Beef tostada with homemade purple masa tortillas.

Beef Tostadas & Homemade Purple Masa Tortillas

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It makes me smile to think that not too long ago I was intimidated to make anything from scratch. Homemade bread, tortillas, sauerkraut, sauces, dressings, the list goes on. I think it was a combination of a lack of confidence and never seeing anyone do it in real life.

The first time I had a homemade corn tortilla was on a trip to Mexico about 8 years ago. The family I went on the trip with had a community of friends there and one of the grandmothers cooked for us. It was probably up there with one of the best food experiences I have had for many reasons, one being the taste of the food. Everything tasted like it was cooked with so much love and I knew it was.

Fresh tortillas were a part of most of our meals, which I was stoked about. They use masa harina instead of cornmeal, which gives it that distinct taste. You will not find the same savory flavors with cornmeal as you will with masa harina. The process that makes masa harina more flavorful is called nixtamalization. This is a traditional corn processing technique where the corn is soaked, cooked, and stone ground.

Fast forward to being in the Natural Food Chef Program at NTI and we got to make corn tortillas from scratch. That was the first time I made them. It turns out they are so easy! It took me back to that time in Mexico for a brief minute while biting into the tortilla I had made. Everything just tastes better fresh and made with love (at least I think so!). Since Cinco de Mayo is coming up, I wanted to share this simple and delicious recipe for homemade corn tortillas and tostadas.

Why We Love It

I won’t lie, this isn’t necessarily a weeknight meal that takes 30 minutes to whip up. This does take time and patience, but that’s my favorite thing about food. It can help us to slow down, take our time, and really connect with the ingredients we are using. I recommend making these with your family or friends for a fun weekend dinner party!

I also enjoy the fact that you do not need any fancy equipment to press your tortillas. I used 2 cutting boards both lined with parchment paper and pressed my dough ball between them. They all came out as beautifully round tortillas! You also don’t need a tortilla warmer either. I used a bowl with a kitchen towel to cover it and they were perfectly warm. 

These tortillas can be used in a variety of meals. I paired mine with beef tostadas, but you could also make them into tacos, chips, nachos, or breakfast burritos (depending on how big you make them). Tortillas paired with the tostadas is a great way to spend an afternoon and really wow your family and friends. You’ll definitely want to invite them over for dinner.

Homemade Tortilla Ingredients: 

Makes 15 tortillas

  • 2 cups (240 grams) masa harina (I used purple masa)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Bacon fat or a high-heat oil to cook the tortillas
  1. In a large mixing bowl, briefly whisk together masa harina and salt. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups hot water, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until an evenly mixed dough begins to form. Use your hands to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes in the mixing bowl until it is smooth and forms a cohesive ball. The dough’s texture should feel springy and firm, similar to Play-Doh. If the dough feels too wet and is sticking to your hands, add in a few extra tablespoons of flour. If it feels too dry and crackly, add in an extra tablespoon or two of hot water.
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel (or paper towel) and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Use a spoon or a medium ice cream scoop to portion the dough into a 2-tablespoon ball (35-40 grams, or about the size of a golf ball), then use your hands to roll the ball until it is nice and round.
  4. Place the dough ball between two pieces of plastic in a tortilla press or 2 cutting boards lined with parchment paper. Then gently press the dough ball until it forms a 4- to 5-inch tortilla.
  5. Heat a skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add your preferred cooking fat. Lay the tortilla flat in the skillet. Cook the tortilla until it is crispy and cooked through. The tortillas will likely bubble up while cooking, especially on the second side, which is a good sign! Once it is cooked, transfer the tortilla to a tortilla warmer or a bowl wrapped in a clean kitchen towel, so that the tortillas do not dry out.
  6. The tortillas will continue to soften a bit more as they sit in a stack in your tortilla warmer (or wrapped in a towel). So I recommend using the tortillas at the top of your stack first — they will be the crispiest for your tostadas. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Beef Tostadas Ingredients: 

Serves 6

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 3 Tbsp. avocado oil or lard
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 6 tortillas (see above recipe)
  • Whatever toppings you like! I used fresh sliced cabbage, shredded romaine, avocado, sour cream, cheese, fresh sliced radishes, beans, and lime. 
  • This recipe was adapted from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook (pg. 429). She recommends using chicken (I subbed beef), chismole, cortido, and cultured cream as other toppings options. 
  1. Saute onions and peppers in 3 Tbsp of avocado oil or lard until soft. 
  2. Add ground beef and brown. 
  3. Add tomato paste, stock, oregano, cumin, red chile flakes, salt and garlic.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until most of the liquid has evaporated. 
  5. Serve with homemade tortillas and desired toppings. 

Adapted from Nourishing Traditions

Discover the Art of Natural Food

Ready to elevate your confidence and competence in the kitchen? Join our Natural Food Chef Program and discover the joy of crafting wholesome meals from scratch. Embrace the art of cooking to nourish yourself and others. Attend a cooking demonstration to learn more!

More recipe inspiration…

Shrimp Tacos

Cranberry Salsa

Chilled Poblano and Cilantro Soup

About the Author: Meghan McGee is a graduate of NTI’s Certified Natural Food Chef program as well as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She believes food is the most powerful catalyst that brings people together. Sitting around a table, enjoying a nourishing meal with strangers or friends is her absolute favorite thing to do. Her mission is to inspire others to take control of their health.  You can find Meghan’s personal chef and other services at

Photo by Meghan McGee

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