Make tasty tacos from scratch with this easy tortilla recipe.






Skill level

Average: 4.9 (6 votes)


  • 110 g masa harina
  • 270 ml warm water

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place the masa harina into a large bowl, pour the water over and stir with a wooden spoon until the masa is moistened, then knead it together until it holds in a ball. It should be moist but not sticky; it shouldn’t stick to your hands. If it’s not moist enough, add a little more water and knead again; if it’s too moist, add a little more harina and knead. Cover with a damp towel.

Preheat a 2-burner hotplate (or 2 cast-iron frying pans) on the stove with one side on medium-high heat and the other over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut a large piece of plastic: I find the very thin crinkly grocery bags from the supermarket work best. Fold it in half and open your tortilla press. You want it to line the bottom, with the fold lying against the press’s hinge, with the other half covering the top.

Roll a ball of masa about the size of a golf ball (maybe a wee bit smaller) and put it in the centre of the bottom of the press. Making sure the plastic will sandwich the ball, close the press and pull the lever down gently. Open the press, lift the plastic with the tortilla, open your palm, lay the tortilla flat in your palm, peel off the plastic, and place the tortilla on the less-hot part of the hotplate or less-hot pan. Cook it for 15 seconds. (If you don't have a tortilla press, use a rolling pin to roll out the tortillas before cooking.)

Use a metal spatula to flip it over onto the hotter side of the griddle or hotter pan and cook it for 30 seconds. Flip it again, still on the hot side, and cook for another 10 seconds, then flip a final time and cook for 10 seconds more, at which point it may puff a bit. Place it in your tortilla basket if it’s to be eaten immediately or very soon, or better yet, in an insulated fabric tortilla warmer, which can keep it warm for more than an hour.

Quick taco fillings

So, what to fold into those warm, handmade tortillas?

• Have a couple of good salsas on hand, like an easy-to-make roasted salsa verde, a store-bought salsa roja or homemade pico de gallo (diced onion and tomato, chopped coriander (cilantro), minced serrano or jalapeño chilli, a little salt, a big squeeze or 3 of lime).

• Set out bowls of any or all of the following: lime wedges, guacamole, crumbled queso fresco, sliced avocado, coriander (cilantro) leaves, sliced radishes, chopped olives, chopped white onion, sliced spring onions (scallions), sliced or diced cucumber.

For the fillings, let your imagination go:

• Pick up a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket.

• Stop by your favourite barbecue joint and buy some sliced brisket or pulled pork.

• Use leftover steak. Toss it in a hot frying pan or chargrill pan until medium-rare, then slice it into strips. They’re great dressed with chopped onion, coriander (cilantro) and any kind of salsa.

• Boil some beans for vegetarian tacos. Just soak beans overnight, drain, cover with water, toss in ½ peeled onion (or a whole one), a couple cloves of unpeeled garlic, fresh thyme or oregano (optional), dried or fresh bay leaves (optional). Bring to a boil, lower heat, then simmer till they’re tender. Add salt to taste when they’re done.

• Pick up some shelled and deveined prawns (shrimp) from the supermarket and toss them on the grill or grill-pan. Or grill fish fillets.

• Leftover braised short rib meat makes great tacos, too. So do leftover stews (beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken), pot roast, chops, leg of lamb.


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