My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!

  


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Monday
Apr292013

homemade corn tortillas + baked tortilla chips

Are you ready for an epically detailed post about homemade tortillas?  I don’t typically do step-by-step tutorials, but I thought it would be particularly useful in this instance.  Not because it’s extremely difficult—it does take a trial or 2 to get the feel for the dough—but because I think it’s helpful to have a visual for each step in this process. 

Plus, I kind of have a thing for documentation.  Thank you architecture school for that!

I’m going to list the directions with the photos but also include a document you can print with directions only.  Look for that at the end of the post along with a list of tips.  Feel free to add your own tips in the comment section.

Homemade Corn Tortillas gluten-free, vegan // yields 16, 5-6” tortillas

  • 2 cups masa harina, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill as they specifically address using non-GMO seeds
  • 1-2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Things to have on hand if you do not have a tortilla press:

    • rolling pin
    • flat bottomed object – bowl/plate/etc. at least 7-inches in diameter for flattening the dough
    • parchment paper – you’ll want to tear 16 squares about 7” to use to keep the rolled out dough from sticking to one another, plus 2 larger sheets for rolling the dough in between
    • cast iron skillet – works best for cooking the tortillas
    • small bowl of cold water

Things to have on hand if you have a tortilla press: 

*It’s completely doable to make these without a press, as I did for my first few batches.  However if you’re making multiple batches in one day and you think that might be a frequent occurrence, I highly suggest buying a press.  I gave it a few trials to see if it was something I thought I would do again in the future before deciding to buy.

    • tortilla pressI just bought this one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $15 with a $5 coupon.  You can also find them on amazon.
    • parchment paper – I‘ve read others say to grease the plates before pressing the dough, but I found parchment paper to work perfectly.  I tore 1 large sheet and folded it in half to cover both sides of the press.  I had to replace it about every 12 tortillas as it started to thin out tear.
    • cast iron skillet – works best for cooking the tortillas
    • small bowl of cold water

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Place the masa in a mixing bowl and dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of hot water.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Slowly pour the water over the flour mixing as you pour.  A large spoon or fork is helpful at first but then you’ll need to use your hands.
  • Continue to mix the dough with your hands and knead it in the bowl for about 2 minutes until you can form a smooth ball that is not sticky or crumbly.  Add more hot water 1 tablespoon at a time to help form the dough. 

*I typically need 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of water to get the dough just right.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • When the dough is just right it will have a texture similar to Play-Doh.  It will feel smooth and sort of clammy to the touch and should not feel wet, sticky, dry, or gritty.  It will have sort of a springy feel when lightly pressed. 
  • If the dough is wet/sticky/mushy, incorporate more flour into the mixture and vice versa if it is too dry.  Add water and/or flour slowly.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours on the counter to allow it to hydrate.  Do not skip this step!

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Section the ball in half, and then in half again, until you have 16 similarly sized pieces.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Roll each piece into a ball and keep covered with a towel as you roll them out.

*If the dough feel slightly dry/gritty as you’re rolling them, keep a bowl of cold water close by and wet your fingertips as you roll to help hydrate the dough.  You want to keep that same Play-Doh type feel the entire process.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Tear off two ~10x10-inch pieces of parchment paper, plus sixteen ~7x7-inch squares. Also take out a flat plate or dish that's larger than 6 inches in diameter. 

*I found this casserole dish and the bottom of our dinner plates to work really well.

  • Place one ball between the 2 larger sheets of parchment and, holding the plate, use your body weight to flatten the dough. 

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • You want the dough about 6 inches in diameter and less than 1/8 inch thick. If you can't flatten it enough with the plate—I definitely could not—finish rolling out with a rolling pin.
  • Keep the dough covered with parchment and lightly roll in varying directions to keep it in the circular shape.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Carefully peel dough off the parchment and place on one of your smaller sheets of parchment. Continue this process and keep stacking the tortillas with the small sheets of parchment so they don't stick together.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Keep the stack covered with a towel as you work.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • If you want perfectly round edges, trim with a bowl or other circular object about 6 inches in diameter.
  • Once you've finished rolling them out, preheat a non-greased cast iron skillet [or non-stick frying pan] over medium-medium/high heat.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

  • Place tortillas on the hot pan one at a time and cook for about 45 seconds - 1 minute per side, then flip, and cook about 45 seconds - 1 more minute. The tortilla should puff as it cooks on the second side.  If it puffs you’ve done well.
  • Adjust the cooking time and temperature as needed. 

*I keep mine in between medium and medium-high heat.

  • Stack the tortillas as they finish and keep covered with a towel or in a tortilla warmer.  As the tortillas sit they should stay soft + easily roll. 

*If they are crunchy or tear when rolled they were most likely overcooked.

  • Repeat until all tortillas are cooked.

Guess what??  YOU’RE DONE!!!  Now it’s time for some tips, suggestions if you’re using a tortilla press, and then crunchy, homemade chips!

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

TIPS!

Photographed below were my first two attempts at making the tortillas. On the right was the first attempt and you will notice the tortillas are very flat and didn’t puff or char at all.  This was due to the dough being slightly too dry, which I didn’t realize since it was my first try.  The resulting texture was slightly tough and heavy, similar to what I’ve experienced with store-bought corn tortillas. 

After making the second batch and having them puff up a bit, the texture was much more tender and fluffy.  They weren’t dense like the first batch.  This is when I got the feel for the Play-Doh-like dough when mixing the water + flour together.  The first batch has a slightly dusty/gritty feel to it, which I now know means the dough is not wet enough even though it held together.

  • The amount of hot water you’ll need will vary each time you make the tortillas.  Start with 1-1 1/4 cups and work up from there.
  • The best description I’ve read is that the dough should feel like Play-Doh.  It will have a clammy, smooth feel. 
  • This is nothing like bread or pizza dough.  It will not rise or stretch.
  • If your dough feels slightly crumbly, dusty, or is cracking, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and knead until smooth.  If you add too much water, add a small amount of flour to soak it up.
  • The rest period for the dough is important for the flour to hydrate.
  • If the dough feel slightly dry/gritty as you’re rolling them into smaller balls, keep a bowl of cold water close by and wet your fingertips as you roll to help hydrate the dough. You want to keep that same Play-Doh type feel the entire process.
  • When you’re cooking the tortillas, you know the dough was properly hydrated if the tortilla puffs a bit as it cooks on the 2nd side.
  • If the dough doesn’t puff it may have been too dry. This will result in slightly tough and dense texture.
  • If the dough cracks horribly or feels very stiff as you roll it out, it is definitely too dry.
  • Parchment paper is your new best friend.
  • Once fully cooked, tortillas can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 to 7 days. Or, store in them in a sealed container in the freezer and reheat in a dry skillet.
  • I like to stack the tortillas on a cooling rack as I cook them—keeping them covered with a towel--and let them rest fro about 10 minutes before eating.  I’ve found the texture improves as they sit for a short time.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

First trial tortillas – They were definitely still edible and were able to be rolled but had a tough/chewy texture.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

The second batch were soft and fluffy while still being able to hold up to a large pile of fajita toppings without tearing.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

Shortcut *if using a tortilla press*

  • After the dough has rested for 30 minutes – 2 hours, I go straight to preheating the pan.
  • Tear off a large sheet of parchment paper and place it in the tortilla press so it covers the bottom and top plate.  *I found it easier to work with 1 large sheet rather than 2 separate sheets.  You’ll need to replace the large sheet once in awhile as it thins out and starts to tear. 
  • Instead of sectioning off the ball into 16 smaller balls, I tear off golf-ball sized pieces one at a time, roll them into a smooth ball [add a sprinkle of cold water if the dough feels dry as you roll], press it in the tortilla press between the parchment, then cook as directed above.  As it cooks I section off another piece of dough and press it so it’s ready as soon as the first is done cooking.  And so on.  *If you’re doing this without a press I found it much easier to pre-roll and stack them all as it takes a bit longer to do the pressing and rolling and you want to be able to keep an eye on the dough that’s cooking.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

And now that you have tortillas you will definitely want to make baked tortilla chips. The hard part is already done!

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips gluten-free, vegan // yields 64 chips from 16 tortillas

*For the crispiest chips you want to make sure your tortillas were rolled under 1/8-inch thick. 

  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or more, to taste
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and take out two large rimmed baking sheets.
  2. Lightly oil each tortilla on both sides using a pastry brush.
  3. Cut each tortilla into 4 segments and place on the baking sheets in a single layer.
  4. Top with salt and bake for 8 to 12 minutes until golden brown and crispy. They will crisp up even more as they cool.

[photograph is in the unbaked state]

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

To make lime-salted chips:

  • Salt the lightly oiled chips before baking. After fully crisped, remove from the oven and spritz the hot chips with fresh lime juice using your fingertips. You want a light sprinkle over each chip so they stay crispy. Let cool completely.
  • These are delicious with guacamole!

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

To make cinnamon sugar chips:

  • Combine about 1/4 cup of pure cane sugar with 1 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle desired amount over your lightly oiled cut tortillas before baking. [Instead of salting.]
  • Bake for 8-12 minutes until crisped and golden brown and let fully cool.
  • These are awesome with fruit salsa!

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

This post was spurred on after Food52 asked me to create a how-to on making homemade tortilla chips.  I soon realized I had to figure out how to make the actual tortillas before the I could get to the chip part.  While I shared some of the same content on Food52 this post includes a handful more photos + details to hopefully have you on your way to perfecting your own homemade tortillas + chips!  While this process is actually quite simple and most sites give very brief and informative instructions, I wanted to include what I learned along the way.

Print this!  A consolidated version of the tortilla + chip-making steps.

homemade corn tortillas + tortilla chips // edible perspective

How about that for a Monday post?  Be on the lookout for a very fiesta-themed week on the blog.  We never really go all out for Cinco de Mayo but I couldn’t help myself after making the tortillas.  A simple mango, avocado, lime salad is up next and then juicy veggie fajitas!  And there will most definitely be dessert.  Stay tuned!

Ashley

Reader Comments (31)

excruciating detail is necessary with this kind of stuff. thank you! :)
I am sooo down with this! Yum!!
serious deliciousness right there. I have to be honest and say I'm not entirely sure I would have the patience for all this, but I may surprise myself and give a shot soon! Thank you for putting in so much detail and step-by-step instructions, that's a lot of hard work!
terrific detailed instructions, i might even be inspired enough to try this one on my own!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKAIT
I just LOVE how detailed this is and I can't wait to try them myself! Good going girl : )
Awesome tutorial!!!! Love the rustic homemade look!!!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMr. & Mrs. P
These look delicious and I can't wait to see the upcoming salad!!
oh man, those look AMAZING.
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana
I've been contemplating homemade tortillas for like 20 years but living in San Diego, we have so many places to buy fresh tortillas. It's definitely time for me to roll up my sleeves and try this. Also, America's Test Kitchen proposes using a ziploc bag and cutting 2 of the edge seams to put the dough into when they're pressing/rolling out the tortilla, so I'll try both methods! Thanks again!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkat
These sound fantastic. I'll have to give them a go... maybe a weekend thing!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAisling
You are incredible! Homemade tortillas...I died!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersteph
Girl you are amazing!!! I am in love with these!! I will be making these for sure!! No doubt! Very excited!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTieghan
The dough looks exactly like playdoh! I've made these before and they are so much fun to do! And they taste amazing!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Tadic
Love the tutorial, now I need Mexican food!
April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
@Ashley - You are most welcome! Glad you liked the detail!

@Christa - I promise it's not as daunting as it seems. :)

@Abby - Let me know how they turn out!

@Kat - You must give them a go! :) I've seen the ziploc bag trick as well, let me know if one works better!

@Maria - I had a lot of fun making them, too! Kind of a relaxing process once you get the feel for the dough.

@Andrea - Thanks so much!
April 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
You are some kind of angel. A corn tortilla-making angel. I have been needing something like this for so long!
April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
I'm imagining how much more amazing homemade corn tortillas taste than anything you can buy at a store. Thanks for the informative post!
April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica S. @ Floptimism
OMG I was looking for a recipe for this!! thanks
Oh I want to go home right this minute and try making tortillas!
May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn
How do you keep homemade tortillas fresh once you make them? I haven't yet found the way!
May 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersushiandstrudel
Thank you for this tutorial! I had made tortilla a few times before, but I had not let the dough hydrate and it was SO DIFFICULT to work with! I used plastic wrap instead of parchment paper for the pressing/rolling (I just used a pot to flatten and a rolling pin to thin my tortillas out). Also, I didn't find it necessary to separate my tortillas after rolling (but before cooking), so I just overlapped them slightly as I was stacking them. Thanks for teaching me how to make great, inexpensive tortillas!
@sushiandstrudel - Do you mean how do you keep them fresh while the others are cooking? Or how do you store them after they're cooked? I just keep mine in a stack with a towel over so they don't dry out while the others cook. A tortilla warmer would also help. To store, I let them cool all the way them put in a sealed bag in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer. I reheat them in a pan or in the toaster on a low setting to re-soften. Hope this helps!

@Holly - I'm thrilled you got them to work! Yay! Good tip on not needing the parchment to separate them. I used it just to be on the safe side. :)
May 21, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
I really want to make some corn tortillas. I only have corn flour. Is it the same as masa harina? Can I substitute regular corn flour with success? Thanks!
July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Dembowski
@Laura - Masa harina and corn flour are different types of corn flour. Here's an explanation - http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_corn_tortillas/ I'm not sure how they will turn out with regular corn flour but it would most likely work. All the recipes I've ever seen do call for masa harina, though. Maybe do a few google searches and see what you can find! Hope it works out!
July 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
I live part time in the state and part time the year in brazil. My husband end l miss tortillas whem we are in brazil, I'm going to try yours recipe. I will let you kwow
October 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercelia
I made these yesterday and brought them to a Christmas potluck at work and they were gone in no time!! People loved them! No more buying grocery store tortilla chips for me! Thank you!!
December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
is it one or two cups watter, your ingredients state 1-2 cups watter????
February 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteramber
If you keep reading on to the directions you'll see more specifics about the water. It can vary and change each time you make them but should be between 1 and 2 cups in total. You'll add more as needed in small increments.
February 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
I made these over the weekend for tacos and just posted them on my blog. I loved them and found them much easier to make than I anticipated. I can't wait to have them again! I'd love if you'd check out my blog post: http://piesandplots.net/taco-night-with-homemade-corn-tortillas/
March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Dembowski
These directions are so helpful! Thanks! It definitely helped me to improve my homemade tortillas.
March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRi
Hi Ashley
Managed to track down some masa harina (here in Australia its pretty hard to find) and was wondering if it would still work ok if I just halve the recipe? Not sure if this would affect the proportion of water used?
Thanks for another great recipe!
August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

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