Small Batch

Homemade Corn Tortillas

By • June 29, 2012 • 28 Comments

173 Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

This week, Kelsey Brown of Happyolks shows us a gadget-free way to make our own delicious corn tortillas at home.

The inspiration to make my own tortillas comes from my time studying in Nicaragua in 2010. I lived with a family in a small corrugated tin hut and watched my host mother prepare tortillas every morning (at 4:00AM) over a Lorena, or block style wood burning stove. She dried her own corn and ground it in stone bowls before creating the paste with water and salt. She didn't have a press, and I remember being tasked with pressing them flat with my hands.

Of course, it is my fundamental kitchen belief that if it comes from a package, it's probably not going to taste like the real deal. Masa harina is cheap -- the investment is your time. Time well spent, in my opinion, creating new memories and sparing your belly from all the nasty additives and preservatives you'll find in the store-bought variety.

This technique for press-less tortillas at home is, in reality, no creative genius. It occured to me, after letting my dough rest for an hour, that most logical folk would go about figuring out how to flatten their tortillas before making a mess of the kitchen.

No tortilla press? Eh, no biggie. I don't collect kitchen gadgets because more often I'd rather spend my money on good coffee beans or gogi berries (dang, they're expensive!), but I think it would be neat to have one of these around. Of course, then you miss out on the fun of using casserole dishes and making noises like the Williams sisters while you prepare your dinner. Okay, I'm being dramatic. But the grunts make them taste better, right?

Homemade Corn Tortillas
Makes 8-12 tortillas, depending on how big you make them

2 cups masa harina
1 1/4 cup hot water
pinch of salt

Dissolve salt into the measured glass of warm water. Pour over the bowl of masa harina slowly, stirring as you go. Mix until combined; smooth but not sticky. Knead/press into a ball. Cover, and let rest for as long as you can wait -- 30 min-2hrs.

Lay out a few (2-3) sheets of parchment paper and fetch a nifty casserole dish or Pyrex to help you press out the dough.

Pinch off a golf-ball sized chunk of dough and roll into a smooth ball. Set between two pieces of parchment and start to flatten a bit with your hand. Continue with hands, or for even edges, grab your casserole or Pyrex dish and put your weight into it over the sheets of parchment and the ball. Remove dish, peel back parchment, and voilà.



Cook for two minutes on each side in an non-greased frying pan (cast iron is best). Set aside and begin to stack ‘em up.

Save and print the recipe here.

Kelsey will be answering questions about tortillas on the Hotline for those of you who want to take on this project at home. For the quickest response, go to her recipe and ask a question from there -- we'll email her your question right away!

On your next trip to the grocery store, skip those enticing bags of potato chips, and pick up a big old sack of potatoes instead. And be sure to stay tuned for next week, when Lara Ferroni will show us how to make crispy, salty potato chips right at home.

Jump to Comments (28)

Tags: tortilla, corn tortilla, masa harina, DIY, homemade, Small Batch, Kelsey Brown, Happyolks, Mexican, tacos, how-to & diy

Comments (28)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

9 months ago Brandon

Can you freeze for later use? How long do they last in the refrigerator?

Desktop3

9 months ago I_Fortuna

Commercial corn tortillas last indefinitely in the freezer and for over a month in the refrigerator. Therefore, I should think the homemade tortillas would last at least as long. They defrost quickly so most can be stored in the freezer. They freeze very well, just try not to let moisture accumulate inside the wrapper. If it does, I wipe mine out with a paper towel. Moisture condensation causes them to fall apart.

Default-small

10 months ago linda a johnson

i purchase masa harina at regular grocery store - in the "mexican" food section - with salsas, refried beans, chiles, etc. i have not tried Bob's Red Mill brand, though that is available in the "organic" items section at our grocery.

Default-small

10 months ago sara

I made flour tortillas for the first time last night and they were so good that I thought I would try corn tortillas. I am confused about Mesa Harina? Is that a standard at the typical grocery store or do I need to go to a specialty store?

Desktop3

9 months ago I_Fortuna

Masa Harina can be found in your grocer's Mexican (or ethnic) food isle. If it is not available at your grocer's, they sometimes will order it for you. Otherwise, you may find it online. We buy ours at Walmart.

Open-uri20140204-8655-1p7u3zs

11 months ago Jo Smith

I want to try this I make flour tortillas, but have never made corn.

Open-uri20131207-17715-zcy5tu

about 1 year ago Joan Dorman Thomas

Do you know where I can find non-GMO masa harina?

Default-small

10 months ago Ali Regier

Bob's Red Mill. Even though it's not labeled (because of the lime treatment), it's GMO free.

Desktop3

about 1 year ago I_Fortuna

This is a good recipe and how tortilas are often made in the home. Calcium hydroxide (slacked lime) is how masa harina is processed. This makes it very different from regular cornmeal. Tortilla dough must be pressed as thin as possible to get super thin foldable tortillas.(Hence, tortilla press or pressed as demonstrated here.) Personally, I like mine thicker and I see no reason to fold them anyway. All food can be piled on top and eaten like a tostada or with a knife and fork or semi-folded to pick up. In addition, the dough can be rolled out, filled and baked as an empanada or filled and steamed as for tamales.

Default-small

about 1 year ago Maritza Guido

Im from nicaragua and from what i know our tortillas are thicker and dont fold as easily as the thin ones most americans are used to eating. i wonder if these are like that because i would love to make my own.

Default-small

over 1 year ago darren

Made these and they tasted great, but they were not good for folding, is there something that I should change to make them more foldable?

Default-small

over 1 year ago linda a johnson

something seems wrong here! the "photo" story requires 2 c. masa to 1 c. water (+1tsp). the printable recipe requires 1 c. masa to 2 c. water. which is the correct proportion?

Default-small

over 1 year ago Maxymina

mor than on and less than two, the texture should be play-dough like. probably 1+1/2 or 1+1/3

Default-small

over 1 year ago linda a johnson

do I get this correctly? the 2 c. masa to 1 c. water would be right? the printable recipe of 1 c. masa to 2 c. water would be very watery?

Default-small

over 1 year ago Maxymina

more masaharina than water

Steph

8 months ago Stephanie Bourgeois

Stephanie is the Head Recipe Tester of Food52.

We've updated the recipe to have the same amounts as here.

Teresa

over 1 year ago Teresa

This is a nice solution for those of us who don't own a press (although I wish I had one). Can hardly wait to make my first batch.

Ilima

about 2 years ago bellly

Can I use cornmeal from Anson Mills to make tortillas?

Default-small

over 2 years ago natalie g

I use Bob's Red Mill masa harina; it has a better flavor than white corn masa (being yellow corn masa, that is). I have a tortilla press, and it's definitely worth the small investment. I can crank out 8 tortillas for dinner in no time. once you taste 'the real deal', it is really hard to ever buy tortillas from a package again.

Tony-7

over 2 years ago Anthony Back

What kind of masa do you use--isn't that key?

036

over 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

We also add a squeeze of lime to our masa. Home made corn tortillas are seriously so much better than store bought!

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 2 years ago Lizthechef

Nice to see a fellow San Diego food blogger featured here - lovely post.

New

over 2 years ago Happyolks

Liz! I've recently moved from San Diego to Denver, CO! :) I'll miss you guys.

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 2 years ago Lizthechef

Nuts - we will miss you. I follow your blog and thought you were just going on a long vacation...Don't forget your SD buds.

Img_0472

over 2 years ago darksideofthespoon

I need to try this!

Default-small

over 2 years ago NBrush

Perfect, going to try this evening--thanks!

Imagesca1rwz7p

over 2 years ago babs1652

I make mine like this but I add 1/8 teaspoon each of onion salt and powdered garlic. To me, this is the smell of Mexico and I am transported back there each time I make them. What a coincidence to have this posted today because this is what I am making for dinner tonight!

Img_0733

over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I <3 you. Thanks.