After years of frustration trying to find corn tortillas that don’t fall apart when steamed or dipped in sauce, I started making my own. I tried several methods that worked o.k., but it wasn’t until I tried the method that I found in one of my favorite cookbooks Gran Cocina Latina, that I was able to consistently turn out great tortillas. I usually make regular corn tortillas, but it’s fun changing them up a bit and making flavored tortillas like these red chile corn tortillas. The method and the recipes are basically the same. The only difference is that you substitute some of the water with red chile sauce. The outcome is a beautiful red tortilla with a red chile flavor and a little spiciness in every bite.
My homemade tortillas work great with beans, as soft taco shells, and in enchiladas. What they don’t work for are tostadas or chips. They just don’t fry up very well. Maybe I don’t press them thin enough for that, but that’s o.k. There is not a better tortilla for soft tacos!
The following method and recipe can be used for regular corn tortillas as well as red chile tortilla. For regular tortillas, just use water and no red chile.
How to Make Red Chile Corn Tortillas
This recipe and process cam be used to make regular corn tortillas as well as these red chile tortillas. Just omit the red chile sauce and use about 3/4 cups hot water. The red chile tortillas require close to a cup.*
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ’s Kitchen
Makes 8 – 10 six inch tortillas (using a 6″ press)*
Prep and Cook time: less than 45 minutes
Plate and damp paper towel
Tortilla warmer with paper towel
1 two burner griddle or 2 single burner griddles
Warning: If your red chile sauce is HOT, it might be a good idea to use gloves when mixing and kneading the dough. The capsaicin from the red chile can be absorb while kneading the dough and cause your hands to burn.
- Mix together the dry ingredients – masa harina and salt.
- Mix together the wet ingredients – water and red chile sauce
- Slowly add 3/4 cup of the liquid to the masa while you work the dough with your hands*. Continue to work the dough for at least 2 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough. If the dough seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon of liquid at a time until you get a smooth, but not sticky, consistency.
- Create eight or more 1.5″ diameter balls of dough*. Roll in your hands until smooth. Set on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.
- Heat one side of the griddle over a medium heat. Heat the other side over a medium-low heat.
- Cut a piece of plastic wrap the width of the press, then cut this in half. Place one of the halves on the bottom of the press.
- Place one of the balls of dough on the press and cover with the other half of plastic. With your hand, flatten a little bit, and straighten the plastic wrap if needed.
- Close the press and press one of the dough balls about half way. Open the press and turn the tortilla with plastic 90° and press again.
- Remove the top piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla over onto your palm and carefully remove the other piece of plastic.
- Flip the tortilla onto the hotter part of the griddle. Let cook for 15-25 seconds, then flip. Let cook for 1 -2 minutes until the tortilla starts to darker on the grill side or get brown spots, then flip again. The tortilla should start to puff up. If it doesn’t, tap the center gently with the spatula. Once puffed and starting to brown, flip onto cooler side of the griddle for another 30 – 60 seconds.
- Place a paper towel in a tortilla warmer. As the tortillas finish cooking, transfer to the tortilla warmer and cover. The tortillas will continue to steam and soften.
- Continue until all of the tortillas are cooked.
*See Kitchen Notes for more information and for how to double the batch.
Corn tortillas – Start with 3/4 cups hot water for 1 cup masa harina, but use only add 2/3 cup to start. Work the dough for a while, then add more if needed. After rolling out the dough balls, be sure to cover with a damp paper towel, because the masa does tend to dry out. This recipe makes eight tortillas.
Masa Harina – There are several brands of Masa Harina, but my favorite is Bob’s Red Mill. It is a finer masa than most other brands, yielding a softer, more moist tortilla.
Red Chile Tortillas – Because of the thickness of the red chile, a little more liquid is needed. I usually end up using the full cup. You’ll probably be able to get 8 – 10 tortillas from this size batch.
Water – The water you use should be hot water.
Salt – Many tortillas recipes omit the salt all together. I’ve tried that and didn’t enjoy the flavor as much. It didn’t seem to affect the cooking process so the salt is really for taste.
Kneading the dough – For those who don’t like to use their hands to mix, use a spatula to initially combine the wet and dry ingredients. However, at some point you’re going to have to jump in there and use your hands. That’s the only way you’ll be able to really get a feel for the dough. Always go for smooth and not sticky or wet. If it’s too wet, just sprinkle in some more masa.
Tortilla Size – With corn tortillas I usually get 8 tortillas, but with the red chile tortillas, I get 10 tortillas. The tortillas do start out being about 6″ in diameter, but shrink to around 5″ while cooking. If you want larger tortillas, buy an 8″ press. Make the dough balls about 2″ in diameter for the larger press.
Doubling the Batch – To make a double batch, increase the masa to 2 cups, the liquid to 1 ½ cups (3/4 cups water and 3/4 cups red chile) and the salt to ½ teaspoon.
Below are some recipes that work great with these tortillas.