Never run out of tortillas again! With just a few staple pantry ingredients, homemade corn tortillas will always be minutes away. They are so easy to make, once you give it a try you’ll wonder why you ever bought tortillas at the store!
The superstar pantry ingredient? Masa Harina! Masa Harina is a flour made from ground corn, and all you need to turn it into tortillas is some hot water, oil, and salt. A tortilla press will come in handy too (but isn’t absolutely necessary, as you’ll read below).
Making your own tortillas from scratch is a great way to save money, reduce plastic waste (especially if you shop for masa from bulk bins and bring your own reusable bags!), and reduce your reliance on grocery stores (if, say, you’re in the midst of a pandemic).
This incredible recipe comes from the new vegan cookbook La Vida Verde by Jocelyn Ramirez. You’ll get to eat delicious and uber-fresh tacos and also take part in a very old Mexican tradition and help keep it alive. Pretty awesome, right?Print
These homemade corn tortillas are a great idea for batch cooking on Sundays! Once you make them once, you might never get store-bought again!
- 2 cups of masa harina
- 2–3 cups of hot water
- 1⁄4 cup of cooking oil, divided
- salt to taste
Add the masa harina to a medium bowl. Pour in 2 cups (480 ml) of hot water, and use your hands or a spoon to mix the masa.
Slowly add more water as needed. Once the masa starts to form into a dough, continue to use your hands to amasar, or knead, the masa to bring it all together.
The masa should be a Play-Doh–like consistency that sticks together and doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the oil and salt to taste, and continue to knead the masa, adding more oil as needed, up to 1⁄4 cup.
- Preheat a comal (flat cast iron pan) to medium-high heat.
- Roll the masa into small walnut-sized balls. Use a tortilla press lined with wax paper (or plastic) to press the tortillas evenly until the masa becomes a tortilla about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) in diameter.
- Add the first tortilla to the preheated comal (the griddle). Let it cook for about 20 seconds, or until the first side begins to sear and the outer layer of the tortilla seals. The tortilla should release from the pan. Flip the tortilla to cook on the second side for 20 seconds. Flip it back to the original side, and the tortilla may start to puff up after another 20 seconds. Repeat for all the tortillas. Place the cooked tortillas in a tortilla holder lined with a cloth towel to keep them warm. They will continue to steam and cook in the basket.
How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas?
The process is a lot simpler than you might imagine. Understandably, many of us get intimidated but the idea of creating something from scratch—and by the the word “kneading.” But, do NOT fret! This precious process is simple and very intuitive, so let’s just go for it!
In short, you just mix the corn flour and hot water to create the “masa” or dough. Once you knead it and bring it all together, you add the oil and salt. Roll the dough into small balls and press it in a tortilla press (made from two big round flat plates that flatten the dough into perfectly flat tortillas. Cook them in a hot skillet for 20 seconds each side and keep the finished tortillas warm with a towel.
That’s it! Now I’m wondering: where has this recipe been all my life?
Do I Need a Tortilla Press in Order to Make Tortillas?
You do not need a tortilla press to make your own homemade corn tortillas, but this simple tool will make tortilla making much easier and the end result pretty perfect. You can get a circular parchment paper liners that fit your press to prevent sticking.
If you don’t have a tortilla press, not to worry. You can place the dough ball between two squares of baking paper or plastic and press it flat with a cutting board. Add another cutting board over the top or a clear glass oven dish, and use your hands to evenly press down until the masa is flattened evenly. Here’s a 50 seconds super helpful tutorial showing how to do it!
Choosing Your Masa
For this recipe, we’ll be using store-bought masa harina to make our dough. The author prefers brands such as Bob’s Red Mill, Masienda and Gold Mine, which can be purchased online or at your local grocery story or health food store.
Corn can be purchased in either white, yellow or blue varieties, but most often you’ll find golden or white masa harina. When choosing your masa harina, make sure it has gone through the nixtamal process of being cooked and soaked in calcium hydroxide. This process, called nixtamalization, creates an alkaline solution that releases the hull from the corn kernel and makes for a more nutritious ingredient.
What Can I Fill My (Delicious) Tortillas With?
I thought you’d never ask! The short answer is: anything you want! You can fill them with so many delicious vegan Mexican fillings. What about some easy lentil tacos? Or turning them into some cheesy vegan quesadillas? Beefy tacos made with a vegan beefy crumble, anyone?
Some Thoughts From The Author
“Tortillas are the cornerstone of Mexican cuisine. They easily transform to make tacos, enchiladas, chilaquiles, taquitos, tortilla soup, tostadas, nachos and so much more that have been the center of traditional Mexican cooking for generations.
Although many consider tortillas to be a simple ingredient, they are an immensely laborious flatbread that take days to become the pillowy aromatic staple that pulls together most Mexican dishes.
Although they are made and sold in different forms, nothing compares to a hand pressed homemade corn tortilla.”
– Jocelyn Ramirez
About Jocelyn Ramirez
Jocelyn Ramirez is the author of La Vida Verde and the chef and founder of Todo Verde, a woman-owned catering company making plant-based cuisine accessible throughout Los Angeles. Jocelyn co-founded Across Our Kitchen Tables, an organization that uplifts women of color in food. Her work has been featured by Vice, BuzzFeed, Los Angeles Times and many others. Jocelyn currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
In the Mood for More Vegan Mexican Inspo?
This vegan Mexican tortilla recipe is reprinted with permission from La Vida Verde by Jocelyn Ramirez, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Zohra Banon. Please note that this article contains affiliate links which means shopping through them supports World of Vegan.