How to Make Homemade Tortillas Like a Pro

The co-founder of SOMOS Foods shares his secrets for making tortillas from scratch.

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May 04, 2022

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Photo by: Alexcrab/Getty

Alexcrab/Getty

The perfect homemade tortillas are both an art and a science. It takes the right ratio of masa to water to get the ideal dough, and applying just the right amount of pressure to the tortilla press can take lots of trial and error. “Homemade tortillas taste so much better than store-bought tortillas. It's worth the extra effort,” says Rodrigo Zuloaga, Co-Founder at SOMOS Foods, a food company founded by three friends from Mexico who wanted to bring flavors from their home kitchens to grocery store shelves in the U.S.

Rodrigo learned to make tortillas from his abuela's cook, Emilia. He prefers the flavor of corn tortillas, which are most common in Guadalajara, Jalisco, where he was raised. (Flour tortillas are more commonly found in the northern Mexican states.) No matter what kind of tortillas you want to make at home, Rodrigo says patience is the key to ultimate success. Acquiring the right tools, finding the best masa and perfecting your technique will take time — and probably some practice.

To get you started on the right track (or to help you up your homemade tortilla game), we asked Rodrigo to share his most important tips and tricks for making the best tortillas at home.

Get the Masa Just Right

When we asked Rodrigo the most common mistakes people make when cooking homemade tortillas, he said: making the masa (or dough) too wet or too dry. Channel your inner Goldilocks, because you’ll need to make a masa that’s just right. “The masa has the right consistency when it does not stick to your hands,” says Rodrigo. And once you’re done mixing, let the masa sit for 10 minutes before shaping and pressing your tortillas.

Photo by: SOMOS Food

SOMOS Food

Don’t Pre-Roll Your Masa

When getting ready to make and cook your tortillas, you’ll need to roll them out one-by-one. Pre-rolling the masa will result in dry dough that breaks when you press it. Roll out your masa into a small ball, then pat it down into a hockey puck shape. After you press your tortilla, see how big the diameter is. If it’s too small, roll a bigger ball for the next one. Too big? Use less.

Use Your Hands (or a Tortilla Press)

“If you don’t have a tortilla press at home, you can do as it’s been done for generations, with your hands,” says Rodridgo. You’ll want to wet your hands before handling the masa. Then roll the masa in your hands to spread it thinner. “As it spreads to the palm of your hand you’ll start to tortear, flipping the tortilla from hand to hand as if you were clapping, shifting the position of your hands to rotate the tortilla with every clap.” An action you’ve certainly seen at a local taqueria or tortilleria. Making tortillas by hand takes practice, so don't be discouraged if you don't get it right on your first try.

Cook Your Tortilla Until the Color Changes

You can cook your homemade tortillas in a frying pan or a comal, which is a round cast iron griddle that fits on your stovetop. Turn the tortilla when the color of the masa changes. Then when it doesn’t stick and inflates, it’s ready to remove from the cooktop and eat.

Photo by: JESSICA ATTIE

JESSICA ATTIE

Save a Few Tortillas for Nibbling

While Rodrigo’s favorite way to use tortillas is to make plant-based tacos (SOMOS's variety of taco kits makes it easy), he loves to save a few for dipping on the side, especially when he makes them the old-school way. “When I make tortillas by hand versus on the press, I like to nibble on the tortilla as a side, alongside SOMOS’ Peacadillo in Salsa Verde or Mexican Peacadillo.” The brand also has four flavors of salsa in the product lineup that make for excellent dippers.

Get the Right Tools

We asked Rodrigo for his must-have tortilla tools and ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need for making homemade tortillas like a pro.

$5.79

“If you have a tortilleria — a shop that makes and sells tortillas — nearby, I suggest buying the masa from the tortilleria,” says Rodrigo. “That’s what we do in Mexico.” If you don’t have a tortilleria in your area, opt for Masa Harina (Maseca or Misna) and follow the directions for making the masa on the package.

Buy It
$16.99

These keep tortillas warm and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Buy It

“If you have a tortilla press, you’ll need small plastic bags that you can cut to the size of your press. If you don’t use a plastic liner the masa will stick to the press,” says Rodrigo.

Buy It
$20.99

A comal is a cast iron griddle designed for cooking tortillas. If you don’t have a comal, you can use a frying pan.

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