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How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas With Dried Corn

Updated on March 16, 2016
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Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" & "Taste of Home" magazines. She belongs to "Cook's Recipe Testers" for Cooks Illustrated.

Homemade Purple Corn Tortillas with Pork and Salsa
Homemade Purple Corn Tortillas with Pork and Salsa | Source

Recipe for Corn Tortillas: A Great Bread for Gluten-Free Diets

Tacos, huevos rancheros, enchiladas, tostadas: who doesn't love them? Since masa harina isn’t available in this corner of the world I imagined manually grinding the corn, laboriously forming a masa, hand rolling the tortillas and finally toasting them on a griddle. What a pain in the back…literally!

Then I found a corn tortilla recipe by Alton Brown. Unlike commercially made tortillas, these rustic corn tortillas are a little coarser in texture and bursting with corn flavor. If you have a food processor or blender, you'll find they're faster and easier than flour tortillas since a tortilla press does all the work for you. Then it’s a matter of cooking them on a skillet or griddle and voila! Handmade corn tortillas tastier than anything you can purchase at a grocery store or elaborate with masa harina, and much more nutritious than flour tortillas.

Corn tortillas are a great addition to a gluten-free diet. Since many commercial brands contain gluten, making them at home is the safest option. Both low in fat and high in fiber, corn tortillas also contain potassium, iron and B vitamins. Blue corn tortillas have 20% more protein than those made of white or yellow corn. All corn tortillas are chock full of calcium thanks to the slaked lime used to soften the corn. In areas of the world where corn tortillas are consumed daily, they add a significant amount of calcium to the diet.

And the best news of all? You only need two main ingredients: dried corn and slaked lime. Below you will find information on purchasing these simple ingredients.


Where Can I Find Dried Corn?

You’ll need dried field corn, not sweet corn. Depending on where you live, it may also be called hominy, grain corn, dent corn, maize, maíz posole or maíz mote. In the United States field corn is not grown for human consumption, although twice as much field corn is grown than any other single grain. Used as livestock fodder or to make grain alcohol, it is also ground for breakfast cereals, cornmeal or grits. In Mexico it is an ingredients in pozole and tamales.

To make the tortillas, dried corn is heated and soaked overnight in slaked lime, which softens it enough to be ground. At this point, the corn is called Nixtamal.



What is Slaked Lime?

Slaked lime or calcium hydroxide [Ca(OH)2], is used in the United States to make mortar. Once it is mixed with sand and water, the mortar is sandwiched between bricks. Although strongly alkaline, it is not as caustic as quicklime. It is also sometimes called “pickling lime”. In many Spanish-speaking countries slaked lime is called cal. In Peru, cal is added to soup made with quinoa and given to woman for its high calcium content.


The Tortilla Press

Once you have found the dried corn and slaked lime, you’ll need a tortilla press. Tortilla presses are readily available in the United States, won’t take up much cabinet space in your kitchen and are inexpensive. Please note purchasing information to the right. I own the first tortilla press, which is both durable and easy to use.

You can find information on Google if you'd like to fabricate your own wooden tortilla press.


Tips:

  • This recipe makes rustic tortillas with hearty corn flavor. They won't be as finely textured as corn tortillas made with masa harina.
  • Soak corn for at least 8 hours or overnight. I’ve soaked corn for as little as 6 hours, but you won’t be able to grind it finely enough for the best result.
  • After soaking corn, rinse it thoroughly to remove the bitter lime.
  • You can’t overgrind the corn. Grind as finely as possible both before and after adding water.
  • Add only the minimum amount of water suggested then pour the dough into a mixing bowl. Add more water, if necessary, so the dough just forms a ball.
  • If the dough is too wet it will stick to the plastic bags. If the dough is too dry, the tortilla edges will crack when you cook them.
  • If you’ve added too much water, allow the dough to rest on the counter. Check the dough every 15 minutes and knead it several times, until it’s dry enough to manage.
  • Plastic wrap or plastic bags will keep the tortillas from sticking to the press.
  • Rotate the tortilla and press it several times. With practice, you’ll learn how thick/thin to press the tortilla so it easily peels from the plastic bags.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your first few tries yield less-than-perfect tortillas. Just spread them with a little salted butter and enjoy the fresh, nutty deliciousness as you press out the rest. No one will be the wiser!
  • Heat the griddle until very hot. Brown tortillas on both sides until edges are dry.
  • Keep tortillas warm in a towel-lined basket.


Cook Time

  • Prep time: 30 min
  • Cook time: 30 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour
  • Yields: 14-18 corn tortillas

The Best Homemade Corn Tortillas

4.2 stars from 13 ratings of homemade corn tortillas

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried corn kernels
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons slaked lime (or cal)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 Tablespoons water

Step-by-Step Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Soak the cornThoroughly rinse the cornFinely grind the corn and slowly add waterKnead a few times to form a ballPress out the tortillasPeel from plasticCook on griddle until golden
Soak the corn
Soak the corn
Thoroughly rinse the corn
Thoroughly rinse the corn
Finely grind the corn and slowly add water
Finely grind the corn and slowly add water
Knead a few times to form a ball
Knead a few times to form a ball
Press out the tortillas
Press out the tortillas
Peel from plastic
Peel from plastic
Cook on griddle until golden
Cook on griddle until golden

Instructions:

  1. Combine corn, water and slaked lime in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  2. Bring slowly to a simmer, allowing about 30 minutes. Immediately turn off heat and cover.
  3. Soak corn overnight, at room temperature.
  4. Next day: Pour corn into a colander and rinse thoroughly with plenty of running water for several minutes, or until water runs clear. Rub corn between your palms as you rinse, removing some of the husks.
  5. Place corn and salt into a food processor bowl or blender container.
  6. Pulse the blender or food processor to grind corn as finely as possible, stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl.
  7. Add 6 Tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, as you continue to pulse the corn.
  8. Pour ground corn into a bowl and mix with your hands until it forms a ball of dough. If it’s still too dry, add a little more water so the dough comes together.
  9. Knead the dough for several minutes with the heels of your hands.
  10. Pinch off a portion of dough and roll between your palms to form a small ball. Keep main ball of dough covered.
  11. Place ball in the center of tortilla press which has been covered with plastic bags.
  12. Press the tortilla, rotating it several times to press evenly.
  13. Peel tortilla from plastic bags and place on a very hot (400 F) griddle or skillet. If you don’t have a griddle, I recommend using two skillets to speed up the process.
  14. Brown tortilla, about 30 seconds on each side.
  15. Keep tortillas warm in a towel-lined basket.
homemade corn tortillas
homemade corn tortillas
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 corn tortilla
Calories 50
Calories from Fat9
% Daily Value *
Fat 1 g2%
Carbohydrates 12 g4%
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 1 g2%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

One corn tortilla boasts a whopping 5% calcium and 2% iron!


chicken mole
chicken mole
enchiladas
enchiladas
huevos rancheros
huevos rancheros
tostadas
tostadas | Source
queso fundido
queso fundido

Authentic Mexican Meal and Snack Ideas

Sweet & Smoky Chicken Mole Tacos:

Fill warm tortillas with seasoned ground beef, beef tongue, chicken or pork. Serve with a sprinkling of queso fresco, chopped onion, cilantro and mole sauce.


Quick Stacked Enchiladas: Choose ground beef or shredded chicken. Combine with shredded cheese and enchilada sauce. Oil a 9x13 inch rectangular baking dish. Line the baking dish with corn tortillas, overlapping them a little if necessary. Spread the meat/cheese/enchilada sauce mixture over the tortillas. Cover with another layer of corn tortillas. Pour more sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place in 350 Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Serves 6.


Huevos Rancheros for Two:

Place 4 warm tortillas on a plate. Top with a fried egg and drizzle with enchilada sauce, mole (link) or salsa (link). Finish with a sprinkling of grated cheese and chopped cilantro. I recommend either pepper jack or queso fresco.


Tostadas:

Heat 2 inches of oil in a skillet to 400 Fahrenheit. Fry tortillas until crispy and golden brown, about a minute on each side. Drain on paper towels. Top with seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, salsa and grated cheese.


Queso Fundido:

  • 3 ounces chorizo or other spicy pork sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving any rendered fat in the pan.

2. Stir in olive oil, jalapeño and red pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Add cheese, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro and chorizo. Spread hot cheese mixture on corn tortillas.


Lime-Cilantro Butter

(from The New Best Recipe)

  • 5 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1 Tablespoon minced cilantro leaves
  • Pinch of cayenne, optional

Beat ingredients until light and fluffy. Spread on warm corn tortillas and enjoy!


crispy taco shells
crispy taco shells

How to Fry Homemade Tortillas:

  1. Into a medium saucepan, pour oil with a smoke point high enough for frying. Make sure the oil is deep enough to submerge a taco shell.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Using two tablespoons, submerge the tortilla and bend it into a taco shape.
  4. Hold the tortilla in place until crispy, about one minute.
  5. Drain taco shells on paper towels.


Not-So-Authentic Snack Ideas

  • Gluten-free cinnamon “toast”: Spread tortilla with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Toast under broiler until bubbly.
  • Use tortillas as roll-ups for sandwich filling and spreads, such as cream cheese and ham.
  • Cut tortillas in 4-6 wedges, spray wedges with oil or cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and bake at 400 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, flipping once, for low calorie tortilla chips.
  • Grill fish or shrimp to make Baja tacos.
  • Tortillas make a great "crust" for gluten-free pizza.


Comments

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  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Beth37, I follow handicappedchef! Thank you for the kind words. : ) I'll have to go over there and check out his latest stuff.

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    Beth37 4 years ago

    You are just so amazing. Have you visited http://hubpages.com/@handicappedchef page? If you two ever met in the same kitchen, I believe there would be a small explosion.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    ClaudiaTello, I really appreciate the pin and comment! This is a nice short-cut recipe for corn tortillas that takes pretty close to the real thing.

  • Claudia Tello profile image

    Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

    Fantastic Hub and great food photography. I´ve pined it to my Authentic Mexican Food Board.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    PeggyW, we love huevos rancheros! Now I'm craving them. : ) We just moved and there's a Mexican restaurant on the corner that makes them from scratch, so I understand what you mean about buying them being so much easier than making them. The homemade do taste a lot more yummy than the store bought ones, though. Thank you for the votes, comment and share!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Gave this 5 stars. While I may never make corn tortillas from scratch since they are so readily available and inexpensive in our part of the world, it sounded so interesting regarding making them from scratch. I also liked the suggested ways of using them in the recipes which followed. We often eat Huevos Rancheros for a weekend brunch meal. Up votes and sharing!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    AudreyHowitt, making corn tortillas really isn't difficult. The most important step is to finely grind the corn with a processor and/or blender so the tortillas aren't coarse. I hope you have a chance to try them!

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

    This just looks wonderful!!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Lemonkerdz, "masa harina" is used to make corn tortillas in Mexico. It's made from corn treated with slaked lime. If you use "harina de maiz", or corn flour (made of untreated dried corn), your tortillas will fall apart. You can try mixing half corn flour and half wheat flour, but the tortillas will be a cross between flour and corn tortillas. They also won't have the same flavor or texture as real Mexican-style corn tortillas. This method really isn't difficult and yields authentic, gluten-free corn tortillas. I hope you try it! Thanks for your comment.

  • lemonkerdz profile image

    lemonkerdz 4 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

    Nice recipe, but have you ever used "Harina de Maiz"for making your tortillas. i saw for the first time in the local market. i'm guessing by its yellow color that it is milled dry corn. i have always made tortillas with plain flour but like the idea of milled corn.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    AudreyHowitt, I can't imagine pressing out the tortillas without a press. No wonder you had problems! They aren't expensive and easy to order from Amazon. Be sure and use the plastic bags, which makes it easier to peel the tortilla off the press. Please let me how it goes if you think of it!

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

    This looks wonderful. I have masa and have tried to make tortillas without a press and they just didn't turn out well--maybe I need a press???

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    KoffeeKlatchGals, I find them easier to make than flour tortillas and so delicious! I hope you have a chance to try them. Thanks for coming by!

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Wow, you tortillas look great. I never thought about making my own but yours look so inviting I'm going to have to try. Your meal and snack ideas look amazing. Thanks sfor sharing.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Bright yellow? That is suspicious, Letitialicious! It's surprising how easy these are too make. They just need a little patience. Thanks for the comment!

  • Letitialicious profile image

    Letitialicious 4 years ago from Paris via San Diego

    These look scrumptious. In Paris we used to occasionally find imported tortillas, but some company appears to be making them here now, and they are a most suspicious bright yellow!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Cclitgirl, enjoy! The blue corn tortillas are my favorite. Thanks so much for coming by and for the vote, pin and tweet!

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

    Beautiful hub! I love tortillas and I want to try using blue corn. YUM! Voted up, pinned and tweeted.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    KrisL, it's so nice to meet someone who also appreciate fresh corn tortillas. I hope you enjoy the recipe and thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  • KrisL profile image

    KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

    Great hub! We made tortillas sometimes in San Antonio, because we could buy fresh masa there . . . now I see we can make our own!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Rebeccamealey, they're so much easier to make than flour tortillas. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be pumping them out all the time. Thanks so much for coming by!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Arlene V. Poma, making a tortilla press sounds like a fun little project. I found some step-by-step instructions at: http://www.curbly.com/users/chrisjob/posts/1013-ho... I hope that helps. Thanks so much for stopping by and please let me know how it comes out!

  • rebeccamealey profile image

    Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

    They look great. I don't know if I will get around to making these but I am filing this idea in the "someday I would love to do this" file!

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    Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

    Oh, vespa! What a wonderful Hub! I was shopping around for a wood tortilla maker, but I think I can get my hubby to make one for me. I am open to all suggestions! When I was a child, my neighbor tried to show the neighborhood how to make flour tortillas, but all we were interested in was the end project. A+++, useful, interesting, and awesome!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Moonlake, it's difficult to master the flour tortilla rolling technique for uniformly shaped and sized tortillas. The tortilla press makes the process faster and puts out uniform tortillas. I hope you can find the field corn! If nothing else, you can buy almost anything on Amazon. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 4 years ago from America

    Great hub. There was a girl that lived next door to me in Calif. We both girls and newly weds at that time. She tried her best to teach me how to make flour tortillas and I just couldn't get the hang of it. Maybe I could make these. Now to just find field corn. Voted up and shared.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Alocsin, there's nothing like the flavor of homemade corn tortillas! The lime also adds a substantial amount of calcium. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I love homemade corn tortillas. I imagine the lime in this adds a bit of a kick. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    SmartAndFun, homemade corn tortillas are so much better than the grocery store variety! I hope you can try them someday. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

  • SmartAndFun profile image

    SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

    Corn tortillas just might be my number one favorite food of all time! I could eat them with melted cheese and salsa three meals a day. These homemade ones look delicious! I will have to give them a try!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for coming by Om Paramapoonya. It's always nice to hear from you!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

    Neat! It's so interesting to learn how corn tortillas are made! Your photos made my mouth water as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Olde Cashmere, it's always nice to see you again. Thanks so much for your comment and vote!

  • Olde Cashmere profile image

    Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

    I always love checking out your latest works vespawoolf. Thank you for offering up these delicious looking recipes. Voted up, awesome, useful, and interesting!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Man from Modesto, you're so right. These tortillas are much easier than making bread. You just have to plan ahead so the dry corn has enough time to soak. The process is enjoyable and the homemade tortillas are sooo worth the effort. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Beingwell, thanks so much for coming by and I really appreciate your vote!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Algarveview, so nice to make the acquaintance of a fellow Mexican food fan! Thanks so much for taking the time to read, vote and share. I really appreciate it.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Kelley, thanks so much for taking the time to read, vote and share! I'm always happy to see that you've visited one of my hubs. : ) There's nothing like homemade corn tortillas and they're so versatile in a gluten-free diet. Enjoy!

  • Man from Modesto profile image

    Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

    This is great! It seems a bit easier than baking white bread, too.

  • beingwell profile image

    beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

    Your tortilla looks so good!! Voted up!

  • algarveview profile image

    Joana e Bruno 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

    Hello, Vespawoolf, I love Mexican food and your tortillas look divine... plus the chicken mole, enchiladas... hmmm... seems absolutely delicious... 5 stars for you... Voted up and sharing! Have a great day!

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    kelleyward 4 years ago

    What a fantastic hub! You've included so much here. I need to get a tortilla press so I can make gluten-free corn tortillas. Bookmarking this one. Voted up, 5 stars, and shared! Kelley

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Whole wheat flour tortillas are delicious and nutritious, but corn tortillas are in a class of their own. I hope you have a chance to try them someday. Once you get the knack of it they're actually quite easy. For me, they're faster than the flour variety. Thank you for your kind words, MargaritaEden. I really appreciate it!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Mhatter99, we wouldn't want to upset your wife's friend. I wonder if she uses masa harina or makes them from field corn and lime? Thanks for taking the time to come by. It's always nice to hear from you.

  • MargaritaEden profile image

    MargaritaEden 4 years ago from Oregon

    I love you recipes, they always look like masterpieces, these pictures just make my mouth water. I make whole wheat flour tortillas, but never made corn ones before. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    love tortillas. Unfortunately, my wife's friend would be upset if I tried you recipe. She makes all my tortillas.

  • Janine Huldie profile image

    Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

    Vespawoolf, I am truly a mexican food lover so this hub really spoke to me. Thanks again and you are so welcome too!!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Lovesleftovers, I'm so glad this hub inspired you to try making your own corn tortillas. It's bound to bring back wonderful memories of your Abuela. They're actually easy to make once you get the hang of it, and there's nothing like homemade as you know! Thanks for taking the time to vote and share. I really appreciate it.

  • lovesleftovers profile image

    lovesleftovers 4 years ago from Texas

    Wow, what an information and recipe packed Hub! My family is from Mexico, and my Abuela always made tortillas from scratch. I almost always take the short cut and purchase tortillas, but your recipes motivate me to make some fresh ones. Voted up and shared!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Janine Huldie, it's nice to know a fellow Mexican food lover! Thanks so much for taking the time to read, the vote and the share.

  • Janine Huldie profile image

    Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

    Love Mexican food and agree this left me so hungry right now. Seriously loved your recipes and have pinned, shared and voted up!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    artist101, thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Homemade corn tortillas are so much more delicious than anything you can buy and so versatile, too.

  • artist101 profile image

    Sherrie Westerfield, Cpht 4 years ago from Hobart,In

    You are making me hungry!! looks very good.

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