Corn Tortillas

How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe | Masa Harina and Lard
Corn tortillas take practice to perfect. Here's everything I've learned so far!

Corn tortillas are a pillar of Mexican cuisine, and nothing beats homemade. Sure, you can pick up a bag of 100 from the store, but don’t you want to take a culinary adventure?? I know I do!
Don’t let the corn tortilla’s humble facade fool you– there’s a technique to these, but you’re going to love learning it (especially the eating part.) And when they’re done, there are tacos, taquitos, flautas, and enchiladas to be had. Or, eat these tortillas warm by themselves. They’re delicious!

How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe | Masa Harina and Lard

Recipe Notes

Masa Harina
Masa harina means corn flour, and it’s different from cornmeal or polenta because it’s finer. It comes in mainly white or yellow varieties, but there are others such as blue! I recommend Bob’s Red Mill or Maseca brands.

Why Lard?
If you haven’t noticed yet, fat makes everything delicious. Eat your vegetables.

The Need for Knead (+ Resting)
Hand kneading is important because it helps the masa moisten and the gluten develop. Resting is very important because the masa needs time to soak up all the water fully.

Pictured below is Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Masa Harina and Armour brand lard. Maseca brand masa is also great!

How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe | Masa Harina and Lard

Since I don’t have a basket for steaming the tortillas hot off the griddle, I use this saute pan with a towel inside.

How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe | Masa Harina and Lard

Cooking Notes

Cooking Surface
When it comes to cooking the tortillas, I have had an easier time with a non-stick surface than a cast iron. Because this recipe produces a delicate dough, non-stick ensures there will be no issue flipping the tortillas. The upside of the delicate dough is the moist and tender tortilla produced!
Traditionally, a comal, made of either cast iron or earthenware, is used to cook tortillas, but I don’t have one so I haven’t tried it (yet!)

As I said before, don’t let the corn tortilla fool you– there is plenty of technique required!
Before I started the counting method (outlined in the recipe) I could not get my tortillas to puff. I started to count I started to get puff. Easy as that. Try it! After a while, you’ll find they rhythm and you won’t need to count anymore.

Do not skip the steaming step after griddling– this is the step that makes the tortillas soft.
Insulation is important to keep heat from the hot tortillas trapped, but too much insulation will cause condensation and make the tortillas wet. Above this section is an image of how I steam my tortillas after griddling.

How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe | Masa Harina and Lard

Mini Corn Tortillas

Before I realized that people were making mini tacos by cutting up regular sized tortillas with biscuit cutters, I made these! Miniature tacos are painfully cute and I can’t encourage you enough to make a batch. To make mini tortillas, simply follow the steps for regular tortillas but use smaller balls of dough.

Here’s how to DIY a tortilla press if you don’t have one!

And even if you do have a tortilla press, using a zip top bag as a plastic liner will help transfer tortillas from the press to your hands.

Corn Tortillas Recipe (Tortillas de Maiz)

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Corn Tortillas

Keyword: corn tortillas, lard
Servings: 16 Tortillas


  • Medium bowl
  • Gallon sized zip top bag
  • Tortilla press or a sturdy glass pan with a flat bottom
  • Non-stick griddle or large non-stick pan
  • Pan or basket with a lid for steaming
  • Lint-free towel


  • 2 cups masa harina packed (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.75 cups hot water


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the masa harina and the salt. Add the lard and the hot water and use a spoon to mix, pressing the spoon into the dough and moistening all dry spots. Using your hands, mix and knead the dough further to develop the gluten, about 1-2 minutes more. The dough will be very wet. Cover the dough and allow to rest at room temperature 1 hour. (During this time, the masa harina will continue to soak up the moisture from the water, creating a tender– but not sticky– dough.)
  • After 1 hour, uncover the dough. Test the dough by taking a tablespoon of the dough and forming a ball. Press the ball between your palms. If the edges crack more than 1/4 “, the dough is too dry. If it sticks to your hands, it’s too wet. If needed, knead in any additions of masa or hot water into the dough, cover, and rest 10 minutes. If the dough doesn’t crack or stick badly, you’re ready to make tortillas!
  • Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead a few times. Divide the dough evenly into 16 pieces, then roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls back into the bowl and do not cover.
  • Cut the zipper top and side seams off a gallon zip top bag. If you’re using a tortilla press, place this liner inside your press. If you’re using a DIY press (see video above the recipe), place this liner on your work surface. Place one ball of dough between the two pieces of plastic, then flatten into a tortilla with your press or pan.
  • Heat a non-stick griddle or large non-stick pan over medium heat. When hot, use the plastic zip bag liner to lift the tortilla and gently transfer to your palm. Drop/smack the tortilla onto the hot griddle or pan by flipping your palm downward. Count to 15, then use a spatula to carefully flip, guiding the tortilla with your fingers. (At this stage, the tortilla will be delicate and prone to folding on itself.) Count to 25, then flip again. Count to 25 again and this time the tortilla should begin to puff. Flip for the last time and count to 25. (There are 4 turns total, with the tortilla puffing on the 3rd and 4th turns.) Transfer the tortilla to a basket or pan lined with a lint-free towel, and cover 3/4 of the way. (This post-cook steam is the final step of the process, don’t skip it! The tortillas must steam well all the way through to be soft and pliable.) Continue pressing, cooking, and steaming the tortillas until all have been cooked.
  • Notes for cooking: If the tortilla is getting black spots after the second turn, the heat should be decreased. If the tortilla isn’t puffing on the third turn, the heat should be increased.
  • Leftover tortillas can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but must be reheated all the way through to be pliable and soft again. To reheat, wrap in a towel and steam in a steaming insert or bamboo steamer.

Now all you need are some fillings. How about these?

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