How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas

tortilla press
photo credit: gourmetsleuth

Corn Tortilla History

The making of corn tortillas dates back to the Aztecs when corn was the diet staple and tortillas were the "flat bread" of the culture.  Corn tortillas were formed by hand and a skilled cook could "pat out" a fresh, perfectly round tortilla in about a minute without the use of any equipment like we use today.

Many rural people in Mexico still make their tortillas by hand even though locally made, fresh tortillas are easy to come by.

Fresh Tortillas - Steps And Recipe

This recipe uses masa harina (corn flour) readily available in most regions of the U.S.  Our favorite masa is our organic white masa. If you want to be even more adventuresome you can make your own masa from scratch.  See resources for a link to our recipe.  You can buy all the supplies including corn, cal and corn grinder at
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Makes: 12-  6 inch tortillas

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms into a dough.

dry masa flour in a bowl
Dry masa flour 

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface such as a cutting board or your counter top.   Need the dough for about 3 to 4 minutes until it becomes smooth and no longer sticky.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour.

ball of masa dough in bowl
Masa dough holding for 1 hour

Divide the tortilla dough into 12 equal size pieces.  Keep the dough covered as you work.  Take one piece at a time and roll it between your hands to form a ball.

rolling masa into a small ball
Masa dough being rolled into a ball

Open the tortilla press and lay a piece of plastic wrap on the bottom of the press.   Sit the ball of dough on the plastic wrap and flatten the dough by pressing down on it with the palm of your hand.  Now lay a 2nd piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough.  

ball of masa on tortilla press
Ball of masa dough, ready to press

Close the press and press down firmly a few times until the tortilla is flattened. The tortilla should be thin and round.  This takes a little practice. They may not be "perfect" looking at first.

pressing masa ball to make tortilla
Pressing the masa dough in the tortilla press

fresh made tortilla on plate
Completed fresh corn tortilla on a plate.


Fun Fact about How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas

Nutrition Information For How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas

Serving Size
1 oz
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 3mg
Total Carbohydrate 13g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A  0% Vitamin C  0%
Calcium  0% Iron  0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Tortilla Making Tips

  • You must allow the dough to rest, either one hour at room temperature or 30 minutes, refrigerated or the dough will crumble when you try to make your tortilla.
  • Never place dough directly on the surface of the tortilla press; always use a sheet of plastic wrap over the press plates.
  • Hand tortilla presses are for corn tortillas only; they will not press out flour tortilla dough.

Supplies Need For Making Tortillas From Scratch

  1. Tortilla press - While you can make tortillas with your hands a tortilla press is a real time saver.
  2. Organic Masa Flour  - If you don't want to treat and grind your own corn you can purchase a high quality masa flour.
  3. Dried Corn - Field corn can be white, yellow or blue.
  4. Cal (Calcium Hydoroxide)

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.