Cooking Class: Flour Tortillas

CATEGORIES: How To..., Kate, Latin, Other Breads

“I like eggs over easy with flour tortillas, and nobody knows me like my baby…” Actually, I don’t really like eggs over easy, but I do love flour tortillas and I also love Lyle Lovett. If you think he’s just the ugly dude who was married to that actress from Pretty Woman who has dropped off the face of the planet, you should go find his music!

Anyway, If you’ve never had freshly-made flour tortillas, you really have to. After I had them the first time, I knew I could never go back. Yeah, there are times when I buy them and I always end up regretting it because I know what flour tortillas can be and a package of Mission tortillas ain’t it.

I tried a couple of times to make my own tortillas, but I always failed–they were always too thick because the dough was so tough that I wasn’t physically strong enough to roll them to the size and thickness and shape that I actually wanted them. And then I met Mel–Fabulous Fajita Mel–and I learned from her how to make my own gen-u-ine flour tortillas. And it’s really not THAT much work. Plus, the results are SO worth any extra effort it might take! I promise you, once you make these, you will never return to store-bought tortillas in good conscience.

Flour Tortillas

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. very hot water
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 c. shortening

In a heavy-duty mixer, combine flour and salt. Add in shortening and mix until well combined (it will resemble coarse bread crumbs). Add hot water. The water hotness is the key to these being easy to make–it needs to be hot enough to melt the shortening, but not SO hot that the dough turns into an ooey-gooey mess. Or a hot mess (literally), as Mia Michaels might say. I usually get relatively warm water from my tap and then heat it for 45-60 seconds in the microwave.

Anyway, after you add the water, the dough will start to come together. When it is fully combined, remove from mixer and divide into portions. Now…the recipe yield really depends on how many tortillas you want. If you want small tortillas (like for fajitas), then you’ll probably get around 10-12. If you want medium tortillas (burritos), then you’ll probably get 8 or so. For large tortillas (like for salad wraps), you’ll get around 6. Shape portions into round balls.

Preheat a non-stick or cast-iron skillet to medium-low heat. If necessary, spray your work surface with non-stick cooking spray; you may not need to because the dough isn’t particularly sticky, but it may be and you also don’t want to add any more flour to your dough. Press your palm against the surface of the dough ball, trying to maintain as much of a round shape as possible. Place rolling pin in middle of flattened dough ball and roll to desired thickness, shaping in a circle as you go.

Place raw tortilla on preheated skillet. Now…be forewarned–the first one may not work out great; it’s like the first pancake or the oldest child (TOTALLY kidding, oldest sister and oldest child!) You’re going to be watching for bubbles. If you get little blistery bubbles, your skillet is too hot and you need to reduce the heat. You’re looking for big, fat, slow-bubbling bubbles.

When you start to see them, flip the tortilla over and cook for another 30-45 seconds or so.

This is where some personal taste comes in, but in my experience, dark marks on your tortillas (like you see on store-bought ones) usually lead to brittle tortillas when they cool down. Personally, I’m keeping my eye out for a kind of “greasy” look inside; I know that sounds gross, but that’s the best way I can think of to describe it. These ones are cooked enough to not taste raw, but they’re also very soft when they cool and they hold up to being wrapped, folded, twisted, and turned.

If you’re cooking these quickly, you can just stack them on top of each other and they’ll stay warm. You can also wrap them in damp paper towels and then wrap them in foil and keep them in a warm oven (170) until you’re ready to use them. But be sure and save one just for you–you have to eat it while it’s still hot and you can spread some butter on it or butter with cinnamon sugar or just eat it plain and BLESS the wonder that is real Mexican food!

So let’s hear it! Any other Lyle Lovett fans out there? Mia Michaels, anyone? Have you made your own tortillas before? Have you had fresh tortillas? Are you gonna try THESE fresh tortillas?




  1. I want to try these, AND I’m scared. I have a couple of questions: do you double your batch? Do they keep well for a day or two? Do you flatten out all of the dough balls at the same time, or flatten one and then cook it, flatten the next one and then cook it? I know could just try it and see what happens, but I’m intimidated enough by the thought of from-scratch tortillas that I need extra details. Thanks!

  2. mmmm…I love homemade tortillas so much. And want to hear something naughty? (Not that!) I love to smear one with butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Heavenly!

    Does anyone have a tortilla press? I just ordered one and I think it just might change my life forever.

  3. OK Kate you have a deal. I just happen to be making fajitas this evening and I will try it. I have always been intimidated by homemade tortillas, but you’re making me feel it is more of a pie-crust-type-fable. I hope it goes well. My only concern is my piece of junk, older than old gas stove does not have a low setting (the flame goes out and noxious gas spills into the house – ya fun).

  4. These look soooo good! I’m a major mexican food lover, and I’m so excited to make these along with your fajita recipe! Thanks for all the great recipes-I’ve been lazy with my cooking lately and kind of in a rut, and you have totally brought me out of it!

  5. These look soooo good! I’m a major mexican food lover, and I’m so excited to make these along with your fajita recipe! Thanks for all the great recipes-I’ve been lazy with my cooking lately and kind of in a rut, and you have totally brought me out of it!

  6. I was just talking to DH about making tortillas, and he said, “Oh, it’s too much work!”

    BOOO, I say!

    I’ll try these and let you know. I’m excited!

  7. i just love you girls! i swear we are on the same wavelength. i made these last night, no joke. i can vouch that they ROCK! we love ’em with everything. i adore how you go to all the work of explaining it all. you’re great! (i’m way too lazy.) anyhoo, keep up the good work! you’re awesome!
    and i just posted a major tribute to your blueberry cheesecake ice cream, and my new addiction to it. thanks, i guess! 🙂 *hugs* rachelle

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