Homemade Corn Tortillas {recipe}

Making your own homemade tortillas shells is not just easy – it opens you up to a world of very tasty food. Back in the day I’d soak and prepare whole wheat tortilla shells for tacos or sandwich wraps. But since my family has gone gluten free, I’ve yet to a) find a good recipe that we like and b) bother testing a bunch more out.

I thought I was going to make it easy on my self and make corn tortillas shells. The instructions online were super easy, just water and masa flour.

But oh how dismal they turned out. It was terrible really! Lots of muttering under my breath as I tried to roll them out and have them break apart. Using my tortilla press didn’t help anything either as they’d look beautiful and then fall apart as I peeled them out. If I got them in the pan, they would cook to stiff. And we didn’t enjoy the taste. My husband nicely asked me if I’d stop trying to make them.

Not one to keep messing up dinner after dinner, I gave in and called it a loss.

Oh…..but then I had an idea. An epiphany really.

I love reading through my old handwritten cookbooks and something jumped out at me while I was skimming my wheat tortilla recipe.


And I had to try them again with some added oil. Just to see if my inkling was correct. And I think I finally got it right – these are even husband approved.
homemade corn tortillas

Homemade Corn Tortillas

2 cups masa harina (corn flour – not corn meal)
1/2 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/4 cups hot water
1 Tbsp oil

Method of Preparation

1. Mix together the corn flour, salt, one cup of hot water, and the oil together in a bowl and combine.

2. Add water until you reach the right consistency. What you’re going to be looking for is a dough that is wet enough to stick together, but not so sticky that it stays on your hands.

3. Knead the dough for a minute or so to fully combine the ingredients.

4. Cover the bowl in order to keep the moisture in the dough – otherwise by the time you’re done, it’ll be to dry. Take a golf ball sized chunk of dough and either roll flat with a rolling pin or place into a tortilla press. Either option you choose, lay the dough between layers of wax paper or a ziploc bag cut in two. If the dough sticks to the plastic – it’s to wet, just add a touch more flour.

5. Place the tortilla onto a medium-hot skillet, not greased. Cook for 45 seconds to one minute on each side.

6. Once tortillas are fully cooked, take them off the skillet and place in between a folded towel. This helps keep them supple and warm while you’re cooking the rest.

You can use them immediately or store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Or if you’re looking for whole wheat tortillas, never fear – I have those listed right here: Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

Making your own “traditional” masa is also a possibility when you purchase the pickling lime from a place like Cultures for Health. “Ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures developed nixtamalization using lime and ash to create alkaline solutions to treat corn.
Nixtamalizing corn by soaking it in lime water, produces corn that is more easily ground (when treating whole corn rather than corn meal), its nutritional value is increased (through the freeing up of Vitamin B3, flavor and aroma are improved and mycotoxins (a type of fungus) are reduced.  Unprocessed Maize (corn) is deficient in niacin which is problematic when corn is used as a staple food in a diet.  While it is suggested that corn should soak in lime water for 7 hours prior to using it in cooking, traditional cultures would often soak corn for 1-2 weeks.” – CfH.

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. I am beyond excited about this recipe! :) I was longing for a good corn tortilla recipe literally just last night. Any that I’ve tried have had very similar results to your original ones.

    We haven’t gone totally gluten free, but I’ve tried to drastically reduce the amount of it we eat. So I’ve been subbing in organic tortilla chips for any of our recipes that used tortillas. And it just didn’t seem quite right. I was replacing something that I made myself with whole ingredients for something that, while gluten free, was more processed and unhealthy. I’ll definitely give these a try.

    donielle Reply:

    @Brittany, We were doing the same thing when we went gluten free! I was fine with taco salads but my husband needed the chips and of course, once they were out…… nom, nom.

    I would like to try and make my own masa sometime to make them “traditionally” as well.

  2. Hi Donielle,

    Thanks for the great recipe, I can’t wait to try it…I’m jut wondering which cooking oil you would recommend, I’m always at a loss as to which one would be best for a particular recipe.


    donielle Reply:

    @Karol, All I had was sunflower when I made these, but I’d prefer to use coconut oil for anything heated. Melted butter or lard would work just as well.

  3. Thanks so much, I’ll definitely be trying this.

    And best of luck with your book!

  4. I see you mentioned a tortilla press. I was looking into getting one for myself, but they seem to get terrible reviews. Can you tell me which one you have and what you think about it? Thanks!

    donielle Reply:

    @Stacy Makes Cents, I just have one like this: http://www.amazon.com/Cast-Iron-Tortilla-Press-Mexico/dp/B0037T4SUE/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1318950189&sr=8-9

    I find that it works better for corn tortillas than wheat flour and I think that’s just because of the tendency of the grains. A thicker corn shell still stays pliable, but a thicker wheat flour shell almost gets to tough when thick. When I used to make the wheat flour ones I’d put it through the press and slightly stretch and pull it a bit to get them bigger/thinner. It was still quicker than rolling them out by hand.

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Thanks! I added it to my “wish list.” :-)

  5. I have always wanted to make homemade tortillas. I am putting this on my to do list. It keeps getting longer and longer.

  6. I just made these for the first time. YUM!

    I don’t have a tortilla press – I just rolled them out between the waxed paper (note to self: don’t be so stinking stingy next time and use more than two sheets of waxed paper. By the end of the batch, there was a hole in one of the pieces and the wrinkles in the paper were causing the occasional crack in a tortilla.) and then fried them in the non-greased, pre-heated skillet. This worked out wonderfully because then the skillet was ready for me to add some butter and turn the tortillas into quesadillas. The kids inhaled them – even though they had jagged corners and weren’t remotely round. :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Jessica B., Glad you liked them!

  7. Hi! Do you think sprouted corn flour would work?

    Thanks for all the great info on your site!!

    donielle Reply:

    @Ro, hmmm….I *think* so…..? Masa is really finely ground, not like corn meal. So I guess it would all depend on the texture of it.

  8. donielle says:

    @gurpreesh, I don’t really know how to make the masa harina, I purchase it in this form.


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