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Course: Breads
Keyword: Cinco de Mayo, Corn Tortillas, Mexican, Summer, Tex-Mex

Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas stacked on a blue plate and wrapped in a kitchen towel.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 14 to 16 tortillas
Take taco night to 11 with this totally DIY recipe for corn tortillas made with fresh masa.
It could be argued that, besides being a staple food for half the planet, the humble tortilla is one of the edible lynchpins of human history. About 10,000 years or so before Columbus showed up, early Meso-Americans learned that if they soaked and cooked starchy maize in water with wood ashes in it, the hulls would slip right off. This handy process is called nixtamalization and is still used today to make tender, toothsome tortillas.
Are corn tortillas inexpensive and readily available? Yep. Should you still make your own because it’s fast, kinda fun and totally worth it from a flavor and texture standpoint? Yep.
This recipe first appeared in Season 10 of Good Eats.
Photo by Lynne Calamia
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  • 1 pound (2 cups) dried corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons slaked lime


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds nixtamal
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Specialized Hardware

Cast-iron griddle
Infrared thermometer
Tortilla press
Corn tortillas stacked on a blue plate and wrapped in a kitchen towel.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 14 to 16 tortillas


  • Rinse the corn under cool water, drain, and set aside.
  • Place the water and lime in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart, non-reactive stockpot set over medium-low heat and stir to combine. Add the corn and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure that it takes at least 30 minutes to come to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit at room temperature overnight. Do not refrigerate.
  • Drain the corn in a large colander and rinse under lukewarm water for 5 to 6 minutes while rubbing the corn kernels between your fingers in order to remove the outer coating.
  • Place the corn into a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water, and allow to soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat. Use immediately to make masa dough for tortillas.
  • Place the nixtamal into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 10 to 15 times. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse 10 times, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add 2 more tablespoons water along with the salt and pulse until a dough begins to form. If the dough is still dry and somewhat crumbly, add the remaining tablespoon of water and pulse several times. Turn the dough out onto the counter and shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and allow to sit for 30 minutes to hydrate.
  • Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat until it reaches 400ºF on an infrared thermometer.
  • Divide the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions, roll into balls, and cover with a damp tea towel.
  • Cut a 1-gallon zip-top bag in half and line the base of a tortilla press with the plastic.
  • Place one ball at a time onto the press and top with the other half of the plastic. Close the press and push down firmly several times until the tortilla is flattened. Remove the plastic wrap from the tortilla, place on the cast-iron griddle, and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove the tortilla to a plate lined with a tea towel. Cover the tortilla with a second towel to keep warm.
  • Repeat with all of the dough. Use immediately or store in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
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