Thanks for the detailed instructions. I added a pinch of salt to the dough. Didn’t have a tortilla press. Used skillet and cut out plastic bag to flatten initially and then rolling pin to get fairly thin. The tortilla peeled off very easily off the plastic wrap. I’ll admit I have practice rolling out and handling Indian wheat dough rotis. So these were no problem. I cooked on a cast iron griddle, on medium high heat. But mine didn’t get the dark brown charred marks as in the picture above. Will try higher heat next time. They puffed all the way up. Again because of the roti background I also tend to measure success by whether or not it puffs up all the way.
Dang. Recipe works, but the trick is removing the pressed, uncooked tortilla from the wax paper. Even if successful in that endeavor, it has to transfer (sticky a bit) from my hand to the skillet flat and round…and I’m successful only about 30% of the time. Watering my hands? Spraying oil on the wax paper?
Probably best to hire some Mexican grandma!
Hi Chris, it’s easiest to use plastic from a large freezer bag. Works better than wax paper.
I am failing miserably at making these! The dough sort of resembles wet sand, so I add a little water …now it’s too sticky. I went back and forth adding more water, then more masa until it looked alright. But when I tried forming the tortillas they just crumbled and stuck everywhere.
Does anyone have any suggestions? Tips would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Karin, these can be tricky, especially the first attempt or two. In fact, when I haven’t made them for a while it always takes me half a batch to get the hang of it again. Once you get the proportions right where it’s not too sticky and not too dry, then massage the dough with your hands for about 5 minutes. The more you knead it, the more pliable it should become. That will help a lot!
Perfect! This is my second time trying to make tortillas- the first time I used a different recipe and was only moderately successful. This recipe, with Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina and a tortilla press, made gorgeous tortillas! Thank you.
got an easy way to cook the masa with foil instead of wax paper toast both sides and allow to cool and just peel off and you have your corn tortilla!
“Hi Anita, calcium hydroxide is formed by mixing limestone with water”
Just for the record, limestone is first heated to above 825 degrees C to drive off the carbon dioxide. This leaves a product known as “quicklime”. The quicklime is then carefully treated with water (a process that evolves lot of heat causing boiling and spattering) to give “lime” or “slacked lime” which is used by masons when preparing mortar for laying bricks.
The slaked lime is a strongly alkaline substance that is used to remove the hulls from kernels of maize (corn) as a preliminary step in the preparation of masa for masa harina.
It is interesting to note that the very alkaline slaked lime also reacts with some of the fats in the maize to give small amounts of a calcium soap. This calcium soap is what gives corn tortillas made from masa harina a very special pleasant taste. Tortillas made from simple corn flour (made by grinding untreated maize) do not have this special taste.
I just made these! They weren’t as pretty as yours, but only half made it to the lunch table. The other half were gobbled up by family members as soon as I got the tortillas off the griddle! Absolutely wonderful – it was so fast and easy that I can’t go back to store-bought. Thank you!
I have great success using a plastic grocery bag instead of wax paper (think wal-mart bag). I cut it a little larger than the press and it works wonderfully.
I don’t have a tortilla press, but found that I can make excellent tortillas using a heavy plastic sandwich bag. Just slit the bag on the sides, so you have two pieces of heavy plastic that fold over on each other. Put the ball of masa dough between them, and press out with a rolling pin. Easy! The tortilla peels off the plastic cleanly. Can even wash it off and reuse.
When you buy packaged corn tortillas they are in a stack with nothing in between each tortilla. Does anyone know how they are cooked to achieve this? I’d like to freeze a few homemade tortillas like I do with packaged, but I’m not sure how to do it.
They are cooked separately and then stacked together when packaged. As for freezing homemade tortillas, you may have better luck if you put a paper towel between each one, and then wrap the whole thing in an airtight package. That way you can just pull one out easily to defrost. ~Elise
When I put the tortillas on the hot griddle they shrink from 5″ in diameter down to about 3″ in diameter. I use corn tortilla mix and have a metal tortilla press. What am I doing wrong? Thanks
That’s bizarre. They shouldn’t shrink at all. Perhaps it’s the mix you are using. ~Elise
I am originally from New Mexico and love corn tortillas–living in Spain and can’t find masa harina here…does anyone know where I can find it or if there may be an alternative name for it in this corner of the world–be nice to make some tacos
Anyone know how to get masa harina in Sweden, or tortillas already pressed and warmed (like they sell in the stores in California)?
I use a clean produce bag from the grocery store. I just cut it at the sides and place that on my wooden press. I learned this from an old Mexican senora who brought my press from Michoacan. I also use 1 and 1/2 cups masa and 1/2 a cup white flour. She also taught me to press the tortilla with my fingers after I turned it. Where she is from, if the tortillas don’t puff up when they are turned, they are inferior!
I tried it, MUY EXCELENTE!
I used masa in a bag just like in the picture, different brand is all. I used a little of the masa to “flour” my hands to work the dough and form the balls. Flattening it was the best part of this fun experiment, I borrowed a friend’s rolling pin but I ended up using a really neat, easy method: Take a gallon-size ziploc bag and cut the Ziploc side and the two sides off, so you end up with a nice piece of flat plastic with a crease so it opens and closes like a book. Use a little butter or oil, lard, etc to oil up the plastic a little, now the dough won’t stick at all. Put your dough ball down on the plastic and close the other half down on it then just squish flat with a saucepan. You can look, and feel, if you’re getting it flat enough all around. Peel away the top, then lay the tortilla on your hand and peel away the back. Gently flop the tortilla onto your hot, greased, pan. re-oil the plastic for each one. Learn to gently poke the tortilla with your spatula to tell when it’s done, it will have a little bit of spring to it. I used a large Pyrex bowl with a pot lid on top for an improvised tortilla steamer. I put two paper towels on the bottom and two on top.
Unfortunately my friend didn’t want to eat tortillas, although he told me they’re up to the standard of a Mexican restaurant here we rave about. I had to eat 15 of them! The final six, I made an egg frittata, with chopped garlic in it and adobo seasoning, cut that in 6 pieces, and put a piece in each tortilla with some Sriracha sauce for tongue-burning goodness.
I would love to see corn tortillas replace pancakes, and a bunch of other things in the US. Viva tortillas!
Is that a homemade tortilla press? I’ve never seen a wood version. Finally found one at an antique store to give my fiancée last christmas. We love it! Our comal is looking a little sad — might need to search for a new one soon.
Hi Heather, nope, I bought it at a local Mexican market. Bought a couple of them actually. ~Elise
I love fresh cooked corn tortillas, and want to use them when I cook enchiladas. I’ve got a killer recipe for them. My question is, once I press out the tortillas, how do I prepare them for use in enchiladas?
Most enchilada recipes call for softening the packaged tortillas by heating them before rolling them up into enchiladas for a casserole. (Or they should.) If you are using freshly made tortillas, you don’t need to soften them or prepare them in any way. They should already be warm and supple. ~Elise
Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to try making tortillas this week. Luckily you can find masa harina in the UK in the specialty aisle.
Camila – hominy is corn flour that has been treated with lime – if it’s a fine grind then it can be used as masa harina. If it’s a coarse grind, you may want to process it in a food processor to refine it before you use it. Good luck!
Does anyone know if I can make tortillas with hominy flour, corn flour or corn meal? Is hominy the same thing as white corn? I can’t find masa harina here in Brazil or order it online.
For any of you who don’t have access to Maseca or any corn tortilla mix, Alton Brown from Good Eats did an episode on tortillas and how you can make your own dough from scratch. You can find the episode on youtube, it’s called Tortilla Reform.
You can get Maseca in Norway. Send me a mail at b42c AT mail DOT com and I will hook you up.
When I make corn tortillas I use a cast iron press ($3 at the flea market!) and a folded piece of parchment paper. The tortilla peels off the parchment paper so easily…thank you Martha Stewart. Elise, I love your blog and the pictures!
I just tried this tonight and made huitlacoche (from a can) quesadillas, pretty good, but my tortillas were thick. Have to perfect my recipe next time!
I wish I could either buy or make corn tortillas in Norway! I am very anxious to make tacos with them but I can’t! It is just not the same using flour tortillas instead. Anyone know what I can use in Norway to make corn tortillas?? Maseca is not available here. =*( I grew up eating tacos and taquitos with corn tortillas not flour. I would rather not go through the whole nixtamilization process. And I really don’t think I’d pay for the shipping to send some maseca over here. It’s very expensive! I just want to be able to make some from what I have available at the stores here. =)
Just made my 2nd batch of these using Maseca brand Masa (which is supposed to be one of the best tasting according to reviews I read) and they turned out well. I’m improving every time. This is what worked for me:
1. 1/2 tsp salt or a little more really brings out the flavor. Too little salt leaves them tasting flat.
2. Knead very well. I hand kneaded about 10 mins.
3. A plastic freezer bag cut in half, when flattening the dough works best.
4. A cast iron skillet works well on less than medium high heat (medium of medium high). Make sure to oil the skillet very lightly ( I used grapeseed oil).
5. I tried the baking soda tip but it did not work for me. It changed the color of the tortillas and gave them an off taste.
Happy tortilla making!
When I make tortillas I use a 50/50 mix of all purpose flour and masa harina. I also add extra virgin olive oil, baking soda and salt. Also, contrary to your instructions, I roll the ball in flour before pressing and the ball comes right off my press without wax paper or plastic. We like them a little larger than the press I have so I flour the pressed tortilla and further roll it out with a pin on a wooden bread board. I prefer my recipe since the flavor is milder and the dough is easier to work with due to the gluten in the wheat flour. If one was to use a 75/ 25 mix of masa and wheat flour, it should give a more corn flavor but still be fairly elastic.
I just tried this recipe but with organic white corn masa de harina. I may not have added enough water but my tortillas were thicker than I wanted (still tasty) and coarser. They didn’t bubble up until I was able to get them a lot thinner but then they were hard to peel off. Is any of this because the masa was too coarse because it’s whole meal? The blurb said they were “perfect for tamales” – does that mean not so great for tortillas??? Thanks…
I think the masa de harina that is great for tamales may not be the best brand for the tortillas, probably too coarse. ~Elise
Wish I had a tortilla press…They were slightly misshapen, but delicious anyways!
Just wanted to say thank you for posting these wonderful step-by-step instructions! My corn tortillas turned out perfectly, and much tastier than the ones you buy at the store :)
Similar to the last question. I also cannot find masa here. I have a very finely ground cornmeal that is useless for polenta, so I tried tortillas. Oh god they were horrible. I found out I need lime. I have no access to a grinding mill for the corn. Is there a way I can add lime to the pre-made cornmeal? I swear ingredients in Germany are totally different than Texas. I can’t even make Toll-House chocolate chip cookies here! How can ANYone mess those up?!
You’ll have to look online for how to make one’s own masa. I know people who do it, but I have not. Check for the word “nixtamalize” because that is the process that you would be doing. Somehow I rather doubt that you are going to be able to do it with pre-made cornmeal, but who knows? It might be easier to buy some masa harina online (check Amazon) and have it shipped internationally. ~Elise
I live in Norway and have no possibility of buying Masa Harina. Is it possible to make corn tortillas from fine Polenta (Farina di Mais Per Polenta) does anybody know?
No, it is not. ~Elise
I have made flour tortillas for over 27 years and would like to start making corn tortillas. Why do I need the lime, what does it do? I have fresh dried corn to use, an electric grinder and electric heated tortilla press.
I suggest looking at what the Wikipedia has to say about nixtamalization, the process of treating corn with calcium hydroxide, otherwise known as lime. ~Elise
I’ve always used Masa Harina made by Quaker for my corn tortillas. They were usually a bit dry but I loved the flavor. Here lately I’ve been using the already prepared Masa, and the texture of the tortilla is WONDERFUL! BUt the flavor isn’t there.I’ve added salt and that still doesn’t impart that special ‘corn’ flavor that I remember so well from my youth. Is there a great brand that you can pass over to me? I live in North TExas!
I am currently living in Egypt and as I would marry a man from Albania and myself being Spanish and Puerto Rican I have never perfected making corn tortillas. Flour I can do with my eyes closed but corn no way. However dear hubby would like to try corn tortillas now as he has fallen in love with flour tortillas. I read over the receipe and found that it doesn’t call for any manteca. Doesn’t the manteca (lard) keep it all together? I’m sure I remember my family members putting manteca. Remember I’m in Egypt and no way will I find Maseca here. So should I add manteca or no? Thanks so much.
This recipe doesn’t call for manteca. It’s usually the flour tortilla recipes that use lard, not the corn.~Elise
I’ve seen quite a few guides to nixtamalizing corn, but I don’t know if any of them come from the one in her book. It’s a book I’d like to pick up, though, the next time my wife and I order some books from Amazon.
Great ideas, here! I’ve been trying to make tortillas for a couple weeks now, but have had no success. There doesn’t seem to be any masa harina available in Sao Paulo, so I’ve been going through the whole nixtamalization process with dried corn and lime.
I’ve just been using feed corn, lately (my alternatives are popcorn or the already dehulled “canjica” corn- importing corn/masa into Brazil would be too expensive). I’m going to head into the interior of SP soon to try and locate the elusive Brazilian red corn (a flint variety, I imagine), but really, I believe the lime I’ve been using is just too old (doesn’t seem to react with water much, with only a little of it actually dissolving in every solution that I’ve made), and thus responsible for the rather unpleasant aftertaste (an indescribably off flavor, which doesn’t remind me of lime itself).
I’ve got to figure this out before I give up and turn to wheat tortillas!
Diana Kennedy has a recipe for nixtamalizing corn for masa harina in one of her books. Have you seen her instructions? I’ve never done it myself. ~Elise
Absolutely LOVE this recipe – they just get better and better each time I make them. I first tried pressing the dough between 2 sheets of saran-wrap type plastic, then went to wax paper and finally ended up cutting a large ziplock bag so that only 3 sides were open – worked beautifully. I ordered a tortilla press – can’t wait to receive it. This weekend’s menu is your fabulous Chili Verde & corn tortillas. Thank you for such great recipes!!
Thanks for the recipe!
I live in Australia and the only type of corn flour that I can find is Polenta, the Italian style.
Do you think that this will be suitable?
Definitely not. Masa harina is made with finely ground corn that has been treated with limestone, a process called nixtamilization. The corn is ground as fine as wheat flour, polenta is much too roughly ground to work. If you have access to a grain mill, you can grind the corn yourself, and you can even to the limestone treatment yourself. Diana Kennedy explains the process in one of her books, and there are people I know who do this. Too much bother for me though. You might have to find a place to order the masa harina online. Or look for any Mexicans living in Australia, they might know of someone making masa harina.~Elise
Hi Else, I love your site. I live in Malaysia. I can’t find a tortila press here. Can I use the rolling pin to roll the corn tortilas as I do flour tortillas?
Hi Rajesh, I don’t see why not. ~Elise
I live in Pakistan and my family grows its own corn and we happen to have electric and stone ground mills too many too count as everyone grows thier own wheat ( mainly for the stalks for animal fodder and corn ditto). I am not sure about adding chemicals to make the bread easier to digest. We eat clover here as well and probably we are just not hungry, instead of particularly nourished. My fifteen year old brother in law was diagnosed a celiac and not told to stop eating wheat. Luckily my western knowledge is quite broad and I was searching for a way to make corn chapati easily – we do the same here but basically pat them out and pop them on the chappati pan. Now I will try pressing – Probably between two recipe books and see if the thinness improves the flavour as the ones we make are quite fat.
Hi Anita, calcium hydroxide is formed by mixing limestone with water. It is an ancient method of treating corn so that the natural niacin in the corn is able to be released and digested. If your diet substantially depends on corn meal, this is the most nutritious way of working with it. ~Elise
The family and I loved these tortillas. They were so easy to make, perfect for meals throughout the week. We are never buying corn tortillas again. Thanks for this great recipe!
Enriquecida means enriched and it is masa harina, just with the niacin.
Oops, that was a mistype. I meant to say that it was ‘harina de maiz enriquecida’. Would that be the same as or similar to masa harina?
Thanks for your patience.
Sounds like the same to me, anyone else know for sure? ~Elise
I found ‘masa de harina enriquecida’ at my grocery store. The list of ingredients says that niacin has been added. Is this the same as masa harina or should I be looking for something else?
Sounds like masa harina that has been enriched or fortified with niacin. ~Elise
Hi Debbie – I think you probably need to knead the dough a bit longer, and perhaps add a little more water to the masa dough.
Loved Rockwren’s advice on the actual cooking method. I knew they were doing something I wasn’t but didn’t know what. I do know an easy way to get them in the pan. I press them between plastic (sometimes using a cut up bag from the produce dept of the market…I know I know..) anyway I then peel off the top plastic and put a piece of waxed paper on the top, then turn the tortilla over and peel off the plastic that is now on top. The waxed paper will now be in my palm. I then slap the tortilla into the pan and the wax paper releases immediatly. You can make them really thin and have no trouble getting them in the pan. Hope it doesn’t sound too complicated..it’s not
Wondering…can you freeze tortilla dough? I don’t like freezing once cooked.
Can an electric (cooking) press be used on the corn tortilla? All my searching for electric presses talks about flour tortillas…
Well, I just gave these a shot. I couldn’t get the tortilla “dough” to stay together for the life of me. Should I be adding more water, or am I just doing something wrong?
Instead, I lined a pie tin with it and filled it with the pomegranate jelly recipe on this site and folded the dough back over on top. Not a bad little pastry.
I just came across your blog on the weekend when searching for a recipe for enchiladas, and now here I find myself again when searching for a corn tortilla recipe! Wonderful.
I made your chicken enchiladas and they were yum, but here in Australia it cost me over $5 for the tortillas, which is a little steep I think. I lived in California for a year and miss my Mexican food, so thought it’s time I start experimenting with more than burritos and quesadillas. Don’t know how I’ll go finding masa here, but I’m going to give it a go.
Here’s what I did to make them puffy. First – the Maseca gives a slightly different recipe, alittle less water. I used the 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups water.. after reading in another article that the water content is what helps with the puffing.
Also – actually thin pressed, and I cooked it alot… by that I mean that I had the pan on medium high and I kept flipping them every 5 – 10 counts == to make sure they cooked well.. and to make sure they puffed and whala… they puffed…
Now I won’t get a divorce!!!!
Hi Kika – If you want thicker tortillas, just don’t press the press down as hard.
Hi “me” – Make sure you are working with a very hot pan. I tried making these the other day on someone’s electric griddle and it just didn’t work. Hardly any puffing. Another thing you can do is add a pinch of baking soda to the masa. Arturo tells me that helps to make the tortillas more fluffy.
I can’t get my tortillas to puff. help!
I grew up making flour not corn tortillas. My husband likes his corn tortillas alittle thicker – so they puff just little more… mas gorditas. How do you adjust the masa so that they get alittle thicker? pls help so that I keep my marriage… :)
Anonymous wrote: “Where I live there is no masa harina available. How do I do it starting from corn?”
Making masa from corn kernels looks like a straightforward, but difficult process. The ingredients are simply dried corn (field corn, not sweet corn), calcium oxide, and water. Diana Kennedy has a recipe in her most recent book, From My Mexican Kitchen, which includes steps to let the corn soak overnight, and to take the corn to a mill to grind between stones. That last step is a little tricky, because there are so many local stone-grinding mills, I don’t know which one to choose…
Masa harina derives from masa, the initial product of the corn processing, which is then dried to make the harina. If you can find fresh masa, the tortillas you make will be more fragrant and tastier. The same tortilla forming and baking techniques apply, the difference is in the dough preparation (something I have yet to figure out). Fresh masa is hard to find (and, thanks to big corn interests, is becoming scarce even in Mexico. It seems to appear in Mexican groceries on the weekend, usually at the checkout counter, but sometimes in the tortilla aisle. Fresh masa freezes well, so when I see it, I buy a bag (3 pounds, typically), and freeze most of it.
Hi Sarah – using a skillet to flatten the dough ball is brilliant! Thanks for the tip.
Hi Kelly and Anita – re: flour tortillas, yet another thing to learn. When I’ve made them I’ll write them up as well.
Hi Vanessa – masa is wonderfully versatile, isn’t it?
Hi Kate – whoah! You must be serious about your tortillas.
Hi Melissa – the tortilla press is kind of fun. Pressing the tortillas is easy, getting the masa just right takes a little more practice.
Hi Rockwren – what a brilliant idea! using a wadded up paper towel to press down on the tortilla while it is cooking and force the browning and the air pockets. Thank you for sharing. Great tip on the other uses for a tortilla press too.
Hi Roseann – I think one must work the dough a bit before it gets rolled up into a ball. I’m still practicing on perfecting the masa. So cool that you tried it!
Hi Anonymous – regarding masa harina – you need it to make the masa, plain and simple. You can order it online if there is none available locally. You can try to make your own masa harina, but you will need to search online to find directions for that – its not particularly easy.
Where I live there is no masa harina available. How do I do it starting from corn?
Great post, Elise – as usual. I tried them last night, and discovered that getting the dough just right is harder than it looks to make the perfect tortilla. I’m still going to have to experiment – of about a dozen pressed out of various dough consistencies (from dry, like pie dough, to wetter) only 2 came out “perfect.” I think the dough has to be wetter but not sticky. The added moisture probably steams them better during cooking, and it’s also far easier to get them very thin. The trick is so they don’t tear when coming off the press. Muchas gracias, amiga – muy sabrosa!
Great info on corn tortillas! Can you post some directions on making flour tortillas also? Every Sunday I make enough breakfast taco filling for the week and would love have homemade flour tortillas to go with them. Mine always turn out deformed and thick . . .
Gorgeous blog! I’ll be spending a lot of time here, I can tell. Thanks for the info on tortillas. I spent some time in New Mexico on vacation, and after returning, I really missed fresh tortillas. I’ve been wanting to make my own.
I am an ace at flour tortillas (grew up on the border in TX), but corn ones have always escaped me. For some reason mine are always sticky no matter what I use between them and the press. They stuck to wax paper and saranwrap, I’ve sprayed oil on the press even, still sticky. What in my recipe (from the masa bag) is wrong do you suppose? I’ll try this one, wish me luck!
Oh, one more comment!
A tortilla press can be used for other things, too. Try it with balls of pie crust to get a very quick, perfect circle of pastry to use for apple dumplings or turnovers. …perfect both for when I’m cooking for one and want to make a single serving pie, or mass producing pastry for a crowd.
When I was a kid out in California, a Mexican woman who lived on our ranch taught me to make tortillas. She showed me how to get that wonderful toasted appearance that traditional handmade tortillas have. Here’s her simple technique:
1. Test the griddle (she insisted on well seasoned cast iron) for temperature by shaking a drop of water off your finger; it should roll around rather than sizzle. Still, you don’t want it so hot that the tortillas burn before they’re done.
In any case, when you’ve got a good hot griddle, lay the freshly pressed tortilla on the pan. The disk of dough should slide around on the pan without sticking. Keep moving it while you let it bake on the first side for only about 10 seconds (important!).
2. Pick the tortilla up (I usually slide it up the side of the pan a little bit so I don’t burn my fingers) and flip it. The top side will now be slightly dry, with no stickiness.
Now comes the fun part:
3. Take a paper towel and wad it into a loose ball. Use it to press the tortilla gently in different spots. Press each spot for about 1 second, then lift straight up with a quick motion. The tortilla will start to bubble up where you just pressed. The goal is to have a nice big bubble form so that the tortilla is baked all the way through. Meanwhile, the spots where you pressed down will brown slightly, giving that traditional mottled appearance and ensuring a nutty, but not burned, flavor.
4. Once the bottom side is starting to look done and toasted, you can flip one more time, and finish baking the first side.
Ah, this brings back nice warm memories!
I have an electric tortilla press that forms the dough ball and cooks it all in one. It’s like a large waffle maker only the plates are totally flat. No oil or frying, so your tortilla is on a somewhat healthier level. We always make homemade flour tortillas for burrito night.
Before frying, cut into wedges and deep fry for corn tortilla chips. These are far better than the store bought as well.
Growing up in Texas with many Mexican friends, homemade corn and flour tortillas were a staple in our home. Being transplanted to West Virginia, we miss our Tex-Mex food. My next meal will include these beautiful corn tortillas. How about adding a recipe for homemade flour tortillas? Thanks for ALL the great recipes. I check the web-site daily and I am never disappointed!
I agree that homemade tortillas can really make the meal–and your step-by-step photographs are fabulous, by the way. But since I don’t own a tortilla press (and have very limited storage space in my kitchen), I use the bottom of a skillet to flatten the dough (which is covered with a piece of waxed paper). It’s super easy and works well. –Sarah
Thanks for the tip Sarah..I’ll try this before I invest in the extra equipment..
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