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Monday, April 25, 2011

Flour Tortillas

I'm a hard-shelled taco kind of person. Or taco fillings over tortilla chips, or even over rice. Anything but a soft flour tortilla. Until last week, that is. I made my first batch of absolutely stupendous flour tortillas! They were soft, rollable wrappings for what my husband insists were the best tacos he's had in a very long time. High praise indeed from the man who only enjoys Mexican food!

You may notice in the picture above that there are grated carrots next to the lettuce. Please forgive me. I'm not a die-hard Mexican food fan, and I happen to really enjoy grated carrots in my tacos. I also usually add black olives, but alas, my cupboard did not contain a single can!

But enough about my strange food choices, I want to show off my pretty little tortillas!

Nothing extraordinary about the process-- flour, salt, and shortening in a bowl, mixed with warm/hot water and divided into little balls.

The little balls are then rolled out into almost-circles...

Then they're cooked in a dry pan for about a minute per side (see below for more specific instructions).

The whole process is pretty quick. Once I got going I found it easiest to throw one in the pan, quickly start rolling out another one, run back to flip the one in the pan, then finish rolling the one that was about to go in. It ended up being just the right amount of time in between and I had myself a nice stack of warm tortillas after just a few minutes!

Fill them with taco-seasoned ground beef, or improvise like I did and throw a couple of chicken breasts into the food processor and pulse just until its somewhere between little chunks and almost ground chicken. After browning the meat I let it simmer in a whole bunch of salsa. We buy the largest-sized salsa that we can find, so I don't even bother getting taco seasoning anymore. One less thing I have to remember to keep stocked! 

Flour Tortillas

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I've also substituted in whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the total)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup hot water (not so hot that it's painful, but definitely warmer than lukewarm. Unlike pie crusts and pastries, we DO want the shortening to melt so its easy to mix in) 
  • In a mixing bowl, use your hands to mix the shortening into the flour/salt. It should be crumbly-looking.
  • Add the hot water. You might not need all of it, so try a little bit at a time.
  • Mix well and divide into small balls. You could have anything from 6-12 depending on size; I did 8.
  • Preheat a pan to medium heat. I found that a square frying pan worked better than the round one pictured above. Some of my larger tortillas didn't fit as easily into the round one.
  • While you're waiting, roll out a tortilla or two. Don't worry about getting it paper thin like store-bought ones.
  • When the pan is hot, transfer a rolled-out tortilla into it. Wait just until it gets bubbly, then flip it over. It should be starting to brown, but only slightly. If the brown spots are getting dark, lower the heat or flip it sooner.
  • It's done when it still looks just a bit undercooked. This is what keeps them soft and foldable. 
  • When you get a feel for how long each step takes, go ahead and roll out the next tortilla while you have one in the pan. It will speed the process along and keep you from running out of places to put your rolled-but-not-cooked tortillas, since they stick together if you stack them before they're cooked. 
  • Fill with your favorite taco or sandwich fillings!


  1. Welcome to all the new folks! I thought I should introduce myself since I comment on every single blog post. I am the blogger's proud big sister :) and right now live on the other side of the country but we shall soon be reunited. If you find my comments strange perhaps this knowledge will make them less strange. This is a wonderfully informative and entertaining blog. I especially like the inclusion of the unsuccesses (wouldn't want to call my sister a failure!). Take special note whenever she says her husband loved something. He is a very picky eater and actually forgets to eat most of the time so if he likes something it's a big deal! So enjoy the blog everyone and please join me in commenting :)

  2. Sorry to double comment but my first comment wasn't actually about those beautiful flour tortillas so it didn't really count. I shall now begin my real comment:
    Woah those look awesome. I should have read this earlier then maybe Brent wouldn't have been stuck eating some corn tortillas with his chili. He went grocery shopping with me (which is a story of its own) and picked out some mini corn tortillas that turned out to be very bla. But then again we wouldn't have wanted to wait to cook those after track practice and they probably are much better hot off the griddle. If you have any leftover, let me know how they are!

  3. Why thank you! Awesome indeed, even left over! But they're definitely especially wonderful hot off the pan. Maybe you could make the dough and roll it out (with wax paper or something in between layers) and stick them in an air-tight container in the fridge while you're gone so they don't dry out. Then you can just cook them when you get home! The cooking part is super fast.

    And thank you for the introduction! Can't wait to cook next to you again soon!

  4. Yummy....fresh tortillas really make a Mexican dish shine. Beautiful job.

  5. I have never thought to make my own flour tortillas. When I buy them at the store half tend to get lost in the fridge. Thanks for showing how reasonable it was to make it at home.

  6. I just made these tonight! I used whole wheat flour and a tad too much water so I needed a lot more white flour when I rolled them out. One ended up being too thin in the middle and cracked when I tried to roll up my taco but they were a hit!