Corn tortilla mix and corn flour are very similar ingredients used to make corn tortillas, but they are not exactly the same thing. The main difference is that corn tortilla mix contains flour in addition to dried corn, while corn flour is 100% ground dried corn.
What is Corn Tortilla Mix?
Corn tortilla mix is a convenience product that contains pre-mixed dried corn flour and wheat flour. It may also contain small amounts of baking powder, salt, and preservatives. The typical mix is made with a combination of 60-80% dried corn that has been ground into a fine flour, and 20-40% all-purpose wheat flour.
This combination creates a good balance and texture for making tortilla dough and tortillas. The added wheat flour allows the dough to stretch more easily. It also gives the tortillas a softer texture that is easier to roll or press out by hand. Corn tortilla mix is quick and easy to use. Just add water to form the dough.
Common Brands of Corn Tortilla Mix
Some popular brands of corn tortilla mix sold in grocery stores include:
- Don Pancho
- Maria and Ricardo’s
- La Guerrerense
- El Milagro
- Bob’s Red Mill
What is Corn Flour?
Corn flour is made from dried corn that has been ground into a powder. It contains no additional ingredients, and is 100% ground corn. Corn flour is more coarsely ground than corn tortilla mix. It has a sandy, gritty texture when raw.
To make corn flour, field corn or dried yellow dent corn is dried and then ground. The corn germ and hull are sifted out until only the dried starchy endosperm remains. This finely ground powder is the corn flour.
Types of Corn Flour
There are a few varieties of corn flour:
- Masa harina – The most common corn flour used for tortillas and tamales. It has a medium grind.
- Masa preparada – A very finely ground corn flour soaked in limewater. Gives tortillas a more authentic flavor.
- Whole grain corn flour – Contains finely ground whole kernel corn, including the hull and germ.
Key Differences Between Corn Tortilla Mix and Corn Flour
While corn tortilla mix and corn flour can both be used to make tortillas, there are some key differences between these two ingredients:
- Corn Content – Tortilla mix contains 60-80% ground corn, while corn flour is 100% corn.
- Added Wheat Flour – Tortilla mix has added wheat flour but corn flour does not.
- Texture – Corn flour has a grittier, sandier texture while tortilla mix is finer.
- Ease of Use – Tortilla mix only needs water, while corn flour usually needs extra ingredients to form the right dough texture.
- Flavor – Some claim corn flour has a more authentic, corn-like flavor than tortilla mix.
Can They Be Substituted for Each Other?
Corn tortilla mix and corn flour can generally be substituted for each other in recipes, but a few adjustments may be needed.
Substituting Tortilla Mix for Corn Flour
If a recipe calls for corn flour, you can replace it with an equal amount of tortilla mix. However, since tortilla mix contains added wheat flour, it may change the texture and flavor of the dish slightly. The tortillas or dough may be more pliable and stretchy. Reduce any added wheat flour in the recipe by 20-40% to account for the wheat in the tortilla mix.
Substituting Corn Flour for Tortilla Mix
To substitute corn flour for tortilla mix, you’ll need to add some wheat flour to approximate the mix. For every 1 cup of corn flour, add 2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. You may also need a bit more liquid. The texture may be more crumbly and dry if you don’t add enough extra moisture.
How to Choose Between Corn Tortilla Mix and Corn Flour
Here are some tips on deciding whether to use corn tortilla mix or corn flour:
- Choose tortilla mix for convenience – Just add water, no other ingredients needed.
- Use corn flour for authentic flavor – Has a true corn taste.
- Pick flour for a heartier texture – Tortilla mix makes more tender, flexible tortillas.
- Choose tortilla mix if wheat flour is needed – Already contains added wheat flour.
- Select corn flour for gluten-free recipes – Ensure it’s 100% corn with no gluten ingredients.
Best Uses for Corn Tortilla Mix vs. Corn Flour
Best Uses for Corn Tortilla Mix
- Making tortillas at home – Quick and easy with just water
- Frying tortilla chips – Stretches and fries up nicely
- Adding to casseroles or enchiladas – Blends smoothly into fillings
- Making tortilla soup – Thickens the broth well
Best Uses for Corn Flour
- Authentic homemade tortillas – Imparts rich, corn flavor
- Tamales – Creates the right masa for tamale dough
- Pupusas – Adds hearty texture to the Salvadoran stuffed rounds
- Arepas – Helps make the crispy outside and tender interior
Recipes Using Corn Tortilla Mix or Corn Flour
Both corn tortilla mix and corn flour can be used to make delicious Mexican and Central American dishes. Here are some recipe ideas with either ingredient:
Recipes with Corn Tortilla Mix
- Homemade Tortillas – Knead tortilla mix with water and roll out for fresh tortillas
- Quesadillas – Fill tortillas made with mix with cheese, meat, beans
- Chilaquiles – Fry tortilla chips and simmer in salsa
- Enchilada Casserole – Layer tortillas, sauce, fillings and bake
- Tacos – Wrap all your favorite taco fillings in tortillas from mix
Recipes with Corn Flour
- Tamales – Season masa made with corn flour and wrap with fillings
- Pupusas – Stuff thick tortillas with cheese, pork, beans
- Arepas – Form patties and fry or bake the Colombian corn cakes
- Empanadas – Fill pastries made with corn flour dough
- Tostones – Fry smashed green plantains coated in corn flour
Since corn flour is 100% corn, it offers slightly higher nutritional value than corn tortilla mix. However, both provide carbohydrates, fiber, and small amounts of protein and minerals. Here is a nutrition comparison of the two flours:
Corn Tortilla Mix (Maseca brand)
- Calories: 108 per 1/4 cup
- Carbs: 23g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 3g
- Fat: 1g
Corn Flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand)
- Calories: 110 per 1/4 cup
- Carbs: 24g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 3g
- Fat: 1g
Corn tortilla mix is often cheaper than purchasing plain corn flour. Some average prices for popular brands:
- Maseca corn tortilla mix: $1.99 for 18 oz
- Bob’s Red Mill corn flour: $3.49 for 24 oz
- Maseca masa harina corn flour: $1.99 for 4 lbs
- Don Pancho tortilla mix: $1.79 for 20 oz
Buying larger bags of either tortilla mix or corn flour can help save money per ounce. Purchasing from bulk bins at health food stores also keeps costs down on organic options.
Availability of Corn Tortilla Mix vs. Corn Flour
Corn tortilla mix can be found at most major supermarkets in the baking aisle or international food section. Brands like Maseca are widely distributed.
Plain corn flour may be harder to locate. Check Latin or Mexican markets for the best selection of brands. Bob’s Red Mill or other health food stores also sell corn flour.
Masa harina corn flour is easier to find than masa preparada. Purchase lime-treated masa preparada from specialty Latin grocers or online stores.
Storage and Shelf Life
Both corn tortilla mix and corn flour should be kept in airtight containers in a cool, dry pantry. Avoid temperature extremes.
The shelf life is approximately:
- Corn tortilla mix: 9-12 months past the sell-by date
- Corn flour: 1 year past the sell-by date
For peak freshness and flavor, use within several months of opening. Smell and taste test before using older products.
While corn tortilla mix and corn flour have some differences, they can generally be used interchangeably in recipes once you make some adjustments. Choose tortilla mix for convenience, corn flour for authenticity, and experiment with both to make delicious tortillas, tamales, pupusas, and more!