The moment I realized that making homemade corn tortillas was a thing I could do was the moment that my Mexican dishes took a turn for the better! Store-bought tortillas are fine, but I struggle to warm them efficiently to keep them from breaking apart. And there's nothing worse than all the filling of your taco falling out because it cracked!
Making corn tortillas from scratch is amazingly easy and once you've tasted the difference between what you can make and what you can buy, you'll always want the homemade ones.
How easy is it?
- 4 ingredients
- No mixer needed
- Takes less than 30 minutes
The main ingredient is … corn, of course. Masa harina is the name of the flour used to make tortillas and many other Mexican or Latin dishes . It is made by grinding maize and then treating it with a lime and water solution.
To make corn tortillas, you mix the masa harina with salt and water to create a dough. I've made them plenty like that, but my favorite addition is a little fat. Bacon fat, to be exact. The dough is more pliable with this addition and, of course, tastier!
I have a wonderful cast iron tortilla press that works really well, but you can also roll tortillas with a rolling pin or even press them with a flat-bottomed casserole dish. Those methods take a bit more muscle and precision, but that shouldn't stop you from making homemade tortillas. Mexican abuelitas have done it for many years!
Use a quart-size plastic bag to press the dough between. I cut the sides open to make it easier. I've tried using pieces of plastic wrap and even parchment paper, but they get wrinkled easily and you have to keep replacing it. I've recently discovered these silicone rounds, though, that I will be ordering and they will fit the press perfectly. I haven't been able to rid myself of plastic completely, but I do try to reduce my use of it!
Make balls of dough that are a little smaller than golf balls. I measured a few and they are between 15-20 grams in weight. That size makes the perfect 4-inch tortilla for street tacos! After a few, you'll start to recognize the feel of the size and you'll not worry about it so much.
Troubleshooting Homemade Corn Tortillas
Add the water gradually to the masa harina. Mix it with your hands and stop adding water when the dough just holds together and doesn't stick to your fingers. If the dough is too wet, it won't come off of the plastic. The following photo is proof!
It should peel off easily and not be sticky, but if it is, just put the dough back in the bowl and add more masa harina … a little at a time to be sure you don't add too much.
I like to use my cast iron griddle to cook them because I can fit four to six at a time and keep rotating them around to cook them evenly. Also note that if they are not ready to be turned, they can stick to your spatula so don't get too anxious. It takes about a minute on the first side and just a bit more on the opposite. Don't try to work ahead … just roll and press as there's room on the griddle.
Et voila! The full recipe will yield 28-30 4-inch tortillas and they will stay warm for quite a while in this handy tortilla warmer.
Are you ready to throw a Mexican party? Here are some other recipes to round out your menu:
Homemade Corn Tortillas
- 2 cups masa harina
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat, lard, or tallow
- 1½-2 cups hot water
- Mix the masa harina and the salt together in a bowl.
- Melt the bacon grease in the hot water and gradually add it to the masa harina. Use your hand so that you can feel the texture of the dough. If it is too wet, it will stick to the press. If you've added too much water, even it out by adding a bit more masa harina. The dough should be a bit springy, not dry or sticky.
- Cut a plastic bag up the sides or use silicone rounds to press the dough between using a tortilla press, a rolling pin, or a large, flat-bottomed baking dish. Make balls just smaller than a golf ball (about 15-20 grams in weight). Press them just before you cook them.
- Heat a griddle over medium heat. Cook the tortillas about 1 minute on the first side, flip, and cook a few seconds on the other side.
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