Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Recipe Connection: 100% Whole Grain Homemade Tortillas

October 21st, 2009 · 133 Comments · Do It Yourself, Recipes, Upgraded Nutrition

homemade whole wheat tortillas

Making your own homemade whole wheat tortillas might sound like a whole lot of hassle when you can just buy a bag of them at any grocery store.  I’ve decided it’s worth it for me.

Before you go thinking you can’t do this, you should probably know: I don’t make my own bread.  I still buy packaged cereal occasionally.  I am not a supermom.  Here are the reasons I feel using my own homemade tortilla recipe is worth it for me:

  1. I can get them 100% whole grain. That’s hard to find in stores, and when you do, you get charged big money.
  2. It saves significant money.  I make a batch for under $0.75 easily, and compared to similar nutrition in a packaged version, I’m saving $2-3 (more?) every time I do it.
  3. It’s so hard to find tortillas without hydrogenated oils AND without paying an arm and a leg. Once I did and they had parabens in them, a chemical I’m trying to avoid in my soap!
  4. Because I can soak the dough to reduce the phytates, the health benefits of my tortillas are beyond what I could buy in your average store.  You would have to purchase sprouted whole wheat tortillas, which would run about $4 for a small package of 6.  Yikes!  (Here is an explanation of soaking grains.)
  5. It’s another way to get healthy butter or coconut oil into my family.
  6. Sometimes I have a lot of whey around.  I can use it up great with this recipe!

 

whole wheat tortillasYour needs and amount of time and energy may be very different from mine. Very few of my reasons may resonate with you.  If so, try making something else from scratch this week by checking out the October Fest Carnival of Super Foods: Un-Processed Foods Edition.  If you’re ready for some super-healthy tortillas, read on!

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Someone said this was their favorite recipe already three weeks ago when I hinted that it was coming!  I hope it lives up.  I have a QUADruple batch of tortillas soaking right now to make tomorrow, as I’ll use them twice this week and want to share them with my mother-in-law for her post-heart-surgery diet.  They come out of the freezer excellently for her.

Printable 100% Whole Grain Homemade Tortillas

100% Whole Grain Homemade Tortillas
Print
Recipe type: Bread
Author: Katie Kimball
Ingredients
  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil or butter or lard
  • 1/2 c. water
Instructions
  1. Mix flour and salt. Cut in fat with a pastry blender or two knives.
  2. Add water a bit at a time.
  3. Toss with a fork to make stiff dough. Knead thoroughly until smooth and flecked with air bubbles. (Just a few minutes.) Refrigerate 4-24 hours and allow to come to room temperature before rolling out.
  4. Divide dough into 8-11 balls, depending on how big you want your tortillas. Roll as thin as possible on a lightly floured surface. Heat an ungreased electric griddle or cast iron skillet very hot (400 degrees) and drop tortillas on it.
  5. Cook about 20 seconds, until lightly flecked with brown on one side, then flip until brown spots appear on the other side.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate (or freeze) in airtight container.
Notes

To soak:
Include a Tbs. whey or lemon juice or yogurt in the water, mix with flour(s) and leave out at room temperature overnight. You can also use whey entirely in place of the water (you may need up to 1/4 cup extra), if you happen to have too much whey on your hands.

Start with: 2 cups white whole wheat flour
Cut in: 1/4 cup lard or coconut oil or butter
Fork in: 1/2 cup water w/1 Tbs whey or just 1/2 cup whey

After a 12-24 hour soak at room temperature, sprinkle the 1 tsp salt on and knead into dough. Do not refrigerate at all, unless you need to hold the dough until a later time.

Follow directions above to roll out and finish.

The recipe above is what I use now for the healthiest tortillas. When I began trying homemade tortillas, it wasn’t always this pretty. Read on for the transformation.

UPDATE: Here’s the newly updated homemade whole wheat tortilla recipe, with questions answered from this post and lessons learned from 4 years making tortillas.

Going backward, this is the basic recipe, from the More-With-Less Cookbook:

Homemade Tortillas (white flour, just as an example)

Mix together:

2 c. flour
1 t. salt

Cut in with pastry blender or two knives:

¼ c. butter (slightly softened)

When it looks like crumbs, add gradually:

½ c. room temperature water

Toss with a fork to make stiff dough.  Knead thoroughly until smooth and flecked with air bubbles.  (Just a few minutes.)  Refrigerate 4-24 hours and allow to come to room temperature before rolling out.

Divide dough into 8-11 balls, depending on how big you want your tortillas.  Roll as thin as possible on a lightly floured surface.  Heat an ungreased electric griddle or cast iron skillet very hot (400 degrees) and drop tortillas on it.

homemade whole wheat tortillas

Cook about 20 seconds, until lightly flecked with brown on one side, then flip until brown spots appear on the other side.

whole wheat tortilla recipe

I poke holes in them on purpose, just so everyone knows they’re homemade. Really. If you make square-ish tortillas, people will know they’re homemade, too.

Serve immediately or refrigerate (or freeze) in airtight container.

Homemade with Whole Grain Tortillas

Healthy Upgrade

Half whole grain flour is better than all white flour, I figure.  If you only have traditional whole wheat flour, the tortillas are going to be more dense than you’re used to in the store, and they’re not all that easy to roll out.

homemade whole grain tortilla recipe

This is an old photo of the 1/2 and 1/2 tortillas. The wheat version (left) is rather thick, and “easily pliable” aren’t words you’d use to describe the corn. See how it’s suspended in midair over the edge of the plate? :) Tasty, but lacking.

Mix together:

1 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour or cornmeal
1 t. salt
(good results with 1 c. whole wheat, 1/2 c. cornmeal and 1/2 c. white flour; half whole wheat/half corn is OK but crumbly; do NOT try even 3/4 cornmeal — way too difficult to maneuver, lots of frustration and a late dinner will result!)

Cut in with pastry blender or two knives:

¼ c. coconut oil or butter or lard (slightly softened)

When it looks like crumbs, add gradually:

½ c. room temperature water

Follow directions above to cook.

100% Whole Wheat Homemade Tortillas

HealthiER Upgrade

thin homemade whole grain tortillas

If you get them rolled out thin enough, they might even bubble up!

I tried a new kind of whole wheat flour with GREAT results! I am so excited!  There was no screaming or frustration while rolling these babies out!  Regular whole wheat is pretty tough to get thin.  Try “hard white whole wheat” which is sold in grocery stores under King Arthur’s brand as “White Whole Wheat Flour”.  It is unbleached and unbromated.  It’s my new standby (only flour I’ll use) for tortillas. This is the printable recipe from earlier in the post.

Mix together:

2 c. white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt

cut in: 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter or lard

Add 1/2 cup water and knead well.

Follow directions above to finish.

Soaked 100% Whole Grain Homemade Tortillas

HealthiEST Upgrade

Soaking the grains will make the tortillas more digestible and release bound-up minerals in the grains (although technically, sourdough tortillas, on my “to learn list,” should be the ultimate healthiest. I’m going to try GNOWFGLINS recipe from the sourdough eCourse).

Include a Tbs. whey or lemon juice or yogurt in the water, mix with flour(s) and leave out at room temperature overnight.  You can also use whey entirely in place of the water (you may need up to 1/4 cup extra), if you happen to have too much whey on your hands.  (UPDATE:  Where do you get whey?  See here – how to make yogurt cheese and whey.)

Start with: 2 cups white whole wheat flour
Cut in: 1/4 cup lard or coconut oil or butter
Fork in: 1/2 cup water w/1 Tbs whey or just 1/2 cup whey

After a 12-24 hour soak at room temperature, sprinkle the 1 tsp salt on and knead into dough. Do not refrigerate at all, unless you need to hold the dough until a later time.

Follow directions above to roll out and finish.

UPDATE: I tried this recipe exactly with sprouted wheat flour, and it worked great! If you forgot your overnight soak and do have sprouted wheat on hand, it’s definitely the way to go.

UPDATE:  My mom tried half white whole wheat, half corn flour with good success!  If you cook them crispy, they’re almost like tortilla chips or hard taco shells.  My dad liked them, and he’s not a Mexican food fan.

UPDATE: Get caught up with a handy list of all the soaking grains information.

Cook’s Notes
  • It takes about 10 minutes to make the dough and between 10-15 minutes to roll it out and cook the tortillas, once you get your rhythm down.  Not too bad to save $3-5.
  • If you don’t have an electric griddle, you can still make them one at a time in a frying pan.
  • Do roll as thin as possible.  The tortillas are still tasty if they’re not really thin, but they start to remind you of pitas!

whole wheat tortilla recipe

Find a Rhythm

Roll a few out to begin with, and then start putting them one by one on the griddle.  (YES to using plenty of flour to prevent sticking!)  I’ve found that when I get moving quickly, I can roll out one tortilla in the time it takes to brown one side, so my rhythm is like this:  Put tort on griddle, roll out, flip tort no. 1 and add tort no. 2, roll some more, remove tort no. 1 and flip tort no. 2…and so on.

A few FAQs:

  • What’s the best fat to use? My answer here.
  • Is it normal for the soaked dough to look like it’s “risen”?  Yes.
  • Is it okay to have little chunks of coconut oil that don’t seem to blend in?  You bet.
  • What’s the best kind of rolling pin for tortillas?  I learned this from a darling Mexican grandmother who visited my classroom to make us tortillas – cut an old broom handle to make about an 8-inch rolling pin.  It’s perfect for turning around the little tortillas without knocking down everything on your counter.  (I really need to make myself one of these; my kitchen is so small!)
  • How do you roll out the dough?  I smash the little ball flat with my hand, then go from the center to the outside a few times, then flip the whole tortilla over and repeat.  I also use a cutting board to roll out so I can rotate the whole cutting board to get different angles.  Center to outside, center to outside, turning as you go.  I get a lot of square tortillas, so I shouldn’t go into any more detail!  ;)
  • UPDATE 2010: I am testing out a Chef Pro electric tortilla maker as another option for rolling these babies out. The jury is still out on whether it’s really faster than a rolling pin, but there are definitely some perks! Look for a full review and a “race” between the electric press, a cast iron press, and ye old rolling pin coming…someday! UPDATE 2013: Here’s the tortilla press review and the big race with video and everything!
  • A tip from Laurie at Common Sense Homesteading:  “If you put your tortillas in a closed container (I’ve got a big old Rubbermaid bowl with a lid) while you’re cooking up the rest of the batch, the steam will soften them up and make them easier to roll.”
  • UPDATE:  I tried freezing the tortilla dough in little balls, and it worked great!  I thawed them overnight in the fridge and then let them come to room temperature throughout the afternoon on the counter.  You can also freeze the cooked tortillas with good results.
  • UPDATE: My new goal is to try sourdough tortillas, but I’m afraid we won’t like them as much. I’m teaching and taking this online sourdough eCourse.

Other Yummy Parts of the Mexican Meal:

It’s definitely more time consuming to make Mexican 100% from scratch, but it’s oh so yummy and much less expensive. For other ways to save your budget while purchasing and preparing incredible, well-sourced whole foods, check out Stephanie Langford’s Real Food on a Real Budget.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclaimer:  I bartered for the electric tortilla press with The Tortilla Press Store for including a link in this post.

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133 Comments so far ↓

  • Jennifer via Facebook

    Yeah. Trying to get my parents to move down here. sigh…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Laura via Facebook

    I’ve been making these a ton lately!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Angela via Facebook

    I absolutely love your 100% whole grain tortilla recipe. I never buy tortillas anymore!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nicole via Facebook

    I’ve been meaning to look for a tortilla recipe! They’re just too expensive to buy.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Laura via Facebook

    I add a bit more water/whey to mine so they’re a bit softer, but I can’t believe how ridiculously easy they are to make, and so much yummier than store bought! we will never ever buy tortillas again. thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Skye via Facebook

    I bet they’d be good with ground flax seeds.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Barbara via Facebook

    I love sharing my kitchen…some of my favorite memories are of living with my Mom when we were between homes, and the year our son and daughter-in-law (and grandkids) lived with us. Extended families are awesome!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Charlotte

    My family and I thank you!!! We haven’t had tortillas for a looooong time, since giving up packaged foods. We used to love taco night! We had done taco meat occasionally without the rolls, and had veggies on top, but that’s not the same. I just made these for tonight, and they taste great! SO easy to make and roll and cook — one of the easiest things to change since we started eating healthier!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Charlotte,
    Yay! So glad you liked the tortillas! They’re one of those things I wouldn’t stop making even if low on time, either. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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  • Stephanie

    Everytime I make torillas they turn out like cardboad frisbees – what am I doing wrong? I’ve never seen a hint of a bubble while cooking…..grrrrrr!!!! : )
    Thanks!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Stephanie – are you using white whole wheat? that made ALL the difference for me! Also, kneading 5-10 minutes until you see bubbles sort of in the dough helps a lot too. 400F does much better than 300F, for example. Hope that helps! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Margaret

    My Guatemalan husband has a bit of a hate-on for wheat tortillas, so I’ve become quite adept at making corn ones. I actually find it easier to make corn tortillas – you just press rather than having to worry about rolling them out. I do have a press now, but for a long time simply used a heavy cast iron pot. Corn tortillas have a couple of other bonuses over wheat: most corn flour (masa harina) is pre-soaked in lime as per the traditional method. They are super user friendly – you can just ad more water or flour to adjust your consistency. Plus, they are more authentic – true tortillas are made of corn.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Margaret,
    Wow, just using a cast iron skillet would have saved me $20 on a press! :) I never thought of that! I do make corn now, but I sure like flour better personally… ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • mallorie

    I looked for this recipe as a healthy alternative to the tortilla wraps found in stores, so my question is has anyone tried flavoring these? Ex. Basil, roasted peppers, garlic, cilantro, etc?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mallorie,
    So sorry your comment got lost in the fray! I haven’t felt the need, but I can’t imagine any of those wouldn’t be absolutely delicious! :) kATIE

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mya

    Did you do your electric tortilla review yet? interested to hear it!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mya,
    I keep putting it off for various reasons (going gluten-free and packing it up during a move for 5 months), but in a nutshell, it’s faster than rolling, but only if you can multitask. Overall, I’m happy with it! :) Katie

    So sorry it took me so long to respond…I got absolutely behind on comments when I released the second edition of the snacks book and truly have never caught up.

    [Reply to this comment]

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  • Diann Adams

    I am on a no fat, no oil, nondairy, no meat, no fish no foul diet.. How can I make tortillas? Could I substitute flax meal for the fat?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Diann,
    Hmmmm…do you have anything left to put in the wraps? Just kidding…

    I don’t think flax would work in the tortillas…but flax would be a fat, anyway, right? If I were you, I’d try homemade corn tortillas (buy masa) which are just corn masa and water, or make coconut flour crepes if you can eat eggs. Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Aileen

    I havent read all the comments, so sorry if this is a repeat…. Would using fresh ground wheat still make for a stiff tortilla? I just started using fresh ground and the only thing I can find close by is hard red wheat berries. Just curious if that would still make them stiff like when you used all whole wheat. Also, do you know if Trader Joe’s white wheat is unbromated? It doesn’t say on the package. Can’t wait to try this recipe! We have been using the Trader Joe ones for a while and even though they are whole grain, they have a lot of other ingredients I’m not so sure about.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Aileen,
    Yes, any red whole wheat, even freshly ground, is going to be too tough in MY opinion for a nice tortilla. Try ordering white whole wheat berries online maybe? Honeyville grain has good prices…

    You’d have to call the number on TJ’s flour to know for sure…

    Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Melissa J.

    Delicious! My new go-to tortilla recipe! Thanks, Katie! I used butter for the fat, but I’m considering using palm shortening the next go-around. Has anyone tried this? Is it just as yummy? Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Melissa,
    I often use palm shortening! They seem to turn out great no matter what fat I use!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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  • Cynthia

    Have you ever tried adding puréed spinach? I’m trying to think of ways to get more veggies into my picky eater and was wondering if it would work.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Cynthia,
    Ack, your comment got really buried, so sorry! Have you tried the tortillas yet? I just tried a different (grain-free) tortilla recipe quite recently with 1/2 cup steamed spinach in it, and it was great. I’m pretty sure you could add pureed spinach in place of some of the liquid – you might want to make them first to get an idea of the consistency of the dough so you know if you leave out 1/2 cup water for 1/2 cup pureed spinach or something a little different. Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tammy

    HI Katie,
    I made up the dough last night (unsoaked). I kneaded it for probably 15 minutes and never got any “air bubbles”. Taking it out today, it’s barely pliable. All my bread is either sourdough or delayed fermentation, so I am used to a really soft moist dough.When it said a stiff dough, I was concerned I would add too much water and it wouldn’t be stiff enough, but maybe I just needed more water. I will give it a couple of hours to see if I’ll be able to work with it. But any thoughts?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tammy,
    How did they turn out? Clearly I’m way behind on comments…erg…I’d add more water if they’re that tough again, and make sure the dough is more room temp when you roll out. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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  • Kimberly

    I found your recipe for home made tortillas and was thrilled because I want to get away from processed foods and my husband LOVES using tortillas. But being brand spanking new to all this, I think I am confused regarding the recipe and I hope you can clarify it for me. The Soaking notes… that is in place of refirgerting for 4 – 24 hrs or in addition to??!
    Thanks so much!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • diana

    I tried soaking my grains overnight and I covered the bowl with a towel, but the dough just dried up. I live in a dry climate in Colorado. Any suggestions for how to avoid this? Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Diana,
    It doesn’t need to breathe at all, so just make it airtight with a real lid. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Brenda

    I just bought a pack of whole wheat tortillas and was so disappointed that they have hydrogenated oils in them (every single package at the store did…ugh!). I’m going to try these for sure! I just have one question (and I apologize if it’s already been asked…I didn’t have enough patience to read through ALL the comments!), do you mix all the ingredients together when soaking the flour, or just the water + whey?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Brenda,
    Yikes, so sorry I missed your comment for 3 weeks! :( To make the dough, you do need to cut in the fat into the flour, then you add the water/whey, and soak for 12-24 hours, then knead in the salt before rolling out. Enjoy!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Colette LaDue

    Can I use whole wheat pastry flour instead of white whole wheat flour?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nope! That would completely fall apart because of the nature of pastry flour. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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