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Homemade: How To Make Flour Tortillas

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Lately, I’ve been perfecting my flour tortilla skills. I started off with an Allrecipes recipe, though I didn’t like the ingredient proportions and started changing it up. After many a trial and error, I achieved a recipe with the proportions I liked that made 4 large tortillas (or 6 smaller tortillas, depending on preference). I also learned what the dough should look like, how it should feel, and what doesn’t work. Also, I’ve managed to expedite the process, meaning I can roll out a tortilla as one is cooking in the skillet.

Since homemade tortillas are incredibly better than store bought, which a somewhat chewy and soft texture. The taste just can’t be beat! I want to share this skill with you so that you can try it for yourself. (Warning: This is a very picture heavy, step-by-step post. Scroll down to the end to see the recipe.)

1. Start by whisking flour with baking powder and salt, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse sand. Unlike pastry dough, you don’t really want large, pea size pieces of fat.

2. Stir in hot water. Hot water seems to be the traditional method, though many recipes use warm water. If you’re following the recipe in this post, use hot water.

3. Using a fork, stir until a shaggy ball of dough forms. Many recipes will suggest adding the water little by little, but I like to err on the side of a softer dough, since rolling out a dry dough is difficult.

4. Using your hands, add up to 4 tablespoons flour until a soft dough forms. Gently “knead” for about 1 minute. It should no longer be sticky, but will remain a little tacky. Dust both sides with flour, place in bowl, and cover. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Other recipes tell you to knead the dough longer, and I will experiment with this more later on.

5. After the dough has rested, place on a floured surface and divide into 4 pieces (or 6 pieces if you want smaller tortillas) for large tortillas. Gently shape into balls using the side of your hand and your fingertips to “pull” the dough from the sides to the bottom, cupping the ball and turning with your hand. This maneuver should also “pinch” the seam on the bottom together. Sprinkle with dough and return to bowl. Cover the pieces that aren’t being used.

6. Don’t be afraid to use flour. Dust the surface and rolling pin with flour, and keep a small mound off to the side. To keep the dough from sticking, I gave it two rolls, one on the top edge and one on the right diagonal. Then I lifted the dough and turned it counterclockwise to the side that I hadn’t rolled yet and repeated the process until the desired size was reached, dusting with flour as needed.

I learned that (duh) you don’t want to roll the dough out to the size of the skillet, otherwise it won’t fit, whereas an inch or two smaller than the skillet works perfectly.

7. Normally, the skillet would be heated over a higher, hotter heat, but that doesn’t give you room for error. Preheating the skillet over medium heat (or a tad higher) while rolling out the dough gives it time to heat thoroughly. When you place the dough in the skillet, it should immediately start to bubble. If not, raise the heat a little. Cook for about 15-30 second before flipping.

The underside should have golden brown spots. If the heat is too high, the tortilla will brown too much and won’t be as pliable after cooling.

This side doesn’t need to cook for as long as the first side, so keep an eye on it.

That’s all it takes to make tortillas! I promise you that over time, the process becomes second-nature and quicker the more you make it. The “worst” part for me is having to sweep the floor afterward since the flour always flies off the counter.

If you give it a try, let me know how it goes! If you have better tips, share those too.

Print this recipe

Homemade Flour Tortillas
Recipe by Christina Provo

Yields: 4 large tortillas or 6 smaller tortillas

Ingredients -

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional 3-4 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup hot water
Additional flour for dusting

Directions -

  1. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in shortening until mixture looks like coarse sand. Stir in hot water until a shaggy ball of dough forms. Working with your hands, add up to 4 tablespoons flour to achieve a soft dough that is no longer sticky. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a 10- or 11-inch skillet over medium heat while rolling tortillas. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 pieces (or 6 smaller pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place back in bowl; keep covered. Flouring surface and rolling pin as needed, roll out each piece of dough into a 9- or 10-inch circle, turning dough after two rolls to prevent sticking.
  3. Carefully place in heated skillet (you can adjust the tortilla while it’s in the skillet by using your finger tips to gently move the tortilla to fit – you won’t burn yourself). In 15-30 seconds, the dough will bubble and appear dry on top. Using a pair of tongs, carefully flip over and continue cooking for another 15-20 seconds. Both sides should have golden brown spots. If you cook it too long, the tortilla won’t be as pliable after it cools.
  4. Remove from skillet to a piece of foil and keep covered until ready to use.


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