Cooking with the Maxwells: Corn Tortillas 101

If you’ve tasted the corn tortillas from the store, well, they leave a lot to be desired. At least in my opinion. Earlier this year, I did some research on how to make corn tortillas, and I discovered they really weren’t hard. The taste? Far better than the store.

To begin with, you will need Instant Corn Masa Flour. You’ll likely find it in the Mexican section of your store, not near the cornmeal area.

Dump three cups of instant corn masa flour into a bowl.

Pour 3/4 teaspoon salt in.

Add the water (about 2 1/4 cups). This part, you’ll have to watch. Basically, you want your dough not dry but almost wet. If it’s too wet, though, it’ll make the dough stick to the parchment.


After you stir for a little bit, you’ll find kneading the dough with your hands is pretty necessary, unless you can get a little brother or sister to help.

Get parchment paper and tear it in half. Place one half on a cool tortilla press, meaning not plugged in (or a non-electric one), then put your ball of dough on it. The ball should be quite small. If you’ve made our flour tortillas before, you’ll want a smaller ball than you used there. Cover the dough with the other piece of parchment paper and press. You might need to lift up and then press again a time or two. If the tortilla is the desired size, you are ready to cook it. If you prefer it a little bigger, leave the parchment paper on and use a rolling pin. If you don’t have a press, you can try using a rolling pin, but I don’t know if it will work as well.

Peel the top layer off and then carefully peel the tortilla from the bottom layer.

Before you cook the tortillas, make sure the pan is hot. Add a small amount of oil/grease to the pan. We like to use bacon drippings, but you can use butter or coconut oil too. After every panful of tortillas, add some more oil. Cook each side until desired doneness. It depends on the heat of your stove top, how much grease is used, and how soft you prefer your tortilla. But, it doesn’t take very long.

Anna and Abigail.
Okay, so this isn’t “how to”, but I thought it was cute. Mary is actually the one who mixed up the dough.

Abby handing a tortilla to her daddy. Even young ones can help in this process.

Nathan cooking them.

The finished product. Add whatever fillings you want and roll up.

Corn Tortillas

3 cups instant corn masa flour
3/4 tsp. salt (or more, if desired)
2 1/4 cups water

Measure the flour into a bowl. Mix the salt in. Add the water and stir. Get the dough to a good consistency: not dry and almost on the wet side. Portion the dough into small balls and press each one out. Heat skillet and add grease before cooking the tortillas.

Yield: 36 or more, depending on the size

“For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”

–Mark 4:28

15 thoughts on “Cooking with the Maxwells: Corn Tortillas 101”

  1. I love love love reading your blog and about your family. I find it very uplifting and I have gained inspiration from reading about your travels and your faith.


  2. We actually prefer corn tortillas to flour, and always make our own. You are so right in that the homemade cannot compare to store bought–homemade is so much better. Now that you have discovered mesa you might want to try making tamales–one of my favorite foods. Mr. Phil likes his tamales with chicken and a verde sauce, and I prefer corn and cheese in mine with the verde. I am now wishing I had these on this weeks menu, but alas I will have to add them to next week.

    Blessings, Mrs. Mari

  3. I’m very interested in making (wheat) flour tortillas. Have you ever tried it?
    Here’s the link to an earlier post.

  4. There is nothing better than tortillias with butter, queso and salsa!! Except maybe homemade mashed potatoes with gravy! Ugh…now I am hungry! I may have to try this although I do not have a press. I wonder what I could do with two cookie sheets smashed together??
    Cookie sheets probably wouldn’t work as they are too big. Maybe the bottoms of two small plates together, and then use a rolling pin. Just a thought.

  5. What brand of tortilla press did you use in the demo pictured?
    It is a Saachi tortilla press. It’s on its last legs though. I don’t know that we would recommend it. We will be trying a hand press next.

  6. Both recipes look delicious! So which do you prefer now, the tortilla press or rolling by hand? I’m confused.
    The press is only used to begin with. Then they are rolled.

  7. This sounds very simple and yummy! Is your press simply just a press or does it partially cook the tortilla’s as well? I don’t have a press so I was looking on Amazon and wasn’t sure which would be best. Looking back at the link to your Tortillas 101, I was wondering, if I don’t have a grinder would you simply use 100% whole wheat flour like you would use when baking bread? Would the organic white flour work just as well but not have as many health benefits? I have just recently started making all of our bread as well as yogurt. Thank you for the wonderful yogurt recipe, our whole family loves it! The gelatin added gives it such a nice texture! Thank you so much for the advice and encouragement! God bless you!
    It is capable of cooking them but we don’t use it for that. It didn’t do as well as the skillet. Yes, you could use store bought whole wheat flour for the wheat tortillas. The organic white flour likely would turn out better than whole wheat, if texture and taste is the goal.

  8. I was curious, about how long from start to finish does it take to make 36? My family prefers the corn as well but I have never tried making them. Thank you!!
    About 35 minutes with someone dedicated to cooking them.

  9. They sound good. Maybe we should try some.

    I like to see the little girls included, and must be a real highlight to Abby to be able to help with “big people” things.

    God bless! Rebecca K.

  10. Thank you so much for this recipe. We have thoroughly enjoyed your flour tortillas (which I have made with whole wheat flour although I needed to increase the water slightly to accomodate) and I’m so excited to this recipe. Would you please tell me which tortillas press you use?
    It is a Saachi tortilla press. It’s on its last legs though. I don’t know that we would recommend it. We will be trying a hand press next.

  11. hi! ive made these excact same corn tortillas! me and my mom like to make home made flour and wheat torillas, they are soooo good!!!
    i cant wait to make this recipe, (and i hope its going to be soon!)
    nothing is impossible with God

  12. Hi there – Funny thing, this is exactly what our family uses to make our corn tortillas! 🙂 Started making these a few years ago – and now we don’t even buy the store brand ones…:) And yes, we make the whole wheat tortillas, too – kids like those!
    Have a blessed day!!
    The K Family..<

  13. Hello,

    Your recipe sounds great, Sarah. I am looking forward to trying it, although I may have to search hard to find the Corn Masa Flour here in Ontario.

    Just wanted to wish you and your family a Happy Easter! Any special plans for the weekend? Do you celebrate with both sides of your familiies? How about Melanie’s and Anna’s(Chris’)? Do the little girls have an Easter Egg hunt after Church?
    Thank you. We have a family dinner late afternoon with Nathan’s and Christopher’s family. Gigi and Grandad will join us as well. We don’t do “eggs” “bunnies” or the like. We focus on the Lord Jesus.

  14. I am so excited about this recipe. I fell in love with your whole wheat tortillas (like could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner kind of love). Recently I’ve had to go off of gluten altogether and am missing the homemade tortillas. I’ve started buying corn tortillas, but now I’ll try this recipe instead. Thanks!!!

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