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Know Your Taco: Make Corn Tortillas from Scratch


It's a slippery slope once you start down the DIY path. First, you probably bake a batch of cookies, right? Then, you might stop buying dinners that come in cans or boxes. Next, perhaps you pickle a vegetable or two. When you discover just how simple it is to make healthier, cheaper and tastier food on your own, the possibilities are endless—even when it comes to something as confounding as a corn tortilla.

Americans regularly bake breads, muffins, biscuits with little issue. But the corn tortilla is not as common unless you were raised in a household where making tortillas was practiced. Chances are, you've likely got little understanding of what it actually is—let alone how to make it.

The corn tortilla is a staple in Mexican culture where corn has been a treasured crop for centuries. While many commercially available corn tortillas can contain preservatives, added oils and excessive amounts of salt, a homemade tortilla can give you a traditional taste without all the yucky stuff.

To make corn tortillas, you'll need a tortilla press, which you can find at most kitchen appliance stores. They can run you between $20 and $100. If you plan on making tortillas frequently, it might not be a bad idea to invest in a fairly decent model.

You'll also need masa harina, which is a fine corn flour that's been treated with lime. It differs from regular corn flour and really gives you the taste and consistency you're likely most familiar with. Bob's Red Mill makes one and if you can't find it at your local health-minded store, you can easily purchase it online.

Corn Tortillas

Makes about two dozen


2 cups masa harina
11/2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
Safflower oil (for cooking)


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From the Organic Authority Files

Prepare your tortilla press. You'll want to line it with wax or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add water to salt and masa harina and begin kneading the dough together. You're aiming for a Play-Doh consistency; it should feel dry but not crumbly. Adjust water or flour as needed, adding more slowly.

From the larger dough ball, tear off a piece and roll it into a small ball, about the size of golf ball and flatten in the press. If it crumbles or sticks, you'll need to add more water or flour, respectively.

Lightly oil a large cast-iron skillet or a flat griddle (use a pastry brush) and bring to medium-high heat. Cook each tortilla about 1-2 minutes until the edges start to curl up. Flip and cook about 30 seconds on the other side.

Serve immediately or let cool and store. Tortillas freeze well. Enjoy!

Need ideas for what to put in your tortillas? Try these recipes:

Pumpkin Tacos

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: eliduke

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