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How to make homemade tortillas at lynnecurry.com.

Why & How to Make Homemade Tortillas

A few months ago, I believed that making homemade tortillas was beyond reach for a regular weeknight dinner. But my friend Shari, a mother of two, told me otherwise, “We make them all the time. They’re so easy and so good!”

Still, the bag of masa harina {related but not the same as cornmeal} sat untouched in the cupboards since I’d used it to thicken chili.

For ages, I’d bought corn tortillas from a bonafide tortilleria. However, they’ve been harder to get of late and I found myself purchasing corn tortillas from the supermarket. Let’s be honest, they’re pretty terrible.

How to make homemade tortillas at lynnecurry.com.

Molly prompted me to take action one take action one taco night because she loves corn tortillas. So, I grabbed the bag, mixed it with salt and water to make a dough and let it rest while I assembled the rest of dinner. How much trouble could it really be?

That first night, my shaping technique was less than ideal. I thought I’d given away my tortilla press, so I used a rolling pin. They were misshapen, but the kids loved them.

“Make these again,” both girls implored. How can you argue with that?

Later, I learned a simple technique using a glass baking dish to press balls of the masa dough into perfect rounds. Much easier!

{My recipe in this post includes instructions with and without a tortilla press, so everyone can play. And you can find lots more ideas to use masa dough, too.}

How to make homemade tortillas at lynnecurry.com.

I found my long-lost tortilla press right there hiding in my kitchen all along. Now, homemade tortillas are a habit for weeknight suppers of tacos with refried beans and leftover roast or ground beef or just Mexican-style scrambled eggs.

I fry up leftover tortillas in hot oil until crisp for homemade tostadas. Or, I cut them into triangles for homemade tortilla chips. Just like Shari promised: So easy and so good!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Eat well.

Are you game to make any staples from scratch? Let me know in the comments below or tag a photo #lynnesforage on Instagram or Facebook.

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Homemade Tortillas with and without a Tortilla Press

To make homemade tortillas, you need just one ingredient: masa harina (masa flour). This special type of corn flour is widely available sold under the brand name Maseca. I've started using organic masa harina sold by Bob's Red Mill because I like the flavor. For any brand, it's important to let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to fully hydrate for the easiest handling and shaping. Have fun making these with the kids!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Servings 12 tortillas
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water

Instructions

To mix the masa dough:

  1. Whisk the masa harina with the salt in a mixing bowl. Add the water and stir to blend completely, then knead lightly using your hands to make a stiff but moist dough. If the dough feels crumbly and dry, add another tablespoon of water at a time. When mixed the dough will be easy to shape and will not stick to your hands, a lot like play-dough.

  2. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes for best results. Then, divide the dough into 12 equal balls (about 2 ounces each) and keep them covered while you work with one ball at a time.

  3. Preheat a griddle, cast iron if you have one, over medium-low heat before you begin making the tortillas. Have a plate lined with a cloth napkin on hand to keep finished tortillas warm.

To make tortillas with a tortilla press:

  1. Line the tortilla press with 2 squares of thick plastic. (I use 2 pint-sized ziplock bags, one for the bottom and one for the top and then I reuse them over and over.) Place a masa dough ball in the center of the press and flatten it gently into a circle about 6 inches wide.

  2. Open the press and gently lift off the top piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla over into your hand and carefully peel off the bottom plastic. (If it tears on your first try or two, you can always reform the ball and try again--no harm done.) Flip the tortilla from your palm onto the griddle. Repeat with another ball of dough while the first one cooks.

To make tortillas without a tortilla press:

  1. Have two squares of thick plastic and a clear square baking dish on hand. (I use 2 pint-sized ziplock bags that I reuse over and over.) Place one piece of plastic on the counter and center a masa dough ball on top. Place the second piece of plastic over it. Center the baking dish over the dough ball and gently press down to flatten it into a circle about 6 inches thick.

  2. Lift off the baking dish and set is aside. Gently peel off the top piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla over into your hand and carefully peel off the bottom plastic. (If it tears on your first try or two, you can always reform the ball and try again--no harm done.) Flip the tortilla from your palm onto the griddle. Repeat with another ball of dough while the first one cooks.

To cook the tortillas:

  1. Cook the tortillas for about 1 minute on the first side, then flip and cook for about 1 minute more. Flip a second time for about 20 seconds and then transfer it to the napkin-lined plate. Cover to keep warm while you repeat with the remaining tortillas. 

Recipe Notes

Homemade tortillas are best when freshly made, but you can reheat them on a hot griddle. Or, fry them in hot vegetable oil until crisp to make homemade tostadas.

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