Corn Tortillas

I’ve only ever had homemade tortillas once. I remember the day that Nacho Man met me after a full day of college classes with something wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a Ziploc baggie.

“Here,” he said, grinning. “You gotta try this.”

I could feel that the bag was still warm, but what isn’t warm to the touch in Tucson nine months out of the year? I opened the bag and found two small flour tortillas wrapped in the paper towel.

“My nana just made them,” he told me.

The taste of them was unreal. Light and buttery, they rivaled anything we could get at the really great tortilla factories around town. And that they were homemade blew my mind. I’d eaten lots of homemade food, but never a homemade tortilla. We’d always bought our Mission brand tortillas at the grocery store.

“Mission brand,” Nacho Man once said with a disdainful sniff. In that moment, I understood why.

I can never hope to replicate those tortillas, but nevertheless, there’s something about homemade tortillas that just makes a meal. And they’re quick and easy to make. While I balked at the idea of paying six dollars for a bag of masa harina, that bag is going to last me well past the expiration date on the store brand tortillas I’m always throwing out.

All you need is 1 cup of masa harina mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2/3 cup of water. You can also add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.

Pour the water into the flour/salt mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. After a couple of minutes, when the dough has come together, roll it into 8 balls. Cover the balls with a damp paper towel.

If you don’t have a tortilla press, place one dough ball between two pieces of wax paper, and flatten it. I find that a cast iron skillet works best, but a good old wooden rolling pin also does the job just fine.

Carefully peel the paper away from the corn tortilla and set it on a cast iron skillet that’s been warming on medium-high heat. Leave it be for about one minute, then flip it and let it cook for about another minute.

That’s all there is to it. Keep the tortillas covered with a paper towel until you’re ready to eat.

Need some ideas for filling? We like our version of picadillo.

Corn Tortillas

makes 8 tortillas roughly 5-6 inches in diameter


1 cup masa

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lime juice (optional)


1. Mix masa and salt in a medium sized bowl.

2. Add water, and mix well using a wooden spoon.

3. Divide dough into 8 equal portions and roll into balls. Cover balls with a damp paper towel.

4. Cut two pieces of wax paper a little larger than 6 inches in diameter. Sandwich a ball of dough between the wax paper.

5. Use a tortilla press, heavy skillet, or rolling pin to flatten the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, then recover in damp paper towel.

6. Set a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Place one dough ball on the skillet for about one minute, then flip once and cook for about one minute.

7. Remove from heat and cover in a clean paper towel.

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