Homemade soft corn tortillas make the ULTIMATE tacos, and they couldn't be easier, promise. We use a combo of flour and cornmeal to create tender, thin, foolproof tortillas. And they're less expensive, to boot. You'll never go back to store-bought again.
Why we love these tortillas
Homemade tortillas blow packaged ones out of the water. There's just no comparison. Our soft corn tortillas are:
- Just the right size for generous tacos
- Soft and tender
- So fresh and warm
- Flavorful, but not so much that they'll overshadow your taco fillings
- Made from common pantry ingredients
These are not traditional corn tortillas made with masa harina. Those are wonderful, of course. But these tortillas combine a hint of the superior flavor of corn tortillas and the pliable, kid-friendly texture of flour tortillas into one super-versatile recipe.
What you'll need
Here's what you'll need to make these soft corn tortillas.
- Flour: We use all-purpose flour, but this recipe is very accommodating. You could use up to 50% bread flour or white whole wheat flour to replace some of the all-purpose flour if you like.
- Cornmeal: A good-quality stone-ground yellow cornmeal adds great flavor and texture to these tortillas without being overwhelming.
- Fat: If you eat bacon, save the fat after cooking. It keeps in the fridge for a month, and you can use it in all sorts of cooking. That's our preferred fat for this recipe because it's economical and adds lots of flavor. But you can 100% use a neutral-tasting oil such as corn or safflower oil in this recipe instead.
We recommend using the following equipment to make this recipe:
- Tortilla press: You don't need a tortilla press to make tortillas, but it makes things go MUCH faster. Plus, it's seriously fun and weirdly satisfying to use one of these things.
- Rolling pin: If you don't have a tortilla press, you can roll out each tortilla between two sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin.
- Cast iron skillet: This is the quickest, easiest way to get gorgeous dark-brown blisters on your tortillas
How to make tortillas
Even though homemade tortillas seem borderline magical, they're super-easy to make. There are just a few steps:
Mix the dough
You'll mix and knead the dough in two quick phases.
- First you'll use your hands to mix the bacon fat or oil into the flour and cornmeal to coat the grains with fat. Doing this before adding liquid lets the grains plump up without clumping and creates a beautifully textured tortilla.
- When you're done working the flour into the grains, the mixture will resemble coarse sand.
- The second step in to mix in the water and salt. The dough will be sticky at first, but keep mixing with your hands until it comes together into a ball, Then knead it a few times.
- The dough will quickly come together into a well-behaved, smooth ball.
Portion the dough and let it rest
Next, you'll divide up the dough and chill out for a while.
- We love our kitchen scale and use it literally every day. If you have one, use it to measure out 40-gram bloops (technical term) of dough. Otherwise you can eyeball it.
- Roll each portion of doing into a little ball between your hands.
- Using three fingers, press each dough ball into a little disc.
- Cover the discs with a kitchen towel or piece of parchment and let it rest for half an hour. This gives the gluten in the flour time to relax.
Press and fry the tortillas
Whether or not you have a tortilla press, you can totally do this.
- Open the tortilla press and place a piece of parchment on top of the bottom plate. Put one of the discs in the center. Cover the disc with another piece of parchment.
- Close the tortilla press and press down on the handle. You'll have to experiment a little to see how hard you need to press. For me and my tortilla press, it takes a medium-firm push to turn these tortillas into thin (but not too thin), 7- to 8-inch rounds.
- Be gentle when peeling the top layer of parchment off the tortilla. (This shouldn't be super-difficult, but do pay attention.) Then flip the tortilla onto your hand and carefully peel off the other piece of parchment.
- Fry the tortillas on a dry skillet. You won't need extra fat.
Expert tips and FAQs
They're not, since they contain wheat flour. We'd suggest making all-corn tortillas instead if you need a gluten free recipe.
You sure can! You could also use schmaltz (rendered chicken fat).
If you've left the dough discs to rest for more than half an hour, or if it's very hot and humid in your kitchen, you can pop the discs into the fridge for 10-15 minutes before pressing. This will make them much easier to work with, especially if you're using bacon fat or another animal fat in the dough.
How to serve corn tortillas
These tortillas are perfect for tacos! Here are some of our favorite taco recipes:
- Carne asada tacos
- Ground pork tacos with black beans
- Garlic shrimp tacos
- Crispy potato tacos
- Happy-making vegetarian tacos with black / pinto beans
- Sweet potato and black bean tacos
- Shredded chicken tacos
- 1 ⅓ cups (156 g) all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup (78 g) yellow cornmeal
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) bacon fat or oil
- 9 tablespoons (128 g) water
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add the flour, cornmeal, and fat to a medium mixing bowl.
- Mix together with your fingers until the fat is incorporated. The mixture will look like coarse sand.
- Pour in water and salt.
- Mix together until all the water is incorporated and the dough forms into a ball. Then knead a few times until the dough becomes smooth and no longer sticky. You can knead it right in the bowl.
- Divide dough into 10 equal portions. I like to weigh them on my kitchen scale. They should be about 40 grams each. You can eyeball it if you'd rather.
- Use your hands to roll each portion into a little ball. Place on a plate and press with your fingers to flatten into a small disk.
- Cover with a piece of parchment or a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. If you'll be longer than 30 minutes, place the plate in the fridge so the dough doesn't get too soft.
- Set a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat to preheat while you press the tortillas.
- Open the tortilla press and line the bottom with a piece of parchment about the size of the press. Place one of the dough disks in the center and cover it with another piece of parchment. Close the press and press down on the lever.
- Open the press. Gently peel away the top layer of parchment. Remove the tortilla from the press, still on the bottom piece of parchment. Gently peel the tortilla from the parchment. (see note)
- Place tortilla onto dry preheated pan. Cook until blistered on the underside, then flip once and cook until both sides have some nice dark-brown spots.
- Repeat pressing and cooking with remaining tortillas, one at a time, stacking on a plate as you go. Keep covered with a towel until ready to serve.
- Mixing the fat into the flours before adding water gives these tortillas a great texture.
- If you find that the dough is very sticky after adding the water, it's probably because your cornmeal is more coarsely ground. Let it sit for a few minutes until the cornmeal absorbs the water before kneading.
- The trickiest part of this recipe is placing the tortillas onto the skillet. If you find it hard, pop the dough balls into the fridge for 20 minutes or so at the end of their resting time. The firmer dough will be a lot easier to work with.
- I find it easiest to flip the tortilla onto my open hand and peel away the parchment with the other hand. If you don't have a tortilla press, you can place the dough between two pieces of parchment on a work surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out into an 8-inch circle. I used to do this before I bought a tortilla press, and while it takes a lot longer, the dough is very cooperative.
- Not gonna lie, these (and really all) tortillas are best eaten fresh. If you need to store them, wrap in a damp paper towel and then an airtight plastic bag or container. If you leftovers, migas is a GREAT way to use them.
EQUIPMENT WE USE FOR THIS RECIPE
Adapted from King Arthur.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 102Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 109mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g