comal main

cooking tool


An essential cooking tool in Mexican kitchens, a comal is a flat plate or griddle, typically made with cast iron and a rim around the edges. They are usually round and found in many sizes, though there are some rectangular versions too. There are also comales made with aluminum, and in later years it has become quite popular to use the non-stick/teflon versions as they are more user friendly.

Comales were traditionally made, for centuries, with clay. In the countryside there are plenty of homes and fondas that still use clay comales and tend to have one for making tortillas and corn masa foods and another for charring or toasting vegetables and spices.

Here you can see the three different types of comales. In the back is a rectangular teflon, followed by an aluminum comal which is happily showing seasoning and aging signs, and up front is an old cast iron comal. Whichever comal you have, clean it lightly, with warm water, soap and a gentle sponge, so that if it is cast iron or aluminum it will slowly season, and if it is teflon it will not scratch.

Here is a more close up view…

Comal 1
Comales tend to be passed down through generations and are deeply esteemed. The comal that I treasure the most, up front in the above photos, comes from my mothers’ kitchen. It has about of 40 years of cooking life, has a beautiful black color with dark brown areas and it is not completely flat. It has dents, chips and texture developed through time and travels, which speak its history every time I cook in it.

When I went to Yucatán in December of 2008, I got a very large silver colored aluminum comal which is already starting to develop blackened areas throughout, but it will take a while for it to be seasoned and to flavor foods as intensely as my older comal.

Comales are used for many things such as cooking tortillas, sopes, quesadillas and other related masa foods; charring tomatoes, tomatillos, fresh chiles, onion and garlic; toasting seeds, nuts, dried chiles and other spices; cooking vegetables like nopales or catcus paddles, corn, big texas style onions and scallions, among other things.

You can find comales in international, Asian and Latin stores, as well as on the web. Or, you can substitute a comal with any other kind of cast iron plate or griddle or a heavy dry skillet, preferably non-stick if making tortillas.

However, there are benefits from having your own comal.  For one thing, as other Mexican kitchen tools such as molcajetes, aluminum and cast iron comales age with you, season with time and retain a memory of the flavors from their cooking life that permeates future foods cooked in them. Another benefit is that the comal infuses food with a rustic griddle flavor, lighter than a grill or smoker, but peculiar, rich and deep in its own way.

Comales are such an integral part of Mexican cuisine and culture that a town in one of Mexico’s most famous novels is named after it. If you like reading, I recommend it! It is called Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. It tells the story of a man who travels to the hometown of his dying mother, and along the way he runs into a ghost town called Comala, which translates to a place that makes comales. The fictional town of Comala (though there is a real town called Comala too, if not more…) has probably become larger than the novel and even the author in Mexican folklore and culture. It is said that the author gave it this name because the fictional town was eternally burning hot, just like a comal, which is typically used for long periods of time, many times a day and takes a long while to cool off.


59comments inComal

  1. Trent

    Nov 06

    I purchased my clay comal from this summer. I love cooking on clay because the heat is so even! My tortillas puff every time. I also have a metal one, but I prefer the clay for tortillas and roasting veggies.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 09

      Such a great hint, thanks for sharing Trent!

  2. Belinda

    Jun 23

    Pati! Do you have a recommendation on comales that work well with electric stoves?

    1. Pati

      Jun 25

      Hmmm…a traditional cast iron or aluminum should work. Here’s some more information:

  3. Mary Pat

    Jun 22

    I love your show, Miss Pati! It teaches cooking and culture intertwined. I can’t wait for Season 7.

    I had been using a dry Teflon skillet for years to toast the comino seeds and other spices for my own recipe for Turkey Chili Poblano. But after watching a few episodes of your show, I was determined to have a comal too. I tried a Lodge brand cast iron round griddle pan, the lip is very low, and once heated adequately it does the job quite well. This was a fairly inexpensive alternative, and I also bought a slip-on silicone handle, the entire thing was about $25 from Amazon.

    Mary Pat

    1. Pati

      Jun 23

      Oh I’m so glad you were inspired to find a comal…and that you’re enjoying it, Mary.

  4. Patty E.

    Jun 22

    Hola Pati,
    I recommend that people watch a video on how to care for cast iron cooking pans. Wash with mild soap, dry completely on the stovetop (prevents rusting), and rub with a small amount of oil to season. You can purchase chainmaille to scrub the outside surfaces only. Hope this this is helpful, Patty 🌮

  5. Anonymous

    Apr 19

    Hi Pati, I love your show! I’m not sure where to buy a Comel as I’m very interested in purchasing one. I think it’s the greatest. Every time I watch your show, you make it look so easy and you explain it so well. Thanks so much and will continue watching your show.

    1. Pati

      Apr 25

      Thank you for tuning in! Comals are wonderful…and I highly recommend one. You can find them at all sorts of places…online, kitchen stores, and even sometimes international/Latino super markets. If you can’t find one, you can always use a cast iron pan.

  6. Jamie

    Mar 28

    Hi Pati,

    What brand of comal do you or anyone else recommend? Thanks!

    1. Pati

      Mar 29

      Hi Jamie! I use an old cast iron comal passed down to me. Whichever brand you find, I recommend you find a cast iron or metal comal.

  7. Jenny

    Dec 21

    Hi, Patti, I love your show I watch every episode. I’m so curious to know the pan you use to toast your garlic and dry peppers with? I also want the jar you use for your oil like vegetable olive oil and of lot of your kitchen utensils. Can you please help me
    Thank you!

    1. Pati

      Dec 22

      Oh I use a cast iron comal! Comals are wonderful…but you can also use a cast iron pan if you have one. The other utensils were all gifts or an eclectic mix from my travels…

  8. Jessica

    Feb 08

    I <3 my comal! We bought a cast-iron one for $12 in a store closing sale, and I use it for just about anything that doesn't need stirring. I get absolutely perfect rare steaks by heating them slowly in a 250 degree oven, then searing them on the comal. (I learned that technique from Helen Rennie over at "Beyond Salmon".)

    1. Pati

      Feb 09

      Jessica, I <3 my comal too! Also your steaks sound delicious...

  9. Vera C.

    Jan 21

    I am not Mexican, but there is NO better food. My children grew up eating beans and tortillas, rice, and pork chili, mostly because it was cheaper to make than roasts or steaks! They loved the food! I came across a 12 inch metal comal in Wyoming in 1982!!! I have used it all these years and would not want to ever give it up. I do many things on it, it’s great!!!! Thank you Sonora Pati for teaching young people or anyone that has a love for Mexican food, how to make it themselves!!!!
    Vera C.

    1. Pati

      Jan 23

      Hola Vera, How crazy that you found such a big comal in Wyoming in the 80’s, you got lucky! I think we eat black beans every single day at home… Thank YOU for your message.

  10. Eddie

    Nov 07

    I have a comal that I inherited from my mother that is made of the same volcanic rock as a molcajete.

    1. Pati

      Nov 16

      Awwww! That is amazing thing to have in your kitchen!

  11. Douglas Williams

    May 25

    Hi Patti, I enjoy your shows on PBS and I see that they are produced by WETA in Washington, D.C. I grew up in Springfield, VA, a DC suburb and I remember when WETA came on the air as Channel 26 back in the day! I also remember buying at the grocery store Patio Beef Enchilada Dinners, a Mexican style TV dinner and I loved eating them!!! Oh how I miss not being able to get those Patio TV dinners now!! I have seen your show making tamales and I think I may try making them as there is a little Mexican market near me where I can get the corn husks. I love tamales and frijoles refritos, but I am getting tired of the canned stuff!!

    1. Pati

      May 26

      Yes! Definitely try to make them and let me know how they turn out! =)

  12. Marcia

    Mar 22

    Hello Pati!

    Can you tell me where I can get a large comal pan? So far, the largest one I’ve found is 11 inches. I’d love to have a larger one (round please) but haven’t had any luck tracing one down.

    Thank you,

    PS LOVE your show!

    1. Olga

      Jul 19

      I bought a 13.5″ IMUSA brand at Walmart made of carbon steel not cast iron. Good luck.

    2. JoAnn Goostree

      Dec 17

      Princess House has beautiful cast iron. They have a casserole, and 10″ and 13″ comal…they are beautiful…I just had a party and I am getting the casserole and the 13″ comal.

    3. Valerie

      Feb 06

      I got a 14″ “pizza pan” on Amazon. It’s cast iron and looks just like a comal to me! It’s nice heavy cast iron. Search Lodge P14P3 Seasoned Cast Iron Baking and Pizza Pan, 14 Inch on Amazon.

  13. Trisha

    Dec 08

    Hi Pati,

    If I am using a clay comal on a gas stovetop, do I need to worry about getting a heat diffuser? Asking because one is usually recommended for a cazuela, tagine, or other clay vessel. Thank you!

    PS- other than a comal, what other cooking utensils and food items are good to purchase in Mexico? Am fortunate to be headed to Mexico City in a few weeks. Thanks!

    1. Pati

      Dec 09

      Hi Trisha!
      No, you don’t need a heat diffuser. How great that you are moving to Mexico City! It is my hometown… Get some cazuelas de barro, palas de madera and of course a tortilla press!

  14. karin gately

    Nov 24

    I found your site thru google. I was gifted what I believe is a comal that came from Oaxaca. It is the very old fashioned kind, made of clay. It has some sort of white coating on it (looks like whitewash). I’ve tried heating tortillas on it but the coating comes off and gets on the tortillas. Is there something special I need to do with this for seasoning it? I’m concerned about the white coating since I don’t know what it is. Any direction you could give me would be greatly appreciated as I would LOVE to try using this! Thanks so much!

    1. Pati

      Nov 25

      Hola Karin, Thank you for writing to me! I recommend washing it well with warm water and soap, and then curing it by heating it over medium heat for at least 10 minutes. I also would heat it up over medium heat for at least 10 minutes every time before heating your tortillas. I hope this is helpful!

    2. meesalikeu

      Oct 19

      the white powder is lime powder or cal. it is pasted on clay comals to fill the porous clay bumps and holes and keep food from sticking. its a way of seasoning the comal. you should wipe it off with a damp cloth and reapply it mixed w/water as a paste occasionally. look for cal mexicana in any mexican grocery or online.

  15. Jessica

    Jul 09

    These things are the best! I keep one dedicated for tortillas, another for charring, and I have another 2 for alternative uses. They are great for making personal sized pizzas! It’s great, just spray a little vegetable oil, lay out your thinly rolled pizza dough, and top your pizza the way you like it! Works in the oven and on the grill without the need to heat a pizza stone! Just keep an eye on them, especially on the grill. Next time we do it, I will try to take pictures. It really is amazing for pizza. We’ve also used them to brown potatoes and make fajitas on the grill.

  16. Gina Hughes

    Apr 01

    Hi Pati,
    I bought 2 comals made of cast iron much like a black cast iron skillet but flat. I was told by someone to not ever put oil or grease on them so I haven’t. I only use them for charring tomatoes, onion, chilies, and garlic for salsa. I find that the tomato skins stick and I am peeling off the charred skins for my salsa. Any suggestions as to the care of the comals?
    Thank you,

    1. Pati

      Apr 01

      Hi Gina,
      Comales, like cast iron pans, get “seasoned” with time. You need to wash gently with soapy water and a soft sponge after you have used it and it has cooled. Don’t scratch it or roughly try to clean it.

  17. Paul

    Feb 27

    Tortillas (white and corn), crepes, pancakes, small amounts of stir fry…. to say nothing of naan and other flat breads!
    my little 7.5″ and the larger 12″ comals are rarely not at hand!

  18. Mel

    Dec 29

    I was wondering Why you see people using 2 comal when making tortillas, they will cook and flip on the first one then place it on the second one. I guess am wondering why?

    Thanks Mel.

    1. Pati

      Jan 01

      Hi Mel,
      My guess is that, when making large amounts of tortillas, it helps speed and organize the process: like an assembly line. When making at home, it is usually one comal that is used.

  19. Rachel

    Oct 01

    Hello, I am actually searching for a comal handle that went with an “old school” flat round cast iron comal. My Wela after many, many years has “misplaced” hers. I would love to make her day and find one for her. It was almost like a screw driver with a shallow hook that you put through a hole on one side of the comal. I have looked in all of our available tiendas mexicanas in our area, I am running out of options. Please if you have any ideas….

    1. Pati

      Oct 04

      Hola Rachel, I’m blown away by how sweet you are to be looking for a new comal for your Wela! Have you tried searching online? You’d be surprised what you can find…

      1. Rachel

        Oct 05

        So after talking to her about it is not a comal after all. It is a hot plate from an old wood stove. She has carried these around with for a very long time. so after finding that out I was able to find the tool she needed to pick it up. Thanks for the tip though!

  20. Janine Bojorquez

    Aug 03

    Hi Pati, I just purchased a ceramic comal and the vendor gave me quick lime to season it. Her instructions were in Spanish-not my longsuit. Can you help? Thanks so much!

    1. Pati

      Aug 16

      Hola Janine, All you need to do to season it is to use it!! Be sure to heat it over medium or medium-low heat until it is very hot. And don’t ever use it on high heat…

  21. Kishore

    Apr 06

    I am a vegetarian. I do not eat eggs too.
    I live in New Jersey.
    Where can I buy :
    Cast iron tortilla press – good quality
    Fresh Epazote

    Thanks – you are the best. I have purchased your book and I am excited to try out everything vegetarian (no eggs).

    Kishore Kapadia

    1. Pati

      Apr 06

      Thanks for getting my cookbook! If you live in NJ you won’t have any issue finding a comal (or a cast iron skillet instead). Just ask for the nearest Latino or international store! You can also look online. I would also ask your Latino store grocer for fresh epazote and even any Farmer’s Market near you…

  22. Pat

    Jul 15

    I have 2 comals that I bought in Mexico to use for roasting tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, and onions for Mexican salsas and for other sauses, too. Rather than cast iron, they are sheet metal (hoja de metal?). They seem to be the type pictured here in your blog but are more the type of metal that is formed into stainless steel pots and pans rather than the much heavier material that is used for cast iron skillets. I had been looking at them in the mercado for a long time and finally got the courage to get some after reading your blog. Thanks. Pat

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 19

      So happy you bought the comals Pat. You will love them!

  23. Ramon Rivera

    Jun 17

    Hi Pati,
    Since we are talking comals I was wondering if you have a recipe for flour tortillas and/or a video showing you making them?
    I have to learn how to make them before my mom leaves this earth. no one makes them like her.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 28

      Hi Ramon, I will try to put a post on the website on making flour tortillas soon! I have one up already for making corn tortillas, I hope you check it out!

  24. Monica

    Aug 27

    Hello Pati, I just today bought a round silver, aluminum Comal. Do I season it before using it? Any other hints how I should care for it? The package had no instructions.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 27

      Hi Monica,
      Great! Just start using it! There is no need to ever have it over high heat. You should use it low, low-medium or medium heat. Before you use it, let it heat for a couple minutes. To wash, just lightly wash with soapy water. But don’t scrub it hard, that way it will begin to season. Best wishes for all the yummy things you will cook there!

  25. Bev

    Feb 28

    Pati, porque no estas en el canal Food Network? 🙂

  26. AZtweetr (Darla)

    Feb 07

    Hi again, Pati!
    My Comal arrived last week, it is the thin cast iron that you said that you have, I love it! Mine is a large oval (called a “jumbo comal or extra large fajita pan” by the seller. I have seasoned it twice and it is now ready to go, tonight I will be trying it out.
    Thanks for the help and clarification. 🙂

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 07

      Hi Darla,
      I am so thrilled for you!!! You are going to be able to make such scrumptious things using your new comal. Let it age and season and the more you use it, the more flavor you will get from it. Enjoy!

  27. AZtweetr ( Darla )

    Jan 14

    After watching you on the Paula Deen show, I decided to find a Comal like the one in her show. You said that your mother gave it to you and that it was “cast iron” I finally found one (without the handle/handles) and ordered it online. I’m still waiting for mine to arrive, the price doubled because of the weight to ship. LOL!
    The next day after I ordered, I watched the show repeat (after your twitter alert)and when that segment of the show came on with your Comal on Paula’s back stove, one of you lifted it up, but this time it looked to me like it was too thin for cast iron and I thought I saw silver metal.
    My question- you said the Comal that your mother gave you is “cast iron” but did you mean stainless steel, aluminum or some other metal?
    Thanks, love your website and tweets!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 14

      Hi Darla, Thank you!! Yes! The comal my mother gave me, which is somewhat thin is cast iron. And I love it dearly. However I have another one home which is aluminum, much larger and ironically thicker and heavier, and I use that one for when I am making a ton of tortillas. I think you will love the cast iron that you are getting. It will last ages and season as you cook in it (!)

  28. Patsy Perez

    Jan 08

    Hola Pati,
    Encontre tu blog por medio del sitio de Paula Deen. Que gusto ver tu amor para la cocina Mexicana. En lo que se refiere a comales, en las tiendas de deportes, venden una marca Lodge que es buenisima. Tengo un comal que herede de mi abuela y uno mas moderno doble que esta fabuloso. Gracias por tener un sitio tan bonito! Desde la frontera de Texas con Mexico, un saludo!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 08

      Muchas gracias por tu mensaje y muchas gracias por tu tip del comal moderno!!

  29. Ruthiris E. Torres Cruz

    Jan 03

    ¡Hola, Patricia! Te escribo desde Puerto Rico. Encontré tu blog hace dos días cuando buscaba información sobre los comales. Tengo uno, que atesoro, el cual compré en una visita que hice a Guatemala. En una de las conecciones que brinda Google sale tu blog. Para mí ha resultado un tesoro descubierto.
    Aunque aún tengo que adentrarme en tus archivos de meses anteriores, lo que he visto me agrada mucho. Tu participación en el programa de Paula Deen quedó fabulosa. ¡Felicitaciones! La gracia de Paula y tu naturalidad y sabor latino, chispeante le dieron un tono muy agradable a la presentación.
    ¡Salud y muchas bendiciones para tí y tu hermosa familia en este nuevo año!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 03

      Muchas gracias Ruth! Me da mucho gusto que hallas encontrado mi blog y que te guste… Seguiré poniendo más información y recetas que espero te sirvan. ¡Saludos!

  30. Lilly

    Aug 28

    I inherited my comal from my suegra and now I have no idea how I would live without it.

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