Ratio Rally – Corn Tortillas

by Jenn on September 5, 2012

in Budget,Dairy Free,GF Ratio Rally,Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains

Chocolate Chili Steak Fajitas

Yes! I got to participate in a ratio rally challenge again, woohoo!  This was a really fun challenge, and I got to enjoy making it when my parents came out to visit us and the baby.  For those of you that don’t know, the Gluten Free Ratio Rally is a group of gluten free bloggers that strive to find or utilize ingredient ratios in creating GF foods.  Each month a different person hosts and we tackle a new challenge, each with our own spin on it.  This month Brooke of B & The Boy! challenged us to create tortillas or wraps.

Given the opportunity, I will almost always opt for a traditionally naturally gluten free route if available.  So when I heard about this month’s event, I instantly knew I wanted to learn how to make corn tortillas from scratch.  We will go to a specialty store to buy GF corn tortillas, but their price warrants a special occasion before either my husband or I can justify purchasing them.  But if I could make them myself…. well then that would open up the possibilities…

As luck would have it, I was able to find some masa harina, so I knew I was in business to make some corn tortillas.  Masa harina is a flour from corn, but the corn has been treated with a slightly basic solution such as lime (calcium hydroxide) before grinding into flour.  This chemical reaction helps to break down elements of the corn kernel, while allowing proteins to stick together – the result is masa harina can be made into a dough, whereas cornmeal that was not treated this way would not.  So, if you want to make corn tortillas, you need masa harina.  Regular flour from corn will not do.

So I had the right flour, check! And it was labeled gluten free right on the package, check! Now all I needed was a method.  I don’t own a tortilla press, but I figured that some parchment paper and a rolling pin would be a fine stand-in.  I couldn’t find any existing published “ratios”, so I just did what I usually do – look for recipes and see if/what needs to be converted.   I had recently seen Nicole of Gluten Free on a Shoestring put up a corn tortilla recipe, and she is one of those wonderful souls that provides weight measures with her ingredients.  Her recipe calls for 232 g of masa harina, and 9 -11 oz (255 – 312 g) of water.  Being a large range, I decided to start with 1:1 flour to water and see how it went from there.

Corn Tortillas

After adding in equal parts flour and water, it was definitely too dry and so I added in more water, a little at a time, working the dough with my hands until it felt a bit like a dough.  In the end I ended up using about 285g of water, making my ratio around 1 : 1.25 flour : water.  But I can definitely see how it is a range.  The dough can dry out rather quickly (as can most gluten free doughs), so the time you let it rest, the humidity of the air, how much exposure to the air it gets before you make and then cook your tortillas, all of these things can affect the total water content.  I added small amounts of water a few times during the process, and so I think it just is one of those things you have to get a feel of, and thus an exact ratio is likely hard to come by.

The result? Wonderful!  By about the 3rd one I had a bit of a technique down rolling them out between parchment paper so that they wouldn’t break, and by then my husband had figured out the right timing and flipping technique for cooking them.  We made fajitas with them, using some chocolate chili seasoning on cuts of steak, and served with veggies, rice, beans, and homemade guac.  There was also cheese and sour cream on the table, but since I have had to go dairy free for baby girl, I avoided them :)

I’m so glad that I now know I can make my own fresh tortillas – they were not a lot of effort and they tasted great, and held up really well to bending when eating a filled fajita.  I will definitely be doing this again, especially as I have a rather large bag of masa harina to use up now.  What will be next? Maybe some arepas….

Chocolate Chili Steak Fajitas


Corn Tortillas

From Gluten Free On a Shoestring
Prep Time: 20 min to make dough and let rest
Total Time: 45 min


  • 232 g masa harina
  • 285 g water
  • pinch salt
  • some more water as needed


  1. Mix flour, water, and salt together with your hands, add more water if necessary until you can get a good workable ball of dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.
  2. Dip your hands in water to handle the dough without sticking and split the dough into 8 – 10 sections and roll them into balls.  Keep them all under plastic wrap until you are ready to roll them out.
  3. For each tortilla, pat it flat with your wet hands, then place between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out with a rolling pin until about 6″ diameter (if you only divided into 8, then you should be able to make larger tortillas).  They will be thin, but they shouldn’t be so thin that they are breaking apart.  To help in the rolling process, I flipped them over several times while rolling so that they wouldn’t get stuck in the wrinkles that form in the parchment paper.  Meanwhile, heat a non-stick/cast iron skillet on medium high.
  4. Once the tortilla is rolled out, peel off the top sheet of parchment and flip the tortilla onto your hand, very carefully pulling off the other parchment.  Then with the tortilla in your hand, flip it over onto the hot pan.  Let cook about a minute on each side, until cooked and just barely browning.  We’re not going for tortilla crackers here, just tortillas.  So you still want them to be soft and flexible.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each tortilla.  Keep hydrating the other balls of dough as necessary so they don’t dry out.  I would just take my wet hands and go over the dough with a little water before picking it up to pat flat in my hands before rolling it out. Note that by about your 4th tortilla you will want to replace the parchment paper, mine got a bit soggy from my wet hands.
  6. Keep them warm wrapped in foil in the oven, and serve with whatever you like!


Check out what everyone else created!

Jenn | Jenn Cuisine Corn Tortillas
Jonathan | The Canary Files Vegan Curried Flour Tortillas
Meg | Gluten-Free Boulangerie Lefse (Norwegian Potato Flatbread)
Pete and Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem Flour Tortillas
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Gluten Free Flour Tortillas – Quesadilla
Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary Sundried Tomato & Basil Tortillas
Brooke | B & the boy! Buckwheat Tortillas
Charissa | Zest Bakery Paleo Grain-Free and Gluten-Free Tortillas
Karen | Cooking Gluten Free! Gluten Free Healthy Flours Tortillas

Also linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays