Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Homemade Whole Wheat SOFT Tortillas {Updated Recipe}

October 8th, 2013 · 28 Comments · Recipes

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortilla Recipe

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?

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortilla Recipe

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:

If that last one is unfamiliar to you, here’s info on soaking grains to catch you up.

Are They Tasty?

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

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.

Homemade Whole Wheat SOFT Tortillas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Note: Ingredients often use affiliate links to Amazon and Tropical Traditions, but obviously you should shop for the best price and try to keep your dollars local when you can.
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 11
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut fat into flour with a pastry blender or two knives.
  2. Add water and whey a bit at a time.
  3. Toss with a fork to make stiff dough. Knead thoroughly until smooth and
  4. flecked with air bubbles. (Just a few minutes.)
  5. Allow to rest, covered, at room temperature 8-24 hours.
  6. When ready to cook, sprinkle the salt on top and knead thoroughly to
  7. combine.
  8. Divide dough into 8-11 balls, depending on how big you want your
  9. tortillas. (11 tortillas will be about 6-8" in diameter.) Roll as thinly as possible on a lightly floured surface.
  10. Heat an ungreased electric griddle or cast iron skillet very hot (400F).
  11. Cook the tortillas about 20-30 seconds, until lightly flecked with brown
  12. on one side, then flip and cook until brown spots appear on the other
  13. side, about 20 seconds.
  14. The cooked tortillas will keep each other warm and soft on a plate while
  15. you finish the rest, especially if you cover them; keep them warm in a low temp oven if not serving right away.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
Notes
* No time to soak overnight? Just add the salt with the dry ingredients and give the dough at least an hour to rest at room temperature.

* 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.

 Homemade Whole Wheat SOFT Tortillas

Pictured with fajitas (recipe in Better Than a Box) and guacamole (recipe in The Healthy Lunch Box). Mmmm…

Cook’s Notes

  • 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.

Corn Tortillas

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:

So…who’s going to try homemade tortillas this week?

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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.

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.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Lori Hernandez

    A little trick to keep the tortillas extra soft and flexible for days (I just wrap the extras in a cloth and keep them in my breadbox for up to 2 days) – while the tortillas are still warm, brush them with melted butter (or coconut oil), just on one side. As you stack them, the butter from the bottom one will soak into the upper tortilla. This is a perfect job for little ones. My 4 yr old daughter always wants to help make tortillas, but I don’t like her working near the hot cast iron pan on the stove. I give her the job of brushing on the butter and she loves it!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lori, I love this tip! I had no idea – yum, and perfect for my little one who is scared of the tortilla press too! Thanks! :) Katie

  • Micah

    I make made tortillas from whatever grain I’m using at the time and have had great success with hard red wheat as well as hard white, kamut, and spelt. The key to great tortillas, according to the Bread Beckers recipe that I use, is a soft dough. Homemade tortillas are definitely worth the effort. I make a double or triple batch and have to swat little hands away to keep them from all being eaten right from the plate! Hope this helps someone!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Micah,
    Interesting – so to get a soft dough, do you add more liquid if it seems stiff/tough? Thank you! :) Katie

    Micah Reply:

    Here’s the recipe I follow from the Bread Beckers recipe book:
    1 c warm water
    1/4 c oil (I use coconut)
    1 tsp sea salt
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    2-3 c freshly milled flour

    Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, starting with 2 c flour, adding more as necessary to make a soft and workable dough. I highly recommend the Bread Beckers website and resources. Katie, I’ve tried many of your recipes and enjoyed them all. We especially like your fruit pizza. Haven’t made it in a while because I’m dairy free for my nursing baby. I haven’t figured out what to spread over the crust besides cream cheese. :(
    Keep up the great work!

    Jennifer Reply:

    How about spreading peanut butter over the crust, and maybe adding puréed pumpkin to make it a little smoother, then top with fruits like strawberries or grapes—types of fruits you like in jams.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Micah,
    Thanks for that! The recipe is pretty similar in proportions, except that they use a lot more water. Now I’m interested to try it! For the fruit pizza (which I haven’t made in far too long, too!) what about a nut butter? Or can you do goat cheese? That would be yummy and easy to spread. :) Katie

  • shannon

    I used to enjoy making homemade tortillas and found the taste excellent, almost melt in my mouth delish. I like using palm shortening and white whole wheat. First time I made them I used 1/2 white whole wheat and 1/2 AP flour to make sure my family was on board. They were! I just haven’t had as much time in the past year though may make some soon after your challenge. I tried a tortilla press but it didn’t get them thin enough and went back to a rolling pin.

  • Abi Craig

    Our family loves homemade tortillas using this recipe. Spelt always gives me great results and I’ve used any of the above fats alone or in combination successfully . . . sometimes I even use bacon fat I’ve saved!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Thank you for sharing that Abi! :) Katie

  • Amaryllis Right

    Thanks, that was my question. No lard, no palm shortening, but plenty of bacon grease. I will try this week.

    Thanks for all you do here, Katie. Love your ebooks, too.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    AR,
    I have never tried these with 100% bacon grease but oh my goodness – that has to be amazing. I’m making some Wednesday and will have to try it!! :) Katie

  • lori

    Can you tell me why you add the salt later and not when you mix up the dough? I’m familiar with soaking, but haven’t heard of that.

  • charis

    do you have any gluten free recipes for tortillas that work well? i used to make wheat ones all the time and miss them! i would even consider making both – i have 1 child who is gf and i haven’t found a substitute for him. i love homemade tortillas.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Charis,
    Did you see the grain-free recipe I shared this week too? http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2013/10/10/recipe-connection-grain-free-tomato-pizza-tortillas/ That’s the best I’ve found so far…
    :) Katie

  • Mallory Cook

    Could I use sprouted white whole wheat flour instead of soaking? I plan on using coconut oil, but not sure if it will affect the recipe to use sprouted flour one for one. Please respond if you have the time, I was wanting to make these this weekend! Thanks!!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mallory,
    Oof, I missed your comment for WAY too long. Did you end up trying sprouted? I know sprouted can change some recipes, so I really am not sure how to answer, but if it were me, I’d try it. :) Katie

  • Tiffany

    I made these today. They had good flavor but they were hard. They broke when we tried to roll them. I uses freshly milled soft white wheat berries for the flour. I’m not sure if I did something wrong. When I let the dough soak last night it was in a stiff ball, should it have been more wet and loose?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tiffany,
    Soft wheat is commonly called “pastry flour” so that would produce a pretty crumbly product. :( More water may have helped, especially if it was so stiff, but hard white wheat makes all the difference! :) Katie

  • Dyan Maramba

    Hello! This looks like a great recipe, but I want to make sure I have all the elements to make it a success. In reading the “how to make whey” post through the link above, I noticed that it called for “plain yogurt”, but since it was written in 2009, I wonder if Greek yogurt had become popular yet. Should I used Greek yogurt or the “other” yogurt I used to buy in the store? Thanks!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Dyan,
    The whey post is still totally accurate – Greek yogurt is exactly what you’d get if you took plain yogurt and strained it like in the whey post for about an hour rather than 4 hours. So…you wouldn’t want to use that to get whey because there is much less whey in it! But – if you just need a little whey to make a recipe like this and can use just a tablespoon and you love Greek yogurt, don’t buy the regular stuff just for tortillas. Make a little well in the middle of your Greek yogurt, and after a few hours it will have some whey in it that you can pour off. Easy! Enjoy! :) Katie

  • Connie

    I love, love, love your site Katie! A question I’ve had is whether using an oil / fat in the soaking process coats the grain and keeps the liquid from doing its work. From your experience, do you see a difference in texture from soaking vs. not soaking (including the oil/ fat in both)?

    Thanks!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Connie,
    It’s been so long since I made these “not soaked” I couldn’t even guess…in this case, you kind of don’t have a choice since the fat need to be cut into the flour. It would be the best test to find someone who reacts negatively to unsoaked grains and ask them if this recipe works for them…but that’s not me! :(

    Sorry I’m not helpful here – Katie

  • Nikki

    I am excited to try this recipe, but I don’t have access to whey. What can I use as a substitute for whey if I have no problem with diary?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nikki,
    Just use 1 Tbs. per cup of lemon juice or vinegar or plain yogurt or cultured buttermilk – whey is easy to get in small quantities if you eat plain yogurt – just make a dent in the yogurt in your container and by morning, it will be filled with whey! ;) Katie

  • Amber

    help! This did not work out at all!! I used butter, soft white wheat, and yogurt whey. This was my first experience with soaking, too. My dough came out whey too goopey and sticky. I couldn’t even roll it out. I tried to add more flour to get it to roll, but it didn’t help much. Had to throw it away.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amber,
    I’m so sorry – if you really did use soft white wheat though, that’s the problem. Soft wheat is pastry flour, hard white wheat is what this recipe calls for…does that help? Katie

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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