How to Make Corn Tortillas

This recipe for homemade corn tortillas only requires two ingredients and tastes better than anything you can buy at the store. These corn tortillas are also gluten-free and can be used for tacos, quesadillas, and more!

How to Make Corn Tortillas
Elise Bauer

Nothing beats homemade tortillas made from scratch! The packaged tortillas you get at big American markets don't even come close to a good, freshly made corn tortilla.

Making homemade corn tortillas is actually almost ridiculously easy, once you get the hang of it.

All you need is masa harina corn flour, water, a tortilla press (You can use a rolling pin, but a tortilla press is helpful.), and a hot griddle surface.

What Is Masa Harina?

You'll need a special corn flour called masa harina for making the tortillas.

Masa harina is corn flour that has been treated with calcium hydroxide or "lime" which makes it more nutritious and easier to digest by releasing the niacin in the corn.

Where to Buy Masa Harina

Masa flour can be found at Mexican markets or online. Look for masa harina that contains only corn and lime (calcium hydroxide) for corn tortilla making.

Maseca Masa Harina for making homemade corn tortillas
Maseca brand Masa Harina. Elise Bauer

You can make the tortillas completely by hand, by forming a thin pancake with the dough between your palms. But unless you are somewhat experienced in this method, you'll get more consistent results by using a tortilla press.

What Kind of Tortilla Press to Use?

These too are available in Mexican markets and come either in wood or cast iron. They are available online.

wood tortilla press for making tortillas
Traditional Wood Tortilla Press. Elise Bauer

The wooden tortilla press pictured I purchased at a local Mexican market in town. You can also roll out the masa with a rolling pin, between pieces two pieces plastic wrap or in a plastic freezer bag.

How to Make Corn Tortillas Without a Tortilla Press

Although we love our tortilla press, maybe you don't want to buy one just to make tortillas. You can use a large skillet, a flat-bottomed glass casserole dish, a cutting board, or even a large heavy book to flatten the dough. Just be sure to place the dough ball between the plastic sheets to prevent sticking.

You can also make homemade corn tortillas with a rolling pin. Still place the dough ball in between 2 sheets of thick plastic (we recommend using a plastic freezer bag cut into 2 squares). Then, roll to your desired thickness.

We don't mind the uneven edges since it gives it that extra homemade feeling. But if you want perfect circles, you can use a 5-inch biscuit cutter to shape your tortillas.

Tips to Keep the Dough from Sticking

We recommend cutting a plastic freezer bag apart at the seams to press your tortillas, but you can also use parchment or wax paper to the same effect.

You may be tempted to dust your surface with flour, but don't. That'll just make your tortillas dry and stiff.

How to Store Corn Tortillas

You can't freeze the prepared masa dough, but you can store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Then, pinch off bits of dough to make fresh corn tortillas whenever you desire.

If you love fresh corn tortillas as much as we do, you can also make up a double batch and freeze the cooked tortillas. Cool them completely and store them in between sheets of waxed paper in a zip-top freezer bag. Thaw and reheat in a skillet or microwave whenever you'd like.

How to Heat Leftover Corn Tortillas  

There are so many ways to reheat your cooked corn tortillas. You can wrap the whole stack in aluminum foil and reheat them in a preheated oven at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your stack.

You can also reheat them in a microwave. Just be sure to cover your plate with a paper towel or a lightly damp kitchen towel. The tortillas will be softer and more pliable this way.

You can also reheat them in a slightly oiled skillet, such as a cast iron skillet.

Regardless of how you reheat your tortillas, the trick is to heat them without drying them out.

Ways to Enjoy Your Homemade Corn Tortillas

More Easy Mexican Recipes to Try at Home!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

How to Make Corn Tortillas

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings
Yield 16 to 18 tortillas

This recipe can take a bit of practice to get right, especially since there are different brands of masa harina. And even the ambient humidity can make a difference in how much water you need to add. The ratio is a guideline. If the dough is still too wet after kneading it for several minutes, then you can add a little more masa harina to the mix until you get the right consistency that is both not dry and not too sticky.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina (such as Maseca in the white, yellow, and green bag; check to see it’s for tortillas and not tamales)

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups very warm water

Method

Make the Masa Dough

  1. Mix masa flour with very warm water:

    To make 16 to 18 tortillas, start with putting 2 cups of masa flour in a large bowl.

    Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of very warm water to the masa flour (according to the directions on the package, some brands may call for different amounts of water).

    Mix in and let sit for 5 minutes or so.

    add warm water to masa corn flour to make tortilla dough
    Elise Bauer
    mix water thoroughly with masa harina to make the dough for making tortillas
    Elise Bauer
  2. Knead the dough:

    Begin working the masa with your hands to make the dough. Work the dough for several minutes.

    Press the dough with your fingers and the palms of your hands as if you were kneading bread dough.

    The dough will be a little gritty at first, but should become more pliable as you knead it.

    kneed the tortilla dough to make it pliable
    Elise Bauer

    If at any point through the tortilla making process the dough seems too dry or too wet, add a little more water or masa to the dough.

  3. Form balls of dough:

    Pinch off a piece of the masa dough and rub it between your hands to shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball.

    Make about 16 to 18 balls from the dough.

    make golf ball sized balls of tortilla dough
    Elise Bauer
    make several balls of tortilla dough
    Elise Bauer

Press the Tortillas

  1. Prepare the press with two sheets of plastic:

    Cut two pieces of plastic from a plastic freezer bag into the shape of the surface of the tortilla press.

  2. Place ball of dough between the plastic sheets and press:

    Open the tortilla press and lay one piece of plastic on the press. Place the masa ball in the center.

    Place another piece of plastic over the masa ball.

    place ball of tortilla dough on a sheet of plastic on the base of the tortilla press
    Elise Bauer
    cover the ball of tortilla dough with another sheet of plastic
    Elise Bauer

    Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 4 to 5 inches.

    close the tortilla press with the tortilla dough inside
    Elise Bauer
    open the tortilla press to reveal the flattened tortilla dough
    Elise Bauer

Cook the Tortillas

  1. Heat a griddle or a large skillet on high:

    A well seasoned cast iron griddle or large cast iron pan works well for this.

  2. Remove the raw tortilla from the plastic:

    Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the plastic on each side.

    Remove plastic from the pressed tortilla dough
    Elise Bauer
  3. Lay the tortilla down on the hot pan:

    Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet. While the tortilla cooks, start working on pressing the next tortilla.

    drape tortilla on your hand
    Elise Bauer
    place tortilla on hot pan
    Elise Bauer
  4. Cook the tortilla on one side, then flip:

    Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets will form.

    air pocket forms on tortilla on hot pan
    Elise Bauer
    homemade corn tortilla on hot cast iron pan
    Elise Bauer
  5. Keep the tortillas warm, covered:

    Remove the tortillas to a tortilla warmer lined with dish towel or paper towels, or wrap them in a dish towel to keep them warm.

    Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
103 Calories
1g Fat
22g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 103
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 75mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.