Instant Mexican Corn Tortillas

Making tortillas from dry corn to plated tacos is indeed a labour of love. Fortunately there’s a totally hassle-free way using masa harina – dehydrated instant nixtamal. Just add water and you’re ready to go.

The most widely used masa brand in Mexico is Maseca, also readily available in the USA.

In Europe sources of masa and ready-made tortillas include

  • (on-line)
  • Cool Chile’s stall in London’s Borough market
  • Planet Organic
  • Wholefoods
  • Larger branches of Sainsburys and other supermarkets


The only piece of equipment that’s helpful, but not obligatory, is the tortilla press. Traditional hand shaping doesn’t work with masa which is too delicate for such handling. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a press. I’ll show you a simple and foolproof alternative for making great tortillas every time. 

home-made blue-corn Mexican tortillas

Mexican Corn Tortillas

These are made from nixtamal: corn that's been treated with lime to break down the grain's outer husk releasing an explosion of flavour and nutrition
Total Time 20 mins
Cuisine Latin American, Mexican


  • 1-2 cups masa harina depending on how many you're feeding
  • warm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt optional: traditional tortillas are salt-free


  • measure out the masa harina into bowl
  • add enough warm water to make a soft dough that's not sticky, using your hands to create a smooth ball of dough
    nixtamalized Mexican corn-dough for tortillas
  • make little balls slightly larger than a golf-ball

shaping the tortillas with a press

  • the tortilla balls need to be flattened between two horizontal plates
  • cut a sandwich bag into two sheets. 
  • if using a press, lay one plastic sheet on the press, place your tortilla ball onto it and cover with the other sheet, Flip the lid onto the dough and press firmly with the lever, Peel off the plastic and cook immediately
    hand-pressed clue corn Mexican tortillas

Alternative shaping method

  • place the tortilla on your first sandwich bag sheet, cover with the other sheet and now place a medium chopping board on top. Gently but firmly press down using your body weight. The dough is very soft and requires little effort. Un-peel the plastic sheets, 

cooking the Trotillas

  • Preheat a skillet or heavy-based large frying pan on medium heat. 
  • put the tortilla onto the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds, or until the sides just start to curl. Gently grab an edge and flip them by hand without burning your fingers on the skillet. If this worries you use a spatula. Cook the bottom side until cracks form. Flip again until the top-side develops light brown flecks
  • the whole thing might take a minute and a half to two minutes. If your tortilla puffs up that's the sign of a great tortilla. If it doesn't carry-on regardless
  • serve immediately or keep them warm wrapped in  clean tea towel inside a bread basket or Mexican chiquihuite ( chikiwiteh to you anglophones)
    home-made blue-corn Mexican tortillas


Tortillas straight off the skillet are the way to go. You can store them briefly in a chiquihuite if you're the kind of person who likes to sit down to eat with your guests.

Next we'll make lots of lovely fillings, salsas and accompaniments for your tortillas

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