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How to Know When to Use Corn Tortillas vs. Flour Tortillas

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 27, 2020 • 2 min read

Nothing compares to the pleasure of eating a homemade tortilla hot and fresh off the stove. The flavor imparted by a tortilla is integral to any dish it’s served with. Depending on what that dish might be, there are two roads to consider: corn, or flour.



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Corn Tortillas vs. Flour Tortillas: What’s the Difference?

Corn tortillas are tortillas made from masa, a dough made of dried corn kernels that have been soaked and softened in an alkaline solution (a process called “nixtamalization”) then finely ground into a wet, pliable dough; masa can also be made using masa harina, or dried corn flour. Flour tortillas, on the other hand, are made from wheat flour, salt, baking powder, oil, and water; gluten from the flour gives flour tortillas their signature elasticity. For both types of tortillas, the dough is formed into thin discs using either a rolling pin or a tortillero, a tortilla press. The tortillas are then cooked on a hot skillet or griddle like a comal.

5 Dishes to Serve With Corn Tortillas

Homemade corn tortillas, with their sweet, earthy smell and flexible texture, are an all-purpose accompaniment to a variety of Mexican foods.

  1. Tacos: When fresh, corn tortillas provide the base for a whole range of street food and antojitos, like tacos and taquitos.
  2. Quesadillas: Though they can be made with both flour and corn tortillas, quesadillas made with corn tortillas are a common street food in Mexico.
  3. Enchiladas: Leftover corn tortillas are sturdy enough to serve as the defining layers in saucy baked enchiladas.
  4. Chips: You can fry corn tortillas to make crispy totopos (tortilla chips), which go well with everything from aguachile to salsa to guacamole.
  5. Tostadas: Fried corn tortillas are also delicious as tostadas topped with refried beans or carne asada.
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4 Dishes to Serve With Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are larger and more absorbent than corn tortillas, so they are best suited for anything particularly saucy. Flour tortillas are more common in northern Mexican cuisine and throughout the Southwestern United States.

  1. Burritos: Flour tortillas perfectly contain the combined juices of tender meat, salsa, rice, and beans in a neat, no-leak package.
  2. Quesadillas: American-style quesadillas rely on flour tortillas to hold together all the melty cheese and fillings.
  3. Tacos: Many tacos in the Tex-Mex canon are served on soft, pillowy flour tortillas instead of corn.
  4. Fajitas: Big, fluffy, flour tortillas work great when wrapping used to wrap up juicy steak or shredded chicken.

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