Homemade Corn Tortillas

homemade corn tortillas

If you think making your own tortillas is difficult/time consuming/not worth it, think again.

Here are the reasons why I think making your own corn tortillas is a no-brainer:

  • You mix up a batch and it makes 16 tortillas. You can put a lot of awesomeness on those 16 tortillas.
  • It’s really quite simple to do. You let the tortilla press do the work anyway.
  • Living in Saskatoon the selection of authentic Mexican food – including tortillas – that you can purchase to use at home is very limited. I have found truly authentic fresh tortillas at the Farmers Market (so good) and at El Mercado (also good) but the prices were kind of high in my opinion. Especially, considering how inexpensive it is to make them at home.
  • You get to look all autentico. (That means authentic, just in case you were unsure.)

I found a tortilla press online for $14 and an accompanying comal for $12. Levi broke my tortilla press the very first time we used it. I was in the midst of making an instructional video and between takes – where he felt he had to demonstrate just how hard to press down on the lever – he broke it. Clearly my $14 tortilla press wasn’t that great of quality.

Of course, Levi felt so bad about it. I laughed and wished the camera was still rolling so I could show it to everyone here. To make up for it, Levi went and bought me a hand-made wooden tortilla press from El Mercado, a Mexican-Latin American store, here in Saskatoon. I love this heavy duty tortilla press.

wooden tortilla press

wooden tortilla press

I bought some masa mix called Maseca from Superstore. I am about 99.3% positive I’ve bought this stuff before (I’m talking six years ago) with the same intention of making tortillas but never did and have no clue what happened to my sack of Maseca. Anyway, I bought it again.

Maseca instant masa mix

Masa is basically white corn that’s been made into hominy by treating it with slaked lime, then ground into the masa. The stuff we buy in the store is primarily masa that’s been dried and is called masa de harina or simply masa harina (and sometimes masa seca.)

The ridiculous thing is that there are clear and easy-to-follow instructions right on the Maseca packaging. So, really if you go buy it you really won’t have need for this post. But then you’ll be missing out on these awesome instructional photos that I’ve put together.

mixed maseca

step 1: mix maseca with water and salt until it comes together and begins to form a soft ball of dough

form dough into small balls

step 2: pinch off 16 equal portions of dough and roll into balls (cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out)

line tortilla press with plastic wrap

step 3: line your tortilla press with plastic wrap

place a dough ball on the press

step 4: place a dough ball in the middle of the plastic-lined tortilla press

close the tortilla press

step 5: close the tortilla press over the dough ball

press the lever down

step 6: press the lever down over the press

open the tortilla press

step 7: open the tortilla press

gently peel off plastic wrap

step 8: gently peel off plastic wrap

a pressed corn tortilla

here’s what a pressed corn tortilla should look like out of the tortilla press

cook tortilla on a hot comal

step 9: cook your tortilla on a comal over medium heat until it moves freely (about 1 minute per side), flip carefully and cook on the other side

Update: A reader asked what to cook these tortillas on if you do not have a comal. Here are a couple different options. If you have a gas cooktop and a cast iron pan I have seen some flip the pan over the burner and cook the tortillas on the back side of the cast iron skillet. Of course, you could just leave your cast iron pan right-side-up on any type burner and use a spatula to gently flip them over. Any kind of griddle would also work perfectly too.

Homemade Corn Tortillas
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups loosely measured Maseca
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl to a moist soft dough.
  2. Divide dough into 16 equal balls.
  3. Cover with a damp towel to prevent from drying out.
  4. Heat your ungreased comal over medium-high heat.
  5. Place plastic wrap on the lower half of the open tortilla press.
  6. Put one ball of rolled dough in the center of the press.
  7. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top.
  8. Press the top portion down firmly and use the lever to apply more pressure. You can repeat this process once more to get a nicely thin tortilla.
  9. Gently peel the plastic wrap off the tortilla.
  10. If you aren’t cooking it right away make sure to cover the tortillas with a damp towel.
  11. Place on the hot comal one at a time. Cook about 1 minute on each side.
  12. Remove to a warm plate covered with a clean lint-free towel.
  13. Seal any unused tortillas into a ziploc bag and refrigerate up to 5 days. Can be frozen.

 

These are just little amazing food morsels. Something so simple like corn tortillas are what I consider a perfect food. They are a vehicle for so many tasty things. But to be totally honest I like them just plain … I could eat them like that all day long.

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14 Responses to “Homemade Corn Tortillas”

  1. Lindsay
    January 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    hi, I’ve been following your recipes for a while, thanks so much for sharing they are fantastic. I’ve been thinking about making corn tortillas and your post just made it official! tortilla press just purchased. can’t wait to try this, thanks! -Lindsay

    • January 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you have fun making your tortillas!

  2. January 3, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Awesome – I got a new griddle for Christmas so I’m going to give this a try. I’m off to look for a press!

    • January 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      That’s perfect timing! Have fun tortilla press shopping! :)

  3. Ashley
    August 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Hi! I am so excited to try making my own tortillas, BUT being as corn is one of THE biggest GMO crops, I have to ask: Have you seen Organic masa around? I try to only eat corn or corn products that are certified organic. Thoughts?

  4. Leslie Ross
    September 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I stumbled across your blog while looking for a recipe for a vegetarian version of Earl’s Santa Fe salad. I also live in Saskatoon, it’s so nice to find a local blogger that can tell you where to find some of the more unique ingredients. I really want to go get one of those tortilla presses. Thanks for your great recipes and helpful directions!

  5. Joel
    November 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Hey!

    I made these today but just used a large round pan to press them down instead of a tortilla press. The result may have been a slightly thicker tortilla than yours, however they looked pretty similar to your picture.

    While they were delicious, they weren’t very “pliable” as in the broke pretty easy if I tried to wrap them or even tried to just fold them up in the shape of a hard taco shell.

    I am wondering if this is less of an issue if using a tortilla press. I want to get one IF I can replace reg. taco shells with these, hence my first experiment today.

    Any thoughts? Would even adding a small amount of oil or something make them more pliable?

    Thanks!

    • November 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      The tortilla press will definitely make them much thinner than if you were to just try to press them out with a pan. Tortilla presses have been used in Mexican cuisine forever and for good reason. It does the trick. :) You can pick up an inexpensive one and you’ll see the difference.

  6. March 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    I have seen Maseca at the store, but have never bought it. According to http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071020235155AAQwRAH, Maseca is the corn flour plus LARD. Whoa! It makes me curious to read the label and see what is actually in it.
    SO — could I just use corn meal, water and salt? Must some kind of oil also be used?
    I am eager to make my own tortillas, as I am now a little freaked out at all the preservatives used in the commercial tortillas. I live in Texas, so tortillas are a necessity!

    • March 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      I think there might be a slight confusion between the prepared ‘maseca dough’ that people use to make tamales etc. which I believe would have added lard or oil and instant corn masa mix – which is brand-named ‘Maseca’. You don’t add any oil to this stuff at all – just water and a bit of salt. The ingredients label reads: ‘selected corn treated with lime’ and that’s literally the only ingredient in the package, and definitely no lard.

      Hope that clears it up for you! Happy tortilla making. :)

      • March 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

        Fantastic. Thanks for doing the legwork on that, Megan. Tortilla making is on the agenda for this weekend!

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