corn tortillas

tortillas

People, I have a problem.

I’m in love with corn tortillas.

Oh, I’m still in love with my wonderful husband, who takes our daughter to the playspace on the island — to climb jungle gym equipment and feed pretend tea to her dolly — every morning about this time so I can settle in front of the computer and write these words.

(And live on Twitter for a bit. It’s so easy to nibble on peoples word’s, banter in that small space, and feel like I’m talking to my friends. It’s also so easy to feel like I’m nattering away my life. And then I find these astonishing essays that connect me to myself again, like Amanda’s piece on the beauty of taking care of ourselves, and I am grateful all over again for this internet that connects people sitting alone in rooms.)

And I adore our darling daughter, who spent a couple of hours yesterday playing in our yard while I weeded a raised bed before I plant potatoes. She traveled at her pace, picking flowers, talking to herself, and climbing the porch steps again and again. As I kneeled to separate roots from black earth, feeling the muscles in my back open to the sun again, I heard her come up behind me, babbling. I sat up and showed her: a worm in my hands. She watched it wriggle, touched it gently, then looked at me in astonishment. Then she was off to kick a big ball.

I love that having a kid means I can be a kid again too.

I love the smell of the daphne just off our front deck (all laundry should smell like this), the rollicking sound of Sharon laughing on the phone, the feeling of my fingers wrapped around the first cup of coffee in the morning. I love pickles dripping liquid, the sound of Little Bean’s giggle when we tickle her, and the rhythm of rain on a tin roof.

I love driving into the tiny town of the expansive island where we live.

(And hey, if you’re going to be anywhere near us this weekend, I’m speaking at the Vashon Food Summit this Saturday. Take a look at this lineup of impassioned people talking about food that matters to them. I’m honored to be a part of this, so grateful that I live in a place like this one.)

I love so much that I could go on typing all day. But I’m forgetting what I came here to tell you.

Corn tortillas. People, I have a problem.

That photo up there? That’s corn tortillas browned in oil, then cut up for migas. My goodness, if you have not eaten migas before, get to it. (I say this as a week-old convert.) That’s one of the endless ways you can eat corn tortilla goodness.

But since we have a toddler instead of a baby, we’re just digging the quesadillas. (“Make yourself a dang quesadilla!” This line from Napoleon Dynamite is always in there while I’m grating the cheese.) Fast finger food with good ingredients.

Enchiladas. Warm soft tortillas torn off in strips, with a little butter and salt. Nachos — man, we love nachos more than two adults probably should. We’re hooked in this house.

For the past week, however, it has been tortilla chips. Homemade tortilla chips. Have you made these yet? Until last week, I thought making tortilla chips must be hard. I mean, they taste so damned good, right? How could it be this easy?

Easy it is. I found this wonderful photo tutorial from my friend Alice at Savory Sweet Life. (Did you know that Alice has a gluten-free category on her website, as well? Thank you, Alice.) I made some 10 minutes later.

I’m always struck by how simple homemade food is. I used to think it would take much longer to make good food from scratch than grabbing something from the deli or takeout. It does take longer. Usually about 10 minutes longer, it seems to me.

(Also, it’s really good for me if I make tortilla chips instead of buying a big bag. Big bags quickly dwindle into tightly rolled empty bags that need to go into the trash. Like I said, I have a problem.)

Sometimes I get letters from people begging me to work on a gluten-free flour tortilla recipe. I have to tell you — it’s pretty far down the list. I don’t really like flour tortillas. They feel so wan and enervated in comparison to the rugged goodness of a corn tortilla. And if you make your tortillas by hand — a skill I’m still improving — then you really won’t want those packaged goods again.

But maybe you have a great gluten-free flour tortilla recipe you’d like to share here. Or one of your favorite uses for tortillas. I can’t be the only one with this problem. Go ahead. Share.


Homemade Tortilla Chips

I could write a formal recipe here, but seriously? You don’t need one. Here’s what you do.

Take 10 corn tortillas.

Brush both sides with canola oil.

Cut them into 4 pieces each (for big tortilla chips) or 8 pieces (like a pie, for tiny crispy wedges that will shatter between the teeth).

Don’t do them all separately, silly. Pile them up then drive that knife down.

Sprinkle with salt and whatever spices you like.
(I’m playing with smoked paprika, chili powder, pepper, and lemon zest. Also, cinnamon sugar.)

Done.

Lay each one out on a baking sheet (we put down aluminum foil) — this is honestly the longest part of this short task.

Bake them in a 375* oven. 10 minutes, then turn them all with tongs. (yes, this seems fussy. worth it)

Bake again, about 4 more minutes for the small chips, about 10 more minutes for the big ones. (What happens in your kitchen might be different.)

Are they crisp? Golden? Solid and airy as commercial tortilla chips, but warm? Ah yes.

Let them cool, a bit. (Come on, you don’t want your tongue to be burned.)

Crunch.

69 comments on “corn tortillas

  1. Callie

    Do you also make your own corn tortillas? It’s also surprisingly easy and so delicious — it’s hard to gather enough to make a recipe with them — they disappear too quickly!

  2. Joseph J.

    By the end of this post, my mouth was watering!

    These gluten-free corn tortillas sound really delicious.

    I think I know what I am having for dinner tonight!

    thanks!

  3. Cindy

    Mmmmm.…nachos. I could live on nachos. Tortilla chips are not safe in my house either. I’ll have to give this a try.

  4. frantic foodie

    Shauna, your posts take me up for a breath of air on a really busy day
    thank you for your inspiration

  5. dänika

    my husband loves corn tortillas almost (almost!) as much as you do! He makes a huge batch every week, and has them at breakfast and dinner almost daily.

    I’m allergic to corn, however, and have to rely on the ivory teff wraps I’ve found at my grocery store. They’re okay, but just don’t quite cut it sometimes, especially when I smell the hot corn tortillas cooking in the pan.

    When I have a bag of tortillas in the pantry, however, I could live on cumin-spiced black beans, fajita-style peppers + onions, and guacamole. heavenly!!

    (my stomach just growled!)

  6. Lori

    I was totally expecting the recipe for the mouth watering migas shown in the link! Hopefully, that one is coming up next!

  7. Sarah Tolson

    I have made fried corn strips for chiliquiles (a recipe you must try one of these days) but never baked tortilla chips.. I am off to make some so I can bless my kiddos with a sweet treat after school. :)

    Thanks girl!!

  8. saffyre9

    I also have a problem with tortillas. I eat them All.The.Time. I use them as crackers since going gluten-free, cuz I don’t like the taste of rice crackers. I’m also in love with nachos. That’s my go-to snack at home, and my default order at new restaurants if I don’t know if they’re gluten-free-friendly.

    I’ve made my own chips before — delicious. Have you tried them deep fried? OMG. Obviously less healthy, but…OMG.

    My problem is finding soft corn tortillas in my town. It’s difficult, all the stores seem to have is flour. Bleh.

  9. Char

    I’ve only been living gluten free for 2 weeks and I confess I am seriously missing the flour tortillas. I admit Shauna, your tortilla chips sound quick, easy, and yummy. But when it comes to burittos — corn tortillas don’t do it for me.

    I came across a gluten free flour tortilla recipe here — http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/gluten-free-casein-free-flour-tortillas/

    I’ve come up with a flour mixture that is just white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch/flour so I need to see if it will substitute well in the above recipe.

  10. Katie @ The Well-Fed Newlyweds

    I’ve had a stack of store-bought corn tortillas getting stale in the back of my fridge for some time. Thank you for inspiring me and giving me an idea of what to do with them! Migas might just be on this weekend’s breakfast menu!

  11. Laurie!

    Is there a corn tortilla brand that you would recommend as best for celiac people? Stop ‘n’ Shop has small ones but I wasn’t sure if those were good or not.

  12. sarah

    ooooh, now all i want to do is skip out of work early and have some migas and a beer and pretend its summer. your words bring me right to your island. so lovely. thank you.

  13. Sean-Michael

    Than you for the inspiration, I am now looking forward to corn tortillas. I have been dreading finding out I’m gluten intolerant and the main thing I would miss is the flour tortillas (can’t stop eating gluten till after the blood tests or I’m told I’ll get a false negative) I can buy gluten free flour and make bread, I’ve always been skilled with baking. However making flour tortillas have always escaped my family. Ever since I was a child and my mother made hot delicious PUFFY tortillas I loved the taste, but have been unable to make tortillas the traditional way. Maybe I’ll try digging up my mother’s failed but oh so delicious recipe and substituting gluten-free flour…if it comes out good I’ll see about learning how to compact it into those amazingly versatile burrito wraps I love and share the recipe with you. Until then, I will use your inspiration for the myriad ways to prep corn tortilla goodness! Thank you again. I feel relieved, challenged and inspired.

  14. Maddy B

    I love corn tortillas as well! And I think it is safe to say that I may have an addiction. Corn tortillas remind me of Mexican food (my favorite cuisine and the inspiration for my gluten-free blog!) http://www.maddybloch.com

    My new favorite use for corn tortillas is with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Warm the tortilla a little (in a pan or in the microwave), keep the eggs slightly runny and use lots of cheese and hot sauce (I use Tapatio…)! Yum.

    Every tried chilaquiles? A great Mexican dish that incorporates corn tortillas. I don’t have a recipe of my own, but I’m sure there is one out there.

  15. Amy

    Oh lord, when I figured out I could save stale corn tortillas by throwing them in a little hot oil in a pan…my whole world opened up! I love to take a whole small tortilla and shallow fry it slightly on both side, then topped with whatever’s in the fridge and pantry, tostada style. Yum!

  16. Laura Sue

    I love daphne. I have ordered one to plant this spring–which it is not…quite…yet.…here.

  17. alice

    Loved reading this post. You are one of the reasons and inspirations on why I started to bake gluten-free. Congrats on your upcoming book too, so excited for all your hard work paying off.

  18. Kristine

    Migas. My best comfort fill-me-up-I’m-hungry breakfast hands down. Thank you for the reminder! and corn tortillas — yes. I used to love flour ones best, but now, I barely miss them : ).

    Have a yummy day!

  19. Erin S.

    I didn’t realize until I looked it up that I have had migas before. There is a restaurant in NYC that calls it “Mexican Matzoh Brie”! Thanks for posting this article, I am excited to try and make my own chips. There is never a shortage of corn tortillas in my neighborhood in Queens, NYC!

    Erin
    Gluten-Free Fun

  20. GShome

    HI,
    I grow up with corn and flour tortillas… being from New Mexico and all. But I have to say i sure so miss good flour tortillas (homemade) ..
    I love huevos rancheros with a GF chile sauce.
    oh something else we love
    is
    corn tortillas , mixed with scrabbled eggs. you can saute the corn tortillas strips with some oil, and then add your scrabbled eggs, — I like adding chile , or jalapenos, and sausage or anything really mushrooms onions, oh it all good,
    I make a GF enchiladas as well, yumm now I am thinking of make dinner… enchilada (red or green) and pinto beans..
    Oh i also do like to use GMO free organic corn.

  21. susan

    I come from Napolean Dynamite land. (Mormons love this movie), so I can tell you with confidence that Grandma says, “Make yourself a dang quesadilla.” I tell my kids this all the time, too. And sometimes I might have slipped and said the big D instead of the little D.

    As I don’t like to cook, but I do like to eat, I’ve been reading your book and poking around your website for awhile now. I always come away hungry–for your good food and also wanting more of your good writing. I was wondering if you could send me some of those quesadillas you wrote about today?

  22. Jada Ach

    I share your addiction, Shauna! I go through a pack of 36 corn tortillas per week, which (oh God!) comes out to over 100 per month! I think I may need an intervention.

    Thanks for the cinnamon and sugar idea! (Kind of like a sopapilla, eh?) I’m imagining a little drizzle of honey just to top it off.

  23. Mystery_lover

    Is it just me who has the recipe for the nachos showing up in teeny, tiny print? Luckily I figured out I could copy and paste into a Word doc so I could adjust the text to see it. First time I’ve had problems reading anything on this blog…wonder if its something on my computer? They sound yummy now that I can read the recipe!

  24. La Niña

    Hey Shauna–
    The recipe is not showing up at all on my browser. Maybe it’s me. On a Mac. Using Opera. I’m also getting a “blocked pop-up” message from your site that I’ve never gotten before.

    Gremlins?

    I love making homemade tortillas. I’ve never had enough leftover to make chips. We are going to Mexico in April, and I’ve been practicing my Mexican Spanish– I had to laugh when I read in my Lonely Planet book that in Mexico a “burrito” is a little burro, so don’t order one. Tacos, tortillas– they are fine and won’t get you a small donkey when you order off the menu.

  25. Sam

    I can’t see the recipe either — it’s in tiny tiny text. Never had that proplem before!

  26. hippiepippin

    I just thought I’d let you know, I just found out I am allergic to gluten and have been crying for days over pasta and beer and cookies. you blog made me feel a lot better.

  27. Anonymous

    I love reading your posts but this one has a huge gap in it where the instructions for GF corn tortillas should be. I’ve tried viewing using both Safari and Firefox but no luck!

  28. Anna

    Its nice to know I am not the only one who could eat nachos and enchiladas and quesadillas all the time (well, not quite all the time, but almost). I don’t think I really discovered corn tortillas until the past couple of years, but they are so good and so versatile.

  29. Laura

    I am also in love with corn tortillas.… preferably hand made corn tortillas.…. PREFERABLY tortillas negras made by hand.… I eat them plain, warmed up on the comal, or sprinkled with a little salt.… sometimes I just put a little corn oil on the comal, let it spread around and then heat the corn tortillas on it before sprinkling with salt. It’s nice to be able to use good salt and less of it then the packaged tortillas chips use.

    I also like to cut them into strips and fry them in corn oil to use as toppings for pozole or other soups. Even though they’re friend, they’re fresh, and that makes them so much more enjoyable.

    Corn tortillas are one of my favorite foods in the world.

  30. Eve

    Corn tortillas are probably one of the most versatile gluten-free foods around. The kids and I were just making a list of all their uses!

    In Chicago, we get El Milagro corn tortillas — so cheap and so good. We love huevos rancheros piled atop warmed corn tortillas, with a choice of toppings. I’ve never tried migas before, but I will definitely make them this weekend as well as the tortilla chips.

    Thanks, Shauna!

  31. samcarter

    If you want the most awesome, easy homemade restaurant-style salsa to have with those homemade chips, make Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant-Style Salsa. No lie, it is the best. I made one batch, tasted it, and tossed the storebought junk in the trash. You only need canned tomatoes, Ro-tel, a lime, onion, a smidge of cumin, salt and sugar, and cliantro. Oh, and a jalapeno, but I leave that out. It’s on her site. SO. Good.

  32. gluten free mama

    first–i love your blog–your stories, pictures and words of wisdom! i have been obsessed with corn tortillas for the past 8 years–ever since my son had an anaphylactic reaction to eating tainted corn tortillas at age 3! he is allergic to wheat, not celiac–so we have a slightly different concern!
    i have googled, experimented and even imported from england pure gluten free corn tortillas! finally last summer by chance, i discovered nirvana!
    there is a little place in chicago called “el popocatepetl”. they make flour tortillas but in a completely separate factory. these days my son eats a lot of tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, and corn chips. it is the little things in life that really make a difference–who knew?

    keep writing, you are awesome!

  33. Anonymous

    Hey Shauna! I have been making these exactly this way for my husband… but I don’t have a brush to brush them with oil, so I just put oil on my hands and lightly coat the chips and then season with season salt and Mrs Dash-Hot & Spicy! He loves them and they are so easy! He likes that this way, we KNOW how much oil & salt we are having. Thanks! Kay Guest

  34. caroline

    I love corn tortillas, but I hate how they break so easily– I find it nearly impossible to use them for wraps and tacos. What’s your secret? Or do you make your own? It also doesn’t help that they seem to be sold in massive quantities, so a lot of mine end up getting dried out before I have a chance to eat them.

  35. Raine Saunders

    I love home-made tortilla chips! We make ours often and do it with sprouted organic corn tortillas (to avoid nasty genetically-modified ingredients found in conventional corn) — the sprouted corn is healthier because the activity of sprouting helps to remove the phytic acid in the grain, which is a nutrient inhibitor of grains, legumes, many vegetables, and nuts.

    Have you ever used coconut oil? We use it because it is replete in medium chain triglycerides and fantastic antibacteria and antifungal enzymes, and caprylic acid — and again, it avoids nasty genetically-modified organisms found in vegetable oils. These all help maintain a healthy gut flora and keep away digestive troubles.

    Oh the joys of healthy oils (just like lard!). Coconut oil is also stable and full of saturated fats, so it can withstand high heat.

  36. Sho

    Shauna,

    I love corn tortillas. They were also great to buy before our big snowstorm here in Virginia. A huge stack of them just sit right on the shelf and hardly take up any space. They keep well out of the fridge. They are also cheaper than a loaf of bread. They are a pantry must-have before any snowstorm, even for gluten-eaters (like the rest of my family.)

    I love them with black beans covered with cheese, melted in the toaster oven. I also read a recipe where someone layered them like lasagne, with tex-mex ingredients in the layers, and baked in the oven.

    Take care,

    Shoshannah

  37. livinglife

    I have just stumbled across your blog … and I am so glad! My daughter is going to love these gluten free corn tortillas! Definitely going on the menu planner for next week.

  38. Erin

    Oh Shauna, I just love your writing, but it always leaves me with a fresh bout homesickness. My parents have always had a daphne right outside their front door. My grandmother gave them the cutting when they were first married. It is my favorite scent in the world. I used to sit on our front step for hours reading or writing just so I could smell it. I can’t wait to have a yard again so I can fill it with daphne.

    Thanks for the lovely imagery to start my day.

  39. Jennifer

    I’ve just started making my own corn tortillas (couldn’t believe how easy it is), and this recipe gives me reason to make a double batch. Thanks for sharing as always Shauna.

  40. Cookin' Canuck

    It’s so nice to read a post that is full of things that people are grateful for (with wonderful images, such as your daughter wandering about your garden) rather than their gripes. Great post, great recipe!

  41. Anonymous

    just last night we had warm corn tortillas with anasazi beans, fresh made pico, cotija cheese and avocado…yum!!!

  42. excelsior

    The Moosewood Cookbook has a recipe for a corn tortilla casserole with cream, tomatoes, and cheese that is yummy!

    Unfortunately since I’ve been living with someone who shouldn’t do tortillas and tomatoes, I haven’t made it in ages. But it is really good for any meal.

  43. allergymom

    We love tortilla chips. But one kid is allergic to wheat and the other one to corn. Food for Life makes a good wheat and gluten free brown rice tortilla. (Look for the lot # ending in DV; they’re made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.) When I don’t want to use oil, I just wet my hands, flick water on the tortillas, salt, and bake. Yum.

  44. Carrie G

    Tortillasgna!

    After we have our taco night, the leftover meat is used with corn tortillas and cheddar cheese — layered in a pan like lasagna, topping with smaller pieces for that crunchy top.

    I first tried this in my small round corningware dish — perfect single sized serving.

  45. liveoncejuicy

    I live on corn tortillas. My favorite is chilequiles (sp?) which is basically fried tortillas and onions, soaked in Mexican tomato sauce and served with an egg on top. We top with cheese and sour cream. OMG. Addictive. I knew I could be gluten free when I realized that I could still eat this.

  46. Katia

    Yum!!!!! Do you have a corn tortilla recipe you can share??? The ones from the store are so gross. I now make my tacos as a salad…

  47. Chef Fresco

    Love me some tortilla chips. I like em so much I bet I could throw em em over that mountain over there. (another Napoleon reference, love that flick)

  48. Gina

    A brand called Maria & Ricardo’s makes a gluten free flour tortilla that is great! They have it out here on the East Coast at Whole Foods.

    They are made with potato, tapioca, and sorgum flour so they aren’t as grity as corn once you warm them properly.

  49. Sprout

    This photo is my favorite as of yet.
    You’ve got great taste, my dear!

    Thanks for always sharing with us :)

  50. pipulu

    I want corn tortillas and i hope i can build a family just like the one in your description.

  51. Larissa

    my new favorite thing to do with corn tortillas is a recipe my dad taught me, that he based on something he ate at Cafe Jasper in Tucson, AZ.

    Flat breakfast enchiladas.

    two corn tortillas, between them goes enchilada sauce, cheese and sometimes veg or shredded meat or… whatever. bake with cheese on top for 10 minutes(some people like it just like that) but then we put a fried egg on top.

    YUUUM, tortillas.

  52. Mardel

    OMG, I adore corn tortillas. When I first learned I had celiac disease, my first thought was “at least I can steal eat corn tortillas, how bad can it be”. Corn tortillas are not safe in my house. I will wake up in the middle of the night and eat them all. I will hide them so that I have more for myself.

  53. sixgables

    Seconding on the “you must try this coconut oil. corn tortillas fried in coconut oil is one of the best things on earth. And since I’m not only GF, but sugar free as well? I neeeed these treats.

  54. dawneymay

    mmmmmm. I am JUST starting a gluten-free diet…this is my first day. I am so glad to see I can have corn tortillas. I, too, am in love with them! I love your site! It’s just been added to my “faves”.

  55. KingsKid

    Does anyone make a quesadilla maker for 6″ tortillas. I don’t think the larger ones (even an 8″) would work for 6″. Instead of sealing the edges, it would just leave them open since the fall into the pocket area.

  56. Michelle

    I am looking for corn free tortillas. I have slight different problem. I am allergic to corn and all sub products of corn ie…baking powder, corn starch, corn syrup, etc… It makes me very sad cuz i love mexican food and grew up on it in New Mexico… Green chile there is the best in the world esp. in a hot fresh corn tortillas. If any knows of recipes for flour tortiallas w/out baking powder, please let me know. As corn is out of the question any more.

  57. Laura

    Which brand of corn tortillas do you use, where you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination with gluten?
    Thanks!

  58. Karla

    looking for an actual recipe for corn tortillas so that i can use them as is or make chips out of them. see the recipe for chips but not tortillas

  59. Yvonne

    I’m with you on the corn tortillas especially since I’m from the midwets and west coast — where almost any day I can get warm fresh tortillas. However, that doens’t beat my mom’s own fresh tortillas — both corn and flour. Nothing says AWESOME like my mom’s and tehy are pretty easy to make. I’d say give the homemade flour tortilla a try (easy recipe — oil, flour, baking powder, and water –optional but recommended a pinch of salt). They’re so much better than the store bought manufactured kind because they can be a different type of rugged goodness. If you can find the same ingredients as gluten-free, give it a whirl!

  60. Laura

    Just found your site while doing some searching about corn tortillas. Ive always liked them, preferred them to flour really. But I did not appreciate them fully until finding out a couple weeks ago that I was gluten sensitive and those horrible headaches and laundry list of tummy troubles was likely due to that. Now I too have a serious problem with corn tortillas :) They’ve become my go to bread, standing in for lots of things and as I feel better I’m so very grateful for them. I’m sure the longer I’m gf I will either learn to make bread or find somewhere to buy it ll but for now I’m loving with experimenting with corn tortillas :)

  61. Sol

    Hi Laura,

    Hope to make your day here. My friend Katya sells Gluten Free Corn Tortillas on her website http://www.mexgrocer.co.uk she’s originally from Mexico and her site has 500 different Mexican food products, she sells all kinds of sizes from small taco stand size to larger ones for making wraps. She’s got other gluten free products too, you should take a look at here special gluten free Mexican Food page : http://www.mexgrocer.co.uk/GLUTEN-FREE-title0-p-1-c-284.html

    Hope this helps