Learn how to make these homemade corn tortillas with only three ingredients — corn flour, water, and salt. This foolproof recipe is easier than you think!
What Are Corn Tortillas?
Corn tortillas are thin, round flatbreads made with masa harina (corn flour), water, and salt. These tortillas have a delicious toasted corn flavor and are soft and pliable. They are traditionally part of Mexican cuisine and are a popular base for many Mexican-inspired dishes.
Corn tortillas date back thousands of years ago to ancient Mexico where they were staples in the Mayan and Aztec diets. Mayan legend claims corn tortillas were first made as a gift by a peasant who wanted to feed his hungry king. These corn tortillas are certainly fit for a king, yet simple enough for anyone to make and enjoy!
Fun fact: Corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free!
Corn Tortilla Video
How To Make Corn Tortillas From Scratch
- Make the dough: Combine the corn flour and salt in a medium bowl, then slowly add hot water while mixing. Mix until an even dough forms, then knead it with your hands for about three minutes, or until it is no longer sticky and soft to the touch.
- Rest the dough: Cover the dough and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
- Shape and press the dough: Form balls of dough about the size of two tablespoons. Place the dough balls between pieces of parchment paper, then flatten the balls with a rolling pin or tortilla press.
- Cook the tortillas: On a preheated pan, cook the tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side.
- Keep the tortillas warm: Keep the cooked tortillas warm in a tortilla warmer or loosely wrapped in a towel until ready to serve. Enjoy!
Hot tip: A medium-sized scoop is perfect for portioning out the tortilla dough. It’s a handy tool that makes it easy to create similar sized tortillas.
Masa Harina vs Corn Flour vs Cornmeal
Masa harina, corn flour, and cornmeal are often confused with each other. While they are all made from milled corn, they are different flours and are not always interchangeable. For an authentic corn tortilla flavor, we recommend this brand of masa harina, Meseca corn flour.
- Masa harina: Masa harina is a Spanish term that means “corn flour.” Unlike regular corn flour, masa harina goes through a nixtamalization process which the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations created. The procedure treats corn kernels with calcium hydroxide (a lime solution) to remove the hulls, resulting in more readily available nutrients and easier digestion. For the most authentic corn tortilla flavor, we recommend masa harina.
- Corn flour: Corn flour is milled from regular dried whole kernels, not nixtamalized corn. This finely textured flour is okay to use in corn tortillas, but masa harina has more depth of flavor.
- Cornmeal: Cornmeal is made from milled corn as well, but is coarsely ground and has a gritty texture. It is not ideal to use in corn tortillas.
Want it colorful? Use white, yellow, or blue Maseca corn flour to make tortillas different colors.
Tips For Perfect Corn Tortillas
Homemade tortillas can be tricky to get perfect on the first try. Follow these tips to get as close to perfect as possible. With continual hands-on practice, your corn tortillas will become more and more perfect each time.
- Measure the flour properly: Measure the flour carefully by spooning it into the measuring cup rather than scooping it up with the cup. Proper flour measurement is important to achieve the best texture for the dough.
- Use a mixer: If you choose to knead the dough with a mixer, use a dough hook and knead on medium-low for about four to five minutes.
- Rest the dough: Rest the dough for at least 20 minutes. Resting it allows the dough to absorb moisture, resulting in more pliable dough.
- Use parchment paper: Layer the dough balls between pieces of parchment paper before placing it in the tortilla press or flattening it out with a rolling pin. The non-stick parchment paper keeps the raw tortillas from sticking to one another.
- Keep the tortillas warm: Keep the tortillas warm in a tortilla warmer or loosely wrapped in a clean kitchen towel, which will also help keep the tortillas from drying out.
Ways To Serve
The delicious toasted corn flavor of these corn tortillas transports you into Latin America with each bite. Use these tortillas as the perfect base in these Mexican-inspired dishes.
- Tacos: Use the corn tortillas as a shell in these flavorful tacos — grilled chicken street tacos, carne asada street tacos, or ground beef tacos.
- Fajitas: If you prefer the flavors of sautéed veggies and juicy protein, load up the fillings in shrimp fajitas, steak fajitas, or chicken fajitas into these corn tortillas.
- Burrito: Use the corn tortilla to make these delicious taquitos-inspired crispy chicken burrito.
- Salads: For a refreshing salad, use the corn tortilla as a bowl base for chicken tostada salad. Or, pair the tortillas as a side with Mexican street corn salad and black bean and corn salsa salad.
- Tortilla chips: Whenever you serve corn tortillas, make sure to serve homemade tortilla chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo to make it the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
Storage & Reheating
Corn tortillas are always great to have on hand, so make an extra batch. Store the leftovers to have them readily available for your next Mexican-inspired meal.
Storing Corn Tortillas
- Short term: Store the tortillas in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. The closed containers prevent the tortillas from drying out.
- Long-term: Store the tortillas in the freezer for up to three months. Layer the cooled tortillas between parchment paper and place in a freezer-friendly, airtight container.
Reheating Corn Tortillas
- Reheat on a skillet: For the best results, reheat refrigerated corn tortillas on a heated skillet over medium-high heat. Cook each side for about 15-30 seconds or until heated through.
- Reheat in the microwave: For a super quick option, reheat the tortillas in a microwave. Cover them with a damp paper towel and cook at short intervals until heated through.
Hot tip: Defrost the frozen tortillas overnight in the fridge before reheating.
More Tortilla Recipes
- Easy Homemade Tortilla Recipe — A flour version of homemade, delicious tortillas
- Baked Tortilla Chips — Crunchy tortilla chips that are baked instead of fried
- Philly Cheese Steak Wrap — Ground beef, veggies, and gooey cheese wrapped in a tortilla
- Shrimp Quesadillas — A quesadilla full of sautéed veggies and shrimp with melted cheese
- 2 cups Maseca Corn Flour
- 1 1/2 cups hot water (up to 2 cups)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- In a mixing bowl, combine the Maseca corn flour and salt. Add the hot water a little at a time to the bowl, mixing it with a whisk or spoon. Mix until an evenly incorporated dough is formed; add a bit more water if needed.
- Then knead the dough with your hands for about three minutes or until it is soft to the touch but no longer sticky, similar to the texture of playdough.
- Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel or paper towel. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes. Scoop up two tablespoons of the dough and shape them into balls.
- Place the dough balls between parchment paper and flatten them with a rolling pin or a tortilla press.
- Preheat a pan to medium-high and cook the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side. If the tortilla puffs up, that's a good thing! Keep them warm in a tortilla warmer or loosely wrapped in a towel until ready to serve. Enjoy.