How To Make Corn Tortillas From Scratch

The Craft Beer Cookbook by Jacquelyn DoddJackie Dodd is a Seattle-based recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She runs two food web sites: Domestic Fits, which combines original recipes with “how-to” cooking and baking tips, and The Beeroness, which focuses on cooking and baking with craft beer (yes, craft beer is unprocessed). Her first book, The Craft Beer Cookbook, contains 100 imaginative recipes for cooking with beer. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

Until a few years ago, I would have told you how much I hated corn tortillas. Those cardboard disks they sell in supermarkets, so bland, tasteless and rubbery were not my bag.

I wondered, to myself, how anyone could pick those during the “corn or flour” debate. Really, corn? What am I missing?

It turns out that homemade corn tortillas, with their seductive softness and slightly sweet flavor (don’t even get me started on the amazing smell) changed my taco-making life.

Like the difference between baloney and Filet Mignon, homemade corn tortillas are an entirely different beast. Once I made my own from scratch, I was shocked – shocked I tell you! – at how much I’d been missing out on.

How is it that no one told me that it only takes a few minutes to throw these together and they are somewhere around a billion times better than the crap in stores? Seriously friends, what the hell?

Like the revelation of discovering how insanely brainless it is to make homemade whipped cream, I’ll never go back to store-bought.  Plus, it’s about 3 cents per tortilla, gluten-free and vegan, making it a perfect choice for a large get together when who knows what kind of food aversion people will have.

Look how accommodating you are, AND you make your own tortillas?!

They’ll never know.

You need a few supplies, but don’t worry, you’ve got this.

  1. Tortillas press. You can buy one online, at Mexican markets or you can fashion your own.  I have this aluminum one, and my Mexican friends tend to prefer this wood one.

(I have also heard that you can use two very heavy books wrapped in plastic wrap or try your hand with a rolling pin and some parchment paper. )

  1. Masa, also called Masa Harina, which most stores sell in the “ethnic foods” aisle, or you can buy online.
  2. Water, salt and a bowl.
  3. Griddle or cast iron skillet.

That’s it. Not too bad, right?

How to Make Corn Tortillas
  • 1 cup Masa
  • pinch salt
  • ¾ cup water (I’ve also used beer, which turns out great as well)
  1. In a large bowl, add the Masa and the salt, stir to combine. Masa Flour
  2. Add the water and stir to combine. If the dough is too dry to hold together, add additional water. If it is too wet, add more Masa. Add Water to the Masa Flour
  3. Form into balls a bit larger than golf balls. Form into balls
  4. Prepare a tortillas press by wrapping in plastic wrap or covering with parchment paper. Place one ball in the center.
    Place in the tortilla press
  5. Press, rotate and press again until thin. Press until thin
  6. Heat a griddle (or cast iron skillet) to a medium high heat (about 350 for electric griddles). Cook until slightly brown
  7. Cook until slightly brown on the bottom (about 30 seconds to a minute) flip and cook on the other side. Don’t overcook.
  8. Serve warm, impress your friends. Serve warm and impress your friends!

How to make corn tortillas from scratch

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70 Responses to How To Make Corn Tortillas From Scratch

  1. JANICE April 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Can I use my pizelle iron for a press? I have so many gadgets…don’t know where to put them all.
    Also I have instant corn masa flour…can I use that? thanks!

    • Rich S April 11, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

      Your pizzelle iron might work.
      Only way to find out is to try it.
      Tortillas usually need a uniform thickness to cook evenly.

      The flour is fine.
      Just a different name for the normal tortilla flour..

  2. Rich S October 8, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    I’ve been here in Mexico for 12 years and I often used 2 Corelle plates wrapped in saran wrap.
    Worked great for this 100kg plus 188cm tall guy.

    Now my maid makes them for me and brings them when she cleans the house once a week.
    Freeze the excess and thaw when you want them.

  3. Kate @ October 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Oh man, I don’t know why people are giving you such a hard time about the from scratch/not from scratch thing. This seems like pretty much “from scratch” to me! It’s like saying someone can’t use pastry flour because the gluten content is already adjusted for you in the pastry flour.

    I had no idea it was this easy. Would squishing the tortillas between two cutting boards wrapped in foil work? Or is the tortilla press a much better tool? I don’t like the idea of getting yet another kitchen tool for just one purpose..

  4. Tanya July 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    YOU crack me up! Fell off the counter…sounds like something I would do! LOL! I did take your advice and made my own…YUMMO!!!!!!!!

  5. Rich S February 20, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Hi Jo,

    I’ll go speak with Maria Elena, the woman in my local town, who runs the local tortillaria to find out the type of corn she uses, IF she knows, but no promises.
    She has bags of it filling her garage where she limes it, grinds it and makes the tortillas for the town.

    You need good flour corn.
    I simply got seeds from Mama Chelo (yellow and red) and grow what she gave me.
    I get the slaked lime: cal mexicana/cal apagada/cal from the local woman, but every town here in Mexico has it’s own dialect so what works here may not work where you are.
    I ask for things by explaining what I want to do and that usually works.
    Ask for “cal/pulvo por fabrica la masa por las tortillas” and you should get what you need.
    Yep, I know it’s not correct spanish but it, along with a smile, works to get what I need.

    I started here.
    Follow the instructions and you will have incredible tasting tortillas in no time.

    Better yet is
    which explains the masa making process in more detail than you will ever need.

    I use a traditional clay pot, but Maria Elena uses a big stainless pot then dumps several loads into a 3 foot galvanized tub when liming.
    I also roast my fresh corn, before shucking, drying and liming, or more accurately, I smoke it using an indirect wood fire (one of the locals showed me which wood I could safely use) with temps BELOW 200F for 30-60 minutes to add the taste I like, but that is an unnecessary step for good tortillas.
    Since I have a large BBQ smoker it was easy for me to add this extra step.
    You could just add “Liquid Smoke” if you are in the USSA or use a Cameron stainless stovetop smoker.

    I use my Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine with the Messerschmidt grinding attachment to medium grind with the peanut butter insert since I like that texture better, but you can use a metate or plate grinder.

    Let me know how your experiment turns out.

  6. jo February 19, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Thank you Rich
    I am growing my own corn and I want to find out if the corn used for masa is flint or flour corm. I’m thinking it is flour corn. i also need to know how much lime for what amount of corn is used in the mixtamalization process and what is the lime called in Mexican Spanish.
    I have ground some of my flint corn. It maked good grits and polenta but it won’t hold together for corn chips.
    Would you share your recipe for masa.


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