4.7 from 13 votes

Corn Tortillas

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Fresh from the Comal: The Art of Making Delicious Corn Tortillas at Home!

Corn tortillas are a staple in Mexican cuisine, made from nixtamalized corn that’s been softened and ground into a dough, known as “masa” (which simply means “dough” in Spanish). These tortillas are the foundation for countless dishes, and if you love Mexican food, learning to make them at home is a must. 

Freshly made tortillas, straight from the comal, are like having freshly baked bread – it instantly elevates the experience, and you’ll soon realize what you’ve been missing out on. They’re extremely flavorful, super soft, and perfectly round for tacos, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

Ingredients 

The beauty of corn tortillas? Just two ingredients: Masa Harina and water (plus a pinch of salt if you like)! 

Masa Harina is the instant, faster way to make corn tortillas. It’s a type of flour made from dried corn kernels that have been soaked in a lime solution until soft, then ground into a fine powder. Note that it’s referred to as corn flour, but it’s not the same as cornmeal. 

When searching for masa harina, it’s important to follow a few tips to choose the very best quality:

  • Choose the right one: Select masa harina specifically labeled for tortillas, not cornmeal or masa for tamales, which is not as fine and won’t work for tortillas.
  • Freshness matters: Ensure it’s fresh and hasn’t been sitting out for a long time.
  • Texture matters: It’s crucial the corn flour is finely ground for the best results.

How To Make Corn Tortillas 

Masa Time 

Place the masa harina in a large bowl. Gradually pour in the water while mixing by hand, until the masa is fully hydrated, forms a mass that holds its shape, and has no dry patches.

Then, knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough is smooth, pliable, still hydrated, and doesn’t stick to your clean hands.

Divide and Shape 

Divide the dough into 12 balls, each about 2 oz. Flatten each ball into a disk by applying gentle pressure and rotating the masa between your hands. 

Ensure the edges are smooth. If they crack, the masa is too dry; if it sticks to your hands, it’s too wet. In either case, adjust the consistency by adding more water or masa harina to the prepared dough until it reaches the ideal texture. 

Keep the shaped disks in the bowl, covered with a kitchen towel, to prevent them from drying out.

Press and Cook The Tortillas

Preheat a seasoned carbon steel comal to 450-500°F and maintain the temperature. This heat range is roughly equivalent to medium-low heat. It’s essential to ensure the comal is hot before making tortillas.

Prepare the tortilla press by lining it with two plastic rounds. Place a masa disk in the center of the press, between the liners. Close the plates and apply gentle pressure to flatten the masa into a thin, even tortilla. If needed, rotate or flip the tortilla to achieve a uniform thickness.

Remove the tortilla from the liners and place it on the hot comal using a smooth, back-handed sweeping motion. 

Cook the underside just until the edges begin to deepen in color and the tortilla releases from the comal, about 20 seconds. Then, flip and fully cook the other side until lightly browned, about 1 minute 15 seconds.

Finally, flip once more to allow the tortilla to puff up and develop golden brown spots, about 30 seconds.

Keep Tortillas Warm and Soft

Once cooked, remove the tortilla from the heat and wrap it in a kitchen towel. Keep the wrapped tortillas inside an enclosed tortilla warmer to steam and soften while remaining hot. Repeat the process to cook and store the remaining tortillas. 

Water Amount Needed

The amount of water used for the masa can vary depending on the temperature of the water and the room. To get it right, add water gradually as you knead and stop as soon as the dough reaches the right consistency. 

You Can Fix It!

Don’t panic if the masa turns out too soft or dry – you can easily fix it! Add more masa harina to restore structure or more water to soften it. Feel free use the amount of water suggested by the packaging of the brand you’re using as a guide. With practice, you’ll develop a sense of what works best.

If the masa starts to dry out while working with it, simply dip your fingers in water and moisten it.

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Equipment for Making Tortillas

  • A Tortilla Press is a game-changer for achieving perfectly round and evenly thick tortillas, which is crucial for proper puffing and cooking. 

I highly recommend the 10” Cast Iron Tortilla Press from Victoria, which I own and have gifted to others due to its excellent size and material. 

Alternatively, Masienda’s Doña Rosa Tortilla Press is a stylish and highly-rated option, available in a range of vibrant colors to match your kitchen style.

  • Round Plastic Liners: You can either cut your own from grocery bags (making sure to use the non-inked side) or opt for a convenient pre-cut option like Masienda’s Tortilla Press Liners. 
  • A Comal is vital for elevating the tortilla-making experience. I use the Masienda Comal by Made In, which is perfect after seasoning. 
  • Masa harina 

For this recipe, I use King Arthur’s Masa Harina, which yields the perfect texture and flavor of traditional Masa. It’s definitely a top favorite!

Another great-tasting brand is Masienda’s Masa Harina, which expertly replicates the authentic flavor of tortillas crafted from nixtamalized corn.

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Is the puff necessary?

Not always! Many factors can prevent tortillas from puffing, such as unexpected holes that allow air to escape or bubble buildup. Don’t be discouraged if your tortillas don’t puff – it’s not a failure! With practice, you’ll get better, and even non-puffed tortillas can be amazing. Just ensure they’re cooked through and store them in a tortilla warmer to further soften. Enjoy your delicious homemade tortillas, puffed or not!

  • Protect your work surface: Place a towel under the tortilla press to prevent scratching or damage.
  • Season your comal: If using a carbon steel comal, ensure it’s properly seasoned to prevent rust and sticking.
  • Prevent drying out: Avoid overcooking or under-heating the tortilla, as this can cause it to dry out. Keep the comal at the right temperature.
  • Handle with care: Gently place the tortilla on the comal, avoiding smacking or slamming, which can cause bubbling. Make sure it lies flat.
  • Flip with ease: If you can’t flip the tortilla by hand, use a spatula to help you out. No need to burn yourself. 

Recipe Video Tutorial 

Below is my easy to follow video tutorial on how to make this Corn Tortilla Recipe.

It will give you an additional in-depth knowledge and the visuals of the step-by-step process to enhance your understanding.

Youtube Video Tutorial on How to Make Corn Tortillas.

If you enjoyed the video please SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel and don’t forget to click the bell icon so you get a notification every time we post a brand new video. Thank you!

Storage 

  • Refrigerate – Cool tortillas completely, then wrap in parchment paper and place in a ziplock bag. Label and date the bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • Freeze – Cool tortillas completely, wrap in parchment paper and place in a freezer-safe bag. Label and date the bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Vacuum seal bags – removes air, preserves freshness, and prevents flavor transfer. This set keeps tortillas organized without taking up valuable kitchen space.

  • Reheating – Heat a comal or griddle over medium heat. Place multiple tortillas in a single layer on the hot surface, flipping frequently until they’re soft and pliable. Once warmed through, remove them and wrap in a kitchen towel/tortilla warmer to keep warm. 

Mexico’s Ancient Culinary Magic! 

For centuries, tortilla makers in Tlaxcala and throughout Mexico have perfected the art of pressing edible flowers and herbs into tortillas.

This labor-intensive technique, passed down through generations, demands precision, patience, and a profound understanding of the region’s flora.

This traditional technique is more than just a culinary practice – it’s a connection to Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.

When using edible flowers and herbs:

  • Ensure the flowers and herbs are edible and safe for human consumption.
  • Choose fresh and high-quality ingredients for the best flavors and aromas.
  • Clean and dry thoroughly with care.

Decorate with: 

  • Edible flowers: floral, aromatic, with sweet flavors. 
  • Fresh cilantro: bright, fruity, and citrusy.
  • Fresh oregano: peppery, herbaceous, and earthy.
  • Fresh thyme: savory, slightly minty, and abundant in fragrance.
  • Hierba buena (spearmint): cool, refreshing, and uplifting.
  • Fresh parsley: mild in flavor but earthy and fresh.

Directions for Decorating: 

Mold the tortilla with a press, leaving it slightly thicker than desired. Arrange the petals and leaves as you like. Cut out individual petals for easier placement, as using whole flowers can be tricky (but not impossible).

Once you’ve made your design, place the top liner, press one more time just to make sure everything sticks to the masa and you get it to the final thickness. Be careful not to press too hard.

Remove the top liner and lay the tortilla over the hot comal, decor side up. Then, continue to cook as you normally would.

Important Note: Keep in mind that the flowers and herbs may indent the tortilla, making it slightly more challenging for the tortillas to fully puff. However, it’s not impossible! If they don’t puff, don’t worry! Simply cook them thoroughly and wrap them in a towel to steam and soften.

Pair These Dishes With Corn Tortillas 

Carnitas cooked in an instant pot

FAQ: Your Questions Answered

Are Corn Tortillas Gluten Free? 

Corn tortillas are naturally gluten free but be mindful of cross contamination and look for labels on the packaging that suggest so. Note that some recipes may include a small amount of all-purpose flour, which contains gluten. 

Why is My Tortilla Cracking or Breaking?

Tortillas crack or break due to insufficient water in the dough (during molding) or insufficient heat/undercooking (during cooking).

Can I Use Corm Meal To Make Corn Tortillas ? 

No, cornmeal is not suitable for making corn tortillas as it’s too coarse and will produce a crumbly and fragile texture. 

Corn Tortillas Recipe

Recipe by Villa Cocina
4.7 from 13 votes
Course: SidesCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

12

ea
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Total time

45

minutes

Freshly made tortillas, straight from the comal, are like having freshly baked bread – it instantly elevates the experience, and you’ll soon realize what you’ve been missing out on. 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups instant corn masa harina (10.4 oz)

  • 2 cups warm water, plus more if needed 

Directions

  • Masa time 
  • Place the masa harina in a large bowl. Gradually pour in the water while mixing by hand, until the masa is fully hydrated, forms a mass that holds its shape, and has no dry patches. Then, knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough is smooth, pliable, still hydrated, and doesn’t stick to your clean hands.
  • Divide and Shape 
  • Divide the dough into 12 balls, each about 2 oz.
  • Flatten each ball into a disk by applying gentle pressure and rotating the masa between your hands. 
  • Ensure the edges are smooth. If they crack, the masa is too dry; if it sticks to your hands, it’s too wet. In either case, adjust the consistency by adding more water or masa harina to the prepared dough until it reaches the ideal texture.
  • Keep the shaped disks in the bowl, covered with a kitchen towel, to prevent them from drying out.
  • Press and Cook The Tortillas
  • Preheat a seasoned carbon steel comal to 450-500°F and maintain the temperature. This heat range is roughly equivalent to medium-low heat. It’s essential to ensure the comal is hot before making tortillas.
  • Prepare the tortilla press by lining it with two plastic rounds. Place a masa disk in the center of the press, between the liners. Close the plates and apply gentle pressure to flatten the masa into a thin, even tortilla. If needed, rotate or flip the tortilla to achieve a uniform thickness.
  • Remove the tortilla from the liners and place it on the hot comal using a smooth, back-handed sweeping motion. 
  • Cook the underside just until the edges begin to deepen in color and the tortilla releases from the comal, about 20 seconds. Then, flip and fully cook the other side until lightly browned, about 1 minute 15 seconds. Finally, flip once more to allow the tortilla to puff up and develop golden brown spots, about 30 seconds.
  • Keep Tortillas Warm and Soft
  • Once cooked, remove the tortilla from the heat and wrap it in a kitchen towel. Keep the wrapped tortillas inside an enclosed tortilla warmer to steam and soften while remaining hot. Repeat the process to cook and store the remaining tortillas. 

Recipe Video

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