• Lauren Humphreys

Corn Tortillas

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! We will be having...TACOS!

Rob prefers corn tortillas, and I have strong preference for flour tortillas. We were out of tortillas but really wanted tacos. Due to COVID-19, we are really doing our best to minimize trips to the grocery store. We just could not justify making a special trip out to pick up tortillas, especially considering that we had the ingredients (and tools) on hand to make corn tortillas. This post shares my thoughts on making them from scratch, as well as the recipe.

Ingredients and Supplies Needed

  • Instant Corn Masa Flour

  • Hot Water

  • Salt

  • Tortilla Press

  • Plastic Wrap

  • Non-Stick Skillet(s)

  • Paper Towels

  • Lots of Patience!

As you can see from the list above, you only need 3 ingredients to make the dough. The dough itself comes together so easily and has an interesting resemblance to Play-Doh in texture. Maybe it tastes like it too? I wouldn’t know.

This is the masa flour we used. It is a fairly popular brand that you should be able to find at common retailers. It has a fairly neutral flavor and can also be used to make fillings for tamales.

When it comes to shaping the tortillas, you absolutely need a tortilla press. If you think you can roll or press them out on your own, you are a brave soul. I honestly don’t have any suggestions for how best to accomplish this without a press. The tortilla press will save a significant amount of time and ensure even and round tortillas. They are deceptively heavy and can be purchased on Amazon if you are interested.

Plastic wrap is also essential for lining the tortilla press. Otherwise, the tortilla will be completely stuck to the press and you will have a real mess. Plus, the plastic wrap allows for easy transport to the pan and prevents tearing.

We used two non-stick skillets to help speed up the cooking process. This was the most time-consuming part of the production since each tortilla takes about 2-3 minutes to cook. When you are making upwards of 20 tortillas, you can see why this takes some time. It also requires frequent turning and a watchful eye. It’s not like putting a loaf of bread in the oven for a half hour and checking it later. We did conclude that we should have tried using a non-stick griddle due to the larger surface area. Next time…

Paper towels are needed to wrap the tortillas to prevent them from drying out after cooking them. You can stack the cooked tortillas on top of each other. They will not stick.

Closing Thoughts

Making corn tortillas from scratch is a real project and labor of love. It takes time, practice, and most importantly, patience. There were enjoyable parts of making homemade corn tortillas but it was extra challenging with a busy 9 month old baby boy. The tortillas do taste marvelous and it is rewarding to transform such simple ingredients. Plus, the are much prettier than the ones you buy at the store. For Cinco de Mayo, homemade corn tortillas are a real treat!

However, we will stick to buying corn tortillas most of the time. For the time, it is hard to justify making homemade. You can buy a 10-count package of freshly made corn tortillas at ALDI for 42 cents. Yes, 42 cents or 4.2 cents per tortilla! It about an hour and a half with both Rob and I working on them from start to finish. Our free time can be spent more wisely! Plus, there isn’t a huge taste difference between homemade and store-bought, especially when they are warmed and eaten with fillings as a taco. They are so pretty though!

I still wanted to share the recipe because we did have fun making them, and I would make them again using a griddle to save some time. The recipe is slightly adapted from the recipe on the back of the masa bag. We added a small amount of salt to improve the flavor. I also added tips that helped us and recommendations for warming them before eating. This recipe will make about 18-20 corn tortillas.

See below for the recipe and step-by-step photos!

Corn Tortillas

2 cups instant corn masa flour

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ cups hot water

In a medium bowl, combine the masa flour and salt. Pour most of the hot water over the flour and mix until thoroughly unit a soft dough is formed. If the dough is too dry, add additional water 1 tsp at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add additional masa flour. Shape into a ball.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 18-20 dough balls. They should be roughly the size of a ping-pong ball.

To press the tortillas, first line the tortilla press with two sheets of plastic wrap. Place one ball between each of the two sheets of plastic wrap and press until the tortilla is thin and about 5-inches in diameter. Do NOT press the tortilla directly on the surface of the press or it will stick. Repeat this process for each tortilla. You may reuse the same plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet or griddle to medium-high heat. The skillet is ready when water sprinkled on the surface immediately boils off. Carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic wrap and place in the hot pan. Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds on the first side. Then flip over and cook for about 1 minute. Finish cooking the tortilla with another 30 seconds on the first side. The tortilla should start to puff and will have some golden spots. Watch carefully not to burn.

Once cooked, cover and wrap the tortillas with paper towels to prevent them from drying out. Store leftover tortillas in an airtight Ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

To rewarm tortillas, place in a hot skillet and heat each side until the tortilla is softened. Tortillas may also be warmed in the microwave wrapped in a paper towel for about 20 seconds.

Step-By-Step Process

Combine the masa flour and salt:

Add most of the hot water to the masa:

Stir and add more water if needed, like in this case:

Once adding more water, the dough should look like this:

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes:

Once the dough has rested, shape into 18-20 balls:

Open your tortilla press:

Place the dough ball between the plastic wrap:

Press firmly:

Open and you will have a perfectly pressed tortilla:

Once cooked, layer the tortillas and keep between paper towels to prevent them from drying out:

Wrap in a clean towel to be extra fancy when you serve them!

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