Corn Tortillas: A Versatile Mexican Ingredient

Corn tortillas are a type of thin, unleavened bread made from ground maize. Found in a variety of dishes, tortillas are a staple found throughout Mexico and the American Southwest. Toothsome, tasty, and slightly sweet, corn tortillas are a healthy alternative to flour tortillas. Read on to learn more about corn tortillas. 

History of Corn Tortilla

Corn tortillas were a staple in the Aztec diet. To make tortillas, the Aztec people would dry and grind raw corn into a coarse meal. This coarse meal was then mixed with lime water in a process known as nixtamalization, which helps to soften the tough outer kernel of corn for easy removal. The mixture is then formed into masa or little balls of dough. After being rolled out and cooked on a griddle, this unleavened bread was transformed into tortillas. Today, the process of making corn tortillas has remained nearly unchanged.  

Image Credit: Flickr user bookgrl ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

In the 1500s, Spanish conquerors discovered tortillas and exported them to the rest of the world. Today, tortillas can be found throughout the globe. 

Appearance of Corn Tortilla

Corn tortillas are nutritious and available in different colors based on the type of corn used. Corn tortillas are traditionally yellow or white, and smaller than your average flour tortilla. These lightly colored corn tortillas are made from finely ground cornmeal and have a dusty whitish appearance with a pleasant chew. 

Blue maize tortillas are said to be a healthy choice due to the presence of antioxidants found in the corn.  Blue corn tortillas have a fine texture and an eye-catching navy or purple hue when cooked. Made from heirloom corn seeds, blue corn tortillas are high in protein.

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Flavor of Corn Tortilla

Corn tortillas have a pleasant and earthy corn flavor. They are also slightly sweet, but their predominant flavor is fairly neutral and grainy. 

Hominy tortillas have a coarse and slightly bland taste; finely ground cornmeal tortillas tend to be slightly sweeter, like flour tortillas. As mentioned, blue tortillas are the most luxurious of them all. This variety is richer, sweeter, and has more flavor than other types of tortillas. 

Culinary Benefits 

Corn tortillas have lots of applications. Stuff them with your favorite fajita fillings to make a complete meal. 

Or make enchiladas for dinner–– experiment with some diced chicken, onion, green chilies, cheese, beans, and enchilada sauce. Stuff your corn tortilla with seasoned chicken and your favorite vegetables, top with plenty of enchilada sauce and cheese, and bake until golden brown and bubbling. Take a look at this delicious recipe to try it out for yourself. 

Need to make a quick snack? Sprinkle some cheese on a corn tortilla and broil for a minute or two to melt and soften the cheese. Roll up your creation and serve with salsa or guacamole. 

One of the most classic applications for tortillas is tacos! Season browned meat with smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper for an authentic Mexican blend. Warm your corn tortillas and top with seasoned meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.Try our recipe for Classic Ground Beef Tacos, which utilize hard shell corn tortillas. 

Want to experiment a bit with tacos ? Try out these delicious shrimp and pineapple tacos, which are spicy, sweet, and savory. 

If you are looking for a nice dinner dish that will warm you up on the coldest nights, then tortilla soup should be your go-to dish.


Store-bought corn tortillas will last one to three weeks in the refrigerator. Keep them packed in a loose zip-lock. 

If you’re stocking up, you can store the tortillas in the freezer in an air-tight bag. Once they are fully thawed, you can heat them in a damp towel in the microwave. 

Feature Image: NatureFriend from Pixabay 

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