Homemade Corn Tortillas

September 25, 2020

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Homemade Corn Tortillas are the absolute best! They have the freshest flavor and a perfect texture. They’re made with just three humble ingredients and with a tortilla press they are super fast and easy to make!

Also try my recipe for Homemade Flour Tortillas, they’re addictive!

Stack of homemade corn tortillas on a blue striped kitchen towel.

Easy Corn Tortillas Recipe

These really are so much better than the shelf stable tortillas you get at the store. They’re definitely worth the extra effort when you’ve got time. They’re soft, tender yet chewy, they have delicious flavor and no cardboard dry texture here.

Making things from scratch like this can be a great way to unwind after a long day. And there’s always just something so rewarding about learning how to make something on your own that you would normally buy pre-made.

It’s amazing that after just three simple ingredients and a quick prep you’ll feel pretty accomplished after you’ve got your stack of tortillas there waiting to be filled with all the best taco toppings.

After you’ve made them a time or two and figured out the tips and tricks they’ll be a total breeze from there on out.

Plus they’re a sure way to impress family and friends when you pair them with a delicious Mexican dinner.

You’ll get compliments all around. People will be snatching them up before dinner is even ready (trust me I’ve learned), so make extra!

Stack of homemade yellow corn tortillas folded over to show pliability.

Corn Tortillas 3 Ingredients Needed

  • Masa Harina: There’s yellow (sometimes labeled “amarillo”) or white (usually no specific labeling) and they work just the same. Yellow, in my opinion, has a slightly more pronounced corn flavor and white tends to be lightly sweeter. Texture varies a bit by brand.
  • Salt: I just use table salt but kosher or sea salt are great too (just use a slightly heaping 1/2 tsp since the crystals are bigger).
  • Water: Use warm water here, it helps with absorption.

Scroll down below for full, printable recipe.

What is Masa Harina?

  • This is a soft flour made from dried corn. Corn kernels are nixtamalized – treated with a solution of alkaline slaked lime and water until soft enough to grind. Then it is finely ground in a mill and dried.
  • “Masa harina” translates in english to “dough flour.”
  • It is naturally gluten free (but check labels for cross contamination).
  • It is commonly used to make tortillas, gorditas, tamales, papusas and more.
  • Refer to image below to see what you should be looking for in the store if you aren’t familiar with it.

Image of three packages of different brands of masa harina.

Can I Use Cornmeal or Corn Flour?

No. These are not the same thing as masa harina and will not work the same. Though they are all made from dried corn the texture and treatment process are not the same.

How to Make Corn Tortillas from Scratch

1) Make the Dough

  • In a mixing bowl whisk together masa harina and salt.
  • Pour in water then mix with a wooden spoon to combined. Knead mixture by hand until you have a soft dough, while adding more water as needed 1 Tbsp at a time (it shouldn’t feel wet or very dry, sort of like playdough).
  • Let rest 20 – 30 minutes for more moisture to absorb into flour.
  • Divide dough into 16 portions (about 38 grams each or 1 1/2-inch rounds. Or you can do larger or smaller depending on how big you want the tortillas, here I made them just a bit larger).
  • Roll portions into balls and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.

Collage of four images showing steps of making corn tortillas dough in a glass bowl and kneading.

2) What to Use to Shape the Tortillas

  • Tortilla press (best choice): I’ve had two tortilla presses and it’s worth spending just a little extra to get a decent one (cast iron). I like this one here. There’s also aluminum, plastic, and more expensive wooden presses too.
  • Skillet (or glass pie plate): If you don’t own or want to invest in a tortilla press you can use a flat bottom skillet or a glass pie plate. It’s just harder to achieve a thin tortilla. You’ll just cover dough balls with plastic as directed and press down on the pie plate to flatten the tortilla.
  • Rolling pin: This takes a lot more effort and it’s not very easy to roll out an evenly rounded circle. But if you’d like to attempt this just roll out covered with plastic to prevent sticking.

3) Press and Cook Tortillas

  • Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat (a non-stick skillet or griddle will work too).
  • Open tortilla press and place one sheet of thick food grade plastic (such as a gallon size resealable bag cut into two sheets to fit the size of the press) on first plate of tortilla press.
  • Place dough ball over plastic sheet then cover dough with a second sheet of plastic.
  • Close tortilla press and then turn and press the handle until ball has flattened to achieve a 6-inch round.
  • Carefully peel top plastic sheet away from tortilla then place tortilla in palm of one hand and peel bottom plastic sheet away using other hand.
  • Transfer the flattened tortilla to preheated skillet and cook about 40 – 60 seconds per side, until it appears dry on bottom and lightly golden brown in spots.

Collage of six images showing how to press corn tortilla dough in a tortilla press and cook in a skillet, then steam in a bag to soften.

4) Steam Tortillas to Soften

Tortillas will be dry and somewhat stiff at first. Steaming them makes them more pliable and evenly moistened.

  • Line an airtight container (such as a tortilla warmer, storage container or gallon size resealable bag wrapped) with a paper towel then transfer tortilla to container to let steam, soften, and keep warm.
  • Repeat cooking and steaming process until all of the dough has been used up.

How to Store and Shelf Life

  • Homemade corn tortillas should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator in an airtight container. In my experience though they may be more pliable held at room temperature they tend to mold quickly due to the moisture content.
  • They can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week, but keep in mind, the texture is best the first few days.

How to Reheat

  • Stovetop: Reheat in a skillet set over medium heat about 15 – 30 seconds per side, I usually add a little vegetable oil or olive oil to so they aren’t dry.
  • Tortillas can also be reheated on a steamer basket set over over a pot of simmering water (cover with lid), until heated and pliable.
  • Microwave: Place tortilla(s) in a damp paper towel, place on a plate, and cook in microwave on 50% power until heated though (time will vary depending on how many you are reheating).

Image of tacos on a platter with homemade tortillas shown. They are topped with diced chicken, avocado, tomato, cilantro and onion.

Tips for the Best Homemade Corn Tortillas

  • Don’t skip kneading. It helps aerate and hydrate the dough.
  • Let dough rest for water to soak into masa harina for a better texture.
  • Press fairly thin, we aren’t making gorditas here.
  • Be mindful of consistency. If dough is too moist just knead in a little more masa harina at any point, just a little at a time. On the other hand if it seems too dry, just knead in a small bit of water.
  • Avoid sticking. If tortillas are tearing and sticking to the plastic it’s can be a number of things: too much water was added to the dough, tortillas were rolled too thin, or you aren’t being gentle at removing.
  • If you find tortillas are sticking to the skillet it’s either because the skillet doesn’t have a light greasing as it should, or there’s too much water in the dough, or they just aren’t cooked enough yet and ready to be turned.
  • Careful not to overcook or they’ll dry out completely.
  • Don’t skip steaming in container after cooking. Otherwise they will be dry and stiff.

What to Serve with Them

 

How to Make Corn Tortillas

Homemade Corn Tortillas are the absolute best! They have the freshest flavor and a perfect texture. They're made with just three humble ingredients and with a tortilla press they are super fast and easy to make!
Servings: 16 (approx.)
Prep20 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Resting20 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (8.5 oz) masa harina corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, then more as needed

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl whisk together masa harina and salt.
  • Pour in water then mix with a wooden spoon to combined.
  • Knead mixture by hand for a few minutes until you have a soft non-sticky dough, while adding more water or masa harina as needed 1 Tbsp at a time (it shouldn't feel wet or very dry, a little softer than playdough).
  • Let rest 20 - 30 minutes for more moisture to absorb into flour.
  • Divide dough into 16 portions (38 grams each or 1 1/2-inch rounds.*)
  • Roll portions into balls and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Open a tortilla press** and place one sheet of thick food grade plastic (such as a gallon size resealable bag cut to fit into two sheets to fit the size of the press) on first plate of tortilla press. Place one ball over plastic then cover dough with second sheet of plastic.
  • Close tortilla press, then press using the handle until ball has flattened to achieve a 6-inch round. Carefully peel top plastic sheet away from tortilla then place tortilla in palm of one hand and peel bottom plastic sheet away using other hand.
  • Transfer the tortilla to preheated skillet and cook about 40 - 60 seconds per side, until it appears dry on bottom and lightly golden brown in spots. If they are cooking to quickly reduce burner temperature to medium.
  • Line an airtight container (such as a tortilla warmer, storage container or gallon size resealable bag) with a paper towel then transfer tortilla to container to let steam, soften, and keep warm.
  • Repeat cooking and steaming process until all of the dough has been used up.
  • Serve warm or refrigerate dough in airtight container, then reheat when ready to serve. You may choose to reheat in a skillet with a little vegetable oil or olive oil for added moisture and flavor.

Notes

  • *You can make tortillas larger or smaller as preferred. Just use more or less dough per each and flatten bigger or smaller accordingly.
  • **If you don't own a tortilla press you can use a flat bottom skillet or glass pie plate. Place dough on one sheet of plastic wrap, cover with a second then firmly press down using skillet on dough until you've achieved a 6-inch round.
Nutrition Facts
How to Make Corn Tortillas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 55 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 75mg3%
Potassium 40mg1%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 32IU1%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.