Corn Tortillas

corn tortillas

The Spruce Eats / Ubish Yaren

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 24 mins
Total: 54 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
207 Calories
2g Fat
44g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 153mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 82mg 6%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 149mg 3%
*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.)

There is nothing like a freshly-made corn tortilla. Yes, you can buy them from the grocery store. But if you're asking a Mexican, there's just no other option: You have to make the corn tortillas fresh yourself. This is because we put everything in a tortilla, which means we turn everything into tacos, which means the tortillas better be good.

People have been nixtamalizing corn and using it to make corn tortillas since pre-Colombian times. In past centuries there was a huge variety in the size, shape, and color of tortillas, and you can still find a good diversity of tortillas today. In every part of Mexico they feel and taste different depending on the region.

From the time we're little we watch our parents and grandparents make tortillas from scratch. From watching we begin to learn. But even for those of us who grew up with freshly-made corn tortillas, it takes practice.

Your first tortillas may be dry, and they may break when you try to handle the masa. Or, they may be too thick. But keep practicing. Little by little you'll become better, and then you'll truly appreciate the effort that is required to make fresh tortillas. 

It is easier to make tortillas with the right equipment. You can find tortilla presses at Latin American markets or online. You can find a comal in the same places, or a cast iron pan works just as well. Most grocery stores in the U.S. carry masa harina in the Latin American or International section. For higher-quality masa harina try ordering from brands like Masienda online.

Now let's get our hands to work making corn tortillas. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

  • 2 cups warm water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. The water should be almost hot.

  2. corn tortilla dough

    The Spruce Eats / Ubish Yaren

    Combine the masa flour and salt in a large bowl and start to add the water little by little, mixing the dough with your hands. Then knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. You will know when the masa has enough water when it stops crumbling and you can form a soft, smooth ball with little to no cracks. It should not be sticky; instead, it should have a texture similar to fresh play dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rest about 10 minutes.

  3. Prepare your tortilla press. Line each side with a piece of parchment paper or with disposable plastic bags cut in half. Pre-heat a comal or a dry cast iron pan over medium heat.

  4. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Shape each piece, rolling firmly between your hands, into 2-inch-sized balls. Keep covered with the towel or wrap to keep them from drying out.

  5. Press the tortillas. Place a ball of dough in the center of the lined tortilla press, a little bit closer to the hinge. Place the other sheet of parchment paper or plastic on top. Bring the top of the press down on top of the dough firmly, with as much pressure as you can muster. Open the press, flip the tortilla over, and press it again.

  6. corn tortillas

    The Spruce Eats / Ubish Yaren

    When the comal or the pan is hot, place a tortilla on it and cook until the tortilla starts to form shallow hot air pockets, about 40 seconds. Flip and cook the other side for an additional minute. Flip once more and cook until it starts to puff. If this doesn't happen, gently press the center with your spatula. Place the cooked tortilla inside a folded towel to keep warm.

  7. You can press the next tortilla while you're waiting for the other to cook. Continue cooking each tortilla until they're all done. The steam inside the towel will soften them a little more.

Why is my tortilla cracking when I cook it?

If the tortillas crack while cooking that means either the pan is too hot, or your dough needs a little more water.

What if I don't have a tortilla press?

If you don't have a tortilla press, you can roll out the dough balls with a rolling pin, but they tend to come out uneven and too thick.


Instead, you can place a heavy-bottomed pan on top of the dough (still using plastic or parchment paper) and press with all your might. Again, you may not get the thinnest tortilla, but it will have the right shape with much less frustration.

Are corn tortillas gluten free?

Yes, corn tortillas are gluten free, provided the masa is processed in a factory that does not process gluten products. Check the package if in doubt.

How to Store

Wrap cooked tortillas in plastic and store in the fridge for about 3 days. Warm on a pan or comal, never in the microwave. If you have a gas stove, you can also heat tortillas directly over the flame, holding them carefully with tongs.  


We don't recommend freezing your tortillas.