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 worth the effort because freshly made corn tortillas absolutely blow away the store-bought bagged version.

Corn Tortillas from 100 Days of Real Food

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.

Corn Tortillas from 100 Days of Real Food

Easy Whole-Grain Corn Tortillas

Recipe from Bob’s Red Mill
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 12 Tortillas

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups masa harina whole corn flour that is found in the baking aisle – not to be confused with corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water warm (you may need 1 1/3 cup instead)
  • olive oil in a sprayer

Instructions
 

  • Blend the masa harina and salt with a whisk or fork.
  • Pour in the warm water. I heat my water in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Roll each piece into a round ball. Flatten each ball onto a cutting board then cover the entire board (and dough) with plastic wrap.
  • 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.
  • Flatten the dough balls into tortillas with a tortilla press by doing the following (pictured as follows)

    Cover the inside of the top and bottom of the press with plastic wrap. Place one dough ball at a time on the bottom of the press
    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food
  • Close the top and push down on the handle as hard as you can. 
    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food
  • To ensure the dough is pressed evenly you can flip the tortilla around 180 degrees and press again. It’s that simple!
    Whole Grain Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food
  • 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.

Notes

Special equipment needed: tortilla press, and preferably a cast iron skillet for cooking
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Easy Whole-Grain Corn Tortillas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 69 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 99mg4%
Potassium 50mg1%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 40IU1%
Calcium 26mg3%
Iron 1.4mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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240 thoughts on “Easy Whole-Grain Corn Tortillas”

  1. I’ve never made tortillas before. If making for later, do you cook in the skillet, or put the dough in the fridge/freezer after pressing?

    1. We would recommend making them ahead of time, and then keeping them in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for up to three months. Just thaw them out and then heat on the skillet when you’re ready to use them. – Nicole

  2. I’ve started making my own chips to avoid the constant disposable plastic I end up with when buying from the store. Now I’d like to try making them with my own tortillas. Is there a way to do this without the plastic wrap? I suppose the plastic over the cutting board is just to keep the dough from drying – so maybe I could just cover it with a large bowl or tupperware?

    What is the plastic on the tortilla press for? Will it stick to the press otherwise? Maybe I could just oil the press instead?

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. 100 Days Admin

      Hi Joe, Lisa uses the plastic on the tortilla press so they don’t stick. You could possibly use wax paper but it’s not as cooperative as plastic. – Nicole

  3. Your tortilla press link (the first one in this article) is broken. I’ve never made tortillas at home, but I’m interested in buying a press so I can make them.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi. I’ve hardened them up in the oven for taco pizzas but have not tried to make them into something as crispy as, say, baked chips.

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for your website.
    My granddaughter has health conditions that require she not eat processed or high calorie food. I was amazed how difficult it was to find a basic healthy tortilla recipe. But, now I have your website and plan to use it often.

      1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

        Hi. They can be kept in the fridge for up to a week and frozen for up to three months.

  5. I am very interested in making these corn tortillas, but I can’t use the Bob’s masa harina as it is processed with tree nuts. Have you ever used another brand or is there something I can substitute for the masa harina like some type of corn flour?

    1. 5 stars
      We buy the organic sprouted corn flour from to your health and it works beautifully for this recipe and others. You can check out their site for any nut info. They also have blue corn flour. B)

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. You can definitely freeze them. I keep the tortillas (unfrozen) for about a week but prefer them fresh off the skillet.

  6. I grew up eating homemade corn tortillas. My mom never owned a tortilla press; she pressed them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using a Pyrex pie plate! Works like a charm and you can see the tortillas progress through the glass.

  7. It’s unfortunate that many of your great recipes require fancy appliances that not everyone has. I don’t have an ice cream maker or a tortilla press. Mostly because I don’t think buying/storing all these gadgets is a good use of my limited space & income.

    1. I’ve used 2 cutting boards to press my tortillas before, you could even press them between 2 books. You don’t necessarily need a tortilla press!

    2. A tortilla press isn’t a fancy appliance. It’s a centuries old technology that you should have if you want to make handmade corn tortillas. That’s like someone going to a sewing blog and complaining that you need a tape measure to make a shirt. If you’re going to make “real food” (the focus of this website), you’re going to need implements to do so. What’s unfortunate is that someone sees a tortilla press as a fancy appliance. No, not everyone has them anymore (not that they did here in North America anyway), but that’s the point of this site. That we SHOULD have these things and make our own food. Whatever it takes.

  8. 5 stars
    Made these tonight for some quick pinto bean and chicken tostada, excellent texture and everyone loved pressing the tortillas in the press, even the husband got involved with this one!

  9. Carlene Winfrey

    5 stars
    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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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:
    http://cocinandoentreamigasesmasfacil.blogspot.mx/2011/04/receta-de-sopes.html

    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:
    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/45/6e/df/456edfb8074dc121ec819d7d23333444.jpg

    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.

      1. In regards to freezing these, should they be made and then frozen and re-heated to eat later? Or should the dough be frozen before heating through?

      2. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

        I always cook and then freeze if i have leftovers I wont use within a few days. They are a little more fragile once frozen, however.

  13. 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?

  14. 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/

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

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

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. I live in Kenya, and I can get 100% whole grain cornmeal (it’s actually Bob’s RedMill brand!), but not Masa Harina, which I assume is quite different. When following the recipe above, I need A LOT more cornmeal to get anything that will even think about sticking together – and yet it is also crumbly. I can’t get it to roll into a log like in the photo above. Any tips on making these tortillas with 100% whole grain cornmeal?
    We just got your cook book, and we use TONS of your recipes in our household! Thanks for everything!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi again, Tara. Any of the ones I find using regular cornmeal also call for flour. I am assuming you are wanting all it to be all corn?

  18. These are great. I cut the recip in half and make 8 small tortillas in about 15 minutes. I use a Lodge cast iron skillet and have never had to use any oil. The key is to get the skillet good and hot while making the dough. I cook 30 seconds on the first side, 1 min on the flip side, the return to the first side for 30 seconds where they puff beautifully. I’ll never buy premade corn tortillas again! Thanks for all of your great recipes.

    1. Le Ann, it might be easier for you to peel them off if, instead of wraping the whole press with the plastic, you just cut to pieces roughly the size of the press.

      You put one piece of plastic on the bottom, place your masa on top and then the other piece of plastic. Press your tortilla and it will be easier for you to flip it onto your hand, since the plastic won´t be stuck to the press.

      In Mexico we use almost any plastic or produce bags to do this (of course clean bags in case anyone wonders).

  19. Can these tortillas be made ahead of time? How many days can they be stored and how would you store them? Thanks!

  20. Hi, I see that this recipe calls for a tortilla press but the flour one does not. Is there a difference? Can I use the tortilla press with the flour recipe? I just ordered one so just wondering!! Thanks!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Kendall. I’ve used the tortilla press for flour tortillas but always end up rolling them out in order to get them thin enough. ~Amy

  21. I came across some uncooked tortillas at Costco. They had both flour and corn varieties. The corn tortillas had water, corn, salt, lime, cellulose gum and guar gum. Any thoughts? I don’t have a tortilla press and thought these might be better than the run of the mill variety in the grocery store.
    Thanks for your help!
    -Jessica

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Jessica. We typically don’t go into the details of various additives and preservatives. We just try to avoid them in general which is why Lisa likes to make her own. It sounds like those tortillas have a fairly short ingredient list compared to many but it is very difficult to avoid additives/preservatives in the store bought varieties. ~Amy

  22. I have had good luck making corn tortillas by puttIng the ball of dough inside a ziplock bag and then flattening it with a Pyrex pie plate. Kids can do this easily.

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