How to Make Corn Tortillas

An instructional guide on how to make corn tortillas | mjskitchen.com

 

When it came to learning how to make corn tortillas it was something that I had to do a few times in order to get an easy process with consistent results.  And now that my process and results are quite consistent, making tortillas is as easy as throwing together a salad. Plus, I love making them and eating them! Being able to take a warm tortilla right off the griddle and slather it with butter is a culinary delight, not to mention the tacos and enchiladas (listed below) that are even better with homemade tortillas.

About a year ago, I posted my recipe for Red Chile Corn Tortillas.  In that post, I briefly explained how you could change the recipe and process for regular corn tortillas.  But that probably led to some confusion.  So I have separated to two recipes. Below is my process and recipe for every day, good old, corn tortillas.  If you want to change them or spice them up a bit, check the red chile corn tortilla or add about 1/2 teaspoon of a chile spice blend.  Flavored tortillas are a real treat for tacos!

Here are some dishes that are best with homemade tortillas.

Fried Green Tomato Tacos

Carne Adovada Enchiladas

Chicken Tacos with Green Chile Corn Relish

Grilled Portabello Tacos with Red Chile Yogurt Sauce

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

New Mexico Red Chile Enchiladas

 

There is nothing like making your own corn tortillas. Here's how you can make them at home. #tortillas #corn #howto @mjskitchen

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How to Make Corn Tortillas

By:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Makes 8 – 10 six inch tortillas or 5 – 6 eight inch tortillas (For more, see Kitchen Notes below)
Prep and Cook time: less than 45 minutes

Supplies

6 – 8 inch tortilla press
Plastic wrap
Plate and damp paper towel
Tortilla warmer with paper towel
1 two burner griddle or 2 single burner griddles

Ingredients

1 cup Masa Harina*
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ cup warm water

Instructions

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients – masa harina, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Slowly add ½ cup of the water 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 water at a time until you get a smooth, but not sticky, consistency.For corn tortillas, knead the masa to a smooth, texture and roll into 1.5 - 2 inch balls. #tortillas #howto mjskitchen.com
  3. Create 1.5 – 2″ diameter balls of dough for 6″ or 8″ press, respectively. Roll in your hands until smooth. Set on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.
  4. Start heating one side of the griddle over a medium heat. Heat the other side over a medium-low heat.
  5. Cut two pieces of plastic wrap the width of the press, then cut or fold into a square. Place one of the squares on the bottom of the press.
  6. Place one of the balls of dough in the center of the press and cover with the other piece of plastic. With your hand, flatten a little bit, and straighten the plastic wrap if needed.
  7. Close the press and press, but not too hard. Open the press and turn the tortilla with plastic 90° and press again.
  8. Remove the top piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla over onto your palm and carefully remove the other piece of plastic. How to make cor tortillas | mjskitchen.com
  9. Flip the tortilla onto the hotter part of the griddle. Let cook for about 30 seconds, then flip. Cook for 1 -2 minutes then flip again. The tortilla should start to puff up. If it doesn’t, tap the center gently with the spatula. Once puffed (it doesn’t have to puff much) and the edges stating to turn up or brown a bit, flip onto cooler side of the griddle for another 60 seconds.
  10. 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.
  11. Continue until all of the tortillas are cooked.

 

*Kitchen Notes

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, not sticky or wet.  If it’s too wet, just sprinkle in some more masa.  Too dry, add a little bit more water (about 1 Tbsp at a time).

Browning the tortillas – Cooking the tortillas until the edges start to brown on the tortilla start to have browned spots, is a personal preference IMO.  For enchiladas I do cook the tortillas longer until they start to brown.  However, so soft tacos I remove the tortillas from the griddle before they start to brown.  The softer tortilla yields a better taco IMO.

To make a double batch, increase the masa to 2 cups, the liquid to 1 ½ cups (starting with 1 cup and add as you need it), baking powder to 1 tsp., and the salt to ½ teaspoon.

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More Kitchen Notes

Masa Harina – There are several brands of Masa Harina, and different brands yield a little difference in texture and color.  For tortillas for soft tacos, I use Bob’s Red Mill.  It is a finer masa than most other brands, yielding a softer, more moist tortilla.  For enchiladas or tostadas, I use a less expensive brands like Meseca or Quakers.

Salt – Many corn tortillas recipes omit the salt all together.  I’ve tried that and didn’t enjoy the flavor as much.  Salt can reduce the amount of “puffing” during the cooking process, but even that can be affected by the brand of masa.

 

I hope you give making your own corn tortillas a try.  It’s not as hard as you might imagine and the results are well worth it.

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45 Responses to “How to Make Corn Tortillas”

  1. Abbe@This is How I Cook March 30, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    I really should try making my own tortillas. You make this seem so easy and you are right. There is nothing like a warm tortilla right off of the griddle!

    • mj April 1, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

      Thanks Abbe! Hope you do try making your own. They are SO worth it.

  2. Kelly Mulcair March 20, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    You are such an inspiration with your homemade Mexican dishes MJ. These tortillas look flawless and I love the simplicity of the ingredients — now I just have to investigate the supplies side ;o) I wonder if you could spice up the corn flour just for fun as a variation (adding some dried/ground herbs/spices to the mix). Will have to give it a go one of these days! Very tempting.

    • mj March 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

      Thanks so much Kelly! Yes…you can spice them up. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of my red or green chile spice mix to the masa. I hope you give them a try. Homemade tortillas are fabulous!

  3. Sophie MacKenzie March 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Beautiful tortillas! Nothing beats a great homemade one <3

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

      Thanks Sophie!

  4. Amy (Savory Moments) March 17, 2017 at 9:26 am #

    These look wonderful! i don’t have a tortilla press, but this is something I’d like to try and make sometime. I bet the flavor is so nice.

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

      Thanks Amy! Hope you give tortillas a try.

  5. Sissi March 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    They look absolutely gorgeous! It´s so funny but only several days ago I learnt how to do something similar, but from a different part of the world (I hope being able to publish my clumsy though delicious results in next post…) and I was really surprised it worked. I´m really not very skilled with dough kneading… or maybe impatient, so I always expect the worst.
    The thing I cannot imagine doing is obtaining perfectly round tortillas. So the special press is the secret weapon???
    I absolutely must try your recipe because I like tortillas, even the store-bought, so I imagine how homemade ones must taste wonderful…

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

      Can’t wait to see what you made. Was it a flatbread of some type? I’ve been wanting to try an Indian flatbread for a long time. They also look so good! But the I LOVE just about any type of flatbread. 🙂 Sometimes I think I make bread so I can knead it. To me, it’s a Zen thing. Kneading yeast breads for 8 – 10 minutes is never a problem. 🙂

      Yes, the press is the trick for the round tortillas; however, I have seen women who have been making them for years make perfectly round ones by hand, no tools. I’m always so impressed at the outcome and the speed at which they can make them. Hope you get a chance to make them. Homemade are great!

      • Sissi March 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

        Thank you so much for the tip. It gives me an excuse to shop once more on US Amazon maybe…
        I think that with your experience chapatti would be the easiest flatbreads you have ever made! I still find it a bit scary to knead and roll out pastry… but you know, with age I start appreciating the dough kneading process… especially when I’m furious 😉

  6. Raymund March 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    Now this is handy as we use tortillas a lot, thanks for the recipe

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

      You are most welcome. Thank you Raymund!

  7. Tamara Andersen March 16, 2017 at 8:45 am #

    I’ve done flour a few times – somewhat successfully. I much prefer corn tortillas, though. These are beautiful, and inspiring! I think I’d better pin this recipe and give them a try!

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

      Believe it or not, I’ve never made flour tortillas. We’ve always preferred corn. Hope you get a chance to make these. They are well worth it. Thanks Tamara!

  8. Liz March 16, 2017 at 8:45 am #

    Our tortilla selection is rather limited around here. I’ve been dying to make my own—so thanks for sharing your fabulous tried and true recipe, MJ!!!

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

      Thanks Liz! Making your own should solve the problem of a limited selection and so worth it. 🙂

  9. Trang March 16, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    We always have taco night and enchilada night in the dinner rotation but I have to admit I haven’t tried making homemade tortilla yet. It has been on my list for a while. And now seeing your post has reminded me that I NEED to make them :). I’m a very visual learner so I love your photos within the directions!

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks so much Trang! Tacos are the BEST with fresh tortillas. I can’t eat a taco anymore without them.

  10. Marta March 16, 2017 at 12:06 am #

    I am not sure if I ever had corn tortillas. But if it’s as easy as a salad, there’s nothing that will stop me from trying 😀

    • mj March 19, 2017 at 6:44 pm #

      It is so easy and so good! Of course, it is important to use masa harina and not just corn flour. Hope you get a chance to make these. Thanks!

  11. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen March 15, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

    You make it seem so easy, MJ!

    • mj March 15, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

      It is! Give is a try.

  12. Evelyne CulturEatz March 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    I love these recipes where you make a basic ingredient you would normally buy. Any alternatives if one does not have a tortilla press?They look really delicious!

    • mj March 15, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! Actually some of the people that make tortillas in restaurants on a daily basis, make them by hand, pressing back and forth until flat. I’ve also heard of people using a rolling pin. For me, the press was well worth the price. 🙂

  13. Adina March 15, 2017 at 1:48 am #

    I love tortillas, but I have always been intimidated by the idea of making them myself. You make it sound easy!

    • mj March 15, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

      It is easy! You should try it. It’s so satisfying in so many ways.

  14. A_Boleyn March 14, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    They look delicious. I haven’t tried making them in years and as I recall, I ended up with dry/leather/brittle results. My masa harina (Maseca brand) ends up in tamales and pupusas. I may try again now that my sourdough flour tortillas rock. 🙂

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks A_B! Dry brittle tortillas are usually the result of too long of a cook. That happened to me when I would try to leave them on the griddle long enough to brown. Now I don’t worry about browning them because I love soft tortillas. I remember seeing your sourdough tortillas – awesome!

  15. wok with ray March 14, 2017 at 9:01 am #

    It always fascinates me every time I go to my favorite Mexican restaurant or Mexican market how these ladies making tortillas by hand. Of course nothing is better than making your own. Looking at the picture, I can imagine the aroma of the Masa being cooked. I hope you are having a wonderful week, MJ. 🙂

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

      I know what you mean. Those little ladies can make them a lot faster than I can, but who’s timing it? 🙂 Cooking the tortillas does make the kitchen smell good. Thanks Ray!

  16. Deb|EastofEdenCooking March 14, 2017 at 8:12 am #

    Your instructions for home made corn tortillas are fabulous. I’ve never explored the different brands of Masa! I haven’t made tortillas from scratch for quite awhile, your scrumptious post has me thinking otherwise!

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

      Thanks so much Deb! It’s fun using different brands of masa for different purposes. You should try it.

  17. Debra Eliotseats March 14, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman has some innovative tortilla recipes. I recall at least a spinach variation. I must dig out that book.

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

      Spinach tortillas? Probably as good as spinach pasta. YUM!

  18. Jan Cook March 14, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    Your corn tortillas look so good!! I received a tortilla press for Christmas and have been tweaking the texture to get the best results. Thanks for all the tips, hope to make some tortillas that look and taste as good as yours! Great post!!

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks so much Jan! What a nice Christmas present! Someone knew what a cook wanted. 🙂 Hope this post helps you tweak to perfection.

  19. John/Kitchen Riffs March 14, 2017 at 7:29 am #

    I’ve never tried Bob’s Red Mill when I make tortillas — I should try that next time I make some (I’m almost out of Meseca, my usual brand). You’re reminding me I haven’t made tortillas — or really, cooked anything Mexican-style (well, other than chili!) in quite some time. Although I’ve been to my share of Mexican restaurants over the last few months! 🙂 Good post — thanks.

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

      Thanks John! I usually keep a bag of Red Mill and a bag of Meseca in the pantry, that way I can have a choice because I do find they do have different textures. I do quite a bit of Mexican/New Mexican at home. That way when we go out, we can get food that I usually don’t make – like sushi, Indian, and Asian.

  20. Judy Purcell March 14, 2017 at 7:13 am #

    I so agree with you MJ, homemade tortillas are unmatched! We also agree on the salt — for me, it is a must. I always tell my cooking classes that by the time they are done they’ll have the hang of it. HA! It does take a little practice, but you’ve done a great job explaining it here. 🙂

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

      Thanks Judy! Glad to read that you to add the salt. A lot of the recipes on the masa bags don’t use salt, which is surprising since it makes such a big difference in flavor – IMO. It took me a few batches to get the hang of it. I remember the first batch being a through away. 🙂

  21. Angie@Angie's Recipes March 14, 2017 at 5:14 am #

    They are simply perfect. I hardly had any luck making corn tortillas. Can it because I used fine yellow corn flour?

    • mj March 14, 2017 at 10:45 am #

      Thanks so much Angie! For tortillas, a fine yellow corn flour doesn’t really work. I tried it once with failing results. Masa corn flour is the best for tortillas. Masa is corn that has gone through a process called nixtamalization where the corn is cooked in an alkaline liquid solution of lime or ash. I’ve read that this process actually increases the nutrients in the corn. I know that it changes the flavor. Masa flour does have the same texture of yellow corn flour but it reacts different to water and heat and it tastes completely different. one can usually find it in the “ethnic” aisle of the grocer or a Mexican grocer. Hope you find some because it does make a difference.

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