The Perfect Panuchos Recipe

Looking for a zesty alternative to cheese and crackers? Paunchos are small bites that will have your taste buds swirling and your dinner guests begging for return visit. Panuchos are small, handmade tortillas topped with a variety of tasty treats and are a favorite in the Yucatan. This recipe from Melinda Lee is the perfect recipe for six peopl.! Although they are small, they pack a huge flavor punch that you will not soon forget!

Panuchos Recipe, Ixtapa Mexical Grill and Cantina, MAIngredients:

1/2 pound masa for tamales or masa for tortillas [Cook’s Note: the choice is yours; either kind of masa may be purchased (or made from package directions on bags of masa harina, OR see our recipe for World’s Greatest Homemade Fresh Corn Tortillas]

1/4 cup, homemade or store bought (good-quality canned) refried black beans – pureed about 2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups, shredded cooked roasted chicken 1 cup, good red tomato salsa (roasted tomato salsa is particularly flavorful)

1 cup, Pickled Red Onions – store-bought or make them using our version in Recipe Archives (menu at left)

For garnish: 1 avocado – peeled, seeded and sliced


Divide the masa into 12 pieces and form each piece into a ball. Press or roll each ball into a 4-inch circle (or disk).

Heat a dry cast iron-skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until it is hot, and cook the tortillas for about 30-45 seconds per side, pressing the top of each tortilla with your fingertips to make it puff. Remove cooked tortillas to a towel.

When cool enough to handle, pick up each puffed tortilla and make a 1 1/2 –inch slit about 1/4-inch from the edge to make a pocket, being careful not to cut all the way through the tortilla.

Stuff 2 teaspoons of the bean puree in each pocket. Flatten to seal and spread the beans evenly. Reserve the stuffed tortillas on a tray covered with a barely damp cloth.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Fry the stuffed tortillas in batches, adding more oil as necessary, until they are a little crisp around the edges but still pliable. Drain on paper towels. Then place on a tray and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

Heat the chicken in a small pan over low heat.

Remove the tray of panuchos from the oven. Top each with a scant tablespoon (just less than a tablespoon) of tomato salsa. Sprinkle on the chicken and pickled onions and top each panucho with a small avocado slice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

These decadent yet fresh morsels can be a bit labor intensive when you first begin making them, but once you taste that first bite you will know that all of that work was worthwhile. However, if you don’t have time to make these labor intensive treats, just head over to Ixtapa Cantina, located in Acton, Groton, Lexington, Lunenberg and Woburn, MA and let us curb your craving with any one of our delicious traditional Mexican apps!