Masa Harina Vs Corn Flour – Are They The Same?



The kitchen “stars” often confuse Masa Harina and Corn Flour. It may look different, but it’s not similar either. At first, I thought both to be the same until I discovered Masa Harina is ground corn treated with alkali. Let’s keep digging.

I have come across a few points which will help you understand what Masa Harina is. It is a corn dough used to make fresh tortillas. The method used to make Masa Harina is very much simple, the ground corn is soaked in calcium hydroxide, after some time the corn goes through a fine grade grinder to make it into a corn dough. Whereas, on the other hand, Corn flour does not help make tortillas but is perfect for frying and breading. If you read more, the next time you go to the market, you can quickly figure out the differences between the two.

Are they the same?

No, it’s not.

Let’s talk about corn flour. The cornflour comes from the dried corn kernel, the corn is milled all together with the hull, endosperm, germ and makes it a whole wheat flour. It is usually very smooth in texture and varies in colour, yellow, white or blue depending on the corn used.

As I said earlier, corn flour is good with bread as it gives an excellent smooth structure to it. It is further combined with eggs to provide shape. The raw corn flour is tasteless, but when it gets mixed to make bread, or used in baking or cooking the flavour unleashes itself. Corn flour is perfect for frying as it gives the crispiness and enhances the taste of the food. Corn flour is a good friend for all the breading and frying food, be it muffins or blinis or more.

The most versatile is the Corn Flour than that of Masa Harina?

Well, I will go for corn flour, it is the fine white or yellow powder giving smooth structure to any food or crispiness to any battered fried food you like. But Masa Harina is not the same. Corn Flour should not get the treatment of getting substituted with that of All-purpose flour. We usually experiment with food by using all kinds of substitutes for corn flour and drags it to our type of taste.

Let’s talk about Masa Harina. Well, it is the staple flour from Mexico. Mexicans love to use Masa Harina more than that of cornflour. They usually call it ‘corn dough’. It is used to make tasty tortillas, tamales, and pupusas. Masa Harina is smooth in texture and fine flour which gets cooked in lime water or calcium hydroxide which completely changes the taste of the flour.

The limewater in every masa flour is essential for the distinct taste and the easy digestion by our body. Luckily, masa flour is naturally gluten-free; it is 100% pure.

Is the substitute of Corn Flour Masa Harina?


The answer is No.

Both of them are entirely different, and using it as a substitute will make your food tasteless. Remember, the masa flour is the staple for the Mexicans, and it is mixed with lime water or calcium hydroxide, which changes the taste of the overall outcome. Both corn flour and masa harina have different characteristics.

After Nixtamalization, which is the process of cooking the corn in an alkaline solution, this enhances the level of nutrient value, and removes germs and bacteria present. However, this process makes the corn smooth, which gets more comfortable to grind and transform it into a dough.

Why do the chefs or the Mexicans like to use masa four instead of cornflour? If cornflour is used to make tortillas, then it might get rubbery or too chewy, or it will break apart. The mixture is entirely different when making food with masa flour. The taste and structure of tortilla are far better with flour than that of corn.

Cornmeal or Cornflour?

The simple difference between the two is all about the texture. Both are made from the milled, dried corn. Cornmeal has this grittiness and coarse texture.

You will find cornmeal to be the main ingredients in cornbread.

Now, if we think of cornflour, the fine smooth texture comes from grinding the cornmeal. Corn flour is the best in use for frying and coating of food. As I have mentioned earlier, the only difference which lies in between the two is the texture. However, both the ingredients are interchangeable. In many households, cornmeal is used for chicken coating but it is obvious the texture and taste will differ a lot. Leading to an unsatisfactory result, it is true that many of us ignore many ingredients and head to compromise with it.

A small home remedy is that, if you have cornmeal, just take a little pain and grind it into a fine smooth texture and at the end you don’t have to worry about buying cornflour.

Are you curious, how to make Masa Harina?


Well talking about Masa Harina, it is not easy to make it at home or rather I can say that it is not possible to manufacture at home. Masa flour cannot be extracted from cornmeal or cornflour. The whole corn kernel is soaked or mixed with lime water or calcium hydroxide and later on it is transformed into the flour.

It is certainly not an easy process, as it needs a lot of labor if you wish to process it at home. Masa Harina comes from the unsweetened, dent corn which is the yellow field corn. This corn is very different from the corn we enjoy every summer.

The dent corn may not be available easily to you and even if it’s available you need a lot of extra effort to peel off the outer thick skin. You’ve to boil it for hours and wait for longer hours to take the skin off.

The good news is that you can order whole grain corn online. However, if the corn is left dry and stored in a cool storage, you can use it for around a year. Just keep the seal tight to avoid the bugs.

The next step-Masa Harina:

Moving on further, we are a few steps ahead for the final Masa flour. After the selection of the den corn and getting rid of the skin. The next step is to mix the corn in calcium hydroxide. This the most vital step as this is where the corn is changed into Masa Harina. If you are planning to do these steps at home, you can check online to purchase the limewater.

First, you need to mix water and calcium hydroxide in a vessel. Next, you need to add the corn to the liquid mixture and boil it until the outer skin of the corn kernel slips off. After the boil simmer the flame. After this step is done, take the corns out from the heat and let it set overnight by putting a cover on it.

It’s hard but you can do it. The next morning, rinse the corn well, if needed rinse thoroughly and for several times, after the complete rinse you need to put the corn in a food processor to make the thick dough. Well that’s it. Now you can enjoy your Masa Harina as much as you like. Although you need a lot of labor but still it is far better than that you get in the grocery stores.

Masa flour is good for health, the natural ingredients make it more nutritious and tastier to eat. I have even come across people who tell me that corn starch and cornflour is the same thing. Yes, it is true that both are derived from corn but have differences in appearances, textures, and purposes. The starch is used to thicken the soup, sauces and stews whereas the cornflour is used in batters and coating and breading. Next time don’t stay confused with the two products.

Many people make cornflour in their home. It might sound intimidating but it is much easier to make at home. It will not be complicated or too much labor that you did to make masa flour. The one and only ingredient which you will be needing is the corn and it should be dried beforehand.

If we think in a traditional way, you need to do a little work. At first drying the corn under the sun and removing the cob, next passing it through the grain mill. It sounds complicated but it’s not. The only two things you need to make corn flour are the popcorn kernels and a high-powered blender. As you can understand that you will be cutting down the kernels into fine powder, you need something very powerful. The blades should be sharp and powerful. Your regular grinder may work fine but you would not want to buy a new grinder after grinding the kernels.

If you search online you might get perfect grinders made only to grind kernels.

All you need to do is put the dried kernels into the grinder and fill it halfway through the blender. Blend the kernels on high till the kernels turn into fine powder. The good thing about it is that you can store it in a tight zip lock bag and use it over six months or more.

Corn flour creates less hassle than the masa flour. Although both of them are tasty ingredients and nutritious as well. If I start talking about food, I can speak a lot on both corn flour and masa flour ingredient food. If you stand as the lover of fried food you will understand the value of cornflour. This powdered ingredient can cause miracles, the texture and crispiness will make you go over the board.

Everyone wants a fresh and tasty breakfast; all you need to do is mix the cornflour into a waffle or pancake batter for a satisfying breakfast, or bake it into breads, muffins, or cakes. You can make hundreds of dishes by mixing and battering the cornflour. Be it cake or bread or Crispy chicken wings.

We should not forget our Masa Harin, the nutrition level is high above and even tasty to have. The crispy tacos and tortilla or be it any Mexican dish, one cannot think having it without the Masa flour. You can also use Masa Harina to make tamales and gorditas at home. Gorditas are masa cakes that are a bit thicker than traditional tortillas.

Did you get the difference between Masa Harina and Corn Flour?

Let’s have a short recap, both Masa and corn flour may seem similar but are different in every aspect apart from the fact that it is derived from the corn. While making the flour at home you need to keep in mind that some important aspects should be present like a powerful blender, dried corn etc. Masa flour will need calcium hydroxide as this the vital ingredient to turn corn into masa harina. We have to remember that Masa Harina cannot be extracted from corn flour or cornmeal.

Masa Harina is the perfect ingredient for tortilla and corn flour for fried food. Both are gluten free which makes it healthier and digestible.

The trick here is that once you are successful in making Masa Harina no one can stop you from making the masa dough. The longevity is less; for masa it should be consumed within three days, you need to store it in a cool and dry place but if making tortilla you have to keep it at room temperature. Both of them are brilliant food ingredients and fortunately with a little bit of labor and equipment you can manage to make both the ingredients at home. You will surely love the food with these best ingredients.

I hope this article has helped you in some way or the other.