Homemade Corn Tortillas
This corn tortilla recipe is as wonderfully simple and delicious as corn tortillas get! They are quick and easy to make with just three ingredients – masa harina, salt and water, and taste far superior than anything you can pick up at the store. These homemade corn tortillas are soft and pliable, foldable without breaking or tearing and bursting with nutty corn flavor. Most importantly, I’ve included all my expert tips and tricks for the best corn tortilla recipe, including how to make them without a tortilla press! So, if you’re ready to instantly elevate your tacos, enchiladas and taquitos to next level deliciousness, look no further than this recipe!
Servings 15 tortillas
Mix the ingredients: Whisk the masa harina and the salt together in a large bowl. Gradually stir in 1 ½ cups hot water with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. Continue to stir until the dough starts to clump together.
Knead the dough: In the same mixing bowl, knead the dough with your hands for a few minutes. You’ll know the dough is ready when it becomes a smooth, moist yet firm, springy ball, similar to the consistency of Play-Doh. The key here is for it to feel moist but not tacky – moisture is key! (If the dough feels dry or is not combining, add hot water one teaspoon at a time. If the dough is tacky/too wet and keeps sticking to your hands, add additional masa harina one teaspoon at a time.)
Rest the dough: Cover the dough in the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or paper towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Shape the dough: Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop (or similar/34 ounces) to scoop the dough, then roll it in between the palms of your hands to form an evenly rounded ball. You may shape one ball at a time and proceed to press and cook the tortilla (then start the next while your tortilla is cooking, the most efficient method) or you may make the balls all at once, keeping them covered with a damp towel in a parchment paper lined baking dish at all times (don’t let them dry out!). Press the tortilla: Place one dough ball between two pieces of a Ziploc bag or parchment before pressing into a 5-inch tortilla using a tortilla press, casserole dish, pie plate or the flat bottom of a pan. (I find it easiest to use a freezer size Ziploc bag and cut the sides so it opens like a book.) For a tortilla press, use the handle and press down, then open the press, flip the dough 180 degrees, cover and finish with another press. This way the dough spreads more evenly (because there is more force/pressure on the handle side). Cook the tortilla: Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, peel your tortilla off of the plastic and cook for about 45-60 seconds on both sides. You’ll know it’s time to flip when lightly toasted golden flecks appear. The tortilla may also bubble up on the second side which is a great sign – it means your dough is nice and airy! While the tortilla cooks, start working on pressing the next tortilla. Keep the tortillas warm: Immediately transfer the cooked tortilla to a tortilla warmer or wrap in a damp towel (or paper towels) and store in sealed container – this is key so your tortillas don’t dry out. Repeat until you have a stack of delicious warm homemade tortillas. When serving, start with the tortilla on the bottom of the stack – it will be the softest.
Tips and Tricks
(See post for more detailed tips and tricks)
- Tortilla press: Is not necessary but is the quickest way to make uniform tortillas - it takes seconds! This is the tortilla press I have from Amazon. It is on the pricier side but there are a lot of less expensive options as well HERE.
- Masa harina: You MUST use masa harina and not cornmeal – masa harina is dehydrated dough, cornmeal is just ground corn. Masa harina can be found in white, yellow, and blue - all of which work in this recipe but white will yield the softest tortillas You should be able to find masa harina at your grocery store located next to the cornmeal or in the ethnic aisle. Otherwise, you can purchase it on
- Is instant masa the same as masa harina? Yes! When looking at packages of masa harina, don’t be confused if you see “instant masa harina.” All packages of masa harina are instant! It simply means when you mix the masa harina with water, it will make masa dough instantly.
- The key for texture success is for the dough to be moist but not tacky: Once the dough is kneaded until it’s firm with a bouncy texture, you’re almost there. Double check that the dough seems moist. You may want to knead in an extra splash of water.
- The goal is to keep the dough moist at all times: Whether making the tortillas one at a time or rolling all the balls first, you need to keep the dough covered with a moist towel at all times. Dry dough means cracking tortillas.
- Double check the texture after making your first tortilla: If the pressed dough is so sticky that it doesn’t easily peel off of the plastic, the dough needs more masa harina. If the tortilla cracks when cooking, the dough needs more hot water (or possibly was cooked too long).
- Adjust the heat as needed: Every skillet and stove is different, so be prepared to turn the heat up or down. If the tortillas are browning too quickly or forming black spots, turn the heat down. If the tortillas are taking significantly longer than 60 seconds for brown spots to appear, then raise the heat.
- Don’t overcook the tortillas: Don’t try and get extra color on your tortillas - as soon as they are cooked, they are done. If you overcook them, they will dry out and not be as soft and flexible and can crack. Ironically, my tortillas don’t get as much color in my cast iron skillet as when cooking in a nonstick skillet.
How to Store and Reheat
- How to store uncooked masa dough: Tightly wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to three days. Don’t use it beyond three days because it spoils fairly quickly. When ready to use, you may need to knead the dough again with a splash of water.
- How to store cooked tortillas: Store cooked corn tortillas in plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag with as much air pressed out as possible. Refrigerator for up to three days.
- How to freeze: Allow the tortillas to cool, stack them with parchment paper in between each tortilla and seal in a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- How to reheat tortillas in the microwave: Reheating corn tortillas in the microwave is not advisable as it can dry them out too much and make them less flexible and more prone to cracking. While it’s not ideal, if you are going to use the microwave, make sure to wrap the tortillas with a slightly damp paper towel before reheating at 10 second intervals.
- How to reheat tortillas in the oven: Wrap a stack of tortillas in aluminum foil and let them warm in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes.
- How to reheat tortillas on the stove: Heat the tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet over medium heat for 15-30 seconds on each side. Avoid using oil as this will cause them to become overly crispy. Always transfer tortillas to a tortilla warmer or wrap in a clean kitchen towel in a sealed container to keep warm.