John D. Ivanko
May 2, 2012

Homemade corn tortilla in cast-iron skillet
Photo by John Ivanko

We love the cultural melting pot of America for all its flavors, traditions and cuisine inspired by the people who resettled here. In our family, we have a confluence of Latvian, Estonian and Slovakian dishes that show up from time to time, especially during the holidays. But with the arrival of Cinco de Mayo—the May 5 celebration of Mexico’s quest for democracy and freedom that commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862—we’d like to share the method we used for tortilla-making party we enjoyed in the kitchen of fellow hobby farmers Clay and Kristi Smith of Monroe, Wis. Perhaps you’ll want to try making tortillas, too. It’s so easy and fun, your kids can help you with it.

We adapted the simple recipe belowfrom the Maseca brand of Masa corn flour. These corn tortillas are gluten-free.

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Before you start, you’ll need to get your hands on a tortilla press to press out the tortillas. If you want to give it a try without a tortilla press, just roll out the dough on the counter sandwiched between two sheets of plastic to an 1/8 inch or thinner. The tortillas should be about 6 inches in diameter.

Recipe: Handmade Corn Tortillas
Photos by John Ivanko

Yield: 16 tortillas


  • 2 cup instant corn masa flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil


Making corn tortillas Step 1: Mix flour, salt and water thoroughly for about 2 minutes to form soft dough. If the dough feels dry, add more water.
Making corn tortillas Step 2: Divide dough into 16 equal-sized, hand-formed balls.
Making corn tortillas Step 3: Line tortilla press with two sheets of plastic. The plastic keeps the dough from sticking to the tortilla press. A large Ziplock bag can be cut and separated works perfectly.
Making corn tortillas Step 4: One at a time, place balls of dough between plastic and press until the tortilla measures about 6 inches in diameter. Lift the tortilla press once, and rotate the flattened dough a quarter turn clockwise, then push down on the press again.
Making corn tortillas Step 5: Carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic, and place it into medium-hot skillet or fry pan.
Making corn tortillas Step 6: Cook tortilla 1 minute or until lightly browned, then flip to cook the other side.
Making corn tortillas Step 7: Keep tortillas warm in a covered basket until the other tortillas are completed.
Making corn tortillas Step 8: Serve tortillas with refried beans, rice, black beans, shredded salad, cut tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and stewed pork or chicken. If you decide to make tostadas, let the tortilla cool before frying in oil to make crisp. Tortillas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

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