It's surprisingly simple to whip up super-crunchy, oven-baked homemade tortilla chips in your kitchen. I always thought you needed a deep-fryer to make perfectly crunchy tortilla chips at home, but with just water, masa harina, and a little oil and salt, this satisfying snack is well within reach. The seasoning and dipping options are endless, and your guests will be so impressed.
To make the chips, you’ll first need to make tortillas. The process isn't difficult, but if you're in a hurry, you may not want to try this for the first time as it may take a batch or two before you get a feel for how the tortilla dough should feel.
Keep in mind that the amount of hot water you’ll need will vary each time you make the tortillas. Start with 1 1/4 cups of water, and work up from there. The dough should feel like Play-Doh, with a cool, clammy feel to it (nothing like bread or pizza dough). If the dough feels slightly crumbly or cracks when rolled out, add a tablespoon of water at a time and knead until smooth. If you add too much water, add a small amount of flour to soak it up, and make sure to include a rest period for the dough as well—it's important for the flour to hydrate.
If the tortilla starts to puff up slightly when flipped, you’ve done well! If the dough doesn’t puff at all, it may be too dry. This will result in slightly tough tortillas, but they're still perfectly edible and good for homemade tortilla chips. If you're working without a tortilla press, roll the tortillas out between sheets of parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking to the counter and your hands, as you start to pile them up.
Once cooked, tortillas can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week. You can also store in them in a sealed container in the freezer, and reheat in a dry skillet. My favorite variations are lime salt and cinnamon sugar. I usually make a half-batch of each, and watch them disappear before my eyes.
For lime-salted chips, salt the lightly oiled tortilla wedges before baking. Once they're cooked, lightly sprinkle the hot chips with fresh lime juice (not too much or they'll lose their crunch) and serve with guacamole. To make cinnamon sugar chips, combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with a teaspoon or two of cinnamon, sprinkle desired amount over lightly oiled chips before baking, and let cool until fully crisp. I like to serve these with fresh fruit salsa.
Once you master tortilla-making, the chips are incredibly simple and quick to make. Just be sure to reward yourself with a margarita for all that hard work. You can make the chips from store-bought corn tortillas, but I assure you that the homemade version is well worth the extra effort. —Ashley McLaughlin
- Prep time 3 hours
- Cook time 20 minutes
- serves 8
- For the corn tortillas
1 1/4 cups
hot water, up to 2 cups if needed
- For the corn tortilla chips
high-heat oil, like safflower, sunflower, or grapeseed
fine sea salt, or more to taste
- For the corn tortillas
- Place masa harina in a large mixing bowl and dissolve salt in 1 1/4 cups of hot water.
- Slowly pour the water over the masa harina, stirring with a large spoon as you pour. Continue to mix the dough with your hands and knead it in the bowl for about 2 minutes until you can form a smooth ball that is not sticky or crumbly. If the dough is gritty and not holding together, add more water slowly and knead until smooth. If the dough is wet, incorporate more flour into the mixture. If it's too dry, add more water.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours so the flour has ample time to hydrate.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface, divide in half, then divide again until you have 16 even portions.
- Roll each portion into a ball between your hands and keep covered under a lightly damp kitchen towel as you roll. The dough should still be very smooth and not sticky. A few drips of water from your fingertips can help if the dough is slightly dry.
- Ready a flat plate or dish wider than 6 inches, and tear off two 10x10-inch pieces of parchment paper, as well as 16 7x7-inch squares which will keep the tortillas from sticking as you roll them out.
- Place the first dough ball in between the 2 larger sheets of parchment, and use your body weight to flatten the dough beneath the flat plate to about 6 inches in diameter and less than 1/8-inch thick. If you can't flatten it enough with the plate finish rolling out with a rolling pin. Roll gently over the parchment paper in different directions to keep the dough in a circular shape. For perfectly round tortillas, trim the edges with a bowl or other circular object about 6 inches in diameter.
- Carefully peel the dough off the parchment and place on one of the smaller sheets of parchment. Continue this process, stacking the tortillas between the parchment squares to prevent sticking, until the dough is used up.
- Heat a dry cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat and place tortillas in one at a time. Cook for about a minute on each side, then flip, and cook for another minute or so. The tortilla should slightly char and puff up as it cooks on the second side.
- Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer, or stack them up and keep covered with a towel. Once cooled, the edges will be slightly crispy but the tortillas should still easily roll.
- For the corn tortilla chips
- Preheat the oven to 400° F and take out 2 large rimmed baking sheets.
- Cut each cooked tortilla into 4 segments and brush each side very lightly with oil. A pastry brush works great for this.
- Place oiled chips on the baking sheets in a single layer and lightly sprinkle salt over top.
- Bake for 8 to 11 minutes until golden brown and crispy. They'll get crunchier as they cool. Enjoy with salsa or guacamole, or use to make nachos.