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:
Mija, 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.
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
- 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 soft 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 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 tortillas to a holding plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Corn tortillas are super versatile and can be served in so many different ways! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Get The Full (Printable) How To Make Corn Tortillas Below. Enjoy!
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.
What’s The Best Tortilla Press for Soft Corn Tortillas?
If you need to buy a tortilla press, check out this post on the best tortilla presses, which includes the ever-popular, Victoria tortilla press that’s similar to the cast iron press that I use regularly. It’s a basic, durable design that you can get on Amazon for around $25. Or, the IMUSA aluminum press is lightweight and a little more affordable and sells for $15 at Target.
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.
Are These Tortillas Vegan?
These corn tortillas are not naturally vegan due to the lard, which is animal fat. However, you can totally replace the lard with vegetable shortening to make a vegan corn tortilla recipe!
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.
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
Other Great Mexican Dinners
- The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- Pozole Rojo (Red Posole Soup Recipe)
- Enchilada Suizas (Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Recipe)
- Crockpot Enchiladas with Beef Recipe
- Buffalo Ahi Tuna Tacos Recipe
- Quick Seared Carne Asada Recipe
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.