Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe

Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe

I waited 26 years of my life to make homemade corn tortillas from scratch and I was sure missing out. They are also not as time-consuming as you would think. It’s simpler than making bread and you only need 3 ingredients including salt and water!

homemade corn tortillas

I have been meaning to make some homemade corn tortillas for a few months and I finally made some last week, two days in a row. Don’t expect them to be like any store bought tortillas you’ve had, and the flavor will be better than any of them.

All you need is a tortilla press (or a substitute), plastic, a comal or cast iron pan and masa harina! Masa harina is corn flour that has been treated with lime which is easily available at any grocery store. And you can get the organic version online. Let me show you the way.

Let me show you the way to fresh warm homemade corn tortillas on your hand.

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For about 20 6-inch tortillas, you’ll need 2 cups masa harina, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 cups hot water.

homemade corn tortillas3

For authenticity and a simpler process, use a tortilla press. I bought mine on a trip to Mexico City but you can get one on Amazon too.

homemade corn tortillas4

Prepare the tortilla press by cutting a ziplock bag along the sides to get two separated squares (a 1 quart bag works). Lay one piece of it on top. The plastic can be reused indefinitely; just wipe it clean of any dough after each use.

homemade corn tortillas5

Mix the masa harina and the salt together in a mixing bowl. Pour in the hot water and combine.

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Use your hands to knead the dough for a minute or two in the bowl. The dough is ready when it’s smooth, but not longer sticky, and it easily forms a ball in your hand.

If the dough absorbs all the water but is still dry and crumbly, add water a tablespoon at a time. If the dough feels sticky, paste-like or gummy, add more masa harina a tablespoon at a time.

homemade corn tortillas8

Optionally rest the dough if you have the time, cover the bowl with a towel and rest the dough for 15 to 30 minutes. This gives the masa time to fully absorb the water and improves the taste and texture of the tortillas. You can skip this step.

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Roll into balls… Pinch off a few tablespoons of dough and roll it between your hands to form a ball roughly the size of a ping-pong ball for about a 6-inch tortilla. You can adjust the amount of dough to make larger or smaller tortillas.

Place the ball of dough in the middle of the plastic-covered tortilla press and place the other piece of plastic over the top of the dough.

homemade corn tortillas10

Close the tortilla press and then press with the handle to flatten the dough.

Peel away the top plastic and then flip the tortilla over onto your palm, and carefully peel off the back of the plastic.

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Warm a flat cast iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat and cook the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until the edges are starting to curl up. When done, both sides should be dry to the touch and beginning to show some darker toasted spots.

You can keep rolling and pressing as the tortillas cook and work in batches.

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As the tortillas are ready stack them and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and optionally inside a tortilla basket. The tortillas will continue to steam and soften inside the towel as you finish cooking the rest. Keep them covered.

Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days, but they are really best eaten when freshly made and still warm from the pan.

Below you’ll find step by step directions. They may seem long but they’re as detailed as possible for first-timers but the process really is quite simple and quick.

How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas From Scratch

Makes about 20 6-inch tortillas

What You Need:

Ingredients
2 cups masa harina (You can easily find it at the store as “maseca” brand but I used this organic masa harina)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups hot water (hot tap water is fine)

Equipment
Mixing bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula
Tortilla press*
1-quart ziplock bag
Cast-iron griddle or comal*
Clean kitchen towel
Tortilla warmer or tortilla basket (optional)

Directions:

1. Prepare the tortilla press by cutting a ziplock bag along the sides to get two separated squares. Lay one piece of it on top. (The plastic can be reused indefinitely; just wipe it clean of any dough after each use.)

2. Mix the masa harina and the salt together in a mixing bowl. Pour in the hot water and combine.

3. Use your hands to knead the dough for a minute or two in the bowl. The dough is ready when it’s smooth but not longer sticky, and it easily forms a ball in your hand.

If the dough absorbs all the water but is still dry and crumbly, add water a tablespoon at a time. If the dough feels sticky, paste-like or gummy, add more masa a tablespoon at a time.

4. Optional step: Rest the dough if you have the time, cover the bowl with a towel and rest the dough for 15 to 30 minutes. This gives the masa time to fully absorb the water and improves the taste and texture of the tortillas. You can skip this step.

5. Roll into balls… pinch off a few tablespoons of dough and roll it between your hands to form a ball about the size of a ping-pong ball for about a 6-inch tortilla. You can adjust the amount of dough to make larger or smaller tortillas.

6. Place the ball of dough in the middle of the plastic-covered tortilla press and place the other piece of plastic over the top of the dough.

7. Close the tortilla press and press with the handle to flatten the dough.

8. Peel away the top plastic and then flip the tortilla over onto your palm, and carefully peel off the back of the plastic.

9. Warm a flat cast iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat and cook the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until the edges start to curl up. When done, both sides should be dry to the touch and beginning to show some darker toasted spots.

You can keep rolling and pressing as the tortillas cook and work in batches.

10. As the tortillas are ready stack them and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and optionally inside a tortilla basket. The tortillas will continue to steam and soften inside the towel as you finish cooking the rest. Keep them covered.

Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days, but they are really best eaten when freshly made and still warm from the pan.

*Notes:  If you don’t have a tortilla press you can use a rolling pin to flatten the tortillas, but will be trickier. Start in the middle and roll out to the edges. You can also flatten the tortillas beneath a flat heavy skillet.

If you cook the tortillas in stainless steel, brush it with a thin layer of oil between batches to help keep the tortillas from sticking. If you cook in a nonstick skillet, lower the heat to medium and cook the tortillas a little longer, and they might not toast.

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Sprinkle with a little salt, roll, eat and enjoy!

21 Comments

  1. Looks yummy! Always wanted to make these, but could not get masa harina, so have only made the wheat flour ones. Do you know if there’s some substitute for masa harina, maybe called something else?

    Reply
    • There is no substitute. Masa harina is basically corn flour but it has especially been treated with lime to make it masa harina. The most common brand to find, is Maseca. I’ve seen this in all the grocery stores. It may say something else int he package like “masa instantanea de maiz”. Bob’s Red Mill also makes it, and you can find it in Amazon. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Looks yummy! Always wanted to make these, but could not get masa harina, so have only made the wheat flour ones. Do you know if there’s some substitute for masa harina, maybe called something else?

    Reply
    • There is no substitute. Masa harina is basically corn flour but it has especially been treated with lime to make it masa harina. The most common brand to find, is Maseca. I’ve seen this in all the grocery stores. It may say something else int he package like “masa instantanea de maiz”. Bob’s Red Mill also makes it, and you can find it in Amazon. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Bien hecho! My Mexican showed me how to make tortillas. We bought the press years ago from Kensington Market. Life gets busy and a lot of the time tenemos hueva hacerlas from scratch. Love your food pics too btw – in general – you’ve got a good eye for photography 🙂

    Reply
  4. Bien hecho! My Mexican showed me how to make tortillas. We bought the press years ago from Kensington Market. Life gets busy and a lot of the time tenemos hueva hacerlas from scratch. Love your food pics too btw – in general – you’ve got a good eye for photography 🙂

    Reply

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