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Flour tortillas

There are lots of ways to make tortillas. The simplest recipe is simply corn flour and water (you can buy store-bought white corn flour, usually labeled as “masa,” which is specially treated for making tortillas). Other recipes call for all-purpose (wheat) flour and some kind of fat — often lard (yuck).

One of the tricks with home-made tortillas is finding a recipe that leaves them soft and pliant enough that you can still roll them up; some come out still and will crack or break if bent. The fat is what helps with that.

This is a recipe for flour tortillas that turn out tasty but also stay soft and pliant. The butter makes them flexible, the baking powder gives them just a bit of rise, and the sugar and milk help with browning.

If you’re going to be making tortillas often, buying a tortilla press helps a lot. If you aren’t, then you can roll them out with a rolling pin or squash them between two plates or sheet pans.

Makes 12 tortillas, each about 6 inches wide. Time required: 1 hour 30 minutes., include 1 hour of dough resting.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup milk (2% or whole milk both work great)

Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. This is a classic baking technique: we’re going to combine all of the dry ingredients together first, then add the wet ingredients.

In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, melt the butter or margarine in your microwave oven. Cover the container with a paper towel, then microwave for 20 seconds at a time until it’s all melted. Covering it is important, because it can pop and spray all over the inside of your microwave, making a big mess. Slicing up the butter or margarine will help it to melt faster and more consistently.

Using the paddle attachment for your mixer, running at low speed, slowly pour in the melted butter. Continue mixing until the butter is all incorporated and the flour mixture is well-mixed and uniform consistency.

In a microwave-safe container, heat the milk to about 120-130 degrees F. Heat it for 1 minute first, then check the temperature, then heat it in 20-second intervals until it reaches the right temperature range.

With the mixer running at low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Once the milk has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until it forms a dough, 3-4 minutes. The dough is done when it collects up all of the flour scraps from around the bowl, has a smooth texture, and bounces back when poked.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour. This allows the flour to fully absorb the water, and for the dough to relax.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place on a floured surface. With your hands, roll it out into a log, about 10-12 inches in length. Divide it into halves, then quarters. Divide each quarter into three equal-sized pieces, so that you have a total of twelve small dough balls.

Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Using scissors, take a gallon-size ziploc bag and cut off the zipper-lock, then cut open the two sides so that it fully folds open at the bottom.

One at a time, place one of the dough balls in the middle of one side of the bag. Fold the other side over the top, and using your preferred method roll or squeeze it flat. You can use a tortilla press, or a rolling pin, or squash them between two large books, plates, or baking sheets.

Carefully peel the plastic off the flattened dough, and place the dough on the baking sheet. It’s ok if they overlap, but place them gently so they don’t stick to each other.

Repeat until all twelve dough balls are flattened into tortillas.

Preheat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When fully preheated, place one of the tortillas into the skillet. Cook until it starts to brown on the underside, about 30 seconds. Using a spatula, flip the tortilla over and cook until browned on the second side, another 30 seconds. Remove the tortilla from the heat, place on a plate, and cover the plate with a towel to keep the tortillas warm.

Repeat until all the tortillas are cooked.

Serve tortillas warm or at room temperature.

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