Perhaps I am spoiled. My apartment in Brooklyn is a half a block from a bodega where I can buy tortilla chips 24/7. It hardly justifies my rent price, but still, a perk.
But maybe that’s why I can’t imagine air frying tortilla chips ever again. There’s simply no value added for me.
I tested out this viral TikTok recipe from the account @preppy_airfryer and it was fine — the chips were relatively crispy and tasted decent — but definitely not as good as your basic tortilla. Consider the Tostito Scoop, a perfect little tortilla bowl for salsa. Say what you will about the conglomerate food — how like three companies make everything we eat — but the Scoop kicks ass. Brilliant. Freaking brilliant.
Normally, if you were to make real tortilla chips at home, you’d fry them in oil. There is massive added value in that — a hot, salty, fried chip is remarkably crisp and tasty. Store-bought doesn’t compare. Unfortunately the air fryer doesn’t deliver the same result as a pan of oil. Sometimes the less healthy option unquestionably tastes better. Such is life.
Regardless, here are the particulars for air frying tortilla chips, if say, you don’t live right by a convenience store.
Oil or nonstick spray
Cut corn tortillas into 6 equal triangles, so they are roughly chip-shaped
Spray chips with oil, making sure each is covered completely
Liberally salt the chips
Air fry at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes, but perhaps less depending on the tortillas you use and your air fryer
Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @preppy_airfryer
There isn’t too much to add here. This is really simple stuff. Cut your corn tortillas like a pizza and make your little triangles.
Oil or spray those suckers. I’d recommend using real oil because at high temps, oil spray often burns. But honestly you do you. Just make sure you cover them generously, then salt heavily. While fried tortilla chips are salted post oil-bath, this recipe calls for seasoning the suckers up front. It makes sense, since, unlike frying, there won’t be hot oil for the salt to cling to after the cooking process in the air fryer.
From there, just evenly space the chips on you air fryer’s basket or tray. If you can, do you best to give each chip room to breathe, but I can’t judge — I’ve been to known to overcrowd my air fryer from time to time.
Crank your air fryer to 400 degrees then cook the chips for eight minutes. Well…maybe eight minutes. In the interest of being thorough, I tested three different corn tortillas in this process. Two were your cheaper grocery store brands — Mission and Buena Vista — while the third was a thicker, more expensive brand called Vista Hermosa. The Mission tortillas were super thin and, frankly, were almost inedibly charred after like four minutes. The Buena Vista chips were fine while the Vista Hermosa were by far the tastiest.
There was a small complication cooking the chips. An air fryer works by rapidly circulating hot air. That air moves quickly, which can blow light tortilla chips around. Worst case scenario you could even see the air blow a tortilla straight into the heating element — an unpleasant experience I’ve had with popcorn. The hot air in my test definitely displaced my chips, but didn’t cause any catastrophes.
Best-case scenario air frying tortillas will result in a crunchy, baked chip. Think more pita chip than salty tortilla. The air-fried tortillas had a nice crunch and were tasty with salsa. It’s hard for a chip to be bad.
Still, in my opinion, the air-fried chip not nearly as good bagged chip. It’s just not as crisp. But to each their own. And if you don’t live by a 24/7 tortilla chip dispensary, I think this could be a handy trick in a pinch. Of course, if you have tortillas, you could just as easily heat up a pan with an inch or so of oil and make a far superior end-product.