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Homemade Whole Wheat SOFT Tortillas and Other Healthy Tortillas

We’re going out on the town for Mexican food since we love home canned salsa, beans and rice, and smoky Mexican soup…just kidding. we’re actually sharing a recipe for the best ever homemade whole wheat tortillas with all the tips I’ve picked up over the years. Now my kids even know how to make them!

Stack of homemade whole grain tortillas

People are generally pretty impressed with an adult who makes homemade tortillas from scratch. And homemade 100% whole wheat tortillas are even another step up.

We know how to make great homemade gluten-free tortillas too, but what is most impressive is that my daughter is the one who has made our homemade tortillas the last few years… And she’s only 10 years old.

That’s the beauty of teaching kids to cook using our online eCourse! We use homemade tortillas to teach the fine art of rolling out the dough, and you can see a preview in the video below.

We’ve even crafted a keto torilla recipe.

Why Make Your Own Homemade Tortillas? (Hint: They’re Healthy!)

stack of whole grain tortillas

Some people just don’t think homemade tortillas are worth it. I agree 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

The more I look at ingredients on tortillas, the more I’m disheartened. Until you start getting into prices like a dollar per tortilla (yikes!), it’s almost impossible to find a brand with whole grains, healthy fats, and no weird preservatives. I’ve even seen parabens, which I avoid putting on my skin in personal products, listed on some otherwise “clean” corn tortillas!

Homemade whole wheat soft tortillas kids can make

So if you want healthy tortillas, it’s incredibly frugal to make your own instead of purchasing fancy ones, if you can even find a clean ingredients list in your local stores at all.

If your family likes Mexican food and you don’t want to rely on organic tortilla chips all the time (too much corn probably isn’t a good thing for any of us, anyway, non-GMO or not), it’s time to make your own tortillas.

If that last bullet about unsoaked whole grains is unfamiliar to you, here’s info to catch you up. 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 Traditional Cooking School‘s recipe from the sourdough textbook).

Rolling the Perfect Homemade Tortilla


If you can’t view the video above, click Teaching Kids to Roll Easy Homemade Tortillas to see it directly on YouTube.

You might also like to 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 discover out the best/fastest method.

Are Homemade Tortillas Tasty?

Some folks seem to think that homemade tortillas would be dry, stiff, tasteless, or otherwise not as good as store-bought. I beg to differ.

Stack of homemade whole grain tortillas

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 tortillas are so very much better.

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Homemade Whole Wheat SOFT Tortillas

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 11 1x
  • Category: Bread

Description

Note: Ingredients often use affiliate links, but obviously you should shop for the best price and try to keep your dollars local when you can.


Ingredients

Scale


ship kroger


Instructions

  1. Cut the fat into the 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 a stiff dough. Knead thoroughly until smooth and flecked with air bubbles. (Just about 5 minutes.)
  4. Allow to rest, covered, at room temperature 8-24 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, sprinkle the salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) on top and knead thoroughly to combine, usually another 5 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. Heat an ungreased electric griddle or cast-iron skillet very hot (400F).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 1/4 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.

* 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.

* 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!

* 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 a tortilla on griddle, roll out tortilla no. 2, flip tortilla no. 1 and add tortilla no. 2, roll some more, remove tortilla no. 1 and flip tortilla no. 2…and so on.

* I tried this recipe 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.

* 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.

* If you don’t have white whole wheat flour on hand just use half all-purpose flour and half regular whole wheat flour or cornmeal.

* This exact method works with my homemade gluten-free flour blend as well. Link to that. You just need to be willing to put up with fussy dough. It is quite crumbly and sticky although not unmanageable. Be sure to use lots of extra gluten-free flour to roll out, and you must have a very thin metal spatula to transfer each rolled out round of dough to your cooking surface. The finished tortillas have a great flavor, are flexible when warm, and don’t even crack in half right away, which, if you work with gluten-free bread products, you know that’s a victory!

  • Need a little help getting healthy food on the table every day? Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type, including GAPS, Paleo, AIP, Whole30, vegetarian and more! You remain totally in control: use your own recipes, accept theirs, and teach the system what your family likes…Check out how powerful it is here!
 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. Plus, they taste amazing!

How About Corn Tortillas?

Although I made a pseudo-corn tortilla in the original version of the recipe, real corn tortillas 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.

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 Steak Fajita Soup last night!

whole grain tortiallas on a plate

Healthy Homemade Tortilla FAQs:

What’s the best fat to use for tortillas?

Palm shortening might be my favorite oil to work with when making tortillas since it’s always room temperature, easy to measure and incorporate into the dough, tastes great, and rolls out quite easily.

I have also used butter, coconut oil, and lard (the traditional fat used for tortillas) with varying results. You can check out my post where I test and review multiple types of fats for tortilla making.

Is it normal for the soaked dough to look like it’s “risen”?

Yes. As the flour absorbs the water, you may notice the dough change consistency a bit. This is due to the gluten structure changing and it helps the flour bind together for rolling out tortillas without breaking!

Is it okay to have little chunks of coconut oil that don’t seem to blend in?

You bet! If you use warm or room temp water, this probably won’t happen, but cold water will make coconut oil solidify and not mix well into the flour. During cooking, you may notice that the tortillas will sizzle slightly as the oil hits the pan, but this won’t affect the flavor.

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.

You could also head to your local hardware store and purchase wooden dowels and have them cut to size (just make sure the wood has not been treated in any way). Simply wash, dry, sand any rough edges, and oil the dowel once you get home!

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! 😉

Extra Tips for Making Tortillas

  • “If you put your tortilla balls 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.” (from Laurie at Common Sense Homesteading)
  • I have also 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.
 

The holidays are a tough time for healthy eating, especially when kids really just want to bake fun foods!

(If they want to get into the kitchen at all!) 

Maybe…just this once…we should do something I don’t normally recommend. 

What if we give them what they want?

If you’re ready for your kids to gain baking independence without sacrificing all the healthy standards you value, join the Holiday Baking Challenge! Now on sale for just $19, you get professionally filmed videos of me and my kids teaching you to make baking favorites with healthier ingredients.

Holiday Baking Challenge

What to do with Your Homemade Tortillas

The best part about making your own tortillas is that YOU get to pick the size. If you’re making street tacos, roll them smaller. Making burritos? Make them twice as big to hold all of the fillings! They are so versatile you’ll love having them on hand.

While you’re at it, you can easily make a double batch and stick some in the freezer for later!

These homemade tortillas work in any recipe that calls for their store-bought counterpart. They work great with your basic ground beef taco, but here are some fun recipes to use them in a variety of ways.

Breakfast Recipes:

Lunch Recipes:

Dinner Recipes:

Dessert Recipes:

Recipes for the Rest of Your Mexican Meal:

Your homemade tortillas will be a hit come Taco Tuesday, but here are a few more recipes to round out any Mexican food feast!

Have you made homemade tortillas before? If not, what’s kept you from trying?

 

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

36 thoughts on “Homemade Whole Wheat SOFT Tortillas and Other Healthy Tortillas”

  1. I first made these tortillas about 6 years ago and it became a family favorite – without the usual complaints when I make whole food stuff. Even had hubby helping in the kitchen…. what?!!!! So many great recipes but this was the first.

  2. I made this recipe a few days ago and they were delicious. The dough was soft and pliable. My only problem was the dough retracted on the griddle. So the finished product was delicious, thick, small tortillas. I think I am going to experiment with a pan on top to help the tortillas keep thin on the griddle.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. 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

      1. Just to make sure i understood right, to replace 1 tbsp of whey it would be 1 tbsp of lemon juice, right?

  5. 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!

    1. 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

  6. 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!

    1. 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

  7. 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?

  8. 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!!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. Lori,
      Any salt inhibits the reduction of phytic acid, which is also a salt. Might be info on that here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/02/18/exploring-soaking-grains-what-are-phytates-and-phytic-acid/ or here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/03/11/food-for-thought-what-is-the-role-of-phytase-in-soaking-grains/

      🙂 Katie

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

        2. 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

  15. 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!

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