How to Make Tortillas (2 Ingredients, Oil-Free!)

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Plate of homemade corn tortillas made without a tortilla press

Our love for Mexican food is real, and it was only a matter of time before we started making our own corn tortillas from scratch since store-bought can be so hit-and-miss.

After much experimentation (and consulting friends for tips) we settled on this easy recipe that’s not only easy to make but also easy to remember!

Our rough formula is a 1:1 masa harina to water ratio, plus a pinch of salt. That’s it! Let us show you how it’s done.

Water, masa harina, and sea salt for making homemade oil-free corn tortillas

Origins of Corn Tortillas

It is believed that the first corn tortillas were created in Mesoamerica around 10,000 BC. They were a staple for Aztecs and Mayans and have since become a staple in Mexican cuisine and beyond! (source)

Our version strays a bit from traditional with the addition of salt and the use of a rolling pin and parchment paper. For a more traditional recipe, you could try this recipe from Mely’s Mexico in My Kitchen.

How to Make Tortillas

Making the tortilla dough starts with mixing masa harina with a little bit of salt.

Masa harina is corn that has been cooked and soaked in lime water, then ground into flour. So using cornmeal here won’t provide the same effect.

Mixing the masa harina for our tutorial on How to Make Tortillas

To the masa mixture, warm-hot water is added slowly and mixed.

Adding water to a bowl of masa harina for homemade corn tortillas

You are looking for a Play-Doh-like texture. It should be moist but not so wet that it sticks to your hands when forming.

Wooden spoon and a ball of corn tortilla dough in a mixing bowl

Next up, you can either prepare your tortilla press, or use our parchment paper method that doesn’t require a press!

Holding a circle of corn tortilla dough for our tutorial on How to Make Tortillas

When you’re ready to make a tortilla, scoop out 1 ½ tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball (we like using this scoop).

Then slightly press between your palms to form the dough into a slight disc. The disc then goes into the tortilla press or on one half of the piece of parchment paper.

Ball of corn tortilla dough on a piece of parchment paper to show How to Make Tortillas without a tortilla press

If using a tortilla press, close the handle and press into a tortilla.

Otherwise, fold the other half of the parchment paper over the dough. Then use the palm of your hand in a pounding motion to press the dough into a circle shape.

With a rolling pin, concentrate pressure in the center of the dough and lightly roll the dough out from the center to prevent the edges from getting too thin.

Using a rolling pin to roll out corn tortilla dough

You want to roll it out to about 1/16-inch thick. It should be thin enough that it doesn’t crack when folded, but thick enough that it isn’t difficult to handle.

This may take some experimentation to get the thickness just right. Deep breaths — you’re doing great!

Corn tortilla on a piece of parchment paper for our tutorial on How to Make Tortillas

Once you’ve formed the tortilla, it’s time to cook it! We like to use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet to prevent the tortilla from sticking to the pan.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and once it’s very hot, add the uncooked tortilla. Cook for about 30-45 seconds. Then flip and cook an additional 30-45 seconds.

At this point, the tortilla should be slightly browned. If not, you can flip it again and cook for 15-30 seconds more. But avoid overcooking as this can cause them to become stiff. The sign of a perfect tortilla is when it puffs up after the first or second flip. If this doesn’t happen, don’t sweat it. It will still taste good. Keep experimenting!

Using a metal spatula to flip a homemade corn tortilla

We hope you LOVE these tortillas. They’re:

Tender
Sturdy
Flexible
Tasty
Versatile
Customizable
& Delicious!

They’re perfect for Mexican-inspired dishes! Make tacos with chicken, fish (recipe coming soon!), walnut taco meat, or quinoa taco meat. Or use in enchiladas, with tortilla soup, or to make homemade chili cheese fritos. The possibilities are endless!

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Platter of our Easy 2-Ingredient Corn Tortillas

How to Make Tortillas (2 Ingredients, Oil-Free!)

EASY corn tortillas with just 2 ingredients required! Tips for making with and without a tortilla press. The perfect side for Mexican night!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Platter of homemade tortillas for our tutorial on How to Make Corn Tortillas
4.54 from 15 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 11 (Tortillas)
Course Helpful How-to
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 2-3 Days

Ingredients

  • 1 cup masa harina (organic whenever possible)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 – 1 cup warm-hot water

Instructions

  • Begin by adding masa and salt to a mixing bowl and mixing to combine. Then slowly add the warm-hot water and mix. You’re looking for a Play-Doh-like texture that is moist but not so wet that it sticks to your hands when forming. NOTE: You may not use all the water. If it is still too dry, add a bit more water. If it gets too wet, dry it out with a bit more masa.
  • Cover and let rest for 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry). Once rested, either ready your tortilla press or, if you don’t have a tortilla press, get out a sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half (this is what you will use as a makeshift tortilla press).
  • Scoop out a 1 ½ Tablespoon amount of masa dough (we like this scoop) and roll into a ball. Then gently press between your palms to form it into a disc. At this point, it is either ready for your tortilla press, or you can place the disc on one half of the parchment paper and fold the other half over it to cover.
  • Use the palm of your hand in a pounding motion over the parchment paper to press dough into a circle shape. Then use a rolling pin, concentrating pressure in the center of the dough to lightly roll out from the center (this helps it not get too thin or spread too fast) until it is not paper thin (that will make it difficult to transfer) but about 1/16 inch thick. You can play around with the thickness to your preference. Too thin and it’s difficult to handle raw. Too thick and it’s more likely to crack when folded. Play around and be patient!
  • Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat (we recommend a well-seasoned cast iron). Once pan is hot, add the uncooked tortilla and cook until the edges start to lift away (about 30-45 seconds). Then flip and cook an additional 30-45 seconds. If both sides appear slightly browned, it’s ready! For more well-done tortillas, flip again and cook an additional 15-30 seconds. Repeat this process until all tortillas are cooked.
    The sign of a perfect tortilla is when it puffs up after the first or second flip. If this doesn't happen, don't sweat it. It will still taste good. Keep experimenting!
    NOTE: When overcooked, the tortillas can become stiff. You can keep them warm by stacking and covering with a clean, dry dish towel until serving.
  • Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or the freezer for 1 month. Best when fresh. Reheat in the microwave.

Video

Notes

*This recipe is not a traditional method, but is an inspired version. 
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of salt and without optional ingredients.
*Recipe courtesy of our friend Brent!

Nutrition (1 of 11 servings)

Serving: 1 tortilla Calories: 40 Carbohydrates: 8.7 g Protein: 0.7 g Fat: 0.4 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 53 mg Potassium: 0 mg Fiber: 1.1 g Sugar: 0 g Vitamin A: 36.36 IU Vitamin C: 0 mg Calcium: 7.39 mg Iron: 0.26 mg

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  1. Marta says

    Hi! Sorry, but I don’t know what is masa harina, Is it cornmeal like as ‘PAN’ for make arepas?
    Thanks!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Masa harina is corn that has been cooked and soaked in lime water, then ground into flour.

  2. Janet says

    We love these. I have purchased a press and taco night is not quite as quick and easy as it used to be but it is worth it!
    Not to say these are hard to make, but it does require more prep time than the store bought ones. :)

  3. Louise Sauvanaud says

    Very satifying to do! Healthy & simple homemade tortillas.
    Did the parchment paper technique and took a bowl to cut the dough into one same and consistent circle.
    Made 9 little tortillas.
    Will definitely experiment next time and perhaps make tortilla chips!

  4. Danielle says

    Wow. These were amazing and so easy to make. We had some weirdly shaped tortillas but they were super yummy and held up better than any of the store-bought ones we have tried. Thanks for sharing the recipe! We look forward to trying it again soon.

  5. Stephanie says

    This is a KICK ASS recipe!!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!! I added in spices to try different flavours. Smoked paprika, Rosemary, tumeric, etc.

  6. Malgo says

    Hello! I am a reader from Poland and I love your blog. This is the first recipe that was a bit of a trouble for me so far that I cooked with you :) The dough didn’t want to stick at all, but I didn’t use masa harina, but corn flour as we don’t really have those special flours for Mexican food in regular shops in Europe, at least I never saw them in supermarkets be it in Poland, France, UK, Italy or Germany. They are probably available in Mexican stores I think though. I added a bit of wheat flour and it started to stick, so I am just leaving this post for European readers who might encounter the same kind of issue with the flour that I had. After the addition of wheat flour – it was delicious, sticked and rolled perfectly, so in overall I think the recipe is very good!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Malgo, thanks for sharing your experience. We haven’t tried with those flours and would recommend sticking with masa harina for best results here.

    • Juliana says

      Malgo, I found Pan masa harina in an international shop in Hungary, and you can find it too in Amazon Germany (tho more expensive), or maybe in international shops for expats in the bigger cities :)

  7. Amy says

    I’m surprised how easy it was to make and tasted better than store bought. my family wants bigger tortilla so I will increase from 1 cup of mesa to 1 1/4 cup. thank you!

  8. Esperanza Rodriguez says

    The Mexican way the masa (dough) should be more moist and the tortillas thinner. When they are ready on the comal or skillet, they need to puff up like fluffy pillows. That’s how to know they are done.

  9. Holly says

    I didn’t realize how simple it was to make my own tortillas! These taste so much better than store-bought, plus the cost for a whole bag of masa is about the same price as it would have been for 12 store-bought local organic tortillas. These tortillas also hold up much better for the taco fillings – I always find that the tortillas I buy tend to break, and these were so much more sturdy. The first time I made tortillas, I thought it could’ve used a little more salt, so the next time I added a scant 1 tsp of salt. I also came out with 8 tortillas. So fresh, flavorful, and delicious! A game-changer for taco night :)

  10. Shannon says

    I’m tired of store bought tortillas that are too doughy or seem to have an endless shelf-life. What’s with that?! So I decided to give your recipe a try; plus it looked pretty easy. Wow! Simple and flavorful! Now when I make the effort to use delicious ingredients for tacos, the quality of my tortillas will be at the same level. I’ll admit, my 1st effort produce funny shaped tortillas, but they tasted fresh and yummy! I’m doubling the recipe next time. Thanks for all your videos and great recipes!

  11. Amanda says

    Yum! SO much better than even the best store-bought corn tortilla I’ve had. I found that I needed 3/4 cup of warm water. The first time I made these, I made the suggested 11 tortillas, but found them to small for our taste. So, the second batch, I made 8 of them and liked the size much better (to divide into 8 equal pieces, I formed the dough into a ball, cut in quarters, then cut each quarter in half – no measuring required). The hands-on time totaled about 20 minutes, which seems reasonable given how tasty they are. Thanks, MB!

  12. Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

    Hi Jayne, we’re not sure which recipe you are referring to, would you mind commenting on that recipe so that we can better direct our answer?

  13. June says

    Looks great!
    I am always afraid to use my cast iron skillet as I don’t know how to clean it. Can you please offer advice on how to clean a cast iron skillet?
    Tortillas coming up!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi June, we recommend cleaning with a scrub brush with hot water and no soap. Then dry with a paper towel and use a bit of avocado oil and a paper towel to coat. Hope that helps!

  14. annette says

    I would definitely recommend seeking out organic masa harina as otherwise it will undoubtedly be GMO

  15. nikki says

    I finally got myself some cast iron skillets! I seem to remember you making a how-to guide on how to season and properly clean them etc. I cannot find this though searching the site or google. Do you have that link available? Cant wait to make tortillas!

  16. Karla Olivas-Giner says

    Really?? Something new for you ?something incredible? this is the way Mexican tortillas have been made forever. No big news…

    • Ema says

      Most people have never made their own tortillas and don’t know how easy they are. This was news for me. And yes, incredible how simply and easy they are and how good they are at the same time. :)

      • Ellie L. says

        I have made wonderful tortillas before, but they have always used some form of oil, so I’m excited to try it without! I usually stack mine inside a Dutch oven with a kitchen towel inside it, covering after adding each new one to the pile-it releases a tiny bit of steam and keeps them moist.

  17. Ashley says

    This recipe comes in perfect timing!!! I bought masa harina a few weeks ago and decided that instead of learning how to make sourdough bread (the starter is still in the fridge!) I would make tortillas. Everything went well except the rolling – they tasted delicious but were totally misshapen, thin in some parts, fat in others….we ate them anyway but I wanted to master this! So yesterday I was going to attempt and then changed my mind. But today I get this recipe in my email so its a sign for me to try again! Thank you as ever for your amazing recipes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      A tortilla press is a cheap and easy way to fix this problem. But watch the video again to watch the rolling technique!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      We don’t count water as an ingredient. You can learn more about how we categorize our recipes here!

  18. lynn says

    I love that you bring ideas right to my INBOX,
    I just was thinking how much I miss tortillas! and here is your amazing idea. What I’d like to know is do you have an alternative flour? Corn is something that I’m not able to eat:(

  19. Amy says

    I can’t wait to try this! My husband has recently gone GF and the store bought corn tortillas leave a lot to be desired. I’m a native Texan now living in the Portland area, and good Mexican food is hard to find here. Thank you for helping me to step up my game!

  20. Christie Tenorio says

    Just wanted to add a tip. Wrap the finished tortillas in a dish towel while you continue preparing them. They will stay warm without getting soggy

      • Rebecca says

        To make flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas, what do you recommend? Is it as simple as just swapping the masa harina for all-purpose white flour?

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hmm, not sure about that. It’s been a minute since I’ve made flour tortillas. I’d say search for another recipe for that.

  21. Kelly says

    I find tortillas one of those things worth the small effort to be homemade!

    For others without a tortilla press, I use a pot or a glass round Tupperware to shape them. Also, because I am too cheap for parchment paper, I use two large plastic bags as the non-stick layers.