If you can lift a bag of masa harina, you can make homemade corn tortillas and enjoy soft, toasty, corny goodness tonight! Homemade tortillas are best kept simple with basic toppings such as a strip of grilled tempeh or a spoonful of guacamole. Or serve with beans or a hearty Mexican posole. The key is to keep fresh-off-the-grill tortillas well covered to keep them warm and pliable until it’s time to eat. This recipe isn’t really too different from what’s on the bag of masa, but I see it as a way to inspire making homemade tortillas in the event you’ve never tried! Delicious with chili and other Southwestern stews, such as Quick Red Posole with Beans. Recipe from Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers* by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
Homemade Soft Corn Tortillas
Makes one dozen 5- to 6-inch tortillas
- 1 1⁄2 cups Mexican masa harina, such as MASECA brand
- 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- In a mixing bowl, combine the harina, water, and salt well to form a firm but pliable dough. If it’s too crumbly, stream in a little more water; if too moist, sift in a tiny bit more harina.
- Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Divide the dough into twelve equal portions and roll into balls. Cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel to keep moist.
- Heat a castiron skillet or griddle (avoid using nonstick) over medium high heat. Do not oil the skillet. The pan is ready when a few drops of water flicked onto its surface sizzle rapidly.
- If you’re using a tortilla press: Line the press with a single long piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper folded in half. Place a ball of dough in the center of the plastic wrap, squish down the dough, and bring down the lever to lock it in place. Alternatively, if you do not have a press, you can use two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper and a rolling pin. Place a ball of tortilla dough between the plastic and roll very thinly, less than ⅛ inch, turning the tortilla around a few times to get an even thickness.
- Now that your tortilla dough is flat, gently peel off the top layer of plastic. Flip the tortilla onto your hand, remove the second sheet of plastic, and place the tortilla in the pan. Cook on each side for 30 to 40 seconds, or until the surface of tortilla looks dry and feels mostly firm, not too doughy, when pressed. Take care not to overcook, to avoid hard, dry tortillas.
- Flip the hot, freshly cooked tortilla into a folded clean kitchen towel and cover completely with the towel to keep in the heat and steam. Continue to cook the rest of the dough and to stack and cover the tortillas.
- Serve the hot tortillas immediately. As the tortillas start to cool, they will stiffen and become more likely to crack if folded, so keep them wrapped in a clean cloth napkin or in a covered container, taking out only as many tortillas as you’re going to eat.
- Store tightly wrapped or covered in the fridge. Tortillas reheat perfectly in a microwave; just wrap in a damp paper towel and heat on high for 15 to 20 seconds, until hot and pliable.
Tip: An aluminum tortilla press makes tortillas so easy that maybe it’s tempting to skip toast at breakfast in favor of these. A quick Internet search can reveal quality tortilla presses for under ten dollars. A rolling pin and some waxed paper are fine substitutes for a press, but once you’re hooked on corn tortillas, it’s an investment that will pay for itself in endless moments of fresh tortilla joy.
- Find more of VegKitchen’s Vegan Dinner Recipes and more Burritos, Enchiladas, And Tortilla Dishes.
- Find lots more tortilla recipes in A Southwestern Supper.
*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!
I cannot get masa harina in South AFrica. What can I use instead?
Hi Liz — I'm pretty sure that there's no substitute for masa harina for making corn tortillas. Regular cornmeal or corn flour don't produce the same results. You might want to consider making corn-wheat tortillas instead, which use regular cornmeal: http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/corn-wheat-tortillas/
Sean Maggi says
You can use dried corn Liz. but you have to cook it and soak it in pickling lime before hand in order to get the propper corn. then you have to grind it with a little added water and press the dough into tortillas and slap em on the comal until they get puffy. I have made is sound alot easier than it actually is, but if you do this yourself you will never want to buy packaged tortillas again, and you will most likely not even want to use masa harina as the flavor is bland compared to grinding your own corn.
This recipe was HORRIBLE. The dough was way too wet with the proportions mentioned. Once pressed, it was tough to remove. Tasted gritty. All-around bad recipe.
Kate's Daughter says
The dough is highly dependent upon the humidity in the air. If the dough is sticky, as described by Kelanna, simply add some additional maseca to it. If it is hard to work with, the cook needs to adjust the proportions. The tortilla will not fix itself.
Worked perfectly for me with that proportions. I used colombian precooked cornmeal, not the original masa and came out delicious. Fast, yammy and gluten free!
The brand you state is GMO corn. I use Bob's Mill brand and also you can order on amazon! Important to use non gmo organic. https://www.amazon.com/Gold-Mine-Organic-Harina-Flour/dp/B00DP1ZTX4/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1465992023&sr=8-3&keywords=organic+masa+harina
Thanks, Maria — that's a good tip.
Lita Watson says
The masa harina in this recipe can be replaced by masa preparada and even white wheat flour and yellow corn flour, can't it? I see that the tortillas which are made from white wheat flour and yellow corn flour taste very great!