13 In Bread/ Sides

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
We recommend using a tortilla press, since it makes the process quite easy! Presses are inexpensive at amazon.com, or you can also find them at Mexican markets. The cooking 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 in the dough, but we found adding a bit helped the overall consistency.
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
What You Need
  • 2 cups yellow masa harina
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 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 a bowl until a 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 tortillas 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.
  3. Get out a 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. (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.)
  6. When the skillet is hot, place a tortilla on the skillet and cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fully 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). Transfer the tortilla 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 work surface).
Adapted from Bon Appetit and the instructions on our bag of masa

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  • Reply
    Brooke Guevara
    July 12, 2012 at 12:01 am

    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
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    July 12, 2012 at 4:49 am

    I’ve been wanting to make these for so long now! Yours look awesome!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 7:08 am

    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
    Melinda Neely
    July 12, 2012 at 9:57 am

    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
    July 12, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I just made corn tortillas as well! They’re so easy, I’ll never buy them again!

  • Reply
    Mrs. L
    July 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    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
    Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings
    July 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    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
    July 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Such a delightful stack of tortillas!

  • Reply
    Helen (ThursdayNightDinner.org)
    July 18, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I’m making these for this weekend! Fish tacos are my weakness… thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I love these corn tortilla. reminds me something similar from my region.

    Love your blog too. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    October 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    These are perfect and so easy! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    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 ?

    • Reply
      November 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      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?

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    Happy Cooking! ~ Sonja & Alex