A Surprisingly Quick Alternative to Store-Bought Tortillas

Stack of fresh homemade tortillas
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Making tortillas from scratch takes less work than you'd think, and once your family tastes the fresh version, it'll be tough to go back to packaged. Masa harina, which is corn flour processed in traditional ways to make it more nutritionally complete and rich with flavor, is used in this recipe. A tortilla press can be purchased in just about any kitchenware store. Unlike many commercially available corn tortillas, these homemade treats have no preservatives and boast a wholesome list of just three ingredients.

Use your homemade tortillas as the base for weekday taco dinners. The next day, cut up the leftovers, brush them with oil and bake until crispy to make homemade tortilla chips with considerably less fat than the deep fried ones you find in the store. Unlike grocery tortillas, masa harina is shelf-stable, so you can keep it around and make tortillas whenever you need them, even for last-minute emergency meals.

Total time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup masa harina corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Directions:

  1. Mix the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water to form a dough that is wet enough to hold together but dry enough that it doesn't stick to your hands. Add extra water or masa a little at a time if needed to make the mixture wetter or dryer. 
  2. Let the dough sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into balls about the size of golf balls. You'll get 10 to 12.  
  4. Line both side of the tortilla press with plastic wrap. Position a dough ball between two sheets of plastic wrap in the center of the lower surface of the tortilla press. Close the press to flatten the dough ball, using some pressure but not enough to squeeze the masa out the sides. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
  5. Heat a skillet over low heat. Cast iron works especially well, if you have it. Cook each tortilla for a minute or two on each side, until its surface looks dry and just starts to brown.
  6. Serve right away or hold in a basket or bowl with a towel to keep the tortillas moist.

Tip

Masa harina is not the same ingredient as cornmeal, despite the similarity in appearance. If you substitute cornmeal, your tortillas will end up brittle, and they won't have the complex flavor that the masa adds.