Recipe+Video: Easy Whole-Grain Corn Tortillas

Making corn tortillas from scratch is an incredibly simple process with the help of a tortilla press. And I promise it is Corn Tortillas from 100 Days of Real Foodworth the effort because freshly made corn tortillas absolutely blow away the store-bought bagged version. All you have to do is take a warm homemade tortilla out of the hot pan, sprinkle a little shredded Monterey Jack cheese inside, fold the tortilla over so the cheese can melt, and dig right in with a big bite to know exactly what I am talking about. Yum! And trust me – do not try to take shortcuts by making these without a tortilla press (pictured below) because as far as I’m concerned rolling them out by hand is an impossible task. I’ve tried it several times only to fail miserably so I just want to save you the trouble.

The key ingredient to corn tortillas is “masa harina.” Even though this corn flour does not say “whole grain” on the package I’ve been told it is an exception to the rule. According to the Whole Grains Council, masa harina is not labeled “whole grain” because of the process that’s used to make the flour. Manufacturers start by soaking the corn kernels in an alkali solution; next the liquid is poured off; then the corn is dried and the remaining whole kernels are ground into flour. The thought is that some of the corn is lost when the liquid is drained, but the Council says the loss is so minimal that the end product is very close to a whole grain flour.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Easy Whole-Grain Corn Tortillas
Serves: Makes 12 Tortillas
Recipe from Bob's Red Mill
  • 2 cups masa harina (whole corn flour that is found in the baking aisle – not to be confused with corn meal)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Between 1¼ cup and 1⅓ cup warm water
  • Oil spray, tortilla press, and preferably a cast iron skillet for cooking
  • test
  1. Blend the masa harina and salt with a whisk or fork.
  2. Pour in the warm water. I heat my water in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Stir together the mixture with a wooden spoon until dough starts to form...not too sticky and not too dry. Add more water or flour if necessary. Finish mixing the dough with your hands. You can also mix the dough in a Kitchen Aid Mixer with the dough blade.
  4. Make a log out of the dough (pictured). Cut it into twelve equal pieces by first cutting down the middle, then cutting each piece in half again, then cutting the remaining pieces into thirds until you have twelve pieces.

    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food
  5. Roll each piece into a round ball. Flatten each ball onto a cutting board then cover the entire board (and dough) with plastic wrap.
  6. Heat a cast iron skillet over med-high/high heat. It is important to let the pan heat up thoroughly before you start cooking the tortillas. So let the empty pan heat up while the dough rests under the plastic wrap for 10 – 15+ minutes. By the time I am ready to cook my tortillas my pan is smoking a little.
  7. Flatten the dough balls into tortillas with a tortilla press by doing the following (pictured below)…1. Cover the inside of the top and bottom of the press with plastic wrap,

    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food2. Place one dough ball at a time on the bottom of the press, and

    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food3. Close the top and push down on the handle as hard as you can.

    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real FoodTo ensure the dough is pressed evenly you can flip the tortilla around 180 degrees and press again. It’s that simple!
  8. Spray some oil onto the hot smoking cast iron skillet and then toss in the first tortilla. It only takes a minute to cook on each side (be sure you flip it once). You don’t want the tortilla to cook too much longer than a minute or two because it will start to become stiff.
    Keep the tortillas warm and covered until all of them are done.
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.


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  • Comments

    1. Leslie tutty |

      Can you make these without a tortilla press? Would it work if you just flatten the dough out by hand or used a rolling pin? I hate to buy a tortilla press before I have tried making tortillas.

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Leslie. You can roll them out. The shape may not be quite so uniform.

    2. Catherine |

      Anyone just try and flatten/smash the tortilla flat with a skillet……? I think I was viewing a tv special one time and a wood hammer like tool was used…….
      I’ve made the whole wheat tortillas and they were amazing looking forward to having these corn tortilla.I bought the masa harina from bobs red mill however not organic. It contains lime. The also had plain organic corn flour…. Would that work?

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Catherine. Masa works best for this recipe because of its fine grind.

    3. Melanie |

      I’m curious what kind of oil she uses considering the pan is so hot. What are the best high-heat oils to use for these/

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Melanie. Coconut oil, clarified butter/ghee, or avocado oil all work for higher smoke point cooking.

    4. Angie Gordon |

      I bought a tortilla press and made a batch. Much better flavor than store bought by far. But the texture was off. They were too chewy. I thought I cooked them long enough since there was charring on the surface. Any tips? Maybe I need to get them thinner?

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Angie. It does sound like you need to thin them a bit and maybe turn down the heat a bit.

    5. Lana |

      Can I freeze them?

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Lana. Yes, you can freeze them. :)

    6. Julie |

      If you use a very hot grill or skillet, no oil or grease of any kind is needed.

      When tortillas are ready to be flipped they will slide in the pan, if they don´t, they are not yet ready.

      Another idea for you, that my daughters love, is to make sopes or tlacoyos.

      For the sopes you will take less masa and press it thicker than you do for the tortillas, cook the same way that you do the tortillas and when they are done, pinch the sides all around, to make a sort of Wall (this is better done when they are still hot). Then spread some refried beans and shredded cheese. Additional toppins are salsa, onions, shredded chicken or meat, shredded lettuce, chorizo, sour cream, etc. Of course they can be made large or small, but like doing them small.
      These are some images for you that I found on the web, not mine:

      And for the tlacoyos, you take the masa in your hand, flatten a bit and put a spoonful of refried beans. The idea is to mold them with your hands and to have the beans all surrounded by the masa, flatten them a bit and put them on the pan or grill to cook the same way as the tortillas. There are great for lunchboxes, it is my daughters´favorite.
      This is not mine either, but show how tlacoyos look:

      Both the sopes and tlacoyos can be fried before adding any toppings, but we usually don´t do that and they are still very good.

      With the masa you can also make Deep fried quesadillas, those are delicious, but not very healthy, I guess. When you have your flattened tortilla in the press, put some shredded cheese and fold, taking care of pinching the sides well, so that no cheese will escape while frying. Fry until done and top with salsa and sour cream, deliciouss. These can be filled with cheese and all of these aone or combined with the cheese: mashed potatoes, chorizo, beans, huitlacoche, potatoes with chorizo, tinga, cookes zuchini flowers, etc. And they hold great too inside a lunchbox.

      • Christina Silva |

        Yumm! These sound like fun recipes to try!

    7. Helen |

      need to make 100% corn as can’t tolerate wheat, over here in the UK I can get maize flour – is that the same thing?
      my other half wants to know if they are flexible enough to make burritos

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Helen. It is the same but they are likely too fragile for burritos.

    8. Jenny |

      do you know if there is a GMO free Mesa harina?

    9. Rosalina |

      Julie is right about not using oil. My mother made them and never used oil. They should be flipped immediately as they start to curl on the edges. Sometimes this can be as soon as 25-30 seconds. After you make them enough times, you will get comfortable and know exactly when to turn them so they will actually “rise” after the third flip. If you make them with no oil, they stay very pliable and they will taste more authentic.

    10. Carlene Winfrey |

      These are amazing. I bought the tortilla press like recommended and a comal because I didn’t have a cast iron skillet. Glad I did. Made it even easier and more fun. Better than any I have ever had out. Thanks so much 100 Days. This is the way life should be.

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