Homemade corn tortillas are so quick, easy and delicious you’d be crazy not to make them!
perfect homemade corn tortillas take minutes to make!
It’s true, and one of the best kept secrets in the culinary world ~ you can make homemade corn tortillas with just 2 ingredients, in mere minutes. And yes, it’s an authentic tortilla recipe, it’s just the way they make it in Mexico, with masa harina, salt, and water.
what you’ll need to make homemade corn tortillas
- masa harina
- A very fine corn flour. Look for it near the corn meal in your supermarket, or in the International foods aisle. You can use white or yellow masa harina. Do not substitute corn meal.
what is masa harina?
Masa harina (dough flour in Spanish) is a Mexican corn flour. It has a very fine texture, and is made from dried corn that has been soaked in limewater before grinding. This is a traditional process called Nixtamalization which gives masa harina a wonderful savory flavor and aroma that sets it apart from cornmeal. Masa harina is the essential ingredient in homemade corn tortillas, papusas, and tamales. I also use it to thicken my chilis and Mexican hot chocolate, as well as to make masa harina biscuits!
optional equipment: a tortilla press
A tortilla press is a simple tool that applies just the right pressure to a ball of masa dough to make the perfect round homemade corn tortilla, it’s like magic! Tortilla presses are very inexpensive and a must in every kitchen. I recommend purchasing a large press like this one, because the more common smaller presses make very small tortillas. If you don’t have a tortilla press use a heavy skillet or casserole dish to flatten your tortillas.
Small waxed paper squares also come in handy to keep the tortillas from sticking to each other as you make and stack them. You can find them here but you can easily cut your own, too.
How to make corn tortillas, step by step
step 1. Measure out masa harina and salt into a bowl
For this recipe we’re using 2 cups, which will make about 10 tortillas. Whisk the masa harina and salt together to combine.
step 2. Add water
Measure your water carefully, for this recipe we’re using 1 1/4 cups
step 3. Mix into a soft dough
Start with a spoon but I usually finish with clean hands. The beautiful soft dough comes together instantly. If it’s sticking to your hands then your dough is too wet and you can add a bit more masa harina to dry it out. Add a little extra water if the dough seems dry or not pliable (it should feel like Play Doh.) Congrats ~ you’ve just made masa!
step 4. Pinch off small balls of masa dough
Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a ping pong ball and roll into a smooth round in your palms. (I use my cookie scoop to portion out the dough.) Be sure to keep your corn tortilla dough covered with plastic at all times so it doesn’t dry out.
step 5. Flatten the balls into tortillas
Place a piece of waxed paper on your tortilla press and top with a ball of masa. Put another paper on top and flatten into a perfect tortilla! I can’t get over how perfect your homemade corn tortillas come out..if you’ve ever tried to roll your own, you’ll understand my amazement. (A tortilla press is worth its weight in gold.) Don’t have a tortilla press? Use a heavy skillet or casserole dish to flatten your dough.
step 6. Cook your homemade tortillas
Your tortillas take just seconds to cook. Pre-heat a cast iron pan, griddle, or comal (a traditional Mexican griddle or skillet with a thinner surface that allows for quick and even heating) over medium high heat until hot. I like to preheat it for at least 5 minutes. Place the tortillas on the pan and cook for about 30 seconds on each side. Your homemade corn tortillas are ready to eat or use in any recipe.
step 7. Keep your tortillas soft and warm
Stack the tortillas as they come off the griddle and wrap in a kitchen towel to keep them soft and warm.
Storing homemade corn tortillas
As you are cooking the tortillas, stack them and keep warm under a clean kitchen towel. You can use them right away, or let them cool and store in zip lock baggies for up to 2 days. They can also be frozen for longer storage.
how to use your corn tortillas
Your tortillas can be used just the way you would use store bought corn tortillas.
Make homemade tortilla chips: I like to slice them in wedges and shallow fry them in olive oil to go with homemade salsa. Or make a plate of gourmet nachos!
Make quesadillas: sandwich your favorite shredded cheese between 2 tortillas and grill until the cheese melts.
Fry up some homemade taquitos: roll them up with your favorite filling, and shallow fry until crisp.
Use for tacos: corn tortillas aren’t as pliable as flour tortillas, but they have so much more flavor!
Homemade Corn Tortillas
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt, optional
- Add the masa harina and the water to a mixing bowl
- Mix just until the dough comes together. Add a little extra water if the dough seems very dry.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plasic to keep it from drying out while you work.
- Break off a small piece of the dough and form it into a ball, about the size of a ping pong ball.
- Put the ball of dough on top of a square of waxed paper on the tortilla press.
- Cover the ball with another piece of waxed paper, flatten slightly, and then press with the tortilla press.
- Carefully peel off the waved paper.
- Cook the tortillas on a hot pan or griddle for about 30 seconds on each side.
- I store the cooked tortillas in a baggie in the refrigerator until I'm ready to use them.