How To Make Flour Tortillas

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You can go anywhere in the world and find some variation on flatbread: pita, naan, matzo, and of course tortillas. I’ve done pita, and I have to say tortillas are a bit easier. Since they don’t use yeast it’s just mix and fry, no rising needed. And I can see how a little practice will make them even easier. I see lots of wraps in my future.

Ingredients


3 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons bacon fat (see note below)
1-1/4 cups warm water (see other note below)

Directions

I love recipes with easy-to-remember proportions: 3-2-1 & 6. Scale it up, scale it down, easy. (By the way, I saw the same basic proportions all over when I was researching, but the one I had open when I wrote it down was Culinary Cory.)

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.


Add the bacon fat, which should be a bit cooler than room temperature.

NOTE: Most recipes call for shortening. Shortening is evil, and shouldn’t be called food. Use it if you want, I won’t break into your kitchen and call you names. But have you heard of trans fats? Okay, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Cut it in with a pastry cutter.

It’s ready when the flour looks like coarse meal instead of a powder, but there are no large lumps.

Add the water and mix until combined.

OTHER NOTE: Shortening is engineered (yes, engineered food, eww … oops, I wasn’t supposed to be saying anything more about that) to be solid at room temperature. Bacon fat is soft, close to liquid depending on how hot your kitchen is. You want the water to be warm enough to soften up your fat, but no so hot it makes it gooey. Sorry I can’t be more specific about an exact temperature, you’re just going to have to try it for yourself and practice.

If the dough is too wet — it’s sticking to the bowl — keep adding flour and mixing until a dough ball forms. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth and uniform.

Flour the surface again, and the top of the dough, and roll it out into a rough circle. You need the flour on top of the dough or it will stick to the roller. The more it warms up, the more sticky it will get.

Don’t worry about being perfect, you just want to be able to measure uniform-sized pieces. Slice with a pizza cutter into 8-12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

I did eight, but the tortillas were a little thicker than I planned. They worked great, but you can get a lot more out of one batch than I did. I’ll go for ten next time, but I could easily get twelve, though they might not be as big around.

Flour your surface and the top of each ball and roll out to about 8-10 inches. Or do what I did: Don’t bother with how many inches and just make them as big as your skillet will hold.

Preheat a dry pan over medium heat, and add one tortilla.

You should see bubbles within about 30 seconds if your pan is hot enough.

As soon as the bubbles are about as big as a quarter, flip it over and do the other side for the same length of time as the first side took.

And that’s it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you the chicken fajitas I made with these.

PS: You can do this in a food processor. Combine the dry ingredients, then add the fat and pulse several times. Then process on low speed while adding the water. Add more flour if needed until the dough pulls away from the sides.

Comments

  1. onlinepastrychef says:

    Oh, Drew! I'm enjoying the way you're sneaking bacon fat into everything. One of my fats of choice, along with chicken fat. Mmmm, matzo balls…. :)

  2. We end up making a double batch of tortillas every week. Store bought ones kinda gross me out.

    Although, I'll admit, we use lard. Health food, you know…

  3. That's not sneaking, it's listed right there in the ingredients.

    And speaking of schmaltz

    Amy, lard is good. And my butcher just told me he found a source for me! Up 'til now, my only option was to special-order 20 pounds at a time.

  4. StefRobrts says:

    Thank you so much for this! Tortillas are one of those things I always feel guilty about buying, because I know they are easy to make at home, I just didn't know how. I can't wait to try this!

  5. 20 lbs at a time? I'm not seeing the problem. LOL

  6. Beer_Matt says:

    Drew,

    My wife and I made our own tortillas for the first time last month. We will never go back. Much tastier than those pasty leathery disks you get at the store.

    I want to try using lard, as it seems a bit more traditional than shortening. I am assuming you are using un-hydrogenated lard since you want to get away from the trans-fats. Any tips on how to find it, all I get at my store is Armour brand (which is hydrogenated).

  7. onlinepastrychef says:

    Yum on the soups there, Drew. I, myself, non-Jewish, non-New-Yorker me, make a pretty mean matzo ball if I do say so myself!

    I know you weren't sneaking, I was just referring to the bacon in the beans from yesterday. Your blog is just a little bacon-heavy these past couple of days. I mean that in the best possible way!

  8. Stef, I didn't know how easy it was either. I almost borrowed a food processor, because that's what most recipes called for. Then I thought, "If I need to borrow a tool to make them, I'll never do it." Tried without it, and they came out fine.

    Amy, fridge space.

    Matt, I just had this discussion with my father-in-law. I don't know how they can call it lard when it's actually vegetable shortening. As for finding it, I checked with my butcher. He can order me 20 pounds of it, but he's the one who told me what nearby specialty shop carries it.

    Jenni, bacon isn't heavy. It's light and shiny like rainbows and unicorns. (Or was it rainbows and butterflies? I can never remember.)

  9. Michelle says:

    Drew, have you checked out a mexican grocery store? They are wonderful! Tortilla flour, tamale flour, tubs of lard, and every kind of chile pepper on earth. You'll find things you never even imagined inside a mexican grocery store.

    My mexican cousin taught me how to make tortillas. It's pretty much the same way you do it, except we use our fingers to work the lard into the flour instead of a pastry blender. My grandmother used to use a piece of sawed-off broom handle to roll them out with. And somehow, her handprint was on every tortilla. Hers were the best in the world!

  10. Kristin @ Going Country says:

    Okay, this is probably too far out for most people, but . . . to get good lard, all you need is a processing place near you. Meaning a place that butchers whole animals. They will most likely give you all the kidney fat you want from the pigs they butcher–most people don't want it. But kidney fat, when rendered, becomes leaf lard, which is very pure and milder than lard made from other pig fat. For those who cook with lard, leaf lard is sought-after.

    The rendering is easy, if a little gross. But this way, you get free lard of a much better quality than anything you'll find at the store.

  11. Michelle, my wife's grandmother used to use a broom handle to roll out her pasta. I'll bet she could have kicked my ass at arm wrestling.

    Kristin, have you been in the country for so long that you think the rest of us can just head down to the nearest slaughterhouse? I mean yeah, you're totally right about the leaf lard. (And is the rendering really worse than doing tallow?) But that would be a day trip for me.

  12. Awesome, these have been on my to-make list for a while. Great tips.

  13. Beer_Matt says:

    Drew,

    The only “Lard” (rendered pig fat) I have been able to find is shelf stable and is at least partially hydrogenated and therefore has some amount of trans fats.

    Ingredients: Lard and Lard Hydrogenated Lard, BHA, Propyl Gallate and Citric Acid Added to Help Protect Flavor.

    Is the lard you are getting refrigerated from production to point of sale?? I’m not trying to be difficult I am just trying to figure out if there is un-hydrogonated lard out there and how to get it.

    P.S. Love the site and I seem to have the same cooking philosophy as you… Keep a well stock larder (pun intended) and there is no need for advanced planning.”

  14. Matt, I'll tell you as soon as I pick some up. So far, I've just got the tip, I haven't had time to go get it yet.

  15. onlinepastrychef says:

    I thought it was "bunnies and duckies," but that just makes me hungry for confit;)

  16. Melissa says:

    I have been thinking of making these recently, and lo, a recipe! I might give this a whirl on Friday.

    My mom used to use bacon fat when making her molasses cookies. So there's always room for bacon fat.

    I have shortening on hand, but I only use it for Mom's chocolate fudge cookies. I don't care if it's the new devil; I will gladly die on that chocolate alter.

  17. AH! Thank you so much Drew! Flour tortilla nachos here I come!

  18. Mommy's Kitchen says:

    Awesome job Drew they turned out so good. I cant wait to make the.

  19. This is one of my lazy days recipes :) ..Tortillas with any existing filling.
    Sometimes I made it using Milk instead of Water .. It becomes more tastier, and I like it.

    P.S : I like your recipes and your way to express how you/we love food and cooking, and will you be proud to tell you that you become International, not just national :) .. Greetings from Egypt :)

  20. Melissa, bacon and molasses … that's a whole breakfast right there.

    r, why did you have to say that? Now I want to make nachos.

    Mommy's, let me know how they turn out.

    Naglaa, I've seen some interesting in my statistics, but this is the first time I've heard of Egypt being represented. Wow.

  21. Drew, novel concept: I'm vegetarian. Will (real) butter work in place of bacon fat?

  22. r, the original recipe called for shortening. I would never recommend a fake food — although I'm sure it would work, and if you don't have an aversion to it you could do that — but yes, butter should work.

  23. Thanks Drew! I'll try butter. The last time I made flour tortillas I used shortening and they DID NOT turn out at all. Butter's better anyways!

  24. Come back and tell me how it works. I'll probably go half-and-half (bacon fat and butter) next time.

  25. bethany says:

    Thanks a ton for this … made them for the first time tonight and will have an awful time ever going back to store-bought! I used half bacon fat and half lard, which I got at the farmer's mkt and was straight lard, rendered down the street. mmmm. my boys are in love with it as they're so soft they don't break when making tacos, cause for meltdowns in this house. Now my hope is to make them with sprouted flour to make them even healthier :).

  26. Bethany, that's the problem with making something from scratch for the first time. You won't want the "convenient" kind any more.

  27. Hmmm…I will have to try adding baking powder to mine, now.

    Pork fat is the key isn´t it?

    I just attended an Argentine empanada class and if you omit the baking powder, you have the recipe for the wraps.

  28. Joli, I'll have to try these without the baking powder. Home-made wraps would be great.

  29. ty-rant84 says:

    I know using the fake stuff isn't the same, but I just made these for a vegan dinner I was hosting, I used Earth Balance soft spread stuff and it turned out delicious! Thanks for the recipe and step by step instructions.

  30. Ty, I like that about basic recipes. They're much easier to adapt and substitute and still get something good.

  31. A good source for lard is http://motherlindas.com/. She doesn’t always have it available but she sends out e-mails when she does. It is what I use.

  32. we’re lucky to live in SoCal and have plenty of Mexican markets in town so buying tortillas made in the store was always a bonus. yet i still am wanting to make these. this week definitely!

  33. Another visitor residing in Egypt :)

    I made flour tortillas today (with a recipe I found in a magazine) and while they were tasty enough they were too dusty – too much flour on my counter when I rolled them out I guess – I have granite countertops so they were sticking terribly otherwise.

    Also, there was no instruction to let the dough rest in the recipe I used so I will have to try that next time.

    Thanks for inspiring me to try this one again.

  34. Jenyfer, as much as I like when people tell me they liked a recipe, I think I’m even more excited when someone says that my recipe inspired them to cook at all. As long as people are making their own food, I’m happy with it.

    • Dani Kayaker says:

      WOW!!! This is the recipe I have been looking for!!! I haven’t made homemade tortillas in over 10 years. I can not wait to try these… I remember just how awesome they were, and why I had to add another 10 minutes to my workout everyday… tee hee Thanks for posting the recipe!!!

  35. Glory Katz says:

    Really, why not go vegan and avoid all the fats and at the same time be kind to animals and kind to your health. I’m Mexican, my grandmother was from Texas and she never used pig fat or any animal ingredients to make home made tortias.
    Miss G

  36. Because eating meat is healthier than not eating it.

  37. Karla Marie says:

    Wow! Thank you. I found you by chance looking for a recipe for flour tortillas. Your recipe is very clear and detailed. Would lard work ass well as bacon fat?

  38. Karla Marie says:

    Woops. Excuse my typo. That should be *as*. :#/

  39. Karla, the original recipe actually called for lard. I used the bacon fat because I don’t have a source for good lard yet. All I can find at the local stores is hydrogenated.

  40. Sharon P. says:

    The one and only time that I ever had homemade tortillas was when my Mexican neighbor made them for me and my sister when we were kids. The only things she did different was she kept the dough in the bowl and just pinched it off and mashed it flat with her hands (and she used shortning). They were the best tortillas I’ve EVER tasted.
    Since I grew up I’ve been looking for the recipe, and finally found it!!! Thank you!!!

  41. Drew; the absolute beauty in this presentation is in its simplicity. Completely uncomplicated, as it should be. Congratulations on your fearlessness in promoting the bacon fat, you tread a very fine line with some readers in this regard; however, the difference between a shortening and the lards is undeniable, lards add a certain flavoring quality and will allow you to step back a little with the salt. You can prepare the flour tortillas with additives such as sun-dried tomatoes, sweet Basil or garlic. I myself prefer the flour tortilla soft and puffy, with no additives, something more akin to an Indian Nan bread, baked in the Tandoor.

  42. Could whole wheat flour be use in place of the white flour?

  43. yaneque thomas says:

    i have a hard time maing these. when i get them out of the skillet they are likr crackers. i can’t get them to be soft and i followed the method and used the same amount of ingredients.

  44. I have been making tortillas since I was a girl, and learned firsthand from my grandmother who never measured anything. She used shortening, but lard is traditional. I hate shortening so I use vegetable oil. Comes out the same. Any fat should do as long as it doesn’t have a strong flavor. I mix the oil into the flour with my fingers, but the kids love to handle that step. After adding the water, my kids also like to knead their own tortilla ball.
    Here’s a tip- roll out the tortillas in the same spot you knead the dough on the counter. It makes it less likely to stick.

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