Corn is a staple through the Americas and used in many ways, from the arepas of Venezuela and Columbia, and of course, to the tortillas in Mexico. They are also really easy to make, unless you are making them from scratch the traditional way, and even then, it’s not too difficult.
For both versions, you need a tortilla press. It doesn’t have to be a traditional one. You can use a strong flat bottom plate, or, if you don’t care about them being completely round, you can use a rolling pin or even a wine bottle.
So, here are two ways to make corn tortillas. The easy way from already prepared masa, and also from scratch.
Corn tortillas from masa
Prepared masa harina can be found in most grocery stores in North America, and the brand I am most familiar with is Maseca. It is a good product, and easy to work with. If you’re feeling fancy, you can order red or blue masa on Amazon. Either way, the procedure is the same.
It is important to note that you cannot use corn flour, polenta, or other corn “flours”to make good Mexican tortillas. They wont taste the same, and will likely just fall apart. Just trust me on this, I have tried so many different ways, and none were the same, though, some could be used to make arepas, or other things.
Step 1. Make the dough (aka Masa Harina)
Below we have link to two ways to make the dough. The first is the “easy” way using masa harina that has already been prepared from brands like Maseca, but doesn’t quite reach the full potential of a made from scratch dough. We are including both versions, because in some countries, it is nearly impossible to find already prepared masa harina.
I like to add a bit of pork lard to the mix (if you haven’t already done so in the dough recipe) because it adds flavor and flexibility. I add about 2 tablespoons to the dough mixture and work it in by hand.
To make the tortillas, simply roll the dough into equally sized balls, then press between two plastic sheets (like two sides of a ziplock or wax paper) using a tortilla press, books, or whatever you have available. You want the tortillas to be just under 1/8th inch (2-3mm) and about 5 inches wide (125mm).
Heat a skillet to high, and add tortillas according to how many will fit comfortably. Cook on one side for about 30 seconds, or until it is starting to brown in spots. Then flip and cook on the other side for about the same amount of time or until they start to brown in spots. Don’t worry about bubbles. In fact, that is a good sign that your tortillas are well made!
Remove and wrap in a towel. The tortillas will continue to steam and cook all the way thru.
Serve the bottom tortillas first, and freeze any left over tortillas, or store in the fridge for a couple days.