Small Batch: Homemade Corn Tortillas

June 29, 2012

Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

This week, Kelsey Brown of Happyolks shows us a gadget-free way to make our own delicious corn tortillas at home.

- Kelsey

The inspiration to make my own tortillas comes from my time studying in Nicaragua in 2010. I lived with a family in a small corrugated tin hut and watched my host mother prepare tortillas every morning (at 4:00 am) over a Lorena, or block-style, wood-burning stove. She dried her own corn and ground it in stone bowls before creating the paste with water and salt. She didn't have a press, and I remember being tasked with pressing them flat with my hands.

Of course, it is my fundamental kitchen belief that if it comes from a package, it's probably not going to taste like the real deal. Masa harina is cheap -- the investment is your time. Time well spent, in my opinion, creating new memories and sparing your belly from all the nasty additives and preservatives you'll find in the store-bought variety.

This technique for press-less tortillas at home is, in reality, no creative genius. It occured to me, after letting my dough rest for an hour, that most logical folk would go about figuring out how to flatten their tortillas before making a mess of the kitchen.

No tortilla press? Eh, no biggie. I don't collect kitchen gadgets because more often I'd rather spend my money on good coffee beans or goji berries (dang, they're expensive!), but I think it would be neat to have one of these around. Of course, then you miss out on the fun of using casserole dishes and making noises like the Williams sisters while you prepare your dinner. Okay, I'm being dramatic. But the grunts make them taste better, right?

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Makes 8-12 tortillas, depending on how big you make them

2 cups masa harina
1 cup + 1 tsp hot water
Pinch of salt

Dissolve salt into the measured glass of warm water. Pour over the bowl of masa harina slowly, stirring as you go. Mix until combined; smooth but not sticky. Knead/press into a ball. Cover, and let rest for as long as you can wait -- 30 minutes to two hours.

Lay out a few (2-3) sheets of parchment paper and fetch a nifty casserole dish or Pyrex to help you press out the dough.

Pinch off a golf-ball sized chunk of dough and roll into a smooth ball. Set between two pieces of parchment and start to flatten a bit with your hand. Continue with hands, or for even edges, grab your casserole or Pyrex dish and put your weight into it over the sheets of parchment and the ball. Remove dish, peel back parchment, and voilà.



Cook for two minutes on each side in a non-greased frying pan (cast iron is best). Set aside and begin to stack ‘em up.

See the full recipe at FOOD52.

Like this post? See last week's Small Batch topic: Crème Fraîche.

On your next trip to the grocery store, skip those enticing bags of potato chips and pick up a big old sack of potatoes instead. And be sure to stay tuned for next week, when Lara Ferroni will show us how to make crispy, salty potato chips right at home.

5 Comments Add a Comment
  • Pastured_chickens

    Rare Breeds says: I've been looking for a good recipe like this that doesn't use a press!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • Missing_avatar

    Praydelette says: Just returned from a mission trip to the jungle of Chiapas, Mexico where I was privileged to join the village women in their kitchen. They do have one of those handy presses, but they grind their corn and cook the tortillas on a sheet of metal over an open flame. Lovely women and yummy tortillas . . . I'm looking forward to making some using my casserole dish!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • 290

    aargersi says: We add a squeeze of lime to our masa - yum. Homemade corn tortillas are the BEST!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • Missing_avatar

    siryn511 says: Can't wait to try this, this weekend with my daughter!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • Maddy-macau-robuchon

    Maddy is the senior editor of Whole Foods Market Cooking.

    Maddy, Editor says: Be sure to let us know how they turn out!

    about 1 year ago

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