El Minuto’s Cheese Crisps

El Minuto’s Cheese Crisps

In Tucson, Ariz., a late night out is often punctuated by a stop at a local Mexican restaurant for cheese crisp. Linda Ronstadt grew up eating the version at El Minuto, which was across the street from the building where her brother worked as the chief of police. She included the recipe in her hybrid memoir-cookbook “Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands” (Heyday, 2022). The ingredients are ridiculously simple but it is essential to search out an approximation of the large, nearly translucent flour tortillas that are a mainstay of Sonoran cooking. The trick is to let the tortillas cool and harden before topping them with cheese and sending them under the broiler. Chopped green chiles are a nice way to add some character to the snack, but a good hot sauce will do.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 1 person



  1. Step 1

    Heat your broiler.
  2. Step 2

    Cover the bottom of a frying pan with about 1/2 inch of oil, just enough to completely cover the tortilla. Heat over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Slide the tortilla into the pan and fry it for about 30 seconds until lightly golden, pressing down with a spatula to keep it flat. Remove it to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and get crisp. (You can heat the tortillas on a dry griddle or frying pan, too, if you want to use less fat, but your cheese crisp won’t be as good as El Minuto’s.)
  3. Step 3

    Transfer the tortilla to a baking sheet, top with the grated cheese and broil it just until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the tortilla is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove it from the oven and top with green chiles, if using. Serve immediately to someone you love, then make another one for yourself.