Homemade Flour Tortillas Done Right
Quickly scan this ingredient list:
Bleached wheat flour, interesterified soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, water, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, sugar, sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium propionate, sorbic acid, potassium sorbate, monoglycerides, enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactylate, wheat starch, sodium metabisulfate.
When combined, these ingredients will make:
B) barbiturates laced with bleached flour
C) flour tortillas from a big supermarket chain
If you guessed A or B you were close!
And here is the ingredient list for your soon-to-be incredible homemade flour tortillas:
Homemade Flour Tortillas Recipe
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, 3 Tablespoons lard, 1.5 teaspoons salt, 1 cup warm tap water.
They taste better than storebought tortillas.
They are healthier.
They cost 8 cents each.
And luckily they cannot be used as a cement alternative.
Before we make them, let’s talk about ingredient #2 up there: lard. Be honest, are you magnetically repelled from lard and anything that even remotely resembles it?
That’s OK, it’s a tough word to swallow.
I am biased because I use it all the time. When done right it can be one of the cleanest fats out there. It’s balanced more towards unsaturated fats, so it actually has more in common with olive oil than it does with butter. At the very least, it can be considered an equal alternative to conventional fats and oils.
Please try making homemade tortillas with good quality lard at least once in your life. Yes, you can make them with conventional oils, just know that every time you do you are causing Mexico to shed a tear. (Here’s a version made using olive oil.)
Most local butchers, and some gourmet stores, will carry farmer direct lard in their freezers. This is a good option for your first batch of homemade tortillas. Here’s what it looks like in my butcher’s freezer:
Of course, you can always make your own lard too. It’s super easy and will keep in the fridge for months.
That’s what we are using today, but it’s definitely not a requirement for these homemade tortillas. (Here’s a step by step tutorial on how to make your own lard if you want to try it eventually.)
The least attractive option for lard is the baking section of your supermarket where you’ll find shelf-safe lard that’s loaded with hydrogenated oils. This isn’t a viable long term solution for your blossoming lard needs.
OK, got your lard handy?
Stir the salt into the flour. Add the lard and use your hands to mix it in.
Coat each bit of lard with flour and squish it between your fingers. You’ll feel it disintegrate into the flour mixture.
Once all the lard is mixed in, add the warm tap water.
Stir it as much as you can with a spoon and then dump the whole thing onto a flat surface.
Knead this clump into a ball and keep adding the stray bits of flour. Continue kneading until you have a cohesive ball.
Cover and let rest for 30-60 minutes. This will make the dough less elastic when rolling it out.
After resting, divide into golf ball sized chunks and roll them between your hands.
Dough balls this size will make tortillas 5-6 inches in diameter. If you have time, let these rest for another 15-30 minutes. It’s OK if you don’t, they will just be a little more elastic when you roll them out.
I like to roll these out super thin, to the point where you can almost see through them. Using a tapered rolling pin will help as it’s easier to push into the middle of the tortilla, but a standard rolling pin works fine too.
Keep flipping them over and rotating them so you are always rolling in opposite directions.
If they are sticking to the surface or the rolling pin, add a light dusting of flour onto the rolling pin.
Don’t worry about making them into perfect circles. It’s impossible to do, and if they have irregular shapes they will taste better.
Heat up a comal or skillet to medium-high temperature. On my stove 6 out of 9 on the big burner does the trick for these tortillas.
Add the tortilla to the comal. Cook until you see bubbles forming:
Ideally, this will happen in 45-60 seconds. If it’s taking longer to bubble raise the temp of the stove. If they are bubbling instantly then lower the temp.
When you flip it over you’ll see some light brown spots. Perfect!
Cook the opposite side for the same amount of time and set aside to cool.
Continue with the rest of the batch, but be sure to take a moment to do some quality control:
This batch made 14 thin, light, delicious flour tortillas.
Using an ingredient list that was 4 entries long.
These will keep in the fridge for at least a week but they come with special permission to eat as soon as possible.
If you botch a few of them don’t fret, it just takes a few tries to get the heat and timing of the stove right.
Once you’ve got that down you’ll always have the option of making a batch of these beauties.
Use liberally for your tacos, enchiladas, and late afternoon snacks. Not recommended as a cement alternative.
(Update: I recently tried making these flour tortillas with bacon fat and was pleasantly surprised by them. See here for results.)
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Homemade Flour Tortillas Done Right
Homemade flour tortillas are healthier and cheaper than storebought tortillas. And they taste better!
Servings: 6 (12-14 tortillas)
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons lard
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup warm water
Add the salt to the flour and mix well. Use your fingers to crumble the lard into the flour mixture. Add 1 cup warm water and stir as much as you can with a spoon, then dump onto a flat surface and knead into a cohesive ball. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.
Tear into golfball sized chunks, rolling between your hands to shape them into smooth balls.
Use a rolling pin to roll them out approximately 5-6 inches in diameter.
Heat a comal/griddle to medium high temperature and add a tortilla.
Cook each side for 45-60 seconds or until light brown spots form.
As one tortilla cooks, roll out the next to expedite the process.
It can take a few tries to get the heat of the stove right. If you’re quickly getting black spots then your temp is too high. If it’s taking too long to get brown spots then your temp is too low.
I recently experimented with gluten free flour tortillas.
This article we wrote on types of tortillas has a current list of all the tortilla recipes we have on our site.
You might also like our homemade bolillos recipe.