Making Flour Tortillas


I’ve been thinking about flour tortillas for awhile now. They’ve been simmering in the back of my mind. While I’ve been cutting up squash and apples and peppers to prepare for winter. What if I get an unbearable hankering for enchiladas in the middle of a snowstorm? Am I supposed to just tolerate that? I had several hankerings for enchiladas last winter when I couldn’t get to the store. And who wants to go without tortillas when you don’t have to? I shall never hanker unrequited again. I was determined to learn how to make them myself before this winter.

And I was surprised by how easy it really is.

I started out by researching recipes for flour tortillas and trying them out. The basic ingredients are pretty standard, with some variations here and there in the methods and measurements. I wasn’t perfectly satisfied with any of the recipes I tried so I experimented with my own methods and measurements until I was: Perfectly. Satisfied.

And here it is! Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

I worked with two different styles of flour tortillas. One is the light, thin tortilla commonly used for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, etc. The other is a thicker, chewier tortilla you could use to make gorditas, but it’s also great for making sturdier soft tacos and heartier fajitas and quesadillas. Either is excellent for eating out of hand, warm with butter. (Yum!)
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How to make Light & Thin Flour Tortillas:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1 cup lukewarm water

Mix flour and salt in a medium-size bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter. Stir water in and mix the dough as much as possible with a spoon.
The dough will appear dry at first. Work it the rest of the way by kneading and a pliable dough will result. Cover bowl and let rest for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of flour in the bowl and knead again briefly. Divide dough into 12 balls.
Taking one ball of tortilla dough at a time, flour waxed paper and stretch the ball a bit to get started. Place dough on the floured wax paper and sprinkle flour on top of the dough.
Roll out the tortilla as thinly as possible without breaking the dough.
If your dough sticks as you pull it up, you aren’t using enough flour. It should pull off the waxed paper easily. (Every recipe I looked at suggested rolling the tortilla between two pieces of waxed paper. I tried that and found it very annoying. There is no need for that. If you flour your tortilla, you should have no problem rolling it out and picking it up, and it’s much simpler without hassling with the extra sheet of waxed paper.)
Rolling out tortillas is relaxing. I set up shop at the dining room table and roll them all out at once.
(Yes, I was just rolling these out with a plastic cup.) I line a large cutting board with waxed paper and transfer each tortilla one at a time to the cutting board. (When I’m finished, I can easily carry the cutting board to the stove to cook them.) Place tortillas in single layers, separating layers with waxed paper.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet to medium-high. (You’re cooking them dry, no oil, so cast-iron is best.)
Cook each tortilla quickly, about 15 seconds per side then flip. Repeat, cooking each side a second time for another 15 seconds per side. Place cooked tortillas in foil and keep wrapped while continuing to cook the remainder.
This recipe makes twelve 6- to 8-inch tortillas. To make larger tortillas, divide your ball of dough into fewer portions. (Remember not to make larger tortillas than you have a pan to cook them in!)
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How to make Thick & Chewy Flour Tortillas:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1 cup milk

Follow the same procedure as for Light & Thin Flour Tortillas.
The difference here is the addition of baking powder and using milk instead of water. Roll these out just as thinly as the lighter tortillas–they will puff up and become thick as you cook them. When cooking, do 30 seconds per side, only flipping once.
This also makes a dozen 6- to 8-inch tortillas, dividing the dough into 12 balls.

To store tortillas (either style), place in sealed baggies in the refrigerator.
These keep well for a week or more in the fridge. To make them last longer and for added freshness, include homemade dough enhancer in the first step (three tablespoons per recipe batch). You can also freeze them in a freezer baggie for a couple of weeks.

You can vary these endless ways–substitute some whole grain flour. Add crushed hot peppers, chopped olives, anything you like for gourmet tortillas.

Both ways, light and thin or thick and chewy, these are delicious and so simple. I will never buy tortillas from the store again!
I have no idea what all that says, but I like my homemade ingredient list better. I understand it.

Put a pot of beans on the stove before you start preparing your tortillas…..
….for bean and cheese burritos. (See: Homemade Refried Beans.)
Grab the salsa!

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on September 14, 2009  

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56 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 9-14

    :dancingmonster: I can’t believe I’m here first! But I can’t sleep – keep thinking of all the unpacking and organizing I have NOT done in my new apt so got up to write notes. Of course checked Facebook. And that reminded me that your post gets logged about this time of morning!! Yea! I can’t see myself making tortillas, but you sure made me hungry.

    Good night.

  2. 9-14

    Oooh, that sounds good! I didn’t even think about that. I’ll try that next time. Thanks!

  3. 9-14

    No way! You even make your own tortillas. With all of the canning and prep for self reliance in winter, PLUS making tortilla shells, you are about to become Mr. GDP’s idol. You put me to shame! Lovely, lovely looking meal here!

  4. 9-14

    I must try these! They look so yummy!
    Thanks for another great idea for cooking!
    I just love you recipes.
    Did you ever make marmalade?
    Think I will this week for Christmas giving.
    Thanks Suzanne !

  5. 9-14

    Yum! I think I’m finally ready to show my husband your website and say, “See? This is what I want.”

  6. 9-14

    Yum! Can I come eat at your house?

  7. 9-14

    I’ve been thinking of these, too…….and you have done my homework and my trials!!! We have quite a few spanish people that migrate here for the season. There is a tortilla company right here and the tortillas are awesome. But I’ve been thinking I can make those lots cheaper!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  8. 9-14

    These look awesome! Can’t wait to try them.

  9. 9-14

    Your tortillas sound wonderful and I’m gonna try your recipe.

    Question: What kind of “shortening” do you usually use? I saw the comment about using lard to get a flaky tortilla and will try that but am still wondering what you used.


  10. 9-14

    Suzanne, I blogged about you today! Come visit…
    These look sooo good! Made Grandmother bread last week and made the sourdough starter Friday, we are in for some good eatin’ with this tortilla recipe!

  11. 9-14

    I’ve been using regular vegetable shortening (Crisco). I’m going to try it with lard next time!

  12. 9-14

    That’s funny, my youngest and I made tortillas for the first time yesterday as well. We had fun, they were delicious and we’ll definitely make them again.

  13. 9-14

    It’s 6:30 in the morning here. I wish my foot would allow me to stand for a good period of time, because I would be in the kitchen making breakfast burritos with your recipe of flour tortillas. Your burritos made me vuurry, vuurry hungry!

  14. 9-14

    This is too crazy! I made two batches of flour tortillas this past weekend. I followed a recipe from a woman from Mexico (found the video on youtube). I’ve made them before using other recipes, but hers was definitely the best I’ve ever tried. It was much easier to make because you didn’t have to cut the fat into the flour or use much flour to roll out the balls (it was also helpful using a Silpat). I will be blogging about them soon.

    I love your gorditas. I will have to try that one out one day.

  15. 9-14

    What a great and easy recipe. Thank you!

  16. 9-14

    I see 5 but can’t find the 6th lol.

  17. 9-14

    This has nothing to do with tortillas BUT I just finished a batch of your hot pepper butter and girl you should be ashamed of yourself posting a recipe like that….. It is sinful…. I really just want to sit down and eat it with a spoon. Now I don’t have to share right??? This can be just our little secret… I’m gonna hide it, if my husband finds it I am doomed!!! lol! I LOVE IT!! Keep up the great work!
    Happy farmin’

  18. 9-14

    You should keep an eye out for a tortilla press.

  19. 9-14

    Thank you! I have been trying off and on to make these – now I will try yours!!!

  20. 9-14

    Awesome! I am so excited to try these!!

  21. 9-14

    These look so easy that even I might be able to do them! I wonder if there is a low-fat alternative, though? The lard just doesn’t sound so hot for weight loss…

  22. 9-14

    Use vegetable shortening!

  23. 9-14

    Fabulous! I finally broke down and bought lard for pie crusts and never looked back. Calorie wise fat is fat, so use the lard. I just wish I could buy fresh rendered lard that has not been hydrogenated. Thanks for another great recipe.

  24. 9-14

    Did you know you’re my hero? I’m low on funds this week, and also low on tortillas and tortilla chips which are staples in this house. In fact, the past two weeks I’ve gone to the grocery they haven’t had tortillas!!! But a 4 ingredient recipe, I can totally afford that! I think I’m going to try it with a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. I may even get crazy and bake a few to make chips. Thanks so much for this recipe!

  25. 9-14

    Hi, Suzanne! Just wanted to let you know that this Mexican approves of your recipe! It absolutely made my mouth water. :)

    I’ve never enjoyed enchiladas made with flour tortillas, but your pictures sure do make them look good. Traditionally enchiladas are made using corn tortillas. But hey, it’s all good, and if it’s homemade the better! And like one of your readers stated, a tortilla press is used for making corn tortillas.

    I agree about the lard making for better tasting tortillas. However, that’s fine if you only make flour tortillas occasionally. If you make them often, better stick with the Crisco.

    And have you ever tried a corn masa gordita? Absolutely delicious! they puff up, you slit them crosswise, and then fill with whatever goodies you’ve got on hand, kinda like a pita.

    Had to let you know also that yours is just about my FAVORITE blog in the Universe!

  26. 9-14

    You are taking boarders, aren’t you? Please let me come and live with you! You put my sister (who claims that SHE taught Martha Stewart all she knows) to absolute shame! Unfortunately, my husband claims I am “domestically impaired”, so, can I come to live with you?

  27. 9-14

    Honestly how do you do all this?! I am amazed everytime I read your posts. I am available to board at your home also. :snoopy: Pick me Pick me!!!! And to think that I am proud of myself for making Grandma’s bread last weekend my first try at real bread! It was sooooooo good. Now I will have to continue trying all your yummy recipes. And my children love you for all the good recipes also.

  28. 9-15

    Homemade tortillas are right up there with fresh baked bread.

    I had a lovely Latina co-worker teach me how to make her mother’s tortillas one year. Her warped cast iron griddle heated on her stove. Homemade bean were bubbling away as well. I was sadly hopeless at rolling them out into nice rounds. My efforts were lopsided blobs – but they tasted darn good!

    I think I will show my boys how to make tortillas this week. I haven’t done it in years so they will still be lopsided. Thank you for the post!

  29. 9-15

    I made homemade flour tortillas once. A guy I worked with was Spanish and his wife made them. He didn’t tell me how, so I just did a recipe. But, I didn’t roll mine out. He did mention she just patted hers out, so I did that, but mine were not great..sort of chewy, doughy. I prob. should have cooked them longer.

    We sometimes go to a resteraunt that makes their own, with a machine and they are to die for. I used to LOVE the homemade ones in San Antonio and they were HUGE. Just love them.

    And for another good treat idea that I love. I got this from a girl that was a waitress in a Mexican resteraunt. Heat CORN tortillas in the microwave..about 30 seconds and melt butter on it, and sprinkle salt on…then roll it up and pour Salsa in it. To die for. Or, just dip it in the salsa, scooping it up. So good!!!! I eat that for a meal!!!

  30. 9-16

    Love the recipes. I’m from San Antonio and now in Dallas mostly hate the flour tortillas, so it’s good to have a recipe. THANKS!

  31. 9-16

    Suzanne, i made these last night. They were great. So soft and tasty and they didn’t rip when folding them. The only change I made in your recipe was to use butter as the fat. Thank you for the tutorial.

  32. 9-17

    Thanks for posting this, I made them last night and they were soooo good! :happyfeet:

  33. 9-30

    I made the thin tortillas last night for dinner – my hubby did the rolling and they were wonderful – he enjoyed them so much he sadi we need a tortilla press!!! Thanks for all you do ;-)

  34. 10-14

    Mmmm…my grandparents are from Mexico, and I finally wrestled my grandmother’s tortilla recipe from her two years ago. Her’s are fabulous. However, I was unable to duplicate her final product. I try many of your recipes, so I thought I would give your tortilla recipe a go. Perfect! They are easy to shape, keep well, re-heat great, and are just as good as my grandmother’s (don’t tell her)! I bet I have made them nearly a dozen times since you posted. Well done!

  35. 10-14

    Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that!

  36. 10-19

    Can I use unsalted butter instead of shortening or lard?

  37. 10-19

    I believe someone told me they used butter, though I haven’t tried it!

  38. 10-26

    Corn tortillas are just as easily made as flour tortillas. I just love to make tortillas. I have said many times that I am a better Mexican cook than most Mexican women. There is just no comparison between the taste of homemade tortillas and store bought.

  39. 10-26

    one more comment…do you make tamales. Many people think that they are hard and not easy for one person. I make them every year and they are delish. I stick them in the freezer and take them out when we feel the need for them and they make wonderful snacks. I love them with coffee for breakfast…I make pork, beef, bean and pumpkin. I just bought 4 pork butts that were on sale for 88 cents per pound because it’s almost time for tamales. I am a lover of beans so the bean tamales are just as good to me as the pork which is my favorite…

  40. 10-26

    I have not made tamales but I’m planning to soon!

  41. 2-2

    Suzanne, these were fabulous!! First time making homemade tortillas tonight……THANK YOU!! And also, made the homemade refried beans……..I never liked the ones out of a can, these are wonderful!!!!

  42. 3-23

    Oh, Suzanne, thank you so much!

    I made these just now, and not only was it easy, but I ate three in a row with just butter!

    MmmmM. My dough came out drier and stiffer than yours appears in the photos – I think I have hard wheat, I just bought a 10kg bag of organic unbleached white flour on sale – and I know that makes a difference. Also, I used Earthbalance shortening -which is way too expensive, by the way, next time I’ll just use vegetable shortening…

    anyway, the stiffer dough made the use of wax paper unnecessary – I just floured each piece and rolled them out on my wood board.

    I will definitely make these again! And I love the grandmother bread.

  43. 7-22

    I made your refried beans last week and these this week, and I can’t believe how delicious they are… I will never buy either one pre-made again!

  44. 8-20

    After a failed first attempt at tortillas using another recipe, I followed your steps and my stack of tortillas came out great! I used olive oil for the fat so my tortillas would be vegan and that seemed to work just fine. Thanks for all the kitchen tips you provide – love reading your blog!

  45. 11-8

    When do I put the baking powder into the dough?

  46. 11-8

    Gabi, mix it into the flour along with the salt.

  47. 11-8

    For the thick tortillas is milk a must or can I use water? Also do i warm up the milk or water, as in must it be hot when I put it into the mix?

  48. 11-8

    Gabi, no, it doesn’t have to be warmed. I’ve never tried the thick ones with water, but it doesn’t hurt to try! I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  49. 1-19

    I’m gonna make bean burritos for my hubby , I think he’ll like the homemade refried beans and flour tortillas :).

  50. 1-30

    I made the flour tortillas tonight and we had beef and bean burritos , they turned out pretty good , except for puffing up a little bit , they were actually very enjoyable :). I’ll definately be making these again.

  51. 3-23

    Oh Suzanne, these are incredible! They taste EXACTLY like the ones that I (used to) buy from a local restaurant. The difference is that at the price of $4.50 per dozen, those have been an extremely rare treat and now I can afford to make them myself for just pennies. I am in heaven!

  52. 1-16

    Someone probably already asked…Can the tortillas be made with butter instead of shortening? Have you made them with butter before? Thanks~

  53. 1-16

    I have not tried making them with butter, but I don’t know why not…..

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