Corn tortillas made at home are far better than the store-bought ones. They are easy to make, and the flavor has no comparison. These are corn tortillas made using masa-harina. But for the best corn tortillas, you can make them using fresh nixtamal masa, the way we still make them in many places in Mexico.
Authentic Homemade Corn Tortillas
If you want to learn how to make corn tortillas from scratch, you came to the right place. This step by step tutorial will guide you all the way until you can make your corn tortillas at home. Corn tortillas are a healthier option compare to flour tortillas.I remember long ago (25 years!) a lady was asking me about my country, our culture, and our food. When we started talking about recipes, she asked me how she could make “Tortillas de Harina” (wheat flour tortillas).
The woman couldn’t believe it when I told her that I didn’t know how to make them. She said: “But you are Mexican!”, and then I said: “Yes, but wheat flour tortillas are more common in Northern México, most people in central and south Mexico consume mainly corn tortillas” And usually from the tortilla factory, but homemade corn tortillas a real treat.
How to make corn tortillas from scratch
We use wheat flour tortillas occasionally to make “quesadillas” or traditional “burritos,” but these are not an everyday meal. Later on, I learned how to make my wheat flour tortillas too. But, at home, I make corn tortillas more often.
Corn tortillas have been around for a long, long time, and are made of white, yellow or blue corn kernels. They are not just our daily tortilla; they are a meal by themselves.
To prepare corn tortillas, you only need 2 Ingredients, Masa-harina, and water. Not baking powder, wheat flour, sugar or any fat is needed. For this corn tortillas recipe, I will use masa-harina because I know that many of you would not have access to fresh corn masa — Masa-Harina” which is readily available in Latin grocery stores nowadays.
I prefer the real thing (fresh corn masa) since the results will be considerably different, the corn tortillas will be less dry than those from masa-harina. If you have access to fresh corn masa, please do make your tortillas with it the flavors are incomparable.
Check this post if you want to know how to make your own masa at home. Enjoy it!
These are some of the types of corn tortillas sold in Mexico. Top left with the oval shape is used for "flautas", then the white taco tortilla top right. Yellow corn tortilla bottom left and regular everyday uses white corn tortilla bottom right. Corn Tortillas used for tacos are commonly smaller.
As I mention above, corn tortillas are a healthier option compare to flour tortillas, they are gluten-free, low fat, vegan, and you can store them in your fridge for at least five days or in your freezer up to 3 months is you store them in a freezer bag. You can also make the dough ahead of time and store in the fridge if it looks dry when you are ready to make the tortillas, add a little water and knead again.
Some tips while making your corn tortillas.
- You do not need a tortilla press to make corn tortillas, many women in Mexico and other Central America countries shape the tortillas by hand.
- If you see that the edge of your tortillas look a little cracked, add more water to the dough.
- If the tortillas stick to the press, maybe you added too much water. Knead the dough well.
- If your tortillas do not puff, you need to knead the dough very well. You can try to press down the tortilla with a spatula while it is in the final cooking to force the puffing. Also, check your cooking time and the heat. Making tortillas is a matter of practice. Keep practicing, and you will get the hang of it.
- To reheat you tortillas, place them in a hot skillet, and heat them for about 45 seconds per side depending how hot is your skillet, wrap them in a cloth napkin to keep them warm.
How to make Homemade Corn Tortillas
How to form the tortillas with a heavy glass dish
- Use a large bowl to combine the masa-harina (corn flour) and water. Mix well until the water is absorbed evenly and the dough forms a ball. (Please check the ingredients list below)
- Preheat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium flame.
- After kneading the dough, form a small ball the size of a golf ball. Using a tortilla press or a heavy dish.
- Open the tortilla press or remove the heavy dish if using to press the tortillas.
- Lift the plastic with the pressed tortilla, place the dough in your hand closer to your fingers and carefully peel the plastic off the dough. If the dough doesn’t come out so easily then the dough could be a little too wet. Add some more masa-harina to the dough mix again until it becomes easy to handle.
- Place the tortilla on the griddle and cook for about 30 -40 seconds. The edge will begin to dry out. Turn over and continue to cook for about 40-45 seconds.
- Turn your corn tortilla over again and cook for another 15 seconds. The cooking time is about 1:45 minute’s total. Cook until the tortilla begins to puff.
ENJOY YOUR CORN TORTILLAS!
Did you like this recipe tutorial to make homemade corn tortillas? Please let me know in the comments section, do you have questions, or share the link with your friends. I hope you have an incredible time cooking!
Mely Martinez, the cook in Mexico in my Kitchen!
Homemade Corn Tortillas
- 1-½ cups masa-harina I use the "Maseca" brand
- 1-¼ cups of warm water this may vary depending on air humidity and other wheatear conditions. Have some extra tablespoons of water to add as needed.
YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
- 2 pieces of round plastic cut out from a bag. freezer bags are ideal for this purpose.
- Tortilla press or a Glass pie dish
Make the Masa Dough
- Use a large bowl to combine the masa-harina (corn flour) and water. Mix well until the water is absorbed evenly and the dough forms a ball.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet or heavy pan on medium flame. The skillet has to be ready when you start pressing the tortillas.
- After kneading the dough, form a small ball the size of a golf ball. Using a tortilla press or a heavy dish (pie dish as I do), place the ball of dough about 1 ½ inches in diameter between the two plastic pieces and press to form a 6-inch round tortilla.
Making the Tortillas
- Open the tortilla press or remove the heavy dish if using it to press the tortillas, peel the top plastic off. Lift the tortilla from the tortilla press, holding it from the bottom part. If the dough is too dry, the edges of your tortilla will look cracked and you will need to add a little water.
- Somehow when using the tortilla press, my tortillas come out very thin. Some people in the South of Mexico eat thicker tortillas, and some grandmas still make them by hand.
- Lift the plastic with the pressed tortilla, place the dough in your hand closer to your fingers and carefully peel the plastic off the dough. If the dough doesn’t come out so easily, then the dough could be a little too wet. Add some more masa-harina to the dough mix again until it becomes easy to handle.
Cooking the Tortillas
- Place the tortilla on the skillet and cook for about 30 -40 seconds. The edge will begin to dry out. Turn over and continue to cook for about 40-45 seconds until brown patches form. This time will vary depending on how thick your tortilla is and the temperature of your griddle.
- Turn over again and cook for another 15 seconds. The cooking time is about 1:45 minutes total. Cook until the tortilla begins to puff. Tap lightly with your fingertips to allow even puffing.
- Wrap with a napkin or clean towel, and serve. Tortillas keep warm when placed in a basket made of natural fibers.
- You do not need a tortilla press to make tortillas; many women in Mexico and other Central American countries shape the tortillas by hand. But here is a little trick I often use, a glass pie dish. Like in the picture below.
- Traditionally, salt is not added to the dough for making tortillas. That will be your personal choice.
We are looking for a soft dough consistency; it should not stick to your hands. If it does, add a little more masa-harina. If it looks dry, breakable, or crumbly, add more water. Cover with a moistened towel to prevent the dough from drying.