Corn tortillas are my absolute favorite, and I didn’t realize how simple they were to make until a few months ago. On the equipment front, you do need a tortilla press (preferable cast iron) and tortilla warmer, but both are relatively inexpensive. I think my press was around $25, and I’ve seen warmers for around $5 at Target.
While the technique can seem kind of tricky at first, it’s easy once you get it down. Start by combining the masa flour and salt in a large bowl. Then add the water and mix it with your hands until it all comes together. The dough will be just barely sticky and will coat your hands slightly. It should be the same consistency as play dough. Next cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 10 minutes and up to a couple hours.
After it has rested, divide the dough into 12 equal balls, and preheat your skillet to high. Then reduce the heat to medium high.
While the pan is heating, start pressing your tortillas. Place one of the plastic rounds on the bottom plate of the press. Place one dough ball in the middle and top with the remaining piece of plastic. I find that it works best if I put the ball just slightly back from center. Press.
Open the press and gently peel off the top piece of plastic. Then pick it up and invert facedown onto your palm. Gently peel of the remaining plastic.
Then flip your hand over to drop the now-plastic-free tortilla into your hot pan. You should see a few bubbles start to form within the tortilla. If you don’t, raise the heat on your pan. You’ll cook this side for about 20 seconds until the edges start to look dry.
Then use a thin spatula or turner to flip. Cook for about 40 seconds on that side. Flip and cook for another 40 seconds on the original side. The tortilla should have black spots around the edges and in middle. I like mine to have some charred areas throughout, since I think it adds great flavor.
Remove the tortilla to a warmer lined with a clean kitchen towel and then repeat until you’ve used all dough balls.
I usually press the next tortilla during the initial 20 second cook time. Then peel off the top plastic while I wait for the next 40 seconds. Also, be forewarned that your pan may smoke a little bit. I turn on the hood fan and open a window, and I haven’t set off a smoke alarm yet!
These tortillas store fairly well for me, but they are best when fresh. They get a little bit chewier after storage and reheating, but I find it just helps them to hold together when you add toppings. So that’s a plus for me. If you’re not a fan, just eat these when freshly prepared.
The Recipe: Corn Tortillas
- 1 ½ c. masa flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ c. warm water
- Tortilla press
- Gallon-sized plastic bag, cut into two plastic squares
- Combine masa and salt in a large bowl. Pour in water and mix with your hands until well mixed and texture resembles play dough. Add more water if needed. The dough will stick to your hands in just a thin layer.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes (or up to two hours). Divide dough into 12 equal sized balls.
- Heat a skillet or griddle or high heat. Then reduce heat to medium high.
- Place one plastic square on the bottom plate of tortilla press. Place one dough ball in the middle and top with the other plastic square. Press. Open the press and gently remove the top piece of plastic. Then invert onto your hand and gently remove the bottom piece.
- Tip the tortilla into the heated pan. It should start to bubble up just a bit. If it doesn’t, your pan is not hot enough.
- Cook for about 20 seconds on this side, then use a spatula to flip. Set a time for 40 seconds on this side. Flip and cook for 40 seconds on the opposite side. Remove tortilla from pan and place in a tortilla warmer lined with a kitchen towel.
- Repeat with all other dough balls.
Note: Recipe can be doubled. Extra dough can be stored in freezer. You can also press the balls and separate the tortillas with waxed paper (prior to cooking), and put the stack in a freezer bag.