It’s So Easy To Make Your Own Corn Tortillas

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This weekend my brain burst open like a piñata when I discovered, after much hemming and hawing, how easy it is to make your own corn tortillas. At Christmas, Craig’s parents bought me a tortilla press (which I’d put on my list) and I very matter-of-factly shelved it away when I got home, telling myself that one day, some day, I’d dig it out and use it. Then, last week, I made a trip to Grand Central Market in downtown LA (more on that later this week) and bought a bag of Maseca. Turns out that’s all I needed–along with the tortilla press–to make the most incredible corn tortillas at home. Look how easy it is.

Here’s the bag of Maseca:

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You’re going to need that to proceed. Seek out a Mexican market near you or order online.

On the bag is the recipe and it comes in different ratios depending on how many tortillas you want to make. The maseca goes into a bowl:

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You add warm water:

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Stir that around with your hand and begin kneading until the dough comes together:

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Note: you want the dough to be slightly damp; so if it’s too dry, add more water. (This makes your tortillas soft.)

Now set up your tortilla press. Line it with plastic, make a tiny ball of dough, flatten it slightly and place it on top of the plastic:

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Put plastic on top of the dough:

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Now close the top and push on the handle.

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Voila!

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Rotate it 180 degrees and press down again (just to make sure it’s really flat). That’s it, you’re done.

Now heat up a cast iron skillet until you can barely hold your hand over it. Carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic and drop it in:

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If the skillet is properly hot, the dough will start to bubble (as you see in the above picture). After 50 seconds, flip it.

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Look at that color!

Cook for 50 more seconds and your work is done. You have a warm, soft, homemade corn tortilla. Look at it on a plate.

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I’m still stunned when I think about how easy this was. To fill it, I made scrambled eggs with caramelized onion and cheddar cheese topped with pickled jalapeños (so, um, this):

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One of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a long time.

So do yourself a favor: if you love Mexican food, and don’t make it enough at home, buy a tortilla press and a bag of Maseca. You’ll never buy tortillas in a bag ever again.

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17 comments

  1. Mmmmm….
    Reminds me of my summers in Mexico with my Grandma. They look fantastic, Adam.

  2. Adam, being that you live in LA you should see if you can get fresh masa. Instant masa (i.e. Maseca) is great for those of us in areas without thriving Mexican immigrant communities but I imagine you can do significantly better. Fresh masa tortillas are alleged to be amazing… which I wouldn’t know since I live in Boston and you can’t get it anywhere around here.

  3. I use a zip top bag cut down the sides instead of plastic wrap. I find the thicker plastic layer easier to work with. I got that tip from Rick Bayless’ book.

  4. What a timely post. I was just at the market lamenting over all the additives in packaged tortillas.

  5. I just got a tortilla press for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and made my first corn tortillas over the weekend! Delicious and easy.

  6. oh, I love this idea, I will be trying that the next time I dig out my press. After reading this post I bet that will be this week!

  7. My other half uses Maseca, too. But he mixes it with a little coconut oil which improves the texture and binds of the tortilla better. That gives it a little more strength to wrap around and hold a taco bursting with wonderful flavors without tearing the tortilla. So good!

  8. I love making homemade tortillas! I don’t have a tortilla press so I use a plate! It works well and the lip on the bottom of the plate controls the thickness or thinness!

  9. I did this last night for the first time because of this post – used a glass pie plate to press the dough between the halves of a deconstructed ziploc bag. It worked pretty well! I think I need a tortilla press, tho, if I want to try it again!

  10. Today, I bought a tortilla press! I thank (and also blame) you. Yet another tasty item that I will now only want to have from scratch. Wish me luck.

  11. My husband has been making these a lot lately. A few more good tips:

    1) When mixing the masa flour, only put in some of the water (and it should be warm). It should rest for half an hour. After it has rested, mix in additional water, only 1 Tbsp at a time until you get a smooth and moist, but not sticky, texture.
    2) Use plastic grocery bags (cut to fit) instead of cling wrap.
    3) Slide the tortilla from the palm of your hand onto the skillet by flicking your wrist back as you move your hand over it.
    4) Let the tortilla rest for 5-10 seconds on one side and then quickly flip it.
    5) After 30 seconds or so, flip the tortilla one more time and it should begin to bubble up.
    6) Stack the tortillas in a towel so that they continue to steam each other for the softest corn tortillas you can imagine.

  12. OK, just started making my own and OMG! Sweet, smoky, savory Mexicans-Got-It-Goin’-On Goodness!! Can I, say, make the masa and pinch off pieces and make tortillas over, say, a couple of days, or is this a make-it-now-use-it-now thing?

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