A Spicy Perspective

How To Make Corn Tortillas

Rustic Homemade Corn Tortilla Recipe: Learn How To Make Corn Tortillas from scratch, that are rich, flavorful, and easy to fold!

Corn Tortilla

Homemade Corn Tortilla

Last week I shared the story of how a good friend of mine, who grew up in Mexico, told me I was not a real cook.

She knows I’ve been cooking professionally for over a decade, yet she saw a package of store-bought tortillas on my counter one day and casually stated:

Miha, you are not a real cook after all. Real cooks make their own tortillas.

Of course, this was her way of teasing me. We had a long discussion about how she learned to make corn tortillas with her abuela (grandma) years ago, and has been making them ever since.

According to mi amiga, real cooks make tortillas from scratch every single day, without fail. There is never a reason to buy them.

Homemade Corn tortilla

Corn Flour Tortilla – Fresh Vs Store-Bought

Although most American cooks do not regularly make tortillas from scratch, I will say, there are times to make them and times to buy them.

You can find pretty darn good flour tortillas at the grocery store. It’s still worth making them on occasion because homemade flour tortillas are so fluffy and soft.

However, it’s much harder to find great store-bought corn tortillas.

In order to make corn tortillas taste fresh, they must be made without preservatives. Yet the masa (corn flour) in these tortillas is so very perishable once cooked, the tortillas must be eaten within a couple of days.

Personally, I find most store-bought corn tortillas either taste fake (full of preservatives) or rancid because they’ve been sitting on the shelf too long. No bueno!

Therefore, I do prefer making homemade corn tortillas from scratch because they taste fresh and are much more pliable than the store-bought version.

Corn Vs Flour Tortillas

Last week I shared my recipe for authentic Homemade Flour Tortillas… They are pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

However, as mentioned above, you can find decent flour tortillas at the grocery store. Whereas corn tortillas are so much better homemade, there is no comparison.

If you are a tortilla novice, here are the major differences between corn tortillas and flour tortillas…

  • Corn Tortillas are made from masa (AKA cornflour) fat, salt and water.
  • Flour Tortillas are made from wheat flour, baking powder, salt, fat, and water.
  • Corn Tortillas taste and feel rustic, like fresh-milled corn.
  • Flour Tortillas taste like wheat, of course!
  • Corn Tortillas are thin and flexible when made fresh.
  • Flour Tortillas are bubbly, when made fresh, and always more flexible than corn tortillas.
  • Corn Tortillas are very perishable and should be eaten within a couple of days. Keep refrigerated, and rewarm.
  • Flour Tortillas can last 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
  • Corn Tortillas are a marvelous complement to heavily spiced meat, sauces, salsas, and fresh tender seafood.
  • Flour Tortillas also work well with many toppings/fillings, but tend to “get lost” in stronger flavors, whereas corn tortillas hold their own.
  • Corn Tortillas are naturally Gluten-Free and slightly healthier than flour tortillas, according to standard nutritional facts.
  • Flour Tortillas taste and feel more decadent than corn tortillas.
Corn Tortilla Recipe Ingredients

Corn Tortilla Recipe Ingredients

  • Masa Harina – Instant Masa Corn Flour
  • Lard – Or Vegetable Shortening for a vegetarian recipe.
  • Salt – To enhance the flavor.
  • Hot Water – To melt the lard and soften the dough.

How To Make Corn Tortillas

Let me show you the easiest method for making corn tortillas…

  1. Set Up: Set out a large mixing bowl, a cutting board, a nonstick skillet, and a tortilla press.
  2. Mix: Measure the masa, lard, and salt into the mixing bowl. Pour very hot tap water over the lard. Mix the dough by hand until it is very smooth.
  3. Rest: Wrap the corn tortilla dough in plastic and leave it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. P.S. The rest time softens the masa to make the tortillas more flexible. Don’t skip!
  4. Cut: Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces, leaving them under the plastic, so they don’t dry out. One at a time, place a ball of corn tortilla dough in the middle of the press. Press down hard to flatten the tortilla into a paper-thin circle.
  5. Cook: Gently peel the corn tortilla off the plastic and move it to the hot dry skillet. Pulling the tortillas off the plastic is the only tricky part of the process. If the first few rip, simply form the dough back into a ball and repress. Make sure you lay it in the skillet carefully so it has full contact with the hot surface. Cook for approximately 2 minutes per side.
  6. Keep Warm: Move the cooked tortillas to a holding plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Get The Full (Printable) How To Make Corn Tortillas Recipe Below. Enjoy!

corn vs flour tortilla

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are My Tortillas Crispy?

It should be stated, the tortillas will feel crisp when you take them out of the skillet, but will soften as they sit. Stacking and keeping the tortillas warm is an important part of the process.

Can I Make This Corn Tortilla Ahead Of Time?

No, these tortillas are always best if made right before serving. They can last a day or two in the refrigerator, but they are just not quite the same.

Are These Tortillas Gluten-Free?

Yes, they are. Since the base of the recipe is cornflour, not wheat four, the recipe is gluten-free.

This Soft Corn Tortilla Recipe is also dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free.

Can I Make This Recipe Without A Tortilla Press?

You can roll the balls of dough between two sheets of plastic or

wax paper. This does take a little more effort, but is doable.

However, it is much easier to make a flour tortilla without a press, than a corn tortilla. The masa dough is so delicate, using a press is much better.

Cooking Corn Tortilla on Cast-iron

Are Corn Tortillas Healthy?

It depends on your definition of healthy…

My friend swears that Americans are fat because they always eat wheat, whereas Mexicans eat corn so they stay thinner. (You may or may not agree with her.)

This particular corn tortilla recipe is slightly lighter and leaner than our homemade flour tortilla recipe in calories and carbs. But just a little.

Each tortilla has 52 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein, and 1 gram of fat. See the full nutritional facts in the recipe card below.

Tortilla Recipe from scratch

Serve These Homemade Tortillas With

corn flour

Other Great Mexican Dinners

How To Make Corn Tortillas

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rustic Homemade Corn Tortilla Recipe: Learn How To Make Corn Tortillas From Scratch, that are rich, flavorful, and easy to fold!
Servings: 16

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Masa Harina (Instant Masa)
  • 1/3 cup lard (or vegetable shortening)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups hot tap water

Instructions

  • Set out a large mixing bowl, a cutting board and knife, a cast iron or nonstick skillet, and a tortilla press.
  • Measure the masa, lard, and salt into the mixing bowl. Pour very hot tap water over the lard to melt it. Mix the dough with a wooden spoon at first, then by hand until it is very smooth.
  • Press the dough into a rectangle. Then wrap in plastic and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. *The rest time softens the masa to make the tortillas more flexible.
  • Set the skillet over medium heat. Place plastic wrap over the to top and bottom pressing-surface of the tortilla press. (Some people like to slide a freezer bag over each section because it's a little more sturdy than plastic wrap.) Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces, leaving them under the plastic, so they don't dry out.
  • One at a time, place a ball of corn tortilla dough in the middle of the press, just slightly closer to the hinge. Press down hard to flatten the tortilla into a paper-thin circle.
  • Gently peel the corn tortilla off the plastic and move it to the hot dry skillet. Make sure you lay it in the skillet carefully so it has full contact with the hot surface. Cook for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 minutes per side. *Pulling the corn tortillas off the plastic is the only tricky part of the process. Because the tortillas are so thin and delicate, you might rip the first few in half. Simply form the dough back into a ball and repress.
  • Move the cooked corn tortillas to a holding plate and cover with a towel to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Serve warm.

Video

Notes

STACKING TORTILLAS: The tortillas will feel crisp when you take them out of the skillet, but will soften as they sit. Stacking and keeping the tortillas warm is an important part of the process.
ASSEMBLY LINE: Making corn tortillas is a great family cooking project. You can have multiple skillets going at the same time, and have someone pressing tortillas in between cooking, so the cooking process goes very quickly.
NO TORTILLA PRESS: You can roll the balls or dough between two sheets of plastic or wax paper. This does take a little more effort, but is doable. However, it is much easier to make flour tortillas without a press than corn tortillas. The masa dough is do delicate, using a press is better.
GLUTEN-FREE? Yes, this recipe is completely gluten-free!

Nutrition

Serving: 1tortilla, Calories: 52kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 146mg, Potassium: 37mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 68IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Sommer Collier

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9 comments on “How To Make Corn Tortillas”

  1. I’ve been making tortillas for 45 years and you don’t need lard to make tortillas. You can add (opcional) 1 or 2 spoons of any oil. Just mix maseca and lukewarm water with your hands until the dough is soft and it doesn’t stick in your hands.You don’t need to let the dough to rest. You can make tortillas right away. The key is that you need the skillet to be hot, when you put the tortilla wait 7 seconds and flip the tortilla, wait one minute and flip the tortilla again, the tortilla will start to rise kind of like a bubble. And you will have a soft delicious tortilla to eat with any kind of meat, cheese, or just add a little bit of butter and salt. Fresh tortillas are the best.

  2. Those without a press can use a pyrex baking pan to press their tortillas. Often, the pan has a recess in the middle that works well to get the tortilla to the right thickness.
    That said..buy a press!

  3. Hi. Been making corn tortillas for about 10 years. Only ever used masa and water. Just recently started adding salt. Think i have only bought store tortillas 2 or 3 times. They don’t taste as good. Since i only cook/bake simple recipes that taste good with the least ingredient and work, i will not add lard. I am planning on experimenting with the flavor of the water. What does the lad do for the tortillas?

  4. I was thinking the same thing. Anyone who would make those comments is being truthful in a very callous way. I wonder how she’d take it if you told her she wasn’t a real cook. Maybe ask her why she isn’t grinding her own corn. Not to mention I’ve seen countless overweight and unhealthy Hispanic people, but somehow she assumes it has everything to do with corn tortillas. This isn’t a friend, this is a mean spirited know it all who in reality knows absolutely nothing.

  5. I live in Switzerland and we don’t have lard here. I was wondering what you would recommend to replace it in your recipe. BTW my daughter brought me a bag of the MASECA corn masa, same as I see in one of your photos, and the recipe for tortillas on the bag does not include any form of fat in the recipe nor for the skillet. Maybe you would enjoy pupusas. They are very easy to make with a tortilla press and the masa is great for those. I like your website. Just discovered it!

  6. These were so delicious and super easy to make!! I’ll never buy store bought again!!

  7. I just tried it and it is really amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  8. This was the easiest recipe for making tortillas! Loved it!