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Corn Tortillas

main corn tortilla photo

For many, there is only one when it comes to tortillas—the corn tortilla. The corn tortilla is the staple of Mexican cuisine and particularly Mexican tacos. They are commonly found in food truck tacos and are generally the tortilla of choice for classic dishes like juevos rancheros and enchiladas. It is typically considered the more “authentic” tortilla, perhaps because it historically predates the flour tortilla, but probably because of its association with “traditional” or “authentic” Mexican cuisine of the Oaxacan region (see “the authenticity debate”), but these are largely matters of taste and opinion.

The corn tortilla has other benefits too—like having fewer ingredients and being less caloric than flour tortillas. Masa Harina, the corn flour used to make corn tortillas, does not contain gluten, so our gluten-free friends can eat them! The drawback, if we have to gripe, is that corn tortillas are slightly less versatile than flour tortillas: the difficulty in making quesadilla or burrito-sized corn tortillas would be extreme.

Caveat Empor - the homemade corn tortilla definitely takes practice (which is why I advocate starting with the more flexible flour tortilla), so you will need patience and probably a few attempts before getting your technique down. Once you do, though, you're sure to find the corn tortilla an irresistible treat for tacos and other dishes.

Corn Tortilla Tools

Corn tortillas require relatively few tools and ingredients. But you will need the following:

  • Measuring tools
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Fork
  • Tortilla Press or Rolling Pin
  • Cast Iron Skillet or Gridle
corn tortilla tools corn tortilla tools

Corn Tortilla Recipe

This recipe yields 8 corn tortillas. You will only need two ingredient: Masa Harina corn flower and warm water. Specifically, you'll need:

  • 1 ⅓ cups of Masa Harina
  • ½ cup of warm water

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Approximate Calories for one Corn Tortilla: 62 calories

  1. Carefully measure your Masa harina and place it in a mixing bowl.
  2. Measure your water and heat it until it is warm but not approaching boiling. Add the water to the mixture.
  3. Mix the Masa and water with a fork until the mixture has mostly bound together.
  4. corn tortilla recipe step 1
  5. Sprinkle some Masa on a dry surface and turn out your mixture. Gather the mixture together and form into a ball. The dough ball should be springy but not too damp. Consider wetting your hands with water while forming the mixture to prevent it from being too dry.
  6. corn tortilla recipe step 2
  7. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and cover. Set aside for 15 - 30 minutes.
  8. corn tortilla recipe step 3
  9. Use a pastry slicer to divide the dough into six equal pieces.
  10. corn tortilla recipe step 4
  11. Form the dough into a ball and flatten with your hand. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough out into a 4 inch disk.
  12. corn tortilla recipe step 5
  13. For a tortilla press, place plastic wrap on both sides of the press. Put the dough ball in the center of the press and firmly press down on the handle.
  14. Heat a cast iron skillet and place the tortilla in the skillet. Allow to heat for about 30 seconds and flip. Place the cooked tortilla in a tortilla holder.
  15. corn tortilla recipe step 6

Tips for Forming the Corn Tortilla

The biggest problem forming corn tortillas is that they fall apart. Developing the finesse to form them while rolling takes time, but to help solve these common problems here are a few tips:

  • Normally, when a corn tortilla doesn't hold together it is too dry. Try moistening your hands with water when forming each tortilla ball to prevent the tortilla from separating while you press or roll it.
  • While rolling corn tortillas, don't use the handles found on most rolling pins. This creates too much pressure and often causes the tortilla to break. Instead, apply pressure to the top of the roller and not the sides. That way, you apply less pressure and allow the tortilla to be rolled out more evenly and without breaking.
  • Many find the use of a tortilla press essential for forming consistent tortillas.