Cornmeal Tortillas


  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Waxed paper

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour and salt. Stir it up while the water is coming to a boil. Use a metal measuring cup to measure the water, if possible. Plastic melts, and glass sometimes shatters, so a metal measuring cup is the safest type when you measure boiling water. To continue, place the shortening in the bowl with the cornmeal and flour. Pour the boiling water over everything and stir it up with a fork. Stir and stir because it will lump up quite a bit before it turns into dough. Allow the mixture to cool. Divide the dough into 10 lumps about the size of golf balls. Roll each ball out very thinly between sheets of waxed paper. Loosen and remove the top sheet of paper, and lay the tortilla down on a hot dry skillet, with the bottom sheet of waxed paper still attached, and now on top. After the tortilla cooks for a few seconds, the remaining sheet of waxed paper will easily loosen for removal. When the underside of the tortilla is dry with a few brown spots, turn it and cook the other side.

I usually roll out two tortillas at a time, and continue rolling as the prepared ones cook. This recipe makes 10 corn tortillas. This is just enough to prepare my Enchiladas recipe.

This recipe is not really authentic. It has been adjusted to make use of ingredients available in most supermarkets. You would have to use Masa Harina cornmeal to make real tortillas (and you would probably need a tortilla press too). This recipe uses plain cornmeal which is readily available to most people.

Plate of homemade corn tortillas

Here is another delicious and international bread recipehomemamde crepes. These tender, think pancakes are just plain delicious.

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  1. says

    I tried this with blue cornmeal that I made from Black Aztec corn grown this year…it was fantastic! Thank you for sharing this recipe — while it may not be authentic like those made with masa harina, it was exactly what I was hoping to find online. Will share your link!

  2. Hristo says

    Just the result I was hoping for! It was fun to make. Two corny thumbs up from this gringo. What a good money saver.Why on earth do people not cook their own more often?!! This should be as common as PB and J.

    • Kimberly says

      The flour is what is making this recipe non-gluten friendly. Perhaps try using rice flour? They maybe a little crisper, but you won’t have the gluten problem.

      • A says

        I used Bobs red mill gluten free all purpose flour mix with 1/2 teaspoon of xantham gum to make mine. they came out great!!

    • Colleen says

      I’ve noticed that a lot of the recipes found on Masa (corn flour) are gluten free (in the baking section). I would try looking at those, or searching just for a corn tortilla recipe.

    • Gina says

      Be careful. Corn meal is normally stored and shipped with wheat products. There is no guarantee that it will not be contaminated. Best to call the product manufacturers before you use it or buy gluten-free specific meal.

    • Jessica says

      Hi Becca. Good question. I have never used self rising cornmeal. I think a puffy tortilla would be delicious though! And so much healthier than the fried kind. I would try it. Please let us know how it comes out :)

      • Candace says

        If you use cornmeal mix instead of just corn meal, would it change the recipe? Like maybe less flour or something?

  3. says


  4. nancy says

    to keep a glass container from breaking when pouring in hot liquids, always put a spoon in the container the heat goes to the spoon and the glass won’t break.

  5. Tom says

    I really can’t believe that this is on a site called “hillbilly housewife” and you use shortening rather than lard- both what I, a hillbilly husband use and is used in Mexico-

    • The Hillbilly Housewife says

      Yes, Tom, even in “hillbilly” homes, many cooks have left lard behind. Now, even shortening seems to be debatable. I grew up in kitchens with lard and appreciate the specific qualities it gives. But, if I post a recipe with lard, it scares many cooks away from trying it. However, anyone who knows about cooking with lard, will substitute lard for shortening if they can. In other words, I know what you mean. I’m finding the same thing happening in recipes using oil. Olive oil seems to the oil of “today” yet is not appropriate in every recipe (for instance, high heat cooking.)

      Thank you, Tom, for bringing this subject up. Transforming old recipes into new and new recipes into old can be a tricky business. And I agree that using lard is sometimes the preferred method. You got me thinking about those pie crusts I grew up with…. lard was the secret ingredient. Thanks again.

      • tom says

        Thank You- yes, I believe lard is indispensable in pie crust too, cord bread…. lard frosting?!

        I’d refer anyone “scared” of a recipe with lard, or lard itself to a brilliant food article:

        The fact is Lard is healthier than any substitute, and its natural- and tastes better!
        We’ve been sold a myth by the industries by industrial agriculture about corn based products like vegetable oil and shortening.

      • tom says

        impressive- I’ve gone from freezer to a hot oven, and never had that happen- anything is in fact possible.

    • KitchenCrew says

      Old Pyrex will not break – the stuff from 30+ years ago… New Pyrex is just a brand named thicker glass product. When the original Pyrex was bought out, the new company no longer manufactured the product with the same ‘ingredients’ in the glass to save on costs. I too have broken ‘new’ Pyrex…

  6. A says

    I made these last night and they came out great except the wax paper didnt work for me i had to switch to parchment paper. Makes for a Much more substantial texture in my enchiladas which i loved! I will make a double batch next time and turn them into chips!!

  7. MaryK says

    Great recipe. I had trouble with getting the waxed paper off the first side, so I dropped the dough from a spoon onto the griddle, put a piece of waxed paper over it and flattened with a spatula. The paper came off easily as the tortilla dried.

    • Joe says

      Used the spatula and wax paper overlay method tonight and worked perfect. I let them setup but not finish cooking and made taco shells and chips on the stove in hot oil, really yummy. Thanks for the great tips and recipe.

  8. HeatherB says

    To prevent trouble with dough sticking to the waxed paper, it helps to chill the dough balls first. I am so used to authentic tortillas, I want to like this recipe but for me the flour is too noticeable.

  9. geason says

    I made these and then fried them for tacos….The entire family LOVED them!!! Thanks so much! Your recipe saved my dinner tonight. And i love your site!

  10. says

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I didn’t read carefully and grabbed a bag of corn meal instead of corn flour and was kicking myself for buying something useless. But you’ve helped me turn it into something useful! By doubling your recipe and adding a pinch of baking soda I was able to make 30 tasty tortillas for about $2! I am on a tight budget right now and very busy, so I am going to freeze these in small batches for future use. Thank you!!!

  11. Ashley says

    I have something to say about the use of lard rather than shortening. Though mainstream health authorities will tell you shortening is better, it undergoes so much processing it can no longer be consider real food. Your body can’t properly digest this garbage. Lard is in fact good for you. As well as natures second highest source of vitamin D. If you want to learn more about good fats and how they can actually help you loose weight google the Weston A Price Foundation.

    I am a Health nut hillbilly, so I tried using buckwheat flour (which is a super food) instead of regular flour, and home rendered lard. They turned out really good, the kids loved them!

  12. Yolande Bruneau says

    I made these tortilla shells for lunch with a taco filling. they are deliciousv shells. My hubby says they aer better than bought dry shells. I will be making these every time we want enchaladas or tacos

  13. Raquel Zarco says

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m making them right now and they look good. Just a tip regarding the wax paper. My mom used to make tortillas with a tortilla press (I’m from Mexico) and she would use a plastic bag (like a walmart). I tried using the wax paper and It didn’t work (I usually separate the tortilla by hand) so I cut a plastic bag, put my dough in between and flattened it out and was able to separate the tortilla with no problem and then put it on the skillet.

    • Raquel Zarco says

      I almost forgot…so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, put a little bit of flour on your hands.

  14. Hallieluann says

    Thanks for the tip about the Walmart bag! I had just mixed up my dough after forgetting to buy them at the store and then discovered I was out of wax and parchment paper. I DID NOT want to go to the store again with my three kids so I thought I’d give this a try and it worked! Seems completely appropriate as i can’t think of anything more hillbilly than using a plastic Walmart bag to roll them out :p

  15. Aupdraft says

    Just saying Awesome easy recipe. Just made them. Growing up my mom made enchiladas with corn tortillas found in a can bought at the store. 1960’s.. I loved them. Even before all the ethnic stuff you see these days was on the store shelf in Nashville. Thanks for sharing!!!.

  16. Kay Cee says

    Love your website! We are on a fixed income and your recipes have truly saved us…especially at the end of the month when the cupboard goes almost bare. I never buy bread anymore, just use your beginner’s recipe, it’s wonderful. I have zero non-stick pans, only stainless steel, which requires cooking at a very low temp to prevent sticking. And still, some things like scrambled eggs stick. Do you think these will cook successfully at a low temp? I am hoping they won’t stick!

  17. Pbrooks says

    Just made these. Had trouble incorporating shortening, but started rolling anyway. First one cooked well, but needed salt for our tastes. Added salt and they were tasty with butter, but didn’t think I could use them for fish tacos, which was the intention. Last two, I put sugar and butter between them, rolled out and fried to go with a cup of coffee. Sugar leaked, caramelized, and was good. Thank you for the recipe. I will definitely give another shot, and maybe melt my shortening with the hot water to get them more pliable.

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