How to Make Perfect Homemade Corn Tortillas (Step by Step)

Updated May 2020.

Homemade tortillas anyone?? Nothing says home to me like fresh tortillas. I’ve been helping my mom make tortillas for as long as I can remember. My first responsibility in the kitchen ever was rolling the masa into bolitas and … actually when I go home I’m still the bolita-roller. So I have 20-some years of experience to share when it comes to tortilla-making.

Making tortillas at home is a very simple process but getting a feel for the texture of the masa and the timing can take a little practice. But I’m here to walk you through it and show you my favorite tips and tricks.

Why make homemade tortillas?

Nothing beats the flavor and texture of a fresh tortilla. A lot of people think they prefer flour tortillas because they are softer, but that’s usually because they are sticking to storebought tortillas. If you feel kinda “meh” about corn tortillas right now I beg you to get away from the store bought tortillas and give these a try. We always think of corn tortillas as being crumbly and dry, but if you make them at home you will get a thicker, softer tortilla. Plus the flavor is fresher and you can control the size and thickness.

So what do you need?

  • Corn masa (like maseca)

  • Salt

  • Water

  • A skillet (cast iron works best) or comal

  • A tortilla press (you can sub this for a rolling pin but that will make the process longer)

  • Wax paper or plastic wrap

How to make corn tortillas at home:

Step 1:

Measure out equal parts corn masa and water. To serve four people I recommend 1 cup of each.

Step 2:

Place the masa harina in a mixing bowl with a generous pinch of salt.

Step 3:

Add half the water to the masa harina and begin to mix. You can do this by hand or with a stand mixer. Once that water is incorporated, slowly add the rest of the water and continue mixing. It’s important not to add all the water at once, because it almost always leads to a dough that is too wet and sticky.

Step 4:

Continue mixing until all the water is incorporated. If it looks like the one on the left you’ve added too much water and you should add more masa one tablespoon at a time until it looks like the one on the right.

(see below)

Step 5:

Now this next part is my specialty! Roll the dough into little bolitas. For an average sized tortilla you want bolitas a little smaller than golf balls. Like so (see below)


Step 6:

Time to smash the bolitas! This is great for relieving stress 😉 I highly highly recommend using a tortilla press and lining it with plastic wrap or wax paper. Or you will wind up with a mess to clean up and a broken tortilla.

You can also use a rolling pin. In this case, place the bolita between two sheets of wax paper and roll into a thin disc. The wax paper is important to keep the masa from sticking!

Step 7:

Heat a skillet or comal over medium heat. Do not add oil. If your dough isn’t too wet you shouldn’t have problems with sticking.

Step 8:

Add the flattened tortilla to the dry pan. Let it cook undisturbed. You will know it’s time to flip it when the edges start to look more dry and start to pull away from the pan just slightly.

Step 9:

Flip your tortilla! Allow it to cook on this second side for a minute or two.

Step 10:

Flip your tortilla back to the original side! Flatten the tortilla down with a spatula. If you got the timing right, your tortilla should start to puff up soon after this. The puff means your tortilla is ready!

Step 11:

Remove your tortilla from the pan and store in a tortilla warmer or wrap in towels to keep it warm.

Step 12:

Repeat with all your tortilla bolitas!

So there you have it! It’s a simple process but takes some technique. Some ways you can save time on this are by using a larger comal, getting someone to help you and turning it into an assembly line process (someone rolls bolitas, someone smashes them, someone cooks them, etc), or by mixing the masa and then rolling bolitas as you need them over the next 2-3 days.

Do you think you’ll give this a try?

About The Author

1 thought on “How to Make Perfect Homemade Corn Tortillas (Step by Step)”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top