How To Make Corn Tortillas From Scratch

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?

4.47 from 13 votes
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How to Make Corn Tortillas

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.

Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 3 servings
Calories 138 kcal
Author Jackie Dodd

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Masa
  • pinch salt
  • ¾ cup water I’ve also used beer, which turns out great as well

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the Masa and the salt, stir to combine.
  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.
  3. Form into balls a bit larger than golf balls.
  4. Prepare a tortillas press by wrapping in plastic wrap or covering with parchment paper. Place one ball in the center.
  5. Press, rotate and press again until thin.
  6. Heat a griddle (or cast iron skillet) to a medium high heat (about 350 for electric griddles).
  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.

How to make corn tortillas from scratch

About the Author

The Craft Beer Bites CookbookJackie Dodd’s beer-infused recipes earned her a spot as a finalist for Saveur Magazines Best Original Recipes, 2014 as well as crowned winner for Best Beer Coverage in 2015 (yes, craft beer is unprocessed). The Beeroness was also a finalist for Better Homes and Gardens Best Food Blogs, 2015. She has been seen on The Today Show, Lifetime Network, CBS News, as well as interviewed in print publications such as Imbibe, Bite and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also writes for Parade Magazine, Draft Magazine and Whisk Magazine. Jackie is the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook and The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook, and you can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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61 Comments
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Kate @ Babaganosh.org
October 8, 2014 3:54 pm

5 stars
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..

Tanya
July 11, 2014 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!!!!!!!!

Rich S
Rich S
February 20, 2014 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… Read more »

jo
jo
February 19, 2014 10:54 am

Thank you Rich
This is SO NOT FROM SCRATCH
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.
Thanks
Jo

Rich S
Rich S
January 11, 2014 4:41 pm

Sorry folks, but Masa Harina is processed corn flour, NOT just ground corn.
It is processed like this http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/what-is-masa-harina.htm

I know this because 1, I live in Mexico, lightly roast (for flavor) and grind my own corn(s), then treat it with lime to make the masa /dough to make tortillas.

2)I learned this “secret” from “Mama Chelo” at a nearby country restaurant who makes the best “tortillas por mano” in the Guadalajara area.

Yes this recipe/site should be labeled Handmade tortillas from masa harina.
The most popular brand here of tortilla flour is Maseca not Quaker which is also sold here.

teri
teri
December 15, 2013 4:16 pm

Masa flour is not a mix! It’s just corn flour. I don’t know how much more basic of an ingredient list you can get. Yes, this is a recipe from basic and uncomplicated ingredients.

Anthony Paz
Anthony Paz
December 10, 2013 7:55 pm

1 star
this is not a recipe how to make corn tortillas from scratch. you need to put the heading as” corn tortillas from store bought masa mix”

teri
teri
December 15, 2013 4:15 pm
Reply to  Anthony Paz

Masa flour is not a mix! It’s just corn flour. I don’t know how much more basic of an ingredient list you can get. Yes, this is a recipe from basic and uncomplicated ingredients.

Judy M
Judy M
December 18, 2013 2:32 am
Reply to  Anthony Paz

3 stars
Just what would you consider “a recipe how to make corn tortillas from scratch,” Anthony? Saying that using masa harina makes it not so is like saying you’re not baking a cake from scratch if you don’t mill your own flour from wheat. In other words, ridiculous.

Priya @ MyKitchenOdyssey
November 6, 2013 4:20 pm

4 stars
I came across your blog when i search for corn tortillas from scratch.I am doing tortillas using masaca flour.Asyou said it was not coming together and i added water and it keeps on asking for water.I did my own press by using chapathi maker itself.
I got to explore this blog .lovely clicks .

Denise
Denise
August 6, 2013 8:34 am

Can you make these ahead of time and freeze them??? I like plan for the week in advance as we have several kids and a crazy schedule. I know it looks pretty easy to make, but having things prepared in advance can really save me precious time during the week.

KatiaGiselle
KatiaGiselle
July 24, 2013 11:45 am

5 stars
So easy and fresh! For a change and a bit more nutritional value, I add a mashed sweet potato or white yam to the masa. Sounds crazy, but once steamed and peeled the sweetness from the yam adds great flavor to the tortillas and pairs beautifully with Tinga de Puerco or Cochinita Pibil, delicioso!