Recipe: Corn tortillas from scratch!

My favorite part of my trip to Ashland, Oregon was Mexican Fiesta Night. We cooked a humongous and yummy dinner at our friend Michelle’s house. Before we started dinner, she taught me how to make homemade corn tortillas!  However, most of the corn tortillas we couldn’t have for dinner because every time one was ready it started disappearing … into the Max tummy!  I must have had about 8 in a row – no joke!  Then, everyone else started eating the tortillas straight out of the pan and we didn’t have any left for the actual meal.  Oh, well!  After that we made our own corn tortilla chips.  You can see my new corn tortilla making skills in the video below:

The corn tortillas look good in the video don’t they?  In the recipe below you can learn how to make these exact same corn tortillas.  Thanks Michelle!

Corn Tortillas

Making fresh, homemade corn tortillas is not difficult. It is, however, a labor of love. It requires patience and attention. The best part of the whole process is when most of the tortillas have been eaten by your loved ones right in the kitchen while you make them! ~Michelle Guerrie

Makes 16 tortillas

Plan on 1 hour preparation time


  • 2 cups organic masa
  • 1 ¼ –1 ¾ cups water


1.This is where you have license to play with your food! Using one of the best utensils in your toolbox, your hand, mix the masa and water together until it masses together.

2. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes under a moist towel. Roll into a ball, smash, then place in a medium-hot dry pan or griddle.

3.Cook for 30-60 seconds on one side (don’t touch it or move it this first 30 seconds—wrinkles and such will work out okay).

4.Flip to the other side with a spatula, then cook for 60 seconds. Flip one more time. (If you are lucky and the planets are aligned you will get a “puffer” after the third flip.)

5.Remove and place in a dry towel or covered bowl to keep warm. Best eaten right at the stove with a sprinkle of olive oil and a little salt!


corn tortillas

  1. Mix masa and water: Completely blend masa with water. You aren’t kneading, just mixing. Organic masa will behave differently than the traditional fine-grind Mexican masas. Always buy organic or GMO-free masa.


  1. How much water to add: It depends on humidity and the crop of masa you are working with. You have to work in the water and keep testing for cracks. See Step 4 and 5.


  1. Roll into a golf ball sized ball: This is the size you will want to make the tortillas, but right now we are just testing to see if we have added enough water to the masa.


  1. Flatten the ball:If it has even one crack, the masa needs more water. Add a couple tablespoons of water at a time and mix, mix, mix then test again.


  1. This is what you are looking for: Smooth sides.


  1. Heat the pan at medium-high heat.I like cast iron. I will season the pan by rubbing a little oil on the surface, taking care to wipe it clean with a dry towel.


  1. Cut a large zip-loc bag on three sides to fit your press: It really does work the best.


  1. If plastic is just totally off-limits: Parchment paper will work, but not nearly as well. Sorry. Wax paper is a no-go. It just doesn’t work.


  1. Lay the ½ of the plastic down on the lower plate: Place the masa on the plastic then flatten the masa with your hand–it makes it easier to press.


  1. Fold the rest of the plastic over the hand-flattened masa: Place the top plate of the press on the masa and fold the lever over the top plate. Press down with medium pressure.


  1. Peel off the top plastic.


  1. Then peel off the other side.


  1. Don’t have a press? No problem.Use something heavy to flatten each tortilla. The tortillas may be a bit smaller and thicker if made by pressing with a pan, but who cares?


  1. The hand-roll takes a lot more finesse.


  1. Any size pan will do.


  1. The pan should be nice and hot by now: Listen for the sizzle when you put the tortilla in the pan. This means the pan is hot enough. If the pan is smoking, it is too hot. You have to figure out your pan and your stove to find the sweet spot for tortilla making. Don’t fret, though! All tortillas are delicious whether they are cooked too hot or not hot enough. Just keep an open mind to explore and eat lots of tortillas along the way.


  1. This is what you are looking for: A totally malleable product.


  1. Voila!



Thank you so much Michelle! I had a blast making (and eating) the corn tortillas. Be sure to subscribe to my blog & check out my Facebook Page!  Good luck with your own creations!

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  • michelle guerrie
    July 15, 2015 6:29 am

    Max, you are awesome! The fact that you had the finer points of tortilla making in one lesson is amazing! Mexican Fiesta dinner was so much fun for me, too. I told Alan your family’s visit was right up there with cooking at Chez Panisse for me! No kidding. I had so much fun with you all! Love love love, Michelle

    • maxeatslife
      July 15, 2015 6:57 am

      It was my favorite part of the trip! Thanks!

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