How to Make Corn Tortillas
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There's nothing quite like fresh, homemade corn tortillas. Follow our step-by-step guide on how to make corn tortillas that will forever change taco night.
Think you can’t make homemade tortillas on a weeknight? Think again! This three-ingredient recipe proves that good food doesn’t have to be complicated.
Use Masa Harina
To make homemade corn tortillas, you’ll need a kind of flour called masa harina. It’s a flour made from dried corn (also known as masa). Most supermarkets and grocery stores carry masa harina, but if you can’t find it there, stop by your local Mexican market. You can use the masa harina for all sorts of authentic Mexican dishes, including tamales—check out our guide on how to make tamales with masa harina.
Do You Need a Tortilla Press?
Using a tortilla press makes easy work of flattening the dough balls when you’re making homemade corn tortillas. Not sure if you want to buy a kitchen gadget just for tortillas? Understandable, but on the plus side they range in price from less than $10 to $30. If you’re skipping the press, you can flatten the dough using a heavy flat-bottomed pan.
How to Make Corn Tortillas
- 2 cups masa harina flour
- 1-1/2 cups hot water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Step 1: Make the corn tortilla dough
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, water and salt. Stir in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is firm but moist. Once the dough is soft, but not sticky, cover and let rest 1 hour.
Test Kitchen Tip: The dough should resemble and feel like Play-Doh.
Step 2: Divide the dough and flatten
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Gently flatten one dough ball between two pieces of wax paper, using a tortilla press.
Test Kitchen Tip: You can use a large flat-bottomed pan in place of the tortilla press.
Step 3: Cook the tortillas until dry, yet soft
Remove one piece of the wax paper and transfer the tortilla, paper-side up, to a preheated skillet or griddle over medium-high. Carefully remove the remaining piece of wax paper and cook the tortilla for 1 minute until it’s slightly dry. Flip the tortilla and cook 1 minute more until dry and light brown but still soft.
Step 4: Keep the corn tortillas warm
Transfer the tortillas to a tortilla warmer or wrap in foil to keep warm; repeat the flattening and cooking process with your remaining dough balls.
Tips for Making Corn Tortillas
How do you make white, yellow and blue corn tortillas?
Making colored corn tortillas is as easy as buying different kinds of masa. To make white corn tortillas, pick up white corn masa; to make yellow corn tortillas, look for yellow corn masa; and to make blue corn tortillas, go for the blue corn masa.
Experiment with all kinds of masa to find your favorite for tacos, enchiladas, taquitos and more. Each kind of masa has a slightly different flavor, and you’ll quickly learn which kind you prefer the more often you make your own tortillas.
Can you make corn tortillas without masa harina?
Unfortunately, no—you really need masa harina to make corn tortillas. It’s not interchangeable with cornmeal or corn flour, because it’s soaked, rinsed, dried and then ground. Cornmeal and corn flour don’t go through that whole process. Luckily, you can typically find at least one kind of masa harina at most grocery stores.
How do you store homemade corn tortillas?
Keep cooked tortillas wrapped in foil in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you want to make a double batch and save some for a later date, you can freeze tortillas. Just wrap your cooked tortillas in plastic wrap and foil, transfer to a resealable zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw tortillas overnight in the refrigerator before using.
How do you reheat corn tortillas?
Right after you’ve made your corn tortillas, you’ll want to keep them warm until they’re served—they taste best that way. You can use a tortilla warmer (on our list of handy Mexican cooking tools) or wrap them in foil or a clean towel until the rest of your meal is ready to go.
If you’ve made your corn tortillas ahead of time, take them out of the refrigerator and put them, one at a time, on a hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once each tortilla is a little toasty and has brown spots forming, flip it over and toast the other side. If you don’t have time to heat them up one by one, you can wrap a few corn tortillas in tin foil and pop them in the oven until they’re warm. Keep them wrapped in the tin foil after you take them out so they’ll stay warm until dinner is on the table.
When should you use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas?
Have you ever seen a burrito or quesadilla made with a corn tortilla? On the flip side, have you ever made taquitos or tostadas with flour tortillas? Probably not!
Flour tortillas are necessary for recipes that need a little more support, since they’re thicker and sturdier. They have the strength to hold in all of the fixings you love in a burrito (hello, extra guac) and the ability to stabilize whatever you like in your quesadillas as you pick up each cheesy triangle.
Corn tortillas are perfect for recipes that need a more pliable tortilla. For example, taquitos and enchiladas require a tortilla that’s easily wrapped around the fillings. Corn tortillas also crisp up a lot more nicely than flour tortillas, which is why they’re better for making tortilla chips and tostadas.
When it comes to taco Tuesday (or a build-your-own-taco-board), the choice is up to you!
Ways to Use Homemade Corn Tortillas
Once you learn how to make homemade corn tortillas, use them to level up your tacos, tostadas (we love these lime chipotle carnitas tostadas) and enchiladas (try these sweet potato and black bean enchiladas).
You can swap in homemade tortillas when making your own taquitos, or use the tortillas in zesty casseroles like a chicken tortilla bake or individually portioned chicken tostada cups. If you want to bust out the air fryer, make tortilla chips with your homemade corn tortillas! Check out our guide on how to make air-fryer tortilla chips for easy step-by-step directions.
For more inspiration, here are some of our favorite recipes with corn tortillas.