How To Make Simple Corn Tortillas

by Tammy Taylor~

I love to make pork roast, there’s so much you can do with the leftovers!  We recently enjoyed a hearty supper of pork roast & veggies one night and I planned to make pulled-pork enchiladas the next day with some of the leftover cooked roast.  Although we enjoy my quick Mix-N-Pour Tortillas, enchiladas require corn tortillas in the Taylor household but we had none.

As we stood in the store looking at the tortillas sold in a plastic bag, my mind went back several years to when I’d made them myself.  It was easy to make ’em, & heck this big bag of masa harina was only about $3.  Maybe I should dust off that tortilla press I have at home & give ‘er a go again.

Homemade Corn Tortillas! As I stood in the store looking at that handful of corn tortillas sold in a plastic bag I wondered, "Should I make these myself?" Easy, delicious, cheap and waste-free! #TexasHomesteader

 

Jump to Recipe

Masa Harina Is Not Cornmeal

Now masa harina is not the same as cornmeal.  Masa harina is a flour made of corn that’s been treated with lime & water before being dried & ground into flour.  It’s often found in the flour aisle at your local store.

But it’s cheap and has many uses, including today’s homemade corn tortillas.  And since I’m only using 2 cups for this recipe I’ll be able to make 8 whoppin’ batches of corn tortillas & still have plenty of masa left for thickening my homemade chili.

Here Are The Complicated Instructions:

Mix masa harina & salt with some warm water and knead into dough.  Pull off golfball-sized pieces, roll and flatten.  Toss into a heated skillet & cook about a minute each side.

Done & DONE!

Homemade Corn Tortillas! As I stood in the store looking at that handful of corn tortillas sold in a plastic bag I wondered, "Should I make these myself?" Easy, delicious, cheap and waste-free! #TexasHomesteaderHomemade Corn Tortillas! As I stood in the store looking at that handful of corn tortillas sold in a plastic bag I wondered, "Should I make these myself?" Easy, delicious, cheap and waste-free! #TexasHomesteader Homemade Corn Tortillas! As I stood in the store looking at that handful of corn tortillas sold in a plastic bag I wondered, "Should I make these myself?" Easy, delicious, cheap and waste-free! #TexasHomesteader Homemade Corn Tortillas! As I stood in the store looking at that handful of corn tortillas sold in a plastic bag I wondered, "Should I make these myself?" Easy, delicious, cheap and waste-free! #TexasHomesteader Homemade Corn Tortillas! As I stood in the store looking at that handful of corn tortillas sold in a plastic bag I wondered, "Should I make these myself?" Easy, delicious, cheap and waste-free! #TexasHomesteader

These tortillas are heartier than the flimsy ones you might buy in the store.  And they were perfect for our enchiladas!  They rolled beautifully without breaking too. Following are a few helpful tips.

My Observations

  • I wanted a little extra flavor for my corn tortillas so I added 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder & paprika. You can leave this out or flavor it in a way that your family enjoys most.  It’s a very versatile recipe!
  • Dividing the dough into 9 sections gave me the 6″ size tortilla I wanted.  You can divide your dough up into smaller balls for more tortillas per batch, or larger balls for fewer but larger tortillas.
  • It’s helpful to cover the dough balls with a damp towel to keep them from drying out while you’re cooking your tortillas.
  • It’s recommended when pressing the tortillas to line each side of your tortilla dough with wax paper, a piece of plastic or a cut-open gallon-sized ziplock bag to make it easier to lift your thinly-rolled tortilla dough.
  • I use a tortilla press to easily press my dough.  But you don’t need a press to make the tortillas. I’ve read others just use a heavy pie plate or a rolling pin.
  • My favored cookware for these tortillas is a cast iron comal (a small short-sided cast-iron skillet).  Although I feel cast-iron is a much preferable way to cook tortillas, you can use whatever skillet you have.
  • Although it’s an extra step, I prefer to pre-cook the first side of my corn tortilla for 10 seconds before flipping & beginning my tortilla cooking.  I found this results in my tortilla fluffing while it cooks and that’s a good thing for both taste as well as texture.  But it’s my preference & not necessary if you just don’t wanna…
  • If you’re using cast iron remember it’s a very efficient metal.  You might have to bump your temps down after the first several tortillas if you find they’re getting too brown on the outside before they’re cooked.
  • If you place your cooked tortillas on a plate and cover them with a clean kitchen towel they’ll steam & keep your tortillas soft & pliable.

Now that I’m on a corn-tortilla-making roll I want to try them with our Carnitas Tacos later in the week.  I’ll let ya know how they work!

UPDATE: I used these corn tortillas with our Carnitas Tacos and they are PERFECT!  I turn the tortillas into crispy taco shells by placing them in the oven for just a few minutes.  The resulting homemade taco shells are crispy and flavorful, not bland & brittle like the commercial ones.

5 from 3 votes
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Simple Homemade Corn Tortillas - yields about 9-10

Author Texas Homesteader

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups warm water, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, paprika and/or cumin (Optional for flavor)

Instructions

Instructions

  1. Add dry ingredients to bowl & stir to combine.

  2. Add about 1 cup of the warm water. Stir with heavy spoon to combine.

  3. Add more of the warm water in tablespoon increments until the mixture forms a dough. ( I usually only use about 1/4 cup more)

  4. Using clean hands, knead the dough until it's smooth and the texture of play-dough.

  5. (Note) If the dough is sticking to your hands it's too wet - add masa harina in tablespoon increments to correct. 

    If the dough is crumbly it's too dry - add warm water in tablespoon increments to correct.

  6. Separate the dough into about 9-10 golf ball sized sections

  7. Flatten each dough ball between plastic wrap or wax paper using a tortilla press, rolling pin or a pie plate.

  8. Heat a cast-iron comal (or other skillet) using medium high heat

  9. Add flattened tortilla to hot comal and pre-cook 1st side 10 seconds before flipping and cooking 1 minute.  You will see light brown spots forming. Flip back to first side and cook 30 seconds.  You may see the tortilla puff up a bit - this is perfect!

    Remove cooked tortilla to a waiting plate. 

    Cover cooked tortillas with clean kitchen towel to allow them to steam.

  10. Enjoy!

    To store, wrap cooled tortillas in airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

It's helpful to preheat your comal while you're forming the dough balls so the first flattened tortilla hits a hot comal.  But cast iron is very efficient with heat.  So you may need to dial the heat back as you continue cooking your tortillas. You don't want them singed on the outside & still doughy on the inside.

~TxH~

 

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20 thoughts on “How To Make Simple Corn Tortillas

  1. Ken

    Well Tammy, you made me do it. I slow-cooked a pork butt yesterday and last night had pulled pork sammies. Today I had to go to G-town to pick up our Archie the Sccottie at the groomer. While waiting on the pick up time I went to Super 1 and purchased a tortilla press. Just washed it. I will soon try to press out some masa with your guidelines. Then assemble pulled pork enchiladas for this evening. Just in case I do have yucky store bought flour tortillas as a backup. But I’m thinking positive. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I think you’ll be pleased, Ken. Start to finish I can makes these corn tortillas in about 15 minutes. Heck it’d take me longer than that to run to the store & buy them! And we’ve been very impressed with the flavor & texture of them. Plus they roll beautifully without cracking. Just make sure to make your corn tortilla dough the consistency of playdough and you’ll be golden! ~TxH~

      Reply
  2. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Thought I’d update on making these tortillas on my 2-burner cast iron griddle – it works beautifully! I press & put a tortilla on the griddle and press another dough ball. Flip tortilla #1 at 10 seconds & add tortilla #2, press tortilla #3. Flip #2 and add #3. And so it goes… They run right down the assembly line and a batch of tortillas is made in minutes. Love it! ~TMH~

    Reply
  3. Nancy

    I have never made my own tortilla shells. I may have to try it. I went to school with a friend and her mom made them all the time. Her tacos were the best. I may need to try making this recipe.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I made them yesterday for our enchiladas, Nancy. RancherMan raved. The tortillas are GONE. So I’ll be making a double-batch for him today. LOL Thankfully they’re truly ridiculously easy to make. NOTE – I never use all the water, I start with a cup and add until I can knead up a playdough consistency. But I typically have water left in the cup. ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Kathryn Grace

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I can no longer find fresh-made, delicious, stone ground 100 percent whole corn tortillas anywhere. Most are made with flour these days, and they’re pasty and yukky. This is just what I need to get started on my tortilla-making adventure.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      These tortillas are super-easy to make Kathryn Grace. I typically roll out 9 tortillas with each batch, and I’m learning to just go ahead & make a double batch each time. RancherMan loves ’em and they’re gone in such short order. LOL. ~TMH~

      Reply
  5. Evelyn Edgett

    When I was in the mountains living in a 35 ft travel trailer, I had no room for my tortilla press, but desperately wanted some corn tortillas. You know my motto–What has God put in my hand? So I looked through the cabinets and found two small saucers. I lined them with a plastic bag, and using my hands and leaning forward, pressed the masa dough between them. It made a small, slightly thicker tortilla. I cooked them on my pan, and when I fried them later with a bit of oil, they made a chewier yet just as delicious bit of goodness that was perfect for wrapping up taco fixings. Ya know, sometimes food tastes better when it’s made with love and creativity!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve always loved your motto “What has God put in my hand”, Evelyn. And as a result, you’ve certainly found a perfect way to easily press those corn tortillas. Yea! ~TMH~

      Reply
      1. Evelyn Edgett

        I read that somewhere over 20 years ago. It got me to thinking about looking for a solution in what was already around me instead of jumping in the car and driving all over creation to spend money. It really came in handy Sunday at church. It was our ‘grub Sunday’, and so many folks were out sick or taking care of sick family that there wasn’t a lot of potluck foods brought in. The dear lady who was in charge of the kitchen that day got this ‘deer in the headlights’ look. I had come in to see if I could help set up during the service. I said, “Okay, we are intelligent women who serve a big God. If He can feed 5,000 with a few sardines and saltines, I know we can look to see what God has put in our hands and feed 60 hungry people.” And we did! Enough folks had brought food that we were able to supplement with a few items from the food pantry room. We made a list what we would be replacing this week, and made up mac and cheese for the kiddos, a simple spaghetti dish, opened cans of corn, green beans and ranch beans, and I pulled together a beans and rice dish. We grabbed a fellow from the church and sent him for a bucket of chicken from the grocery store, and viola! We fed our ‘multitude’. That little motto has saved the day countless times.

        Reply
        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          “…Intelligent women who serve a big God” Love it! Good for you for feeding the multitudes with His help! XOX ~TMH~

          Reply
  6. candace

    I had to look up the word comal (cast iron griddle) I’ve always just used a cast iron skillet for tortilla heating or cooking. I did recently pass up a cast iron griddle at a thrift store, it was $40.00 and I thought – that’s a lot of money for something I don’t really need. The next week I thought Oh, I think I’ll spring for that any way, it was a Griswold brand which is what my skillets are. Well, of course it was gone. Many years ago I had friends from southern Texas (we were all working or going to school in the Mid Willamette Valley here in Oregon) and Rosita always made everything at their house from scratch. For years I made tortillas and mole sauce and all kinds of good things I learned from her. Life changes and now I’m pretty much content with the wimpy, chemical contaminated, nasty corn tortillas from the market. At one time my husband and I had a bar and restaurant on the Oregon Coast and one of the cooks often made enchiladas for a special. I remember she always went into the bar and got a couple of shots of tequila “for the sauce” but I’m pretty sure she was the one who got sauced.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Grizwold is a great name, Candace. That would certainly raise an eyebrow for me too. But I’m kinda like you – $40? Quality like that may be worth that cost, but it has to be worth it to MY budget too before I’ll pick it up. Thankfully I stole one at a garage sale years ago. Not Grizwold but a 2-burner cast-iron griddle for (wait for it) only $5! Now THAT’S in my budget! I use it for my mix-n-pour tortillas, quesadillas and pancakes, but I’ve not yet used it for my corn tortillas. The comal comes out for that, but it only cooks one tortilla at a time. Maybe next time I’ll try the griddle for them. But like you, I’m often content with commercial corn tortillas too – making them homemade when time permits. It’s all about balance, ya know?? But I’m tickled at your note about the cook at y’alls bar & restaurant. LOL! ~TMH~

      Reply
        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          LOL Evelyn! Here ya go, girlie –> http://txhomesteader.com/easy-mix-n-pour-tortilla-recipe/ ~TMH~

          Reply
          1. Evelyn Edgett

            Thank you! After I get the dogs all back in from their potty breaks, I will be making chili and trying this recipe.

          2. Texas Homesteader Post author

            It’s a nice quick substitute for the traditional tortilla, Evelyn. Not exactly the same texture but so much faster it’s often whipped up here at the Taylor household. It’s like a very thin, flat, tortilla-flavored pancake. They roll beautifully without cracking and we love ’em especially for snacking. That RancherMan of mine’s a bread-eating fiend, I need something quick & easy! LOL Oh, and I’m making chili tomorrow – perfect weather for it. I’ll probably whip up some jalapeno cornbread for the side. Spicy! ~TMH~

  7. Margy

    I like to add a bit of oil to mine to made them more pliable. I guess lard would be better but it is something we don’t use. A friend gave me a small round cast iron griddle that is perfect for one tortilla. – Margy

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve heard of others adding oil to their corn tortillas as well Margy. And my comal is only good for one tortilla at a time, but as I was telling another reader earlier – I may give my 2-burner cast-iron griddle a try next time. I’ll be sure to share how that goes! ~TMH~

      Reply

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