Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade Soft Corn Tortillas in Three Easy Steps

I used to think I didn't like corn tortillas.  That's because I was eating those store-bought ones that are so dry I could barely swallow without taking a glass of water.  Then I went to El Salvador with my husband (then boyfriend) and ate the homemade ones they eat all the time.  My opinion changed, and I couldn't get enough.

Fast forward a few years.  We figured out about my son's gluten issues when he was 18 months.  At 2 years, we took him to visit my husband's family in El Salvador.  He devoured tortillas like he hadn't eaten food in weeks.  Loved them.  So much so, that I figured I should learn how to make them. 

Hoped it wasn't complicated.  It's not.  3 ingredients.  No special equipment required, although a tortilla press makes them thinner.  I just got  a tortilla press as a gift this Christmas.  I've been making tortillas for two years without it, so trust me when I say it's not a necessity. 

There are a few different styles of tortillas, used in different ways.  The really thin, flat ones are used for things like tacos, fajitas or burritos.  Basically a vehicle for holding other ingredients.  Then there are the thicker ones, smaller and fatter, that are pretty much eaten like the equivalent of a slice of bread accompanying a meal.  It adds substance, soaks up juices, can be used to shovel food in.  Both kinds are made with the exact same ingredients, just with a slightly different technique.  I've included instructions for both below.

Approx. 16 tortillas

2 cups Masa (corn flour)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 1/2 cups water.


1- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  It should hold together when pressed.  If not, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Divide the dough into 16 balls.  Cover the bowl with a warm, wet towel to stop the dough from drying out.

2- For thin, flat, tortillas:  Take a ball and place it between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper.  If using a tortilla press, push down on the handle, then release.  If not, use a frying pan of other hard, flat object to flatten the dough. 

**If you want your tortillas even thinner and a bit bigger, take a rolling pin and roll each one out, still between pieces of plastic/parchment.  You can also make fewer dough balls and have fewer tortillas, but bigger ones.

For thicker, fatter tortillas (that aren't bendable): Place the dough in the palm of one hand, and press down on it with the other.  Continue pressing and shaping until the desired size and thickness are achieved.

3- Cook each tortilla in a non-stick frying pan or pancake skillet.  No need to grease the pan.  Cook over medium high heat, approx. 2 min. per side, or until the surface is no longer moist.  Transfer tortillas to a plate or bowl and cover with a towel to keep moist. 

If you want to freeze some for later, store in freezer bags separated by a layer of wax or parchment paper.  Defrost in the fridge or on the counter and gently warm before eating. We pop ours in the toaster, but they can also be reheated in the microwave or oven.  They dry out quickly, so they are best eaten the day they are made, or after being frozen right away.

Tortilla Press
Tortilla Cooker (basically a non stick frying pan.  I got this for Christmas too.)

Thin tortilla taco
Breakfast with thicker tortillas


  1. Hi Kathleen, thanks so much for this post. It really makes the process seem so doable, when in the past I've been a little apprehensive about trying. Once I get my hands on some masa, I'm definitely going to make these!

  2. I didn't know there was a difference between Corn Flour (Masa) and corn flour (corn starch here in Australia). You can imagine what I ended up with. hahaha