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Gluten-Free Homemade Corn Tortilla Recipe

April 23, 2020 7 min read

Gluten-Free Homemade Corn Tortilla Recipe

Who said that tacos should only be eaten on Tuesdays? Not us! Especially not when making corn tortillas at home is as easy as 1,2,3. All you need is cornflour (or masa sharing), water, a tortilla press, and a cast-iron skillet!  

Once you learn how to make fresh tortillas, you are never going to buy them ever again. They are healthier, taste better than anything you get at your local supermarket, and they are much cheaper to make (and as bonus, corn tortillas are totally gluten-free). You can also make them ahead of the time, pop half-cooked tortillas in a fridge, and reheat them whenever you fancy some Mexican food. 

Follow this simple masa tortillas recipe and learn how to make corn tortillas from scratch. 

How to make corn tortillas

Ingredients 

Makes approx. 16 corn tortillas

  •  2 cups of masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • Approx. 1.5 cups of warm water

Instructions

How to make the dough

  1. Pour 2 cups of masa harina into a bowl, add salt and mix it.
  2. Add 1 cup of warm water and mix it until it's absorbed.
  3. Now gradually (a few tablespoons at a time) add more water to the mix while you continue stirring.
  4. Keep adding water until flour forms into a dough, and you can start kneading it. It might take some practice as we are aiming for a dough that isn't sticky. If it is, that means you have probably added too much water. You can fix the situation by adding a little bit more flour and continue kneading the dough. If the dough isn't forming into a cohesive ball, that means you need to add a little bit more water. 
  5. When you have perfected your dough, separate it into 16 smaller balls. Aim to make them in similar size to golf balls. These should turn into 4-inch tortillas. 

How to press corn flour tortillas

You can roll and then flatten your corn tortillas entirely by hand. You just need a rolling pin and a bit of strength. But we're not going to lie, it's hard work and time-consuming.

To make the best corn tortillas, we recommend using a tortilla press. It will make your life a whole lot easier. You can turn out corn tortillas much quicker using a tortilla press, while your corn tortillas will also be much flatter and much smoother if you use a press.

It's easy to learn how to make homemade tortillas using a tortilla press.

  1. First, lay plastic wrap or parchment paper on each side of your cast iron tortilla press to prevent your dough from sticking.
  2. Pull the lever to close the tortilla press shut.
  3. After flattening your corn tortilla, it should peel off easily. (If it's sticking to the plastic wrap, it's a sign that your dough is too watery.) 
  4. Once you're happy with the outcome of your corn tortilla recipe, repeat the process until you've run out of your corn dough!

How to cook corn tortillas

Now your freshly pressed corn tortillas are ready to be cooked. When your learning how to make tortilla from corn dough, the cooking process is just as important as the flattening stage of the corn tortilla recipe!

All tortillas need to be cooked gently, to keep in the moisture. Dry tortillas are the worst, so we always suggest taking the time to heat your tortillas properly. There are a few ways you can cook your tortillas, but only ever use the microwave as a last resort!

Here are the best ways to cook your corn tortillas:

  1. Cast iron skillet and oil on the stovetop
  2. Baked in the oven
  3. Tortilla warmers
  4. Microwave
Stovetop skillet

A stovetop skillet combination is a classic way to cook your corn tortillas. This is how you'll see corn tortillas being cooked up all over Mexico!

  1. Heat your cast iron skillet up to medium heat.
  2. When it's ready, place your corn tortilla on the cooking surface.
  3. Cook the tortilla for 1 min, then flip it over for another minute. When they start to lightly puff up, they're ready.

You don't need any oil or butter, you just cook the tortilla straight on the skillet. The tortillas need the dry heat, otherwise, they'll start to become crispy if you're using oil.

If you have a griddle or a griddle pan, this works just as well as a cast iron skillet.

Oven baking with tinfoil

Oven baking with tinfoil is another great way to heat your tortillas after you've freshly pressed them. It takes longer than cooking tortillas in a skillet, but the results are always consistent and you can cook lots at once.

  1. Preheat your oven up to 350°F.
  2. Heat your tortillas in a pan until they are hot, but not cooked.
  3. Wrap a small stack of tortillas in tinfoil and place them in the middle of the oven.
  4. Leave to bake for 25 min, until golden brown.
Tortilla warmers

Tortilla warmers are the ultimate way to cook and keep your corn tortillas warm. These dedicated cooking devices are often made from ceramic, allowing you to evenly spread heat over the tortillas when they are in the oven.

  1. Preheat your oven up to 350°F.
  2. Heat your tortillas in a pan until they are hot, but not quite cooked.
  3. Take your tortilla warmer, place your stack of tortillas inside, and heat them gently in the oven for 25 min.

Tortilla warmers will keep your freshly cooked corn tortillas hot and fresh all the way through Taco Tuesday!

Microwave

It's quick and easy to cook your corn tortillas in the microwave, but we don't recommend it. It's easy to overcook them, while the finished product won't retain much moisture, or much taste, in comparison to the other methods we've outlined above.

If you have to use the microwave, we recommend using a tortilla warmer.

  1. Heat your tortillas in a pan until they are hot, but not cooked.
  2. Place the corn tortillas inside the tortilla warmer
  3. Sprinkle them with a dash of water
  4. Then microwave them for 30 seconds at a time.

Homemade corn tortilla recipe FAQ

Now your homemade corn tortillas should be ready to turn into tacos or burritos, but you might still have a few burning questions to ask!

We put together this brief corn tortilla recipe FAQ, to answer the most common questions and queries.

What are corn tortillas made of?

Corn tortillas are seen as much healthier than their flour tortilla counterparts. They are lower in calories, lower in carbohydrates, and of course, they are gluten-free. This 'healthier' composition is down to the simple ingredients used to make corn tortillas.

Corn tortillas have two primary ingredients; masa harina and water. Masa harina is a type of specialized corn flour that has been treated with calcium hydroxide or “lime.” Maize is ground up and then added to a water and lime compound.

Lime might seem like an unusual addition to your corn tortillas, but the truth is, you can't make authentic corn tortillas without it. If you were to use untreated cornflour rather than masa harina, your corn tortillas wouldn't taste nearly as good. Importantly though, if you don't use masa harina, your diy tortillas won't be as healthy or as nutritious as they could be.

The lime is so important because it unlocks the best nutrients and vitamins that are hidden inside the cornflour. It's a process called nationalization, and it's been used in Mexico and Central America for thousands of years (long before the Europeans turned up with their wheat flour!).

Without skill and years of experience, the nixtamalization process is difficult to replicate at home. That's why your corn tortilla recipe needs masa harina, to be both authentic and healthy!

You can buy masa harina from specialized Mexican food stores or purchase it online.  

Can you cook corn tortillas ahead of time?

Yes, this corn tortilla recipe is perfect for cooking ahead of time. You can press and cook up large batches, and store them for later.

We recommend pressing the tortillas, then cooking them lightly. Store them in the fridge (or freeze them), then reheat them later. You can reheat them by gently cooking on the stovetop or by baking in the oven for 10 minutes.

How long do homemade corn tortillas last?

Homemade corn tortillas are surprisingly long-lasting. They won't last as long as store-bought tortillas, simply because there are no added preservatives, but if kept in the fridge your corn tortillas will still be very edible up to 10 days later.

When tortillas start to turn, they tend to harden or crisp. You can still use them at this stage for making homemade corn tortilla chips rather than throwing them away.

Can you freeze homemade corn tortillas?

Yes! Our corn tortilla recipe is perfect for freezing. Press your tortillas, lightly cook them, then store them in a suitable freezer container.

We recommend using a ziplock, freezer bag, to keep in the most taste and flavor. You can freeze corn tortillas for up to 8 months if you have to, although they will start to lose their freshness by this point.

Corn tortillas thaw quickly, just by leaving them on the side. Once they have defrosted, you can reheat them in a pan or in the oven.

Are corn tortillas gluten-free?

Do corn tortillas have gluten? No! Corn is naturally gluten-free, which makes corn tortillas perfect for a gluten-free diet.

When you are purchasing masa harina however, double-check that the product is completely gluten-free. Masa harina might be produced using the same equipment that's used to also produce similar tortilla products, such as flour tortillas, that do have gluten.

Corn tortilla vs flour tortilla: what's better?

Corn tortillas are much healthier than flour tortillas. Corn tortillas have fewer calories, fewer carbs, and due to the cooking process, have many more nutrients than flour tortillas.

When we were answering the question, do tortillas have gluten, we already mentioned how corn tortillas are gluten-free, whereas flour tortillas are not!

Voilà, you have just made your first batch of homemade tortillas! It's time to invite your friends for a long-overdue catch-up and some heartwarming Mexican food. Why not bookmark our naturally gluten free, homemade corn tortilla recipe for later?



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