How to Make Corn Tortillas Without a Tortilla Press

Corn tortillas in a basket
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  • 01 of 07

    Making Your Own Tortillas

    Steak and Salsa Taco
    Louise Lister / Getty Images

    Making your own corn tortillas for tacos, quesadillas, or other Mexican dishes is very doable, and you will love the flavor of the freshly-cooked article.

    In Mexico, there are basically two ways of forming the masa into a flat tortilla: ​patting them out between the hands or using a metal or wooden tortilla press. Hand patting tortillas can take years to perfect, and not everyone has a press, so we’re showing you another method in this tutorial.

    Your homemade tortillas may not come out as “perfect”-looking as the commercially made ones, but they will be every bit as tasty—and give you a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

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  • 02 of 07

    Mix and Knead the Dough

    Kneading Masa
    Chelsie Kenyon

    We are going to use masa harina as the main ingredient in our tortillas. Masa harina is corn that has undergone the nixtamalization process, then dried into a powder. It is a wonderful product because it allows those who do not live in places where corn masa is freshly made to make tamales, tortillas, and many other delicious corn-based foods.

    Masa harina is sold by weight in paper wrappers (similar to how wheat flour is commonly packaged) in Mexican stores and the Hispanic aisle of large supermarkets.

    Recipe for Basic Tortilla Dough

    In a medium-sized bowl, combine 2 cups of masa harina with 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water. Mix until masa harina is moistened.

    Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for about one minute, adding a little more water, if necessary, to get a smooth dough.

    This will create enough dough to make about 12 smallish tortillas.

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  • 03 of 07

    Separate Dough and Roll It Into Balls

    Masa Balls
    Chelsie Kenyon

    Divide the dough into halves. Divide each half again, and continue dividing, until you have 12 equally-sized portions.

    Place one portion of dough between your hands and roll hands together to form the dough into a ball. Roll the ball in a little additional dry masa harina and set aside. Do the same to each portion of dough.

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  • 04 of 07

    Prepare Dough Ball

    Pressed Dough Ball
    Chelsie Kenyon

    Prepare the dough by placing it between two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap “floured” with a small amount of masa harina. Press on the dough ball to flatten it slightly.

    Tip: Use a cutting board to help with this process. Wrap the cutting board in plastic wrap. Use that as your base and you will only need to use one loose sheet of plastic on top of the dough ball.

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  • 05 of 07

    Roll out Dough

    Rolling Masa for Tortillas
    Chelsie Kenyon

    Using a rolling pin or a large glass, roll out dough between the two layers of plastic wrap or wax paper. Try to get it very thin, about 1/8 of an inch or thinner. Each tortilla should be about 5-6 inches in diameter. Don´t worry if your tortillas are not perfectly round or if the edges are a little shaggy; more “rustic”-looking pieces have more charm.

    Remove tortilla from the plastic wrap by carefully peeling it off. Set aside on a floured plate and repeat with the rest of the dough balls. Re-flour the plastic wrap every 3 or 4 tortillas, or as needed.

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  • 06 of 07

    Cook Your Tortillas

    Corn Tortilla
    Chelsie Kenyon

    Place a tortilla on a hot comal or griddle. Let it cook on each side for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

    Place cooked tortilla in a Styrofoam tortilla keeper or wrap in cloth and keep warm in a basket until all of the tortillas are done.

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  • 07 of 07

    Use Your Delicious Homemade Tortillas

    Tacos on homemade tortillas
    Chelsie Kenyon

    Use the warm tortillas immediately for best flavor and texture, or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or over low heat on a comal or griddle.