They are little rounds of heaven. You’ll be surprised to know how easy it is to whip up a batch of simple homemade flour tortillas tonight for dinner. Today, I’m sharing my authentic recipe straight from our Tex-Mex kitchen.
Homemade flour tortillas are one of the best things on the planet. Growing up in my Hispanic family, I loved it when my mom had a steaming hot, fluffy stack of homemade tortillas waiting for us. I loved smearing butter all over freshly warmed tortillas. They were so good.
Lately, I’ve been making them often. First, they are great for lunches for the kids. I grill them up with cheese and make quesadillas for their lunch. Sometimes I have some leftover meat, but not quite enough for a meal, that’s when I shred it up for tacos or quesadillas. I’m a little embarrassed to say that it doesn’t matter how many tortillas I make, we always seem to eat them all!
So today I’m going to show you how easy it is to make simple homemade flour tortillas right in your kitchen. They are far superior to store-bought ones and once you get familiar with making them, you won’t want the rubbery, chewy mass-produced ones.
Tortillas are a wonderfully easy bread because they require few ingredients. In fact, you may already have what you need. First, all you need is all-purpose flour. There is no need to use any kind of special flour. As I mentioned before, tortillas are unleavened bread, so you don’t need leavening agents like baking powder or yeast. However, you can add baking powder to make them fluffier if you desire. Really, all you need is flour, lard, water and a pinch of salt.
Traditionally tortillas are made with lard. I think lard makes the best version of tortillas. The tortillas seem to have a fluffier, smoother texture with lard. I highly recommend using lard above any other fat. However, if you don’t have lard on hand you can substitute other fats. You can also make them with butter, shortening and even vegetable oil in a pinch.
You can buy lard at the store in the butter section. It costs around the same price as butter and it stores in your fridge for months. You can even make lard at home (see video below). That’s right, don’t throw those drippings away!
Many people are discouraged from making tortillas for one simple reason – rolling out circles, I know I underestimated how hard it is to roll out a perfect circle. Like really hard! Personally, I don’t mind if mine aren’t perfect, but others do. I will say that it takes lots of practice to roll them out, so don’t get discouraged if they aren’t perfect. I guarantee you regardless of their shape, they will still taste amazing! So you can use two different methods to make them. You can roll them out using a rolling pin or you can use a tortilla press.
Tortilla presses are great because you put your ball of dough in, clamp down and it presses out your tortilla to the perfect thickness and size. It definitely makes them more uniform looking. Using a tortilla press also seriously cuts down on time. It takes far less time to press them as it does to roll them out. So if you are making them for a weeknight dinner, this really speeds it up. I highly recommend using a cast-iron one. I love mine.
Frankly, you don’t need any special tools to make tortillas, but I’ve used my stand mixer to speed things up as well as using a pastry blender if I am doing it by hand.
Also, if you make tortillas often, you may want to invest in a tortilla warmer. They really do keep them warm for a long while. They are fairly cheap too. If you don’t have a tortilla warmer, place a clean dishcloth inside a covered dish and slip them into the dishcloth to keep them warm.
Cooking the Tortillas
To make tortillas you’ll combine your ingredients – flour, salt, hot water and your lard. If you want them to be fluffier you can also add 1 teaspoon of baking powder. If you are substituting a different fat for lard such as vegetable oil or shortening you will use the same measurements as lard which is ⅓ cup. Mix the dough with a dough hook attachment on your stand mixer or you can use a pastry cutter to cut in the lard.
You can divide your dough into sixteen portions. That will make about 16 small 6″ tortillas or you divide into twelve pieces and it will yield about a dozen 8″ tortillas. I typically make 8″ ones.
Tortillas need to be cooked one at a time unless you have a long griddle, in which case you can do two at a time. Place the tortillas down on a griddle with medium heat. Cook for about 2 mins on each side. You will likely see the tortilla puff as it cooks. That is totally normal. Flip it over. The cooked side should have some light brown spots That’s how you know it is cooked! Then repeat on the other side.
How to Store Them
So you can choose to warm your tortillas all at once or you can choose to warm them up over a period of a couple of days. Store the ready-made tortillas in your fridge in a zip lock bag. You can separate them with wax paper so they don’t stick together. I recommend taking them out of the fridge about ten to fifteen minutes before you are ready to warm them up so they cook quickly and evenly on your griddle. I think they cook better that way than when they are a stone-cold temperature.
Simple Flour Tortillas
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/3 Cup Lard, cold
- 1 Cup Hot Water
- 1 Tsp baking powder optional
- Add flour to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk salt and baking powder (optional) to the flour. Baking powder is optional but will give you a fluffier tortilla. Alternatively, instead of mixing by hand, you may use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- Add lard to flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender (or if using a stand mixer mix on low. You can also you use your hands if you don't have tools. You do not need to need the dough, only mix.
- Slowly add water until a tacky dough forms
- Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Divide dough into twelve pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about the size of a golf ball.
- Heat a griddle on your stove at medium-high heat.
- Begin by flouring your rolling pin to prevent dough from sticking. Take a ball of dough and roll it evenly into a 7-8" circle.
- Place a tortilla on the hot griddle. The tortilla will puff as it cooks. Cook on each side for about 30 seconds. Flip regularly until you see light brown spots on the heated side.