dough. The end result should be a beautiful triangular shape.
Cook: Place the tetelas on a hot skillet and cook them for about 3 minutes per side until crispy and beautiful brown marks appear.
Serve: I like serving my tetelas with a drizzle of Mexican crema, some chopped cilantro, and a side dish of my favorite salsa for dunking. Chile de arbol salsa, salsa verde, and roasted tomato salsa are all great options.
- While handling the masa dough, make sure your hands stay moist to help it not dry out. Keep a small bowl of warm water handy to dip your hands in before rolling and shaping the tetelas.
- This recipe uses shredded Oaxaca cheese, but feel free to use Chihuahua or Monterey jack cheese.
Although tetelas are typically filled with a bean and cheese mixture, there are a variety of fillings that you can use. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Blender. Perfect for pureeing the black bean mixture. This particular blender is powerful and reasonably priced.
- Tortilla press. Such a helpful tool in the kitchen when working with masa harina! Great for these tetelas as well as corn tortillas, gorditas, and tlacoyos.
- Parchment paper. Perfect when flattening masa in a tortilla press. The masa doesn’t stick! These come in convenient pre-cut sheets.
Storing and Reheating
To store, place leftover tetelas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To reheat, place a damp paper towel over the tetelas and heat them in the microwave in 30-sec intervals. If you prefer, they can be reheated on a skillet over medium heat.