Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, and Easy

I wanted to make enchiladas, and my friend Amanda, hearing that, offered to give me the masa harina she had in her house, which I could then use to make some great gluten free corn tortillas. I was really excited about this, because I'd wanted to get my hands on masa harina for a while but wasn't sure where to buy it locally.

Masa harina is a corn based flour used for making tortillas. It should not be confused with corn meal or corn flour or polenta, since masa harina is made by grinding corn that had first been soaked in a lime (calcium hydroxide- not the citrus fruit) solution, which then completely changes the texture of the corn into something that makes a wonderful workable dough.

Using this masa harina, also known as maseca, I then made some corn tortillas very easily- with just two other ingredients- water, and salt. When I say easy, I don't mean that there wasn't any work involved- I had to roll out each one, but rather, it didn't flop and was relatively straightforward to work with, not a finicky dough at all. It reminded me a lot of making gluten free vegan chapatis, an Indian flatbread.

So, how do you do it?

In short, you mix hot water with masa harina, let it sit for a bit, make it into tortilla shapes, and then dry fry it. Officially you're supposed to use a tortilla press, but I don't have one of those so I just made mine using a rolling pin and (and sometimes also a pot).
Dough made with masa harina is relatively easy to work with, but it doesn't have the elasticity that a glutenous wheat tortilla would have, so its a little hard to get it into the exact right shape. A tortilla press evenly presses down on the entire thing so that you have a tortilla of uniform thickness and shape, but without a tortilla press you end up with something just as tasty, it's just a drop more physical work, and slightly less aesthetic since it's hard to get a perfect circle. But that's alright by me.

Once you have your corn tortillas you can do what you want with them. You can eat them fresh, rolled up with fixings, burrito style, you can make them into tacos or quesadillas or enchiladas, or you can make them into a wrap filled with whatever you want, or you can spread them with a spread and roll them up into pinwheels. You can also turn them into tortilla chips.

The downside of corn tortillas is that, like with all tortillas it seems, they aren't as good when they aren't fresh. However, moistening them and reheating them can get them soft again.

I definitely will be making this again and again- I just made two batches in the last day it was that good.

This batch made me 12 medium smallish tortillas, the perfect size for enchilada casserole.

Enchiladas with corn tortillas, a ground beef filling,
homemade enchilada sauce,
 and dairy free cheese sauce (made with my rice milk I got free)

You can make the tortillas smaller or larger depending on your preference, and depending on how large you make them, that'll effect the total yield.

It's hard for me to give an exact time this recipe takes, as there is the waiting time while the dough sits, and then depending on how experienced you are with rolling out tortillas or other similar things, it can take more or less time. But I'd say the total amount of time once I started rolling them out until it was all cooked was under 30 minutes.

Now that I saw how easy and fun it was to make corn tortillas, and how yummy they are, I am going to try to figure out where to buy it locally, and if not, I can always get it on iherb.

Homemade Corn Tortillas Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, and Easy

2 cups masa harina
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
Oil, if not cooking on cast iron

1. Measure your masa harina and salt and mix them together. I usually am liberal with the amount of masa harina I put in, letting it overflow the measuring cups a bit, and it works perfectly that way.

2. Add hot or boiling water to the flour, and mix it well. If you measured an exact amount of flour, not overflowing cups, use a little less water at first, and add a drop at a time until it is all mixed together and your dough is pliable and moist and not crumbly or too wet or sticky. I find by being liberal with the flour the amount of water listed works perfectly and I don't need to add the water bit by bit.

3. You can use your dough immediately if you want, as long as its cool enough to handle, but it works a bit better if you let it sit 20-30 minutes covered, to let the flour fully absorb all the water.

4. Cooking with cast iron works best for this recipe, and if you have a cast iron griddle that is the best way, but a cast iron skillet or dutch oven works too, as does a non stick or regular griddle or large pan. If using cast iron, set it to heat up while you roll out the tortillas.

5, If you have a tortilla press, line it with plastic or parchment paper and flatten large golf ball sized lumps of dough, but since I don't use that, I'll tell you how I made mine without.
Put your golf ball sized lump of dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Take a large flat bottomed pot and press it down firmly on the dough, flattening it. (Be careful and hold the pot by its sides, not its handles, unless you want to break off one of the handles of your pot like I just did before I learned my lesson.) You don't need to do this step, but what it does is flatten your dough uniformly so that once you use your rolling pin, you're able to keep the general round shape more easily than if you tried rolling out the tortilla by hand without first flattening it.
Use your rolling pin to roll the tortilla as thin as you can manage without it breaking. If you want to make it more aesthetic, you can break off any pieces that are sticking out in odd shapes and use it to patch areas that are missing pieces to get a more complete circle. I did this for a few but then I stopped bothering to do so. The dough is wonderfully textured so it works well to patch, without being able to see that that area was any different from the original.

6. Peel your parchment paper off the tortilla very carefully, one side and then another, making sure not to rip the dough while doing so.

7. Place your dough on your heated griddle/pan/pot, and if not using something non stick (either cast iron or other non stick surfaces) use a touch of oil rubbed onto the surface of the pan to prevent it from sticking.

8. Cook until it starts lifting a drop at the sides or changes color. Flip over. Officially you should use a spatula for this, but I found it lifted up enough that I was able to pick up the edges with my fingers and not burn myself.

9. Heat the other side until it is fully cooked. If your pan is hot enough, you sometimes will see bubbles like this forming in the tortilla (but only when cooking the second side, not the first). Depending on how cooked you like your tortillas you can remove it when its solidified or once it starts getting a few brown toasted spots.

A tortilla getting puffy. Yes, one that I didn't bother making round.

10. While each tortilla is cooking, roll out the next so that you have one ready to go on the griddle as soon as you take off the other. With a griddle I can do two tortillas at once, shortening my waiting/cooking time.

11. Stack your tortillas when they are finished cooking, then cover with a towel and then wrap in plastic, to help it retain its moisture.


Have you ever made or had corn tortillas before? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?
What is your favorite thing to do with tortillas? 
I'm about to make myself some quesadillas with some of the leftover vegan cheese sauce I made. Delicious!

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Wow , thank you , will deffinately give those a go , and that casarole looks tasty !! thank you again for the knowledge

  2. I make tortillas at home and your tip about how to make them round without a tortilla press will definitely be one I shall try ! Many thanks for sharing !

  3. Penny, you might have better luck by pressing your dough with a cutting board. Here's my 'hack': get a plastic produce bag (the thinner the better) make two sheets out of it that are way wider than your tortillas will be. Place one sheet of plastic on your counter, your ball of masa, top with another sheet. Take your wooden cutting board and flatten the mass. This will more often than not give you a perfectly round tortilla. You may have to play around with the pressure but you'll get the hang of it. Then peel off the top layer of plastic from the tortilla and cook. Thin plastic is easier to peel off than parchment paper since the masa won't stick to it as much and yoh can wash it and re use it over and over!

  4. When I make either corn-based or flour-based tortillas at home and have leftovers,I use kitchen shears and cut them into chip triangles. Thrown the on a baking sheet (one layer) and bake for a few minutes until crispy. This is the only was we like them leftover. Homemade tortilla chips and salsa of guac for snack...yumm!

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