Flour Tortillas

  • 4 cups white or whole wheat flour or half each
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder (optional)
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 to 1-1/4 cups water
  • Waxed paper
  • oil (optional)

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. I prefer to use the baking powder because it makes the tortillas lighter, even if you roll them a little thick. The baking powder is not an authentic addition though, rather it is a southern mutation. Next cut in the shortening with a fork. When the flour is crumbly, add the water. Stir the dough with your fork until it makes a cohesive ball of dough. You may need to add an extra small spoonful of water if the dough is too dry. Be careful not to add too much though. When the dough forms a ball, knead it about 20 times. Then let it rest in the bowl for about 10 minutes. After it has rested, form it into 10 or 12 equal balls. Roll each ball in a little flour, to coat the outside of it evenly. Place a ball of dough on a sheet of waxed paper, or a clean, well floured surface. Roll the dough out into a a 6 or 7-inch circle. Try to get it as thin as you can. Loosen the tortilla from the rolling surface. Flop it onto a dry, hot skillet. Cook about 30 seconds, until the under side is dry, with a few brown spots. Flip it and cook the other side the same way. Transfer the cooked tortilla to a plate, and cook the next one. This goes pretty fast after you get the hang of it. You can roll out all of the tortillas first, in one stage, and then cook them all in the second stage. After you practice it some, the whole procedure takes less than 20 minutes, and the tortillas are sooo good. Use them the same way you would store-bought tortillas: burritos, soft tacos, etc.

The first few times you make these, you will need 30 to 40 minutes for the whole procedure. It takes time and practice to get the hang of rolling them out quickly and into a roughly circular shape. Please persevere. This recipe will save you $1 to $1.50 every time you make them. Also, if you don’t have access to the store, you can still have lovely Mexican dishes all the same.

Homemade tortillas are not as flexible as store-bought tortillas. To make them more flexible, place them in a plastic bag while still warm, and let them cool right there in the bag. The steam will make them more pliable, and easier to roll up into fancy burrito shapes. This recipe makes about a dozen tortillas.

Making your own homemade breads is pretty easy… here’s another simple one. This is an old southern recipe for hoe cakes.

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Alli - July 25, 2009

I just want to thank you for these great recipes. It can be difficult to find recipes from scratch that don’t require odd or expensive items. As a relatively new homemaker, I really enjoy the information I find and use here. Thanks.

    maxine simons - January 8, 2013

    This is the recipe my mother used . They were delicious. What can I use in place of shortening?

    Also, Can I use potatoe flour in place of wheat flour? Thank you for having this recipe on line.

Mercedes - August 30, 2009

Love this site! Great ideas for all sorts of thrifty living.
Your flour tortilla recipe is exactly the same as mine. I’m from New Mexico, my recipe was mom’s and my grandma’s, both spoke Spanish as their first language. So I’m thinking it is authentic to use baking powder in some regions and not in others.

Three Little Monkeys - September 15, 2009

I roll my tortillas on waxed paper, with another piece of waxed paper on top. (Because I have to make them wheat free, they tend to be sticky, but this would work with wheat as well.) With the waxed paper on top and bottom, I can roll them very thin without breaking them. I just lift up the entire bottom sheet of waxed paper, and flip it over onto the griddle. Then I pull that paper off and throw it away, take the top paper and use it as my next bottom sheet. This is the only way I have found to get them thin enough without breaking them. I have also done the same with a large heavy duty ziplock bag, slit down the sides. It isn’t quite as easy, but then I can usually reuse it until the recipe is completed. After they cool, freeze in the ziplock bag with waxed paper in between and they will keep well.

Renee - October 3, 2009

Thanks, I have not made these in a long time :)

Cherry - October 25, 2009

I had better luck keeping these flexible by brushing them with water, both right before they hit the griddle, and when they came off, right before I put them in a ziplock bag. I also had a clean washcloth, dampened, inside the bag. The heat and moisture kept them far more flexible than just letting them sit.

lisa - November 13, 2009

This is a great recipe for my taco bowl salad. You can make your bowls however big or small as you want. Great site

Genifer - March 26, 2010

I just made these for the first time and they were great!! Does anyone know if they freeze well? It would be great to make up a few batches and throw them into the freezer for future meals.

Daria - May 19, 2010

This is such a great site! Thank you for this site! :) I add just a 1/2 teaspoon or so of sugar to the mix. It seems to bring out something extra to the flavor even though you don’t taste the sugar itself. These do freeze really well. If you put a piece of waxed paper between each one before you freeze them, it will make the job of getting them apart a little easier.

lunaKM - June 21, 2010

I’ve also made these but fried them in a bit of fat instead of on a dry skillet. They get puffy from the baking soda and so tender. They make perfect fried flour taco shells like you can get in many mom n pop taco stands. Mmmm!

GusGus - October 5, 2010

I just made and tried these and they’re great! Super easy too. I used one of my cast iron skillets and I think they’re even better cooked on one. I did have to add just a bit more water than what it called for, but that was the only thing. Thanks:)

Ashley - December 3, 2010

These are great. I just made these for supper tomorrow night. (I work all day long, and it is just easier if I can prep cook some). I will definitely be making these again. Thank you for the recipe!

Gail - June 9, 2013

Yum! There’s nothing better than homemade tortillas (except, of course, homemade tortillas with a bowl of green chile stew!!!) This is the way my Abuelita made them, also- with baking powder! This recipe is great for frying into sopapillas as well. Thanks for posting the measurements for fail proof tortilla making. I also learned by “a pinch of this and so much of that”. LOL

Belen - February 3, 2014

Double the shortening and the tortillas will be more pliable, a quick rule of thumb was about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of shortening per two cups of flour, If using oil 1/2 a cup.

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