The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Corn/Flour Tortillas

mrosen814's picture

Corn/Flour Tortillas

Hi all -- I am having a taco party this weekened and want to make homemade corn tortillas (I've never made them before). I have read that an issue with corn tortillas, is breakage/cracks when folded, after they've been cooked. I am thinking of adding some wheat flour to the mix, to add that some strength to the taco. Has anyone experimented with this? Thanks.

Yerffej's picture

I have made corn tortillas and I have made wheat tortillas.  They are two very different products resulting from two very different processes.  The problem that you describe with corn tortillas is correct.  The solution is making a proper corn tortilla and that is unlikely to happen on your first attempt.  Of course there is always the beginners luck factor.  You could add flour to the corn tortilla but I would not not for very definite reasons of texture and flavor.  The idea of wheat flour in a corn tortilla is quite unappealing.   Start practicing a lot now and maybe you will have it figured out by the weekend.  The best corn tortillas are made from whole dried corn that you process, cook and grind yourself.


charliez's picture

If you want to make flour tortillas, do as the following video shows.  It is the best one
and consistent one I have found and the tortillas come out almost perfect.

If you have problems with the spanish, just let me know and I will translate.


If you want to make corn tortillas, the real ones you need, ad Yerffej says to grind and process
the corn yourself and then make them by hand.  BUT as you want them for the weekend, you
need to buy a tortilla press and a kilo of "Masa Harina"  which is corn flour already processed
and ready to make tortillas. Maseca is the best brand and it is a Mexican company but there are
other brands.




Video of how to make the Masa: (water has to be lukewarm, cold water will break your tortillas, if they still break add a pinch of lime) 

Video of how to make the tortillas: (she uses a much better home made wooden press) 


txfarmer's picture

I just recently made corn tortillas using only Masa Harina flour mentioned above, no problem of breakage at all. I also don't have a tortilla press, but a heavy pan with a flat bottom worked just fine.

And some quesadilla using those tortillas

It took a few tries to get the cooking time right, just like pancakes, the first few are always ugly, but then it will be all right.

mrosen814's picture

beautiful pics

mrosen814's picture

Thanks for the replies. I am going to try a practice round tonight using only masa harina, and see how they go. I also do not have a tortilla press, so I'll be hand-rolling and cooking on cast iron.

Yerffej's picture

Flour tortillas are rolled.  Corn totrtillas are pressed...rolling might be tricky.


Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I use a heavy flat bottomed stew pot and press down on the sides to make tortillas.  A 1 gallon freezer bag (slit on each side) keeps thne tortilla from sticking and makes for easier placement in the skillet.


wassisname's picture

Another trick (and maybe this was obvious to everyone but me when I started making tortillas) is to let them steam a bit before eating.  I stack them in a covered container as they come off the dry cast iron skillet then, when they are all finished, flip the stack, cover them again and let them rest a few minutes.  It pretty much makes them better in every way and really helps keep them from cracking.  Happy tortilla making… and if you can find a press on such short notice it is absolutely worth it!


dabrownman's picture

from Minsa for Tamales, located at Muleshoe, Texas,  when making corn tortillas if fresh masa can't be found at the local Hispanic store or tortilla shop.  Not the mix they make for tortillas.  Corn tortillas are made by hand, by old ladies who have been doing it for years, and some of their children and grand children who will be doing it for years and years.  No rolling pins or presses required - if helpful.  When in a pinch and no pro tortilla ladies around, I use the bottom of a 2 qt pot to press them out.  Works every time once you get the right pressure and technique going.

You can check my blog for other info on corn tortilla making including the super secret Brownman recipe...ssshhhhh..... that makes some fairly decent and authentic tortillas from scatch using a dry mix here:  Just don't tell anybody!

Once you make them, you will not ever want to buy them again - but you will :-)

Happy tortilla making, what ever way you choose!


Dragonbones's picture

Mrosen814, the only time corn tortillas have cracked for me when folded after being cooked on the griddle is when they were purchased frozen, in Taiwan (where I live now). Properly made, fresh tortillas (whether store-bought fresh in my fatherland, Mexico, or homemade by me) never do this in my experience. I don’t recommend adding wheat flour. Masa harina works fine; processing corn for this is waaay too involved for a first-timer and a simple taco party.

I have not had trouble with cool to lukewarm tap water, either. Add the water gradually, because the dough is VERY sensitive to the level of water in it; a teaspoon too little and the dough will crack, especially at the edges, when pressed. A little too much, and the dough is too sticky. So when following a recipe, reserve 15 percent of the indicated water, and add it slowly until the dough is just holding together, a little more than just moist enough to clear the sides of the bowl. If it sticks to your hands, it is too wet, so add a bit more masa harina. If it's a little dry, add water by the tsp until you guess it's right; you can test it after resting it, and can still adjust then. 

I like to knead it a couple minutes, then cover the dough tightly in cling wrap, and rest it a while (e.g. 10 minutes to an hour) before pressing the tortillas. Don’t leave it uncovered, as it will dry out quickly.

If when you press your first tortilla, it cracks, then work another tsp of water into the dough at a time until the tortillas come out smooth, with smooth edges. Like FF, I use a cut open freezer-weight gallon ziplock bag, which I put inside the tortilla press with the folded seam toward the press’s hinge, and if the dough is perfectly hydrated, this bag is very easy to peel slowly and carefully away from the pressed tortilla, and it is easy to flip that onto a hand, then onto the comal (cast iron griddle) for cooking. If too dry, it will crack, especially near the edges. If too wet, it will stick to the plastic too much. Adjust with water or masa harina as needed, at this point.

The pictures at are quite good for letting you see what the texture of the dough should be like, and how the pressed tortilla behaves. This is important, since your most likely problem will be too much or too little water in the dough.

Tortilla presses are definitely the way to go if you think you’ll make these more than once. They’re useful for pita, and for tortillas for quesadillas, nachos, etc., too – not just tacos. When cooking them, the comal should be hot, like for pancakes, but not searing. Heat medium-high until a drop of water sizzles and dances on it. Cook one at a time, and have a container to hold them prepared, and next to you. I like a tightly woven Mexican tortilla basket, lined with a clean tea towel, with another towel ready to cover the top (this works like what wassisname said; it’s important to prevent them from drying out, and maybe they finish cooking a little bit, not sure). Aim for a cooked-through texture, a very light browning at the edge, and optionally some light brown spots on both sides, while the tortilla still has some moisture inside it (not all dried out). If it’s drying out, you’re cooking it too long. It should not have any black spots on it. The link above says 30 seconds per side – maybe their comal is hotter than mine, as I recall going a minute on the first side and half to a minute on the second, or something like that. Anyway, the total is somewhere between one and two minutes. I flip only once. I'm still learning, btw, so don't take this as an expert's word. Be prepared to experiment, and don’t forget to taste a few to see if they’re done (they’re good with a touch of salt btw).

While each is cooking on its first side, press the next one. When each is done, pop it in that basket atop one towel and under another, then put the lid on the basket (the steam and heat from each one keeps the others hot and moist, thus pliable), and cook the next one. I only open the basket as long as necessary to get a tortilla in (or out, later). Keep it closed as much as possible.

If you overcook them (I mean dried out, not burnt), don't toss them -- use them for making corn chips or tortilla soup.

To reheat, if necessary, heat a non-stick pan, and when it’s ready, dip one tortilla quickly in water or pat it on both sides with wet hands or mist it quickly, and slap it quickly onto the pan for 20+ seconds per side, then put it in the aforementioned basket, and repeat with the next one.

charbono's picture

I've used 3 brands of masa harina and like Quaker the best.

I agree hydration is key.  Measure flour and water carefully and don't trust the recipe on the package.  Use as much water as you can, while still being able to peel the tortilla quickly off the plastic sheet.  For Quaker, I use 1.33 cup of water to 250g flour.  Water at about 120°F works best for me.  I see no need for salt.