Yellow Corn Tortillas

Most of my Mexican food knowledge comes from the year or so I spent in Baltimore for work. I've mentioned this before, but my coworker G's wife who is an amazing cook, would spoil G with home cooked lunches and sometimes G would spoil me. The white corn tortillas that I shared years ago was a result of conversations with G who explained that his wife would make masa (with dried corn and lye) but in a pinch, she would use masa harina.

In browsing through my grocery store's website, I realized that I'd been buying masarepa to make my tortillas instead of masa harina. I'd just been grabbing the bag of white cornmeal from the latin section without even thinking about it. This led me down some insane Google hole; I was trying to figure out the difference between masarepa, masa harina, harina de maiz, and basically anything with the word "harina" (which means flour in Spanish) and "maiz" (which means corn) and "masa" (which means dough).

In the end, I didn't make any intelligent conclusions because, as it turns out, combinations of these words are used in several different countries and can mean several different things. And, I figured it really didn't matter, as long as the end result was edible. I bought a bag of Goya-brand yellow "harina de maiz" (which I suspect is literally just cornmeal, as it had a recipe for corn muffins on the back) and used Goya-brand white "masa harina" to make these yellow corn tortillas and they turned out awesome. I guess the moral of the story is that research is great but the execution is what actually matters; or something like that.
Ingredients [yields 1 dozen tortillas]:
1½ cups yellow harina de maiz
½ cup masa harina (or masarepa)
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ to 1½ cups hot water

Start by combining the dry ingredients. Slowly pour in the hot water, stirring to evenly distribute. Add enough water so that there are no dry spots. Use your hands to combine the dough into a ball and then leave to hydrate for 15 minutes.
Split the dough into about a dozen 2 oz. portions (for a 6" tortilla) and keep them in a covered container.
Press the tortillas one at a time between parchment paper or plastic. I use a heavy skillet but I've been making tortillas so often lately, I've been thinking about investing in a tortilla press. You can also roll the tortillas with a rolling pin but they tend to crack on the edges.
Cook the tortillas on a hot skillet for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until you start to see a little bit of color. While the first tortilla is cooking, press the second tortilla. You can't press all of the tortillas at once because they will tend to dry out.
Keep the tortillas warm in an air tight container. I have this round tupperware which is perfect. Serve them immediately while they're still warm. If you're making these ahead of time and they have to be reheated, dip each tortilla in a dish of water before popping them back onto the griddle.
Aren't these gorgeous? I love how yellow and cheery they look. They're tender and corny and awesome. Honestly, I never buy corn tortillas from the store because they always have this weird sour, oily taste because of the preservatives. Homemade corn tortillas actually taste like corn and the texture is moist and soft and they are amazing.
Use these tortillas for your favorite tacos. I used these for spicy fish tacos (which I'll be sharing tomorrow).
Or, you can fry up any stale tortillas and make chips. Freshly made corn tortilla chips are so delicious.
Here's the recipe page:


  1. Ugh! Right there with you! Bought a tortilla press and went to the market to buy Maseca Masa Harina. Not a Hispanic market per se, but leans heavily in that direction, but to my amazement they sold nothing that was explicitly named “masa harina,” although many, many, many variations on the theme. I ended up buying Goya masarepa. So can I, or can I not, use Masarepa to make tortillas?? If so, will they crisp up sufficiently? Is the taste different/better using masa harina? Really appreciate your help!

    1. I've used Goya masarepa to make tortillas and they came out perfectly delicious. I've found that masarepa is a bit coarser than masa harina so you might need to use a bit more water and give the dough a little more time to hydrate but with either product, the end result is a delicious corny tortilla.

      I don't think they fry up as well, but they make a great soft taco shell.


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