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How to Make Corn Tortillas

Anj tortilla corn how to make

Corn tortillas used to be on the shortlist of foods I never thought I’d want to make from scratch. Like ketchup. Like butter. Like crackers. Primary foods that seem pretty great when you buy them from the grocery store, just the way they are. Plus, I am lucky to live in Chicago and you can find a Mexican market nearby selling handmade tortillas just about any time you want.

So, there was no need to make my own tortillas. Plus, they seemed complicated-ish. Right?

But then my cousin Anjie came to town. (Truthfully, Anjie is my husband’s cousin, but I have adopted her as my personal prima, because I love her so much. ) Last week, Anjie flew in from her apartment by the beach in southern California to help us cook and shoot dozens of dishes for Familia Kitchen recipes.

In her hand when she walked in the door from the airport was a handmade, wood tortilla press she picked up at her local Mexican market. It is gorgeous. It looks like a piece of sculpture.

Look at this press!

corn tortilla press
Anjie’s beautiful tortilla press in action.
Anjie-Villalobos

Anjanette Villalobos, aka my cousin Anjie, is one of the most intuitive and gifted cooks I have ever met. In her hands, salsa, tacos de papa, tortilla soup, and this green chicken pozole transform into a timeless and essential expression of their humble ingredients. Her food tastes both simple and complex in the same bite. Each dish she makes is the very best version of that comida that I’ve had. Ever.

Anjie doesn’t use measuring spoons, feels her way through cooking times and temperatures, and seems to have hundreds of Mexican recipes in her head.

Her cooking heritage comes from her mother Zelma, her abuela Pino, and their side of the family, which goes many generations deep in New Mexico. The familia has since mostly resettled in California. When Anjie lived in France some years back, she missed her family’s New Mexican and Mexican cooking cooking so much, she started making corn tortillas and tamales from scratch and kept it up when she moved back to the States.

If you, like I used to, think tortillas are hard to make, I have news. Tortillas are shockingly easy to make and press into service. Here’s why going handmade is worth your time.

Fresh-made tortillas:
• are thicker and more chewy-good
• hold taco toppings and/or sop up your favorite mole or pozole better
• taste like real corn
• have a coarser texture, which adds earthy flavor
• cost less,
and
• transport your comida to a higher level of authentic and delicioso.

I am now the lucky owner of this press (thank you, Anj). My current comida goal: become a true tortilla master, one handmade corn masa disc at a time.

Zelma and Anjie Villalobos chile relleno
My cousin Anjie Villalobos, far right, her mother Zelma, left, and three generations of their family make the New Mexican chile rellenos passed down from grandmother Pino.

Ready to make homemade tortillas like my cousin Anjie?

How to Make Corn Tortillas

3 from 14 votes
Recipe by Anjie Villalobos Cuisine: Mexican
Servings

20

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 2 masa harina

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups 1 1/2 to 2 warm water

Directions

  • Make Your Masa
  • In a large bowl mix masa harina and salt. Slowly add 1 ½ cups warm water and with a spoon or by hand mix until incorporated, adding more if the dough feels too dry. If the dough is too moist, add additional masa, one tsp at a time.
  • Knead for about 2 minutes, forming the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into approximately 20 round balls that are each 2 inches thick. Cover with a moist paper towel or kitchen towel to prevent drying.
  • Use a Tortilla Press
  • Cut 2 pieces of 8- x 8-inch parchment paper or a quart-size zip bag with the seams cut out. Using parchment paper or a plastic bag, line the bottom of the press. Place a 2-inch round dough ball in the center. Cover with a second piece of parchment paper or plastic bag side. Press down with the handle. Lift the handle, gently scoop out the tortilla and set aside. Repeat until all the masa balls are made into tortilla discs.
  • Alternative: No Tortilla Press? Use a Baking Pan
  • Use a large flat-bottom casserole dish or pie dish. Place parchment paper or a plastic bag on the bottom of a flat surface. Place a 2-inch round dough ball in the center. Top with the second piece of parchment paper or plastic. Press down with the pan and gently wiggle the sides until an even, round tortilla forms.
  • Cook Your Tortillas
  • Heat a griddle or comal to medium heat on your stove top. Place the tortilla and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, or slightly longer if the tortilla is still sticking to the pan. Once you can move the tortilla freely on the hot griddle, flip and cook for another 30 to 60 seconds on the second side.
  • Wrap tortilla in a kitchen towel and place in a tortilla warmer, folded-over tin foil or zip-top gallon-size plastic bag until ready to serve. The steam will allow the tortilla to stay warm and soften.

Notes

  • Leftover tortillas can be stored in the fridge and reheated on the griddle.
Anj tortilla corn how to make
After you mix the masa harina, water and salt, knead the dough for 2 minutes and form into a large ball. Then divide into 20 or so smaller balls of masa dough.
Anj tortilla corn how to make
Roll each small masa mound into a round 2-inch-thick ball. Each will become a tortilla.
how to make corn tortillas
Place each masa ball in the center of your tortilla press, lined above and below to prevent sticking.
how to make corn tortillas
This masa ball is ready to press.
Anjie Vilalobos makes corn tortillas
Gently lay a top sheet of parchment paper or a zip bag that has been cut apart between the masa and the press.
Anj tortilla corn how to make
And press down, firmly. Here, Anjie pushes down the tortilla lever, holding it for a second before lifting.
how to make corn tortillas
Tortilla press success.
Anj tortilla corn how to make
Thank you, Anjie. One tortilla, ready to go.
tortillas guacamole salsa
A stack of fresh corn tortillas are ready to serve, along wit guacamole, a salsa verde, and refried beans for a traditional and simply delicious Mexican feast.

Photography: Michelle Ezratty Murphy

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Suggestions and questions from our readers

  1. The best homemade corn tortillas I have ever eaten! Definitely make them in a tortilla maker to make them perfectly round and thin.

  2. I loved this post. But 1 thing I discovered is that is better to put the water, then the salt, and after that, start removing the water while spreading the corn flour. Stop pouring flour before the mix is too dry. 5 minutes of relax will end the Job itself.