How to Make Corn Tortillas without a Tortilla Press
Put this on the list of things I never thought I’d do.
Make my own tortillas? The idea was about as foreign to me as making my own shoes. After all, store bought tortillas aren’t that expensive and they taste tortilla-y enough for me. Why go to all the extra work?
Oh Courtney, you sweet naive little girl. You have no idea.
I had no idea how good real corn tortillas were. Or how simple. Or how cheap and easy to make.
My excuses finally ran out when I found a recipe for authentic corn tortillas in Bon Appetit magazine. It called for three ingredients. Two of them were water and salt. Tough to argue with a recipe like that.
So off to the store I went looking for a bag of masa flour to start me off on this new adventure. I found mine at Meijer in the Mexican food aisle. I paid about $4 for a giant 4 lb. bag of the Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour. I’ll be able to make approximately 120 tacos from this bag. Yes, you read that right– 120 tacos.
So now you know where to look for masa flour, what brand to buy, and how darn cheap making your own tortillas really is. See how those excuses just slowly trickle away?
Now for the process. To make tortillas, you simply mix the masa flour with water and salt until a play-do like dough forms. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to it. If you need to, you can add more water to keep it together. If the dough gets too sticky and wet, you can add more masa. Easy.
Now here’s where I got to my last excuse. How am I supposed to make tortillas without a tortilla press? Won’t they just crumble??
Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I did a little researching and using several different strategies from around the web found a simple, fail proof way to make tortillas without a press.
Last excuse? Gone.
So let’s do this! Mix up some masa flour, salt, and water. It’s not an exact science. If the dough is too wet, add a little more masa. If it’s crumbly, add some water. You want it to be a play-dough like consistency.
Now divide your dough up into 1 1/2 inch sized balls. Roll them a little bit in your hands until smooth. Cut out 2 6 inch circles of parchment paper. They don’t have to be perfect circles. Just circlyish. And grab yourself a heavy plate/pot/pan. I like to use a glass Pyrex pie plate so I can how big the tortilla is getting.
Place a dough ball on one of the parchment circles then place the other circle on top. Use your heavy circle shaped thingamajig to press the tortilla to about 6 inches diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
Now remove the top side of the parchment paper, but leave the bottom side intact, like so.
Throw the tortilla into a hot skillet (I preheat the skillet over medium high heat) with the exposed side down. Let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then carefully pull off the top piece of parchment paper. Cook for another 30 seconds and then flip. The tortilla should be starting to brown in a few parts. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
You can stack finished tortillas in a warmed towel to keep them hot. If you have a large skillet or electric griddle you could easily get 4 or 5 of these going at once. Just cut out a few extra parchment squares if you need them.
Then you can make some kick butt tacos…like these.
So is it worth it? I really, really believe it is. These tasted every bit as good as taco truck tacos (which is a huge compliment). Plus, with that giant bag of masa around, I know I can always have fresh, authentic tortillas in about 20 minutes and for a teeny, weeny fraction of the price of store bought. Give it a try! You’ll feel like super woman. Promise.
- 2 cups masa flour (corn tortilla mix)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups water, or more if needed
- Combine masa, salt, and water in a large bowl and stir together until a dough begins to form. You want the dough to resemble play dough consistency.
- Cut out 2 6 inch circles of parchment paper and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Grab a hunk of dough about 1 1/2 inches round and roll it into a ball. Place dough ball on top of one of the parchment circles then place the second circle on top. Use a pie plate, or other heavy bottomed, round pot to press the dough ball into a 5-6 inch circle. Carefully remove the top piece of parchment paper. If the dough sticks, it is too wet–add an additional Tablespoon or two of masa. If it crumbles, it is too dry–add a Tablespoon or two of water.
- Leave the bottom sheet of parchment paper on. Place the tortilla, parchment side up, onto the hot skillet. Leave for about 30 seconds, remove top piece of parchment paper and continue to cook on the same side for an additional minute, or until brown spots begin to form. Flip and cook an additional 30 seconds on the other side.
- You can cook as many tortillas at a time as your skillet will hold. Just cut additional sheets of parchment as needed. I’ve stored the dough in the fridge for up to a week.
- Stack warm tortillas and wrap in a clean dish towel to keep warm. Reheat for a few seconds in the skillet if needed.
I had a bag of maseca in the pantry for about a year with the intention of buying a tortilla press…..I saw your post and just made a double batch of tortillas using your method and they turned out great! A little thicker then they would have been with a press, but I kinda like them a bit more substantial! Thanks for the inspiration 😋
I want to mention that if you buy Maseca NIXTAMALIZADA or Nixta, not the instant white colored bag mentioned here,you’re in for a special treat because you will be getting the true authentic taste of corn tortilla! Beware you are not buying the one for tamales because the bag is the same light brown color but one is for tortillas and the other for tamales.Tip: When you make the masa add warm water with a pinch of salt and knead into a dough for like 2 minutes and let it rest for 30 minutes.If you see that the dough sticks to your hand while putting in the grill to cook,just lightly dust your hand with the dry flour and the masa will not stick.Hope you get a chance to enjoy these delicious great tortillas!
Thank you so much for the incredible recipe! Most I found online required a tortilla press, but this worked so well without one! I shared your link and recipe on my own food blog (www.ahavabite.com).
Do you automatically assume that only women read you’re articles? I wanna be super tortilla man not super tortilla woman. You really should refrain from using gender specific wording. Men and women read you’re articles. Don’t inadvertantly alienate the other 50% of humanity. You know what assumptions do, make an ass of you and me. Lol that being said, nice technique. I find plastic wrap works better than parchment paper. It’s easier to remove from the pressed tortilla.
Wow…I could totally kiss you right now! 😁 I found out that I have extreme food allergies when I was 16 and what’s so odd about my case was just that – I’d never had that happen until I was 16! And I’ll tell you, I’m now horrified to even breathe the air if there’s a food item I’m allergic to nearby! So I was no longer able to eat any type of bread or grain at all (except corn and potatoes). Involuntary Atkins lol! After moving from NC to AZ 7 years later, I discovered corn tortillas. There was this beautiful elderly woman who despite the language barrier seemed to know what I needed… handmade corn tortillas 🧡. She taught me how to make them and oh so many ways to use them (her Mexican lasagna…yums!). Unfortunately, I’m all thumbs at making tortillas from scratch. Until I saw your how-to. I just made my first 5 tortillas and OMG so good!! And the money I’ll save? Yep, definitely want to hug you! You’ve no idea what a game changer you’ve given to me. Thank you. 🤗😻
Finally I can make my own tortillas!!! I’ve never been successful up this point and almost threw in the towel until I read your post. Thank you for this recipe!!
Your trick was awesome! The tortillas were perfect for my shrimp tacos and this option was more cost effective than buying a tortilla press or purchasing corn tortillas every time. Shane’s comment was rude and unnecessary and I thought your answer was very polite. (I don’t know if I could have been so nice) I appreciate all your tips and your story. Thank you again!
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad the trick worked out for you! Shrimp tacos with freshly made tortillas sounds like such a treat!
BLAH BLAH BLAH just post the damn recipe. Also I know for a fact if you do it this way tortillas are way too thick.
I’m so sorry if it was a trial to read my commentary in order to access this completely free recipe. Just a reminder that a real person is behind this website. She happens to work very hard to put out quality content for anyone to use free of charge, but if you aren’t enjoying it you can certainly find a recipe somewhere else online or go to the store and purchase a cookbook.
Very clever trick with the glass pie plate. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my own tortillas without a press. Thanks so much for sharing!!!
I’m so glad it was helpful!
Hi, Thanks for the great post..
Because of all the health issues in my family I try not to use non-stick or even cast iron.
Should I try to oil a stainless steel pan for stove top cooking or could I bake them on parchment in the oven? I have a breville pizza maker that has a stone. maybe use that?.. Wasn’t sure if it would stick. Any other thoughts?
I think you could try a really light coating of oil (maybe a cooking spray?) on a non stick pan for these!
Did you just assume my gender?
Thank you so much for this post!! I was having all of the same stressors and you put my mind at ease one explanation at a time! I can’t wait to make homemade tortillas with deliciously marinated flank steak. You rock!!!
Thankyou for posting this! I am so going to try this tonight. My husband is Hispanic and always talks about how his grandmother would make fresh tortillas for them. Here we go!
Awesome! I hope they worked well for you!
These look very good. I want to make some refried beans and roll them up with salsa and toss them in the freezer. I did that before with the regular old wraps, but I am wondering if these would freeze okay with your tortillas. I make a big batch of vegan burritos and wrap them individually, and freeze them in a big baggie. So handy and yummy. Can I freeze these?
I actually wouldn’t recommend freezing these. Corn tortillas are a lot less sturdy than flour tortillas so I think they would probably fall apart if they were wrapped and frozen with wet ingredients.
I wish I’d seen this post last night when I tried to make them myself, and couldn’t get them into nice circles either by hand or with a rolling pin. They tasted great but didn’t look very pretty! haha.
I’m at my friends’ house and they want to try my tortillas, but they don’t have a press. Thanks for the suggestion, this page was a high Google result! I have a suggestion for you to try. I blend frozen sweet corn (2 hands full), the juice and zest of a medium size lemon, and water (less than the normal recipe); this blended liquid I combine with masa for my tortillas. They are sweeter and brighter. Try it some time.
That sounds wonderful! I will definitely have to try that next time!
Was about to attempt making corn tortillas for the first time AND didn’t have a tortilla press Seeing your blog was some kind of sign because my glass pie plate was already on the kitchen counter and I have the same brand of masa! Hopefully this is as easy as making homemade flour tortillas because I’m pretty good at making those. Thanks for the tips?
This is so great! So yummy and simple! Thanks!
Love your photo, recipe, humor, and most of all the simplicity. Going to try to make our own organic tortillas right now. Thx. Tammy
Thanks so much for your kind words. I hope it worked well for you!
I got a gallon freezer bag, cut it in half, and used it in place of the wax paper. It’s tougher than the wax paper and I can just wash it afterward for next time. Just my two cents, considering I’m not the greatest with delicate tortillas, haha.
Great idea! I’ll have to try that next time.
Had I seen this last night, it would have saved me some grief! I used two clear pie plates, no wax paper, and it required me running a spatula under the tortilla to get it off. Had to rebuild several. Thanks for the tips – your way is genius! All Texans should know how to make tortillas!
The wax paper is definitely a life saver! Makes the process so much simpler. I hope the process goes a lot smoother for you next time around!
This was awesome!!! I just discovered the tasty joy of making my own tortillas- but I could not figure out how to get them flattened right. Especially the corn kind. I follow your steps exactly, and they looked so beautiful! Thank you 🙂 The only thing I did differently was to add hot water to the masa, I don’t know if it made a big difference, but I was hoping they would be more pliable that way.
Your post saved my dinner!
I’m so glad it worked out well for you! I appreciate you taking the time to come back and comment too. It makes my day. 🙂
Thank you so much for writing this post!!!!!!!
I need to try this! I think I could handle these steps! 🙂