Dealbusters: Homemade baked tortilla chips

tortilla chips

This Monday series checks out whether something that sounds like a good deal — or takes a bit of extra work — is a good deal. We’ll look at cost and benefit — with everything filtered through my individual experience. Please chime in with your take.

I’m hooked on nachos. I love tortilla chips, in general. And of course, I always feel guilty about them: Fried, salty, come in a plastic bag.

I’ve bought the “baked” chips, but somehow they tend to have the texture of reconstituted paperboard (perhaps soaked, reconstituted, lightly salted and baked into a semi-crispy cardboardy texture).

Instead, I’d rather make my own chips. With my oven’s convection feature, they take about 15 minutes. They do require a special use of the oven, but baked tortillas also save 5.5 grams of fat (that’s 53 calories or half a tablespoon of butter) per serving over tortilla chips – and that’s if you stop at one serving. They even save calories over purchased baked chips.

How I do it:

  1. Turn the oven on at 350F. If you have a convection feature, fire it up.
  2. Cut corn tortillas into eighths diagonally, or cut them into strips and cut the strips in half.
  3. Spread the tortillas on a rack on a baking pan (you can also just do it on the pan, but Mr. Cheap innovated the rack to make them crispier).
  4. If you like, give them a spritz with cooking spray or oil in a mister.
  5. Sprinkle with sea or kosher salt.
  6. Pop them in the oven.
  7. After about 5-10 minutes, take them out and stir them around. If needed, give them another spritz/salt. Sample one and see how much more cooking they need.
  8. Take them out when they are crispy and golden but not too brown.

You can also stack up several stacking racks for a bigger portion size and stick the whole shebang in the oven.

The cost breakdown:

I usually pay about $2.69 for a 16-ounce bag of chips at the store. More for “baked” chips. These bags contain an alleged 16 servings. For comparison’s sake, I will say that we consume 12 baked corn tortilla chips in a serving (the same number of chips as in a one-ounce serving of a purchased brand).

Ingredients Cost
Corn tortillas – 1.5 $0.11
Cooking spray $0.02
Salt – 1. tsp $0.01
gas (oven) $0.03
TOTAL $0.17

TOTAL = $0.17 for each one-ounce/12-chip serving.

Savings = 26 percent cheaper than baked chips, which cost $0.23 per serving, and exactly the same price as fried chips.

The winner: Homemade, as long as they won’t sit out a long time … that grease keeps ’em fresh, and without it I suspect they would get dry or flabby.

The priceless factors:

Simple ingredients.

Can be as organic as you want it to be.

No plastic bags.

The drawbacks:

Takes some planning. You have to have tortillas on hand and watch the oven. It would be harder to make a lot of chips than to buy a bag.

The verdict:

Worth it. If you want nachos, toss some cheese on and throw them back in the oven. (You can turn the oven off for the melting step.)

But there’s something just not as remarkable about homemade. Wait … I think it’s just that I’m missing that gross feeling from eating too many chips.




11 thoughts on “Dealbusters: Homemade baked tortilla chips

  1. Jenna says:

    Looks good.

    If you ever want to knock even more calories, try making the corn tortillas yourself before baking the chips.

    A pinch of salt, some masa (I get a 5lb bag in the latin section of the grocery for under $2) and enough water to stick it all together. Let it sit for about an hour then mash it flat and roll. We make these often enough I splurged on a cast iron tortilla maker – the easier to mash.

    Cook on a dry skillet and you have fresh ones ready to roll.

    I make corn tortillas for tacos and burriots, but I’ll have to make sure to save some to try this recipe out. Great idea.

  2. erin says:

    Update…I made some tortilla chips last night however…we didn’t have corn, just flour tortillas. I decided to make them into dessert so I cut up one big tortilla, sprayed with canola oil and then sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon. They were a big hit with my kids! Thanks for the recipe idea.

  3. cheaplikeme says:

    Do you break them into chips or use them as tostada shells/giant chips?

    I like the salt & a little bit of oil on mine … and I don’t think my oven is clean enough for me to want to cook too much stuff right on the racks. For me, the 2 minutes’ prep is A-OK.

  4. caress says:

    I break them. I like the salt and oil too.. but its actually okay without them. Anyways.. if you’re ever feeling in a time crunch its worth a shot.

  5. 2shay says:

    I have to agree with the poster above…I also just throw corn tortillas in the oven whole and bake them until golden…they are wonderful with humus….hmmmmm….gives me an idea for lunch tomorrow!

  6. cheaplikeme says:

    @Allyson – I don’t know – we just eat them right away. I would think they won’t last long without either going soft (in a humid climate) or rock hard (in a dry climate), because they don’t have the fat and other preservatives.

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