Homemade Corn Tortillas

Tacos seem to be quite the in-thing right now, gracing the menus at upscale restaurants and food trucks alike. We love the versatility of tacos, and coming up with interesting filling ideas. They’re fun to serve for a crowd, since you can make a variety of options for all tastes and diet options.

But before you can think about filling, you need a tortilla!  We’ve been hard at work attempting the corn tortilla and have had help and inspiration from several sources (this post from Happyolks, a trial run in person with Erin from Naturally Ella, and Bon Appetit).

Though you’ll have to devote a bit of time and practice to the process, tortillas actually not too hard to make, once you get the hang of it!  We ended up purchasing a tortilla press online, and it was incredibly helpful (and fairly inexpensive). However, if you’re not sure you’re ready for the investment, a pie plate works well too. (Or enter our giveaway!)

Why go to the trouble of making your own tortillas? It’s a good “food project” — a fun activity to try with friends or with kids — plus they taste great, and you can have the satisfaction of feeling quite resourceful!

We try to set aside about 30 minutes to make the tortillas from start to finish; though they’re a great thing to have going while you do other things, like making the filling or cleaning the kitchen (as long as you’re a good multi-tasker!).

Homemade Corn Tortillas
 
by:
Cuisine: Mexican
Makes: 8
What You Need
  • 2 cups yellow masa harina
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • Skillet (cast-iron, if possible)
  • Tortilla press or a pie plate
  • Plastic bag or wax paper
What To Do
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 cups masa harina and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Stir in 1½ cups water and ½ tablespoon olive oil. Knead in bowl until dough forms (the consistency of playdough). If the dough seems too crumbly and does not come together, add a bit more water. (As you make them more often, you’ll learn the consistency of the dough.) Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Heat a skillet (cast iron, if possible) over high heat. (If using a cast-iron skillet, remember that the handle gets very hot!)
  3. Get out your tortilla press. Cut down the sides of a plastic bag, and place it on both sides of the press. Pull off a golf-ball sized piece of the dough. Place the ball in the middle of the tortilla press, place the top over the ball, and squeeze down the handle.
  4. If you do not have a press, place the dough ball in the middle of the plastic bag and fold the other edge over the top. Place a pie plate on top, and press down firmly, using your entire weight over the plate.
  5. The flattened tortilla should be about 6 inches in diameter. Peel the tortilla off of the plastic. Make 2 to 3 in this fashion; then cook them, following the instructions in step 4.
  6. Don’t worry if you lose one or two when you get started, especially from sticking to the plastic. You can easily remove the tortilla, reshape it into a ball, and try again!
  7. When the skillet is hot, place a tortilla on the skillet and cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until cooked and a bit charred in places. Using a spatula, flip, then press down on the middle of the tortilla while you cook the second side (this helps the middle to become cooked as well). Transfer to a plate, and cover with a dish towel. Repeat for all tortillas. When you run out of flattened tortillas, pull off a few more balls and continue in this fashion (making a few at at time helps to keep the remaining dough hydrated and keeps flattened tortillas from sticking to the countertop).
Notes
Adapted from Bon Appetit and the instructions on the bag of masa Makes 8 tortillas (6-inch) Notes: We highly recommend using a tortilla press for this, since it makes it quite easy! They are inexpensive at amazon.com, or you can also find them at Mexican markets. Also, the technique may take a few tries to get down, so give yourself the benefit of a few failed attempts before you get the hang of it. Many recipes do not call for oil, but we found adding a bit (a suggestion from Annie!) helped the overall consistency.

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13 thoughts on “Homemade Corn Tortillas

  1. Brooke Guevara

    thank you for sharing yet another great and very useful recipe. I have attempted flour tortillas in the past, but I really don’t eat to many flour tortillas just for health purposes. I much prefer corn tortillas, and can’t wait to impress my husband with some amazing vegetarian tacos, completely from scratch!

    Reply
  2. Kathryn

    It’s quite hard in the UK to find even corn tortillas that don’t have some flour in them so I really want to make my own so that the celiacs in my life can enjoy them too! I must have a look out for a tortilla press to make the job that bit easier.

    Reply
  3. Melinda Neely

    That taco spread in Bon Appetit last month has inspired me to buy a tortilla press. The home-made version looks so much better than the store bought one. It’s nice to see your tweaks to their recipe.

    Reply
  4. Mrs. L

    I’ve always wanted to try to make my own corn tortillas. Guess this is the perfect excuse to go buy that tortilla press I’ve been eying!

    Reply
  5. Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings

    Hi, found your blog via Foodgawker! Your photography and styling are just awesome…and so are your food creations! I think I’ll be spending more time here at your blog!!!

    I do have a copy of that BA issue with the tacos and I was so inspired by it as well!

    Reply
  6. Patrizia

    I took down this recipe and can’t wait to try it. I love Mexican food and already cook up some recipes. I too prefer to make my own tortillas since in Italy, where I live, I cannot find the corn ones.
    But I also have the problem of not finding Masa Harina; with what can I substitute it ?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Sonja Post author

      We don’t know of many substitutes for masa harina – sorry! We did some research online and didn’t find much (one source said you could grind cornmeal in a food processor, but others didn’t recommend it). Do you think you’d be able to order masa harina online?

      Reply

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