Homemade corn tortillas are easy and fun to make, even with kids! You only need one ingredient, masa harina (plus water and salt).
Until recently, I never would have considered homemade corn tortillas to be an easy family dinner. Why would I make homemade tortillas when I could buy perfectly acceptable, affordable tortillas at the store? Store-bought tortillas had made my life easier for years, and I saw no reason to change course.
Until I walked into a grocery store one day, like many of you, and there were no tortillas on the shelf. Sold out, all of them. What I did see, however, was a fully stocked shelf of Masa Harina. I grabbed a bag, and now, I wish I had grabbed two.
It turns out that homemade corn tortillas are infinitely tastier than store bought. They're thicker and softer and actually taste like corn!
This didn't come as much of a surprise, but what did come as a surprise was how easy it is to make corn tortillas and how excited my kids were to take charge of the whole operation.
How to Make Corn Tortillas
- Mix masa harina with water and salt
- Let the dough rest 1 hour
- Roll the dough into balls
- Roll the balls out into tortillas
- Heat each tortilla for 2 to 4 minutes in a skillet
If you want perfect corn tortillas, definitely don't let the kids help. Working alone, you can roll the dough into perfectly round tortillas of even thickness and gently warm each one until slightly charred and golden.
But if you're ready to let go of perfection, then put on some music at 5pm, pour yourself a beverage, and set the kids up at one end of the counter with the tortilla dough. While they roll out tortillas, you warm the finished tortillas in a skillet and marvel at how lovely these little moments are when making a meal together really is the best part of the day.
A Few Notes
We ate our corn tortillas with warm black beans, crunchy red cabbage doused in salt and lime, and store-bought, battered frozen cod that made surprisingly good fish tacos.
My kids are 5 and 9 years old. For those of you with younger kids, making corn tortillas will be a little less relaxing, but it's definitely do-able. Making corn tortillas is easier and less messy than most other baking projects.
Most packages of masa harina will have a recipe for corn tortillas on the back. You can follow that recipe, or the one below.
Are Cornmeal and Masa Harina the Same?
No. Cornmeal is made by grinding dried corn kernels. Cornbread and polenta are two foods made from cornmeal.
Masa harina should be labeled "Masa Harina" on the package and is made from grinding corn kernels that have been soaked in lime water. Tortillas and tamales are two foods made from masa harina.