Corn vs. Flour: When to Use Each Kind of Tortilla


Tortillas are the heart of Mexican cuisine. They’re soft, pliable, tasty, and perfect for any filling. If you enjoy tacos, burritos, chimichangas, and beyond as much as we do, the difference between corn and flour tortillas has likely crossed your mind. Is there a difference? Will choosing one over the other improve or worsen your eating experience? You deserve to know the facts, which Meat Express is here to lay out. Read on for a complete guide to corn versus flour tortillas, as well as when to use each kind for satisfaction in every bite.

What Is a Corn Tortilla?

Nixtamalized corn, or maize (maíz), is the primary ingredient in corn tortillas. Nixtamalization is a traditional preparation process that involves soaking and cooking dried kernels in an alkaline solution of water and lime. After which, the kernels are drained and washed to remove the outer shell, then milled to produce corn flour (masa harina) that forms the base of tortillas. Rehydrated masa harina is kneaded and flattened by hand before shallow-frying to yield a sweet, slightly nutty canvas for your favorite Mexican dishes. This technique is over 3500 years old.

The history of corn tortillas dates back to ancient Mesoamerica, where indigenous cultures like the Mayans and Aztecs first cultivated maize. They developed nixtamalization using slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and lye (potassium hydroxide). We have them to thank for making it easier to grind corn, increasing the nutritional quality of the maize, and making it possible for the world to enjoy corn tortillas.

Is There a Difference Between White and Blue Corn Tortillas?

At Meat Express, our customers can choose between white or blue corn tortillas when ordering from our menu. 

  • White corn tortillas have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a softer texture. These tortillas are versatile and popular in many traditional Mexican dishes.
  • Blue corn tortillas have a more earthy taste and a coarse texture that many customers love. The blue-purple color comes from a natural pigmentation called anthocyanin, which has multiple health benefits.

Ultimately, the choice depends on personal taste and texture preferences, as well as the desired nutritional benefits. Most customers don’t notice a significant difference.

What Is a Flour Tortilla?

Flour tortillas are made from a simple mixture of wheat flour, water, lard or vegetable oil, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. This combination produces a dough that’s soft and easy to work with. Hands or machines divide the dough into small balls, roll each into a thin round, and cook them on a hot griddle until they develop light brown spots.

Flour tortillas have not been around as long as corn tortillas. Their exact origin is uncertain, but some academics believe that the Jewish, Moorish, and Levantine influenced their development. These flatbreads became popular in northern Mexico during the Spanish conquest of the 1500s, when the introduction of wheat transformed local cuisine.

When to Use Corn Tortillas

If you’re in Japan or anywhere outside of Mexico, corn tortillas are as close to authentic Mexican cuisine as possible. White corn has an almost oaky and nutty flavor profile, while blue corn has a more concentrated taste. However, corn tortillas are fragile and prone to breaking, especially if they’re not fresh off the griddle.

As the older and more traditional of the two variants, corn-based tortillas are perfect for all taco fillings, from authentic beef birria to carne asada and chorizo; toasted for pork carnitas taquitos; rolled around marinated chicken and chilis for enchiladas; or fried for chips and tostadas.

Traditional corn tortillas are also gluten-free. They are an excellent choice for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

When to Use Flour Tortillas

Rice, beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese, and some kind of protein? These are the things flour tortillas were made for.

Flour tortillas have a milder, more neutral taste. Their flavor is often described as slightly buttery due to the fat (lard or vegetable oil) used during preparation. They are soft, pliable, and sturdier, which makes them ideal for dishes that require rolling or wrapping. Their flexibility makes them the superior choice for burritos, quesadillas, sandwich alternatives, or to pull apart and scoop up chili con carne.

Flour tortillas are more popular in the United States and North Mexico than in Central America. They have also become a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine rather than authentic Mexican food or Central American cooking.

Which Is the Healthier Option?

Corn tortillas are healthier than flour tortillas, but that doesn’t mean the latter has no nutritional benefit. Corn tortillas can be better for you for the following reasons:

  • Whole grains: Masa harina is a cereal grain. Corn tortillas made from 100% corn provide 100% whole grains. Their high fiber content supports heart and digestive health.
  • Gluten-free: Gluten is a group of proteins in grains such as barley, rye, and wheat. Since flour tortillas are wheat-based, 100% corn tortillas are a safer option for individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, corn tortillas have a weaker structure that tends to break due to the absence of gluten. Flour tortillas are sturdier and preferable for burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas, hearty breakfast tacos, and other wraps with heavier fillings.
  • Antioxidants: Anthocyanins in blue corn are a natural source of antioxidants. A diet rich in these compounds may prevent inflammation, protect against diseases, and improve overall brain health.
  • Nutritional value: Mexican corn tortillas have fewer calories, less fat, and more essential nutrients like magnesium and potassium. They are also high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and helps maintain a feeling of satiety. On the other hand, flour tortillas are a good source of energy-boosting carbohydrates. They also carry more protein than an average corn tortilla.

Mexican cuisine is another way to say “I love myself” and “I deserve to treat myself.” Whichever type of tortilla you choose, one thing is for sure: your meal will be delicious! Both add something special to any dish and offer a satisfying experience.

Taste Authentic Mexican Food in Japan

Authentic Mexican Food

Are you craving savory birria, spicy chili con carne, sweet tamales, and other traditional Mexican dishes? Let Meat Express quench your culinary desires. Check out Our Products and experience Mexican cuisine in Japan. Our commitment to authentic taste and quality service ensures a memorable meal every time, whether it’s for one person or a taco party with all your friends and family.

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