Grab a copy of The Ultimate Tortilla Press Cookbook and never buy supermarket corn tortillas again. It’s a definitive guide to pressing and baking your way to homemade tortillas, and will ruin you for all others, forever. We’re ready for that, are you? Grab some masa and get rolling!

Reprinted with permission from The Ultimate Tortilla Press Cookbook

Pressing and Baking Corn Tortillas

Prepare the masa for corn tortillas. Divide the masa into orbs the size of golf balls for 6-inch tortillas or thereabout. Smaller balls of masa produce smaller corn tortillas about four inches in diameter (for street tacos, for example). Six inches is about the maximum diameter for making corn tortillas. Press each ball of masa to form tortillas. Cook each immediately.

Using a Manual Tortilla Press

Cut two pieces (square or round) of durable plastic from a food storage bag or clean shopping bag. Pieces should be one inch larger than the diameter of the tortilla press. Parchment paper also works. You will use these pieces of plastic or parchment paper to line the surfaces of the top and bottom plates of the press. For good measure, make two or three pairs in case the first pair tears or gets sticky.

When ready to press a corn tortilla:

  1. Line the bottom press with a piece of plastic or parchment paper.
  2. Wet your hands to prevent sticking. Use your fingers and palms to somewhat flatten one ball of masa at a time into a thick disc, 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Place the disc of masa in the center of the lined bottom press. Center the second piece of plastic or parchment paper over the masa. Firmly press down the top plate. Wiggle the press handle slightly from side to side to evenly distribute the masa. Lift the top plate. Rotate the tortilla 180 degrees (a half turn) and firmly press again to make a 6-inch tortilla as thin as possible.
  4. If a slightly thinner tortilla is desired, remove the tortilla from the press by lifting the edges of the plastic. Use a rolling pin to press the plastic-covered tortilla a little thinner.
  5. When the tortilla is at the desired thickness, lift off the top piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla into your other hand and peel off the top layer of plastic. Use a spatula or your fingers to flip the tortilla onto a preheated comal or griddle. Reuse the pieces of plastic until they tear or become sticky.

Using an Electric Tortilla Press

Electric presses flatten the tortillas between two plates and toast them on the bottom plate. The presses look like waffle machines with smooth plates (instead of patterned plates). These combination press/cookers have two handles. One is known as the “shaping” mechanism — the first step for making flour tortillas. The other is a lever for “pressing” a tortilla. This mechanism is applied to corn and flour tortillas to flatten them before cooking. You cook the tortillas on the bottom plate and must flip the tortilla to cook both sides. Do not cook in a closed press.

When ready to press a corn tortilla:

  1. Preheat the machine per the user manual instructions.
  2. Wet your hands to prevent sticking. Use your fingers and palms to somewhat flatten one ball of masa at a time into a thick disc, 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Using a paper towel, lightly wipe each plate with vegetable oil.
  4. Place the slightly flattened piece of dough closer to the handle of the bottom plate. Close the lid and push down on the pressing handle to flatten the dough. The thickness should be no more than 1/8 inch, or a little less than a hardbound book cover. Next, lift the lid slightly to release the steam. Close the lid and cook for 10 seconds longer.
  5. Open the press and using a spatula, flip the tortilla. Cook for 10 more seconds or until brown spots appear on both sides. Transfer to a tortilla warmer. Proceed with the remaining dough.
  6. Hold tortillas in a warmer to keep them warm, soft, and supple.

Note: These steps are not intended to replace the manufacturer’s directions. Please refer to the owner’s manual.

When cooking corn tortillas on a comal:

  1. Preheat a comal or griddle over medium-high heat to about 375ºF. The surface is ready when water sprinkled on the hot surface bubbles or “dances” and immediately evaporates.
  2. Before cooking the corn tortillas, use a wad of paper towel to spread a light layer of vegetable oil on the surface of the preheated comal. Or lightly spray with vegetable oil.
  3. Cook the corn tortilla for about 15 seconds on the preheated cooking surface. This step sets the dough. Flip the corn tortilla and cook for about 1 minute. Flip the tortilla again and cook for about 1 minute longer on the first side. Cool slightly and then transfer to a tortilla warmer to keep the corn tortillas warm, soft, and supple.

Step By Step

When using a manual press for corn tortillas, follow the steps in this order:

  1. Make masa and form golf ball-sized rounds. Keep moist.
  2. Preheat the comal.
  3. Press a tortilla.
  4. Cook the tortilla on a hot, flat surface.
  5. Keep warm in a tortilla warmer. This step allows the tortilla to steam and soften for pliability.
  6. Repeat until all the dough is used.

Step By Step

When using an electric press for corn tortillas, follow the steps in this order:

  1. Make the masa and form golf ball-sized rounds. Keep moist.
  2. Preheat the machine.
  3. Press a tortilla.
  4. Cook the tortilla.
  5. Keep warm in a tortilla warmer. This steps allows the tortilla to steam and soften for pliability.
  6. Repeat until all the dough is used.