TV Shows & Podcasts

Kitchen Smarts: How to Make Corn Tortillas That Taste Amazing

Three ingredients, super easy, and perfect for taco night.

Published July 5, 2018.

While supermarket tortillas are convenient, they pale in comparison to homemade versions. Luckily, making them is easier than you might think. The ingredient list is short, the dough is forgiving, and you don’t need a tortilla press.

In this video, part of our “Kitchen Smarts” series on our YouTube channel, Cook’s Illustrated test cook Lan Lam demonstrates our technique for making corn tortillas at home. Here are some of the key steps and learnings from our recipe development:

  • There’s no substitute for masa harina: You can’t use cornmeal or another substitute here. Corn tortillas rely on masa harina for their flavor.

  • Mix then rest: Once your dough is the same texture as Play-Doh, cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the masa harina hydrate for five minutes.

  • Plastic is the best lining for a tortilla press: A plastic zipper-lock bag that’s been cut down the seam on both sides will give your tortillas a better release than parchment paper will.

  • Layer just-cooked tortillas between damp dish towels: Between the towels, the tortillas will steam themselves and finish cooking. By the time you’re ready to eat them, they’ll be pliable and still moist.

Watch the Video

Featured Equipment

The Best Bench Scraper

Dexter-Russell 6" Dough Cutter/Scraper—Sani-Safe Series

The deeply beveled edge of this scraper cut through pizza and bread dough quickly and scraped the work surface effectively. The textured polypropylene handle was easy to hold on to, even with greasy or floury hands, and was thinner than other scrapers’ handles, helping us hold it flat to the work surface for easier, more effective scooping and scraping.  
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The Best Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12”

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy.  
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The Best Prep Bowls

Anchor Hocking 6-Piece Nesting Prep Bowl Set

Coming in a variety of useful sizes that nest for compact storage, our winning set performed ably on almost every test. Its wide, shallow bowls were easy to hold, fill, empty, and clean.  
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The Best Tortilla Press

Norpro Cast Aluminum Tortilla Press

At first it’s easy to under- or overpress the tortillas, but most testers got the hang of it after only a few tries. If you are willing to put up with a bit of a learning curve, our Best Buy—which is considerably less expensive than our overall winner—is a fine choice. It comes preassembled and is easy to store.  
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