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Handmade Flour Tortillas

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Yields eight 9- to 10-inch tortillas.

  • Make the menu:
    Cinco de Mayo Celebration
  • by Jennifer Armentrout from Fine Cooking
    Issue 79

I’d always heard that making flour tortillas by hand is pretty simple, but I’d never tried it until recently, when Fine Cooking decided to do a feature on quesadillas. Here was the excuse I had been waiting for to give it a shot. Using various ingredient combinations, I tested several batches of tortillas before arriving at a recipe that made just what I was looking for: light and tender tortillas with soft, flaky layers. And you know what? They really are easy to make.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to make your own tortillas to try our quesadillas, but if you do, be forewarned: Once you taste these and see for yourself how uncomplicated  it is to make them, store-bought tortillas may not taste the same ever again.

  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for kneading and rolling
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening or lard, cut into small pieces

In a medium bowl, stir the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the shortening or lard and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender or two table knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in 2/3 cup warm water with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and soft, 3 to 4 min., reflouring the surface as necessary. After kneading, the dough shouldn’t be very sticky.

Handmade Flour Tortillas Recipe
Make the dough.

Portion the dough into eight equal pieces (about 2 ounces each) and shape each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls loosely with plastic and let rest on the counter for at least 30 min. and up to 2 hours.

Recipe
Form the dough into balls.

When ready to cook the tortillas, heat a large (11- to 12-inch) dry cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot. Working with one ball of dough at a time (keep  the remaining dough covered) and using just enough flour to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a 9- to 10-inch round. The dough should be so thin that you can vaguely see the pattern of your countertop through it, and it should be more or less circular, though an amoeba shape is fine, too. 

Handmade Flour Tortillas Recipe
Roll out the dough.

Peel the dough off the counter and lay it in the skillet or on the griddle. Cook until the tortilla bubbles and puffs and the bottom browns in spots, 45 to 60 seconds. If any gigantic bubbles form, pierce them so the tortilla cooks evenly. Flip with a spatula and cook until the second side gets brown in spots and any translucent, raw-looking areas become opaque, another 45 to 60 seconds. (If the tortillas brown too quickly or start burning in spots, reduce the heat to medium low.) Transfer to a clean dishtowel and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking and covering each tortilla as it’s cooked.

Handmade Flour Tortillas Recipe
Cook the tortillas.
Make Ahead Tips

Because they're not loaded with preservatives, these tortillas taste best when freshly made. They'll stay pliable as long as kept warm. Leftover tortillas may be frozen (let cool thoroughly first.) Rewarm individual cooled or thawed torillas on a grittle or skillet, or wrap several tortillas in foil or heat in a 350ºF oven until warm and pliable, about 10 minutes.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 160; Fat (g): 6; Fat Calories (kcal): 50; Saturated Fat (g): 1.5; Protein (g): 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2; Carbohydrates (g): 23; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 300; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I just made these today after becoming disenchanted with the brands (really, the ingredient list) available at the store and they were wonderful. I used home-rendered leaf lard. The dough was easy to work with and the results very tasty.

All I can say is that they were so good that I am making them again tomorrow!! Lobster tacos tonight and shrimp tacos tomorrow! The best ever.

So incredibly quick and easy to make and the difference between fresh and store bought is night and day. Not sure I'll ever go back to pre-packaged tortillas again!

These are great, but I always use olive oil since I never have lard or shortening around. They are super tasty and stay flexible even after refrigeration.

Great recipe and super easy to make.

These are so good! I never thought one could make tortillas so easily. The texture is great, and they were delicious with the Black Bean Burritos in issue #85. I am afraid I will never want to eat grocery store tortillas again.

These flour tortillas are delicious and very easy to make. I have been making homemade tortillas for some time now and had been using a recipe given to me by a friend. I find this version is actually more tender. There really is nothing like the taste of homemade tortillas. I am going to try the corn tortilla recipe next.. oh, and here in California, they also fry the flour tortillas (after cutting them in wedges) and serve them with salsa. These hold up rather nicely to this method as well. A must try.

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