Corn tortillas made at home are far better than store-bought ones, and you only need two ingredients. Here is the best recipe if you ever want to learn how to make the best corn tortillas from scratch.
Authentic Homemade Corn Tortillas
Corn tortillas have been around for a long time and can be made of white, yellow, or blue corn kernels. They are not just our daily tortillas; they are a meal by themselves.
These are some of the types of corn tortillas sold in Mexico. The 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.
Check this post if you want to know how to make your own masa at home. Enjoy it!
The history of corn tortillas
Corn is, without a doubt, the most important ingredient in Mexican gastronomy. Since pre-Colombian times corn was the primary source of food and energy for many civilizations like Mayans and Aztecs. Initially, Mayans and Aztecas ground the corn into cornmeal, mixed it with water to form masa, and cooked it into some sort of bread. Overtime techniques were introduced, such as soaking corn in lime(calcium hydroxide) and water and using tools. Nowadays, specialized tortilla machines produce tortillas in a matter of seconds, and they are easily found all over Mexico (Tortillerias).
Even with the convenience of finding tortillas in tortillerias and grocery stores, people will always choose a homemade tortilla all the time. They are easy to make, and the flavor has no comparison.
Frequently asked questions about this recipe
Before we jump into the recipe, I will share some of the most frequently asked questions I get in my blog.
What are corn tortillas made of?
The traditional Mexican corn tortillas have minimal ingredients: corn, lime, and water. To prepare corn tortillas, you only need 2 Ingredients, Masa-harina and water.Baking powder, wheat flour, sugar, or fat are not necessary. If you wonder, all the masa harina packages like Maseca and Bob's Red Mill are nixtamalized.
What is Nixtamalization?
Nixtamalization is soaking and cooking the dried kernels in water with food-grade lime. This process changes the molecular structure of the corn, increasing calcium and other nutrients. Nixtamalization also helps control bacteria and extends the shelf life of the tortilla.
Are corn tortillas healthier than flour?
Corn tortillas are a healthier option than flour tortillas; they are gluten-free, low-fat, and vegan. Corn tortillas are also low-carb and with fewer calories in comparison to flour. In comparison to flour, corn tortillas contain more nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and calcium.
Are corn tortillas good for you?
Corn tortillas can be a healthy addition to your diet. One of the main benefits is that corn is a whole grain with higher fiber. It also contains magnesium, potassium, and many other mineral and benefits. Corn tortillas are low in calories and are fat-free, making them a great alternative if you are trying to lose weight.
How to store your tortillas
Tortillas can be stored in your fridge for at least five days in a ziplock bag. If you are freezing them, let them cool first and place them in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. You can also make the masa dough and store it in the refrigerator ahead of time. If the masa looks dry when ready to make the tortillas, add a little water and knead again.
How to make Homemade Corn Tortillas from scratch
- Masa harina
- Use a large bowl to combine the masa-harina (corn flour) and water. Mix well until it forms a ball of dough. (Please check the ingredients list below)
- Preheat a griddle or heavy cast iron skillet over medium flame.
- After kneading the dough, form small dough balls the size of a golf ball. Using a tortilla press or a heavy dish. (casserole dish or pie dish works)
- Open the tortilla press or remove the heavy dish if used 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. Add more masa-harina If the dough sticks to the plastic. 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 minutes in total. Cook until the tortilla begins to puff.
ENJOY YOUR CORN TORTILLAS!
Some tips while making your corn tortillas.
- You do not need a tortilla press to make corn tortillas? Believe it or not, many women in Mexico and other Central American countries shape the tortillas by hand. No need for tools, just the palms of your hands to make tortillas.
- If the edge of your tortillas looks 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 your tortillas, place them in a hot cast iron skillet, heat them for about 45 seconds, and flip to the other side; depending on how hot your skillet is, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.
How to serve your tortillas
Tortillas can be enjoyed as a taco or next to your favorite meal like picadillo, but you can serve them with a side of refried beans, a few slices of avocado, and salsa. Enjoy!
More Authentic Mexican Recipes:
If you enjoyed this recipe for tortillas, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
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.