Everything you need to know about making corn tortillas at home! What you need, step-by-step process from start to finish and how to keep them warm. They’re easy to make and perfect for taco night!
There are a handful of foods that my family eats every single day and corn tortillas are one of them!
Homemade corn tortillas are one of my favorite foods ever. They’re extremely versatile and can be eaten in so many different ways – as a taco, fried or baked to make homemade tortilla chips or as a simple side that’s perfect for soaking up delicious saucy dishes like my chile verde.
They’re way better than store bought tortillas, are healthy (depending on how many you eat, of course) and are a great naturally gluten-free option for those that can’t have flour tortillas.
The first thing you need in order to make corn tortillas at home is masa harina.
Masa harina is a special corn flour made up of just two things – ground up corn and lime. Because the corn is treated and processed differently, corn meal or regular corn flour cannot be substituted for masa harina.
Masa harina can be found in the ethnic food aisle of larger grocery stores or sometimes next to all the other flours in the baking aisle. If you can’t find it in those areas, you may want to take a look at the gluten-free section of your store.
If all else fails and you simply can’t find masa harina in your local area, you can always find it on Amazon. I personally use Bob’s Red Mill masa harina because they’re a reputable brand that I trust, but there are others out there as well. Larger grocery chains sometimes carry MASECA brand and Quaker even has it’s own masa harina.
How to make corn tortillas
Once you’ve got the masa harina, it’s time to make the tortillas.
In a large bowl, mix together masa harina and salt. (photo 1)
Then add olive oil and hot water. (photo 2)
Mix the dough together with a spoon until all the water has been absorbed. (photo 3)
Next, form the dough into a large ball, place it inside the bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. (photo 4)
Next comes the fun part – flattening the dough! Place a large gallon-size Ziploc bag that’s been cut at the seams over your open tortilla press (here’s the tortilla press that I have and recommend from Amazon). Place a ball of dough on the center of the tortilla press bottom. (photo 5)
Close the tortilla press and flatten the masa harina in between the Ziploc bag using the handle. (photo 6)
Open the tortilla press and gently remove the tortilla from the Ziploc bag by peeling away the bag onto the palm of your hand. (photo 7 & 8)
Cook on a griddle or nonstick skillet that’s been preheated over medium-high heat for 20 seconds, then flip it over and cook the other side for 20 more seconds. This will help seal in the heat. (photo 9)
Flip it over again and cook for about 40 seconds or so, until the tortilla begins to puff up/bubble and beautiful brown marks form. Flip it over one last time and cook for a few more seconds until that side has beautiful brown marks. (photo 10)
That’s it! It may seem like a lot of steps at first, but I promise it’s not difficult at all. And once you taste homemade corn tortillas, you’ll never go back to store bought. The time it takes to make them is so worth it!
Don’t have a tortilla press?
Another option is to flatten the dough balls with a large casserole dish like a clear Pyrex dish. Simply place the ball in between two sheets of parchment paper and press down on the handles of the casserole dish as evenly as possible.
How to keep your tortillas warm
To keep your corn tortillas warm and pliable when serving, place them inside a tortilla warmer like this or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and place them inside a large gallon-sized Ziploc bag to help them retain heat and moisture.
To this day, tortillas are a staple at my parents house and I always have some when I visit. It’s like a big warm hug from my family.
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out my recipe for Homemade Flour Tortillas.
Looking for some tortilla fillings? Take a look at these recipes:
- Easy Chicken Tacos
- Carne Asada
- Pork Carnitas
- Chicken Tinga Tacos
- Easy Ground Beef Tacos
- Easy Steak Fajitas
- 2 cups masa harina
- 2/3 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups hot water, plus more if necessary
- 1 teaspoon olive oil*
- Add 2 cups masa harina and 2/3 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Mix together with a spoon.
- Pour 1 1/2 cups hot water and 1 teaspoon olive oil into the bowl and mix together until all the water is absorbed. Using your hands, form the dough into a big ball. The dough should be firm and springy when touched, not dry or super sticky. If the mixture is too dry, add more water in small amounts until the dough is springy and holds together.
- Place the dough ball in the bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This will help ensure that all the water gets absorbed.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball with the palms of your hands and place them in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap to keep the balls moist while you're working.
- Preheat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Open the gallon-sized Ziploc bag and cut the seams on each side so that it makes one large rectangular piece of plastic. Open the tortilla press and lay the plastic inside of it so that it covers the upper and bottom parts of the tortilla press.
- Place one dough ball in the middle of the tortilla press, close the top and gently press to flatten it out. Open the tortilla press and peel back the Ziploc bag to transfer the tortilla to your hand.
- Place the flattened tortilla onto the hot skillet and cook for 20 seconds. Flip it over and cook for 20 more seconds to seal in the heat. Flip it over again and cook for about 40 seconds or so, until the tortilla starts to bubble or puff up and beautiful brown marks form. Flip over one last time and cook until beautiful brown marks form.
- Remove the tortilla and place it in a tortilla warmer or in a clean kitchen towel that's placed inside a large Ziploc bag to keep it warm.
- Continue cooking the remaining tortillas.
- Serve immediately or store in a large Ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 10 days.
This recipe was originally posted in 2017 and was updated in April 2019 with new photos, helpful tips and a slight recipe change.