This Pastel Azteca Recipe is made with tortillas, salsa verde, carnitas or chicken, mozzarella and sour cream.
Pastel Azteca, also known as Aztec Pie, is a beloved culinary masterpiece that embodies the rich heritage and vibrant flavors of Mexico. With its layers of tortillas, luscious fillings, and irresistible melted cheese, this dish is a true celebration of Mexican gastronomy.
This Pastel Azteca Recipe can be served as a main course accompanied by a side of Mexican rice and salad, or it can be cut into smaller portions and served as an appetizer or party dish. It is a versatile dish that can be customized with different fillings and ingredients, allowing for personal preferences and creativity in the kitchen.
What is Pastel Azteca?
Pastel Azteca, also known as Aztec Pie, is a delicious and layered Mexican dish that has gained popularity both in Mexico and beyond. It is a hearty and flavorful casserole-like creation that combines the vibrant flavors of Mexico into one delectable dish.
The dish typically starts with a base layer of corn tortillas, which are layered with a variety of ingredients such as shredded chicken or beef, refried beans, sautéed vegetables, and cheese. These layers are then repeated, creating a delicious stack. The final layer is often topped with more cheese and sometimes garnished with sliced jalapeños or cilantro.
Why you will love Pastel Azteca
- Bursting with Flavors: Pastel Azteca is a culinary masterpiece that brings together a symphony of flavors. From the tender and savory meats to the aromatic salsa verde, each layer contributes to a harmonious explosion of taste. The combination of ingredients creates a balance of richness, spiciness, and depth that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight.
- Comforting and Satisfying: There's something inherently comforting about digging into a warm and hearty dish like Pastel Azteca. The layers of soft tortillas, succulent meats, and creamy fillings create a satisfying texture that is both soothing and fulfilling. It's the kind of dish that wraps you in a culinary embrace and leaves you feeling content.
- Versatile and Customizable: One of the beauties of Pastel Azteca is its versatility. You can adapt the recipe to your liking by incorporating your favorite ingredients or making it suitable for your dietary preferences. Whether you're a meat lover, a vegetarian, or even a seafood enthusiast, there are endless possibilities for customization. It's a dish that welcomes creativity and encourages you to make it uniquely yours.
- A Feast for the Eyes: Pastel Azteca is not only delicious but also visually stunning. As you layer the tortillas, fillings, and cheese, the vibrant colors come together to create a beautiful mosaic of flavors. When it emerges from the oven, the melted cheese creates a golden crust that is simply irresistible. It's a feast for both the taste buds and the eyes.
Pastel Azteca Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Salsa Verde
- Sour Cream
- Mozzarella cheese
See recipe card for Pastel Azteca Recipe quantities.
How to make Pastel Azteca
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fry the tortillas. In a large pan on medium heat, add ½ inch deep light olive oil and fry the tortilla for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until brown. Add the tortilla on a plate lined with paper towel.
Make the filling. Combine the salsa verde and the carnitas in a large bowl. Assemble the casserole. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 5 tortillas.
Like a lasagna, fill the baking dish with the carnitas, then half of the peppers, then half of the sour cream. Sprinkle with shredded cheese generously.
Repeat this once more then top the casserole with cheese (as much as you wish).
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has completely melted.
Hint: Cut three of the tortillas in half so they become a semi circles and place on the sides of the dish. Use two uncut tortillas for the center of the baking dish).
What to serve with Pastel Azteca
- Mexican Rice: Prepare a side of Mexican rice to serve alongside the Pastel Azteca. The savory flavors of the rice will complement the dish nicely. You need to try my Moro Rice Recipe.
- Refried Beans: Serve refried beans as a side dish. They provide a creamy and comforting element that pairs well with the flavors of Pastel Azteca.
- Guacamole and Salsa: Prepare some fresh guacamole and salsa as condiments. They add a refreshing and tangy element that can be spooned over the Pastel Azteca or enjoyed on the side with tortilla chips.
- Mexican Salad: Create a simple Mexican-inspired salad with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. The fresh and crisp flavors of the salad will provide a nice contrast to the warm and cheesy Pastel Azteca. You need to try my Avocado Lettuce Wraps - Nogada Style.
Check out my Al Pastor Recipe.
Carnitas: Instead of pork, you can use chicken as well. If you buy a rotisserie chicken, you can remove the meat off the chicken. Substitute with cooked ground beef, turkey, or vegetarian meat crumbles. You can also use cooked beans such as black beans or pinto beans as a vegetarian alternative.
Salsa verde: You can use store bought salsa verde or homemade salsa verde. If you don't have salsa verde, you can use regular tomato salsa or enchilada sauce. Alternatively, you can make your own salsa verde by blending together tomatillos, green chilies, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
Sour cream: You can use sour cream or cream cheese. Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream. You can also use a dairy-free alternative like coconut milk yogurt or cashew cream for a vegan version.
Cheese: You will need any neutral cheese that melts easily. Oaxaca cheese is traditional for this dish, but if you cant find it, you can use mozzarella. Monterrey Jack, cheddar, or a Mexican blend cheese can be used instead of mozzarella. For a dairy-free or vegan option, use a plant-based cheese alternative like vegan cheddar or vegan mozzarella.
Tortillas: Corn tortillas are traditionally used in Pastel Azteca, but you can also use flour tortillas if you prefer. Look for gluten-free tortillas if you have dietary restrictions.
Oil, for frying tortillas: Vegetable oil, canola oil, or any neutral-tasting oil can be used for frying tortillas. Alternatively, you can use cooking spray or brush the tortillas with oil and bake them in the oven until they are crispy.
Pastel Azteca Recipe Variations
- Vegetarian Pastel Azteca: Replace the carnitas or shredded chicken with sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and corn. You can also add cooked black beans or pinto beans for extra protein and flavor.
- Seafood Pastel Azteca: Instead of meat, use cooked shrimp or a combination of shrimp and white fish like tilapia or cod. Sauté the seafood in a little oil with spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic before layering it in the dish. Check out my Shrimp Pblano Recipe.
- Spicy Pastel Azteca: If you enjoy spicy food, kick up the heat by adding sliced jalapeños or serrano peppers to the layers. You can also use a spicy salsa verde or mix in some hot sauce or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for an extra fiery kick.
- Enchilada-Style Pastel Azteca: Instead of layering the tortillas, meat, and cheese, roll up the filling in tortillas like enchiladas. Place the rolled tortillas in the baking dish, pour the salsa verde mixture over them, and top with cheese. Bake as directed until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Baking Dish: A baking dish is essential for assembling and baking the Pastel Azteca. Choose a dish that is large enough to accommodate the layers of tortillas, meat, sauce, and cheese.
- Skillet or Frying Pan: You'll need a skillet or frying pan to heat the carnitas or shredded chicken, sauté vegetables if using, and warm up tortillas if you decide to fry them.
- Mixing Bowl: A mixing bowl will come in handy for combining the salsa verde and sour cream to create the sauce for the Pastel Azteca.
- Oven: You'll need an oven to bake the assembled Pastel Azteca. Ensure your oven is preheated to the appropriate temperature as specified in the recipe.
- Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil is used to cover the baking dish during baking, helping to retain moisture and ensure even cooking. It's recommended to have foil on hand for this step.
- Paper Towels: Having paper towels nearby is useful for draining excess oil when frying tortillas or for blotting any excess liquid from the ingredients.
- Cutting Board and Knife: You'll need a cutting board and a knife to chop any additional ingredients or garnishes, such as onions, cilantro, or jalapeños.
- Serving Utensils: Once the Pastel Azteca is cooked, you'll need serving utensils such as a spatula or a large serving spoon to scoop and serve the portions.
How to store Pastel Azteca
To store this Pastel Azteca Recipe:
- Allow it to Cool: Let the Pastel Azteca cool down to room temperature before storing it. This helps prevent condensation and keeps the dish from becoming soggy.
- Divide into Portions: If you have leftover Pastel Azteca, divide it into individual portions. This makes it easier to reheat and serve later.
- Wrap and Refrigerate: Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep it airtight. Alternatively, transfer the Pastel Azteca to an airtight container or place it in a sealable freezer bag. Ensure the container or bag is properly sealed to prevent any odors from affecting the dish.
- Refrigerate: Place the wrapped or containerized Pastel Azteca in the refrigerator. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Reheat and Serve: When you're ready to enjoy the stored Pastel Azteca, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove the plastic wrap or foil from the portion(s) and transfer them to an oven-safe dish. Cover with foil to prevent drying out and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Alternatively, you can microwave individual portions on a microwave-safe plate for 1-2 minutes or until warmed.
Pastel Azteca Recipe Top tips
- Use Fresh Ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients like homemade salsa verde, freshly cooked meat, and tortillas. Fresh ingredients will enhance the flavors and overall taste of the dish.
- Season the Meat: If you're using plain carnitas or shredded chicken, make sure to season it well with spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, or any other seasonings you prefer. This will add extra flavor to the meat and make it more delicious.
- Fry Tortillas Before Layering: To prevent the tortillas from breaking and to make them more pliable for layering, warm them up before assembling the Pastel Azteca. You can either lightly fry them in oil or heat them in a dry skillet until they become soft and flexible.
- Layer Evenly: When layering the tortillas, meat, sauce, and cheese, try to distribute the ingredients evenly to ensure each bite has a balanced combination of flavors. This will help create a harmonious dish.
- Don't Overload with Sauce: While the salsa verde and sour cream mixture adds flavor, it's important not to use too much sauce, as it can make the Pastel Azteca too soggy. Use a thin layer of the sauce between the layers of tortillas and adjust the amount to your preference.
- Let it Rest Before Cutting: After baking, allow the Pastel Azteca to rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. This will help the layers set and make it easier to portion without the ingredients spilling out.
- Customize with Toppings: Enhance the flavors and presentation of your Pastel Azteca by adding toppings like chopped fresh cilantro, diced onions, sliced jalapeños, or a squeeze of lime juice. These toppings will add freshness and a burst of flavor to each bite.
- Make Ahead: You can prepare the Pastel Azteca in advance, cover it tightly, and refrigerate it until you're ready to bake it. This is helpful if you want to have the dish ready for a gathering or if you prefer to do the prep work ahead of time.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove