Corn tortillas are a staple used in Mexican cooking for tacos, enchiladas, taquitos, and even corn tortilla chips. Their fun soft, foldable shape makes them the perfect vessel for delicious fillings like pork, taco meat, grilled chicken or steak, and lots of toppings. Generally, they are made simply with three ingredients and can be found readily in most supermarkets.
Many often wonder if they are gluten free and I have researched all the details to find out for you!
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. Gluten is vital in helping food maintain its shape. It is a naturally occurring substance but can also be extracted and concentrated to add to other products to promote texture, flavor, and protein content.
Gluten can come from any of the grains listed above and other food sources.
The human body is composed of various digestive enzymes that break down the food you eat. A specific type of enzyme, protease, aids in breaking down proteins in the body but is ineffective against gluten. As a result, the undigested gluten travels to the small intestine, resulting in many unpleasant symptoms or an autoimmune response (celiac disease).
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, you can still feel sick after eating foods containing gluten if you have a gluten intolerance. These symptoms include bloating, headaches, skin rashes, and diarrhea.
According to Hopkins Medicine, gluten isn’t bad for you. Gluten is a good source of soluble fiber, nutrients, and protein. Unless you are diagnosed with celiac disease, you should have no problem consuming gluten in your diet.
Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor to determine if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. It is true when you exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above. Your doctor will perform a series of tests to determine your gluten sensitivity.
If you want to start on a gluten-free diet, here are some of the foods that you must avoid:
- Beer or ale
- Wafers or crackers
- French fries
- Malt (including malt flavoring)
- Salad dressings
- Sauces (containing wheat)
- Snack foods like potato and tortilla chips
You can find a more comprehensive list of foods containing gluten on the Celiac Disease Foundation website. It's important to highlight the "hidden" gluten in your food. Make sure to pay extra attention to the label.
Here are ingredient names that you must be cautious of since they could mean there is gluten in your food:
- Modified food starch
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Farina, etc.
Is Corn Gluten-Free?
Yes, corn is gluten-free in its natural form. It does not contain gluten, unlike other types of grains.
Plain corn when eaten straight from the cob is gluten-free. However, you need to be extra careful when consuming processed corn products. Always check the product's full ingredient list before you consume it to ensure it does not contain any traces of gluten.
Corn is safe to eat on a gluten-free diet when it is not consumed with other processed foods, such as sauces or seasonings. In addition, you must be aware of the potential cross-contamination of corn products that could expose them to gluten sources.
If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you must know about the common variations of corn and corn products you can safely eat. These include corn flour (and other food products made with corn flour), cornstarch, cornmeal, and hominy.
Aside from being gluten-free, corn is also a rich source of essential nutrients, such as vitamins A, B, C, and E. There are several ways to consume corn, such as grinding it to make corn flour to create tortillas or gluten-free bread. You can add it to your salad for natural sweetness, color, and texture.
How Are Corn Tortillas Made
The most common ingredients used in corn tortilla recipes include:
- Masa harina (corn flour)
- Hot water
Traditionally, corn tortillas are made by curing maize in limewater. The process peels off the skin of the kernel. After that, the maize goes through a grinding process before it is kneaded into a dough. The dough is rolled out into circles and then cooked over a hot griddle.
Nowadays, you can buy ready-made corn flour from the grocery. You can use that flour with the ingredients listed above to form a dough and then cook your homemade tortillas over a grill. You can also buy ready-made corn tortillas that you can simply heat on the grill.
Are Corn Tortillas Healthier than Wheat Tortillas?
There are two main types of tortillas: flour and corn. For this purpose, we'll take a closer look at corn tortillas since it is a more popular choice being a healthier option. It is made from whole grains, which means it has more nutrients, fewer calories, and a higher fiber count than flour tortillas.
Corn tortillas are also typically smaller in size than flour tortillas. Hence, it is a good option for those who want to portion control their diet.
Never assume that all corn tortillas are gluten-free. Some mass-produced corn tortillas may contain gluten. Therefore, it pays to read the ingredient list before you buy (refer to the list of “hidden names” of gluten above).
Homemade corn tortillas are good to have to ensure freshness and quality. However, you can find many gluten-free corn tortillas to save time and effort. You can opt for these alternatives if you want to make a quick breakfast or lunch without worrying about whether or not it’s a gluten-free meal.
- Corn Tortillas
Mission is on a "mission" to provide gluten free corn tortillas, and they have the best assortment of traditional gluten free flavors out there.
- Street Tacos White Corn Tortillas
- Low-Calorie Yellow Corn Tortillas
- Extra Thin White Corn Tortillas
- Estilo Casero White Corn Tortillas
- Street Tacos Yellow Corn Tortillas
- Red Corn Tortillas
- Super Size Yellow Corn Tortillas
- Yellow Corn Tortillas
- White Corn Tortillas
- Corn Tortillas
- 25 Calories White Corn Tortillas
- White Corn Tortilla
- King Size White Corn Tortilla
- Taqueria Style Mini White Corn Tortilla
- King Size Yellow Corn Tortilla
- Yellow Corn Tortilla
- Caseras White Corn Tortilla
- Taqueria Style Mini Yellow Corn Tortilla
- Organic Corn Tortillas
- Organic Corn THINcredible
- Organic Corn Taco Sliders
- Non-GMO White Corn Tortillas
These are not made with corn but could be used as a substitute for corn tortillas and give a similar flavor.
- Almond Flour Tortillas
- Chickpea Flour Tortillas
Old El Paso
They do not make any soft corn tortillas but do have a selection of corn taco shells that are gluten free.
- Tostada Shells
- Crunchy Taco Shells
- Crunchy White Corn Shells
Whether you make your corn tortilla at home or buy the pre-made ones, use the information provided here to be informed about your food choices. While it might seem daunting at first, it should make it easy to maintain a gluten-free diet when you know what goes into making your food.