Tortillas are a staple food in many Latin American countries and all over the world! There's nothing quite like a warm, freshly made tortilla. While store-bought tortillas are convenient, there's no comparison to the flavor and texture of traditional handmade tortillas. Not only are they delicious, but they are also an easy and healthy gluten-free option. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about making homemade tortillas, including the differences in corn flour, vegan and meat-based filling recipes, using a tortilla press, and more.
Making traditional handmade tortillas may seem intimidating, but it's actually quite simple! With just a few ingredients and a kick-butt tortilla press, you can make your own tortillas at home in no time 😉
One of the key differences between store-bought and homemade tortillas is the type of flour used. Traditional tortillas are made with corn flour, while many commercial brands use wheat flour. Corn flour, also known as masa harina, is naturally gluten-free, making it a great option for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. When it comes to making homemade tortillas, choosing the right corn flour is crucial. There are two types of corn flour that you can use to make tortillas: masa harina and regular corn flour. Masa harina is made from nixtamalized corn, which means that the corn has been soaked in an alkaline solution before being ground into flour. This process enhances the flavor and nutrition of the corn, making masa harina the preferred choice for making tortillas. Regular corn flour, on the other hand, is simply ground corn and is not treated with the alkaline solution.
When choosing masa harina, look for brands that are made from 100% corn and do not contain any additives or preservatives. Some popular brands include Maseca, Bob's Red Mill, and Gold Mine. It's important to note that not all grocery stores carry masa harina, so you may need to visit a specialty store or order from Amazon online.
Why press? Using a tortilla press is important because it helps to create tortillas that are thin, evenly sized, and have a consistent thickness. This is important because it ensures that the tortillas cook evenly and consistently, which in turn affects the taste, texture, and overall quality of the finished product.
Without a tortilla press, it can be difficult to roll the dough evenly and to the correct thickness, which can result in tortillas that are too thick or too thin in some areas. This can cause uneven cooking, which can lead to burnt or undercooked areas of the tortilla. In addition, pressing the tortillas by hand can be time-consuming and can lead to inconsistent results. The press is best!
Now that you have your corn flour and your tortilla press, it's time to start making tortillas. Here's a basic recipe to get you started:
2 cups masa harina
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn flour and salt.
Gradually add the warm water to the flour mixture, stirring until a smooth dough forms. You may not need all of the water, or you may need a little more - the goal is to achieve a soft, pliable dough that is not too sticky.
Knead the dough for a few minutes, then cover and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12-16 equal portions, depending on the size of tortillas you want to make. I like 8” inches for tacos!
Using a tortilla press, flatten each portion of dough into a thin, round disc and place a piece of parchment or cling film on both sides of the press for easy dough removal. Use the same 2 pieces of film for every disc you press. It's OK. If you don't have a tortilla press, you can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. A tortilla press can also be used to make other flatbreads, empanada discs and pupusas or Indian rotis as well.
Heat a dry skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook the tortillas for about 30-45 seconds on each side, until they start to puff up and develop a “pancita” or a little belly with brown spots. They’re READY!
Transfer the cooked tortillas to a clean kitchen towel and cover to keep them warm and soft until ready to use. I personally love my tortilla “holder” (warmer)-Just stack them up, and it keeps them warm and moist until you’re ready to eat! Warmers can be plastic, woven or terra cotta for something a bit more special. I adore the one I purchased a few years ago from Kohl’s. It’s so pretty and traditional looking I think it really makes the meal complete when my table is beautifully set!
Now that you have your homemade tortillas, it's time to fill them with delicious ingredients. Here are two recipe ideas - one vegan and one meat-based - to get you started:
Vegan sweet potato and black bean filling:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder or chipotle powder for extra smokey kick
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
8-10 fresh corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel and dice sweet potatoes to a medium dice
In a bowl, mix the diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and chili powder until coated evenly.
Spread the sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until fork-tender and slightly browned.
In a large skillet, sauté the chopped onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is translucent, and the garlic is fragrant.
Drain canned beans and Add the black beans to the skillet and stir well to combine.
Add the roasted sweet potatoes to the skillet and stir until everything is evenly combined.
Remove the skillet from the heat and let the filling cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, cook your tortillas in a dry skillet and transfer to tortilla warmer
Fill each tortilla with the sweet potato and black bean filling.
Roll up the tortillas tightly and serve warm.
Enjoy your delicious and nutritious vegan sweet potato and black bean tortilla filling!
Another filling option would be:
1 pound ground beef or ground chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin or more to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh corn tortillas
In a large skillet, cook the ground beef or ground chicken over medium heat until browned. To make the ground meat smaller in size and more uniform, add about 2 TBS of water immediately after adding the meat to the pan and stir vigorously until meat is broken down. This will distribute the fat in the meat more evenly, resulting in small crumbles and the water will just cook away, so the meat can brown.
Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion is translucent, and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the skillet and stir to coat the meat evenly with the spices.
Add the drained diced tomatoes to the skillet and stir well.
Lower the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the flavors have melded together.
Just before service, Add the chopped cilantro and lime juice to the skillet and stir to combine.
Cook your corn tortillas in a dry skillet.
Fill each tortilla with ground beef or ground chicken filling.
Roll up or fold your tortillas and serve warm- with a lime wedge
P.S.- Ever have a fresh warm tortilla out of the pan with salted butter? Now you can 😊
Enjoy your delicious and flavorful tortilla Journey!