Making tortillas

articles Food & Cuisine

Karen Hursh Graber

Mexican Kitchen
A clay comal or griddle © Daniel Wheeler, 2009
A clay comal or griddle
© Daniel Wheeler, 2009

Once you have acquired your tortilla press and a comal or griddle, all you will need is some waxed paper, cut into squares to fit the dimensions of the tortilla press, to keep the dough from sticking. Although tortillas are baked on a dry surface, a little oil can be applied to the griddle or comal with a paper towel if the tortillas stick to the surface at first. After your comal or griddle has been used a few times, it will become seasoned and you should not have to use any oil after that. Always dry your comal over heat to prevent rust from forming. Incidentally, the side of the tortilla that puffs up as it is baking is called the pancita, and should face inward when rolling the tortilla around a filling.


  • 1 pound corn masa (use either this recipe, or your own favorite)
  • warm water as needed

After the dough has been kneaded until smooth and non-sticky, and allowed to rest for 5 minutes, heat a well-seasoned or non-stick griddle or comal until drops of water sprinkled on the surface evaporate.

Pinch off a 1 1/2 – 2 inch piece of dough for each tortilla and place the dough between the waxed paper squares lining the tortilla press. Push down on the lever, flattening the dough.

Carefully remove the tortilla by peeling it away from the waxed paper. If the tortilla has cracked around the edges while being pressed, the dough is probably too dry and a little warm water will have to be added and kneaded in.

Toss the tortilla back and forth from one flattened palm to another a few times to aerate it. (This does not have to be a big, spinning pizza-dough throw, but a few small, gentle tosses.)

Place it on the hot griddle or comal and bake for 30 seconds. Turn it over and bake for 1 minute. Turn again and bake for another 30 seconds. Dark spots on the tortilla indicate that the cooking surface is too hot.

As the tortillas are removed from the heat, they should be stacked inside a clean, dry cloth, such as a tea towel, and at serving time, brought to the table in the cloth or tucked inside a covered basket.

Makes 12 medium-large tortillas.

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Published or Updated on: January 1, 2004 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2008
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