Flour Tortilla Recipe

Flour tortillas get a bad rap, widely thought of as “Americanized” tortillas, but they are a staple in many regions of Mexico. Yes they contain fat and yes they contain white flour, but then so do more than a few commercial yeast breads. Combined with some rice, beans and a few pieces of pan-fried plantain, they’re part of Mrs. Pastry’s favorite meal. The recipe goes like this:

12.5 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
3.5 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) vegetable shortening (or lard, preferably home-rendered, is probably even better, butter is also an option, as is vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, shortening and salt. Mix on medium-low for about 3 minutes until the shortening is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. With the machine running, add the water and mix another three minutes (alternately, knead by hand for about five minutes).

Divide the dough up into 12 pieces of about an ounce and quarter each. Rolls them into balls and cover them with a towel to keep them from drying out. They can be held for upwards of an hour at this point if you wish. Using a pin and a lightly-floured pastry board, roll them one-by-one into circles about 10″ across. You can griddle them as you go on a cast iron skillet or stack them between pieces of plastic wrap, waxed paper or parchment. Covered, the uncooked dough will keep for a couple of days if you like.

To finish them, heat a 12″ cast iron skillet or omelet pan over medium heat. Lay the tortillas on one at a time, about a minute per side, until they puff up a bit and brown spots appear on them (I like mine more deeply toasted, but it’s up to you). Cool each one for about a minute on a towel, then stack them in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in another towel so they remain toasty for delivery to the table.

Cooled, they can also be refrigerated or frozen. All it takes is a 15-second burst in a microwave to make a cold and rigid tortilla warm and pliable again.

8 thoughts on “Flour Tortilla Recipe”

  1. Joe-

    I was using your recipe for flour tortillas again today and realized that if you wanted to do 12 tortillas you would have to make them 2 oz each as opposed to 3 oz. Right?

    12.5 oz flour + 3.5 oz shortening + 8 oz h20= 24 oz
    24 oz / 3 0z = 8

    Anyway this is the 4th time I have used your recipe and the first time I have noticed the discrepancy.

    Thanks for everything


  2. First off: I love your site. It is such a big help to me as I love baking in most all of it forms 🙂

    I’m currently having to make do without an oven (shock horror) so I found myself trying out various things, like flour tortillas.

    Maybe it is anathema to you but I really like to roll out large sections of dough and then cut out the tortilla from that. Square tortillas are such a simple joy!

    1. Hey Jordan!

      The important thing is that you make them — the shape is beside the point! Glad you found some help here with you project. And while I can understand the pain of having to do without an oven, stovetop baking is a world unto itself. The griddle has plenty of possibility: arepas, English muffins, pancakes…the list goes on. Have fun with it! And thanks for the very kind words!

      – Joe

  3. So, I was wondering… How much of the flour do you think you could substitute with whole wheat flour?

    I know, I know, anathema, but I’ve started making these regularly so we can have breakfast tacos twice a week, and I was just thinking slipping some whole grains into my boys wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

    1. It’s not anathema at all. It’s simply a question of how much before the gluten won’t hold up anymore. I’d say 50% should work, since it does for most breads.

      – Jim

      1. Well, whole wheat flour tortilla are anathema to me at least. 🙂
        Thanks for the advice, I’ll try it and let you know how well it goes.

        Also, if you have tortillas that get irrepairably hard and brittle after their first trip over the griddle, your griddle isn’t hot enough.

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