It’s the 4-year anniversary of me making my own homemade tortillas.
We’re going out on the town for Mexican food…just kidding. We’re actually doing a little recipe re-post, sharing the updated version of the original homemade whole wheat tortillas with all the tips I’ve picked up over the years.
Later this week you can see some video of how I roll them out, three different ways: with a rolling pin, an electric tortilla press, and a cast iron press, and we’ll figure out the best/fastest method. UPDATE: here’s the tortilla race videos and discussion, also notes on three different kinds of fat for this recipe and what I ended up liking best.
Why Make Your Own?
As I mentioned in yesterday’s “make tortillas” mission, some people just don’t think homemade tortillas are worth it. I agreed that compared to a bag of plain white flour tortillas, they’re not, but for health benefits far beyond any potential dollar savings, they’re a home run. Here’s what you can avoid:
- trans fat, usually plentiful in tortillas
- soybean oil and other industrial fats
- weird preservatives
- refined flour
- unsoaked whole grains
If that last one is unfamiliar to you, here’s info on soaking grains to catch you up.
Are They Tasty?
Some folks seemed to think after yesterday’s mission that homemade tortillas would be dry, stiff, tasteless or otherwise not as good as storebought. I beg to differ.
In fact, most of the time I start picking on a fresh tortilla while I’m making the rest and end up eating the whole thing! That’s not a great habit, but it’s also something I’d never even be tempted to do with commercially produced tortillas. Homemade are so very much better.
- Cut fat into flour with a pastry blender or two knives.
- Add water and whey a bit at a time.
- Toss with a fork to make stiff dough. Knead thoroughly until smooth and
- flecked with air bubbles. (Just a few minutes.)
- Allow to rest, covered, at room temperature 8-24 hours.
- When ready to cook, sprinkle the salt on top and knead thoroughly to
- Divide dough into 8-11 balls, depending on how big you want your
- tortillas. (11 tortillas will be about 6-8" in diameter.) Roll as thinly as possible on a lightly floured surface.
- Heat an ungreased electric griddle or cast iron skillet very hot (400F).
- Cook the tortillas about 20-30 seconds, until lightly flecked with brown
- on one side, then flip and cook until brown spots appear on the other
- side, about 20 seconds.
- The cooked tortillas will keep each other warm and soft on a plate while
- you finish the rest, especially if you cover them; keep them warm in a low temp oven if not serving right away.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two (will remain softer) or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The tortillas also freeze great and usually even come apart individually without having to do anything special.
- Reheat gently in a low temperature oven/toaster oven or on a griddle or skillet surface. They make excellent quesadillas, mini pizzas, and any other recipe you would normally use a soft tortilla in.
- You can also freeze the balls of dough, then thaw in the fridge or on the counter, and they roll out and cook just great.
* How to make yogurt cheese to get whey.
* Dairy-free? Sub water kefir, lemon juice, or vinegar for the whey.
* White whole wheat flour is made from the whole grain, just like regular (red) whole wheat flour, but it works immeasurably better in tortillas. You can find it in larger grocery stores, often under the King Arthur brand (and others). If you can't find white whole wheat, do not use traditional (red) whole wheat 100%. You can use half-and-half red whole wheat and all-purpose white flour, but 100% red whole wheat tortillas are very hard to roll out and too dry.
* Readers have used spelt and other flours very successfully in this recipe too! (see comments)
* You can also use whey entirely in place of the water (you may need up to ¼ cup extra flour).
* Use your judgment on the amount of water – like homemade bread recipes, the ratio of flour:water really depends on how freshly ground the flour is, the humidity in the air, and how much whey you're using. If the dough seems crumbly, by all means add a bit more water!
* On lard: please don't ever use the hydrogenated lard sold in grocery stores. Ick. Look for real lard, no hydrogenation or preservatives, preferably from pastured animals. I've never bought it but only render my own.
- You can also use a food processor to incorporate the dough.
- A rolling pin, cast iron tortilla press and electric tortilla press (found on Amazon) all work fine with this recipe – best option coming soon in video form!
- Sometimes soaked grain recipes look a bit dark on top after the soak. That’s totally normal.
- If you have troubles with the tortillas getting too stiff while they wait for the whole batch to be done, place the warm tortillas in a covered container while you cook the rest. The trapped steam will keep everything very supple. Also, make sure you are not cooking them too long.
Although you can see how I made a pseudo-corn tortilla in the original version of the recipe, real corn torts are a totally different beast than wheat tortillas. They should be made with masa flour which is nixtamalized to release more minerals in the corn. Here is an example of the directions for corn tortillas, and you can find many more real food versions in the KS group at Plan to Eat.
A tortilla press is a big help, but if you put the balls of dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap (or silicone mats, etc.) you can use a cast iron pan to just smash them flat, then cook on a griddle.
I’m not very good at corn tortillas; mine always get a little crispy (but my husband, bless his heart, doesn’t complain). Even though we try to avoid most gluten, I can’t avoid this recipe for too long – it’s just too good! In fact we just finished off my freezer stash on quesadillas and soup last night (and the soup recipe is coming – Steak Fajita Soup!).
Other Yummy Parts of the Mexican Meal:
- Homemade Refried Beans
- Katie’s Fresh Salsa
- Restaurant-Style Canned Salsa
- Mexican Beans and Rice
- Easy Guacamole
So…who’s going to try homemade tortillas this week?
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and Tropical Traditions from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. Plan to Eat is an October sponsor receiving their complimentary mention in a post. See my full disclosure statement here.