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.
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.
To the masa mixture, warm-hot water is added slowly and mixed.
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.
Next up, you can either prepare your tortilla press, or use our parchment paper method that doesn’t require a press!
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.
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.
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!
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!
We hope you LOVE these tortillas. They’re:
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
- Easy Green Chile Chicken Tamales
- Grilled Corn Salad with Vegan Chipotle Ranch Dressing
- Smoky 1-Pot Refried Lentils
- 5-Minute Vegan Cashew Queso
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!
How to Make Tortillas (2 Ingredients, Oil-Free!)
- 1 cup masa harina (organic whenever possible)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 – 1 cup warm-hot water
- 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.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of salt and without optional ingredients.
*Recipe courtesy of our friend Brent!