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!
Homemade Corn Tortillas
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 tortilla from scratch every single day, without fail. There is never a reason to buy them.
Corn Tortillas – Fresh Vs Store-Bought
Although most American cooks do not regularly make tortillas from scratch, I will say, there 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 (cornflour) in corn tortillas is so very perishable once cooked, the tortillas must be eaten within a couple 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
- Masa Harina – Instant Masa Cornflour
- 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
- Set Up: Set out a large mixing bowl, a cutting board, a nonstick skillet, and a tortilla press.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Cook: Gently peel the corn tortilla off the plastic and move it to the hot dry skillet. Pulling the corn 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.
- Keep Warm: Move the cooked corn tortillas to a holding plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Get The Full (Printable) Homemade Tortilla Recipe Below
Corn Tortilla Cooking Tips & FAQ
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 Corn Tortillas Ahead Of Time?
No, corn tortillas are always best if made right before serving. They can last a day or two in the refrigerator, but they are just not the same.
Are Corn Tortillas Healthy?
It depends on your definition of healthy…
My latina friend swears that Americans are fat because they always eat wheat, whereas Mexican 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.
Are Corn 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 Tortillas Recipe is also dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free.
Can I Make Corn Tortillas 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 flour tortillas without a press, than corn tortillas. The masa dough is so delicate, using a press is much better.
Serve These Homemade Tortillas With
- 2-Ingredient Chicken Taco Meat
- BBQ Carnitas Tacos
- Corn Crusted Fish Tacos with Jalapeno Lime Sauce
- Bacon Ranch Jalisco Tacos
- Green Chile Steak Tacos
- Vietnamese Banh Mi Street Tacos
- Zucchini Cremini Street Tacos
- Healthy Baked Corn Tortilla Chips
How To Make Corn Tortillas
- 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.
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