Homemade, authentic corn tortillas are surprisingly easy to make, contain only 3 ingredients, and taste sooo much better than store-bought! They’re tender, fresh, moist, pliable, and have a delicious corn flavor. (I know, right?! A tortilla that actually tastes like corn! Who would have thought! 😉 ) Try out this simple recipe for your next taco night, and enjoy the authentic flavors of Mexico!
Have you ever noticed how icky most store-bought corn tortillas are? They’re dry, crumbly, and pretty darn bland. Even most of the fancy, schmancy, and over-the-top expensive ones are less than thrilling.
Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for a bag of over-priced, underwhelming, less-than-yummy tortillas for your next taco night. You can make your own fresh, tasty, moist, pliable tortillas, that actually taste like corn.
It only takes a few minutes, and three ingredients, two of which I’m pretty confident you already have on hand – salt and water.
The only potentially tricky ingredient is masa harina. Masa harina is essentially corn flour made from a particular type of corn that has been treated with lime (not the green citrus, but calcium hydroxide). The lime treatment removes excess stuff like the hull of the corn, and makes for better grinding and texture. Masa harina is readily available at Mexican markets, most grocery stores (usually in the hispanic foods section), and online – you can grab some HERE at Amazon.
You don’t even need a tortilla press to make these tasty bites – although a tortilla press is kind of fun to use and makes super quick work of it (see the recipe notes below). So if you want to give a press a try, HERE is a link to a selection at Amazon. Mine is a cheap cast aluminum model that I got at my local restaurant supply store – works like a charm. I’m sure a heavy-duty cast iron model would work better, but since I don’t make tortillas every day, light and cheap is good!
While I don’t make tortillas every day, I DID just whip out my third batch of tortillas in two days. Last night was taco night, and tonight I’m thinking simple, folded enchiladas, stuffed with grilled mushrooms, a little seasoned beef, and a sprinkle of cheese. Yumm! Can’t wait!
Need some taco fixing ideas? Why not try these tasty Poblano Pork Tenderloin Street Tacos featured in our article about the Southwest US?
A few homemade corn tortilla making tips:
- You want to add just enough water to your tortilla dough so that it is soft, smooth, and holds together easily, without being tacky. As Rick Bayless shares in his excellent tortilla making tutorial, “soft as you can get it, without being sticky – it shouldn’t stick to your hands.” If it is too dry, add a little more water. If it’s too wet – you guessed it – add a little more masa harina. Since masa harina contains no gluten, you don’t need to worry about overworking the dough.
- No tortilla press? No problem! Just layer a ball of dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper, and give it a good press, straight down, with a heavy skillet.
- For faster tortilla production, cook them on a griddle 4 or 5 at a time.
- Sometimes the tortillas can feel a little dry after they’ve first cooked. Don’t worry, if you stack them together and wrap them with a towel, they will steam and soften.
- Need to reheat your tortillas? Wrap them in a barely damp towel, and microwave for a few seconds.
- Remember that authentic, homemade tortillas have a lot more character than most store-bought varieties. Some may be thicker, thinner, larger, smaller, and many won’t be exactly round – it’s all part of the charm. Embrace it! 🙂
- 2 cups masa harina
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cup warm water, plus enough extra to reach the correct consistency
- In a large bowl, combine the masa harina and salt.
- Using your fingers or a fork, mix in 1¼ cups of the warm water. Add additional water, one splash at a time, and kneed the dough with your hands until it comes together into a soft, smooth ball. You want your dough to be as wet as you can get it, without becoming sticky. I usually use about 1½ cups water to 2 cups masa harina. If it is too wet, just add a bit more masa harina.
- Divide the dough into 16 pieces, and cover with a slightly damp towel until ready to press.
- Meanwhile, cut some plastic wrap or wax paper into two squares, about 8 inches wide each.
- Begin heating a heavy skillet or griddle over medium high heat.
- Take one ball, and place it in the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Place a second sheet of plastic wrap directly on top. Use a tortilla press to flatten into a thin disk, about 4 inches wide. If you don't have a tortilla press, flatten the ball of dough by pressing with a heavy skillet. Remove from the plastic wrap, and set aside, covered with a slightly damp towel, until ready to cook. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Gently place a tortilla in your hot skillet, and cook for about 20 seconds, until the bottom begins to look dry. Flip the tortilla over, and cook for about 60 seconds, until just beginning to show a few brown spots on the bottom. Flip one more time, and cook for about 30 seconds more, until the tortilla begins to puff, and develops more browned bits.
- Remove from the skillet, and wrap in a towel. Keeping them wrapped in a towel helps them to steam to a perfect texture, and stay nice and hot. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Sometimes the tortillas can feel a little dry after they've first cooked. Don't worry, if you stack them together and wrap them with a towel, they will steam and soften.
Need to reheat your tortillas? Wrap them in a barely damp towel, and microwave for a few seconds.
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