Sunday, November 6, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas (way less salt than the store-bought)

I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure and told to lay off the sodium.  I love salty things.  I love lots of salt on my popcorn; I love french fries dipped in salt; I love most Frito-Lay products (Funyons in particular); I love deli meats and frozen pizzas.  So this is a bit of sad news for me.  I also love Mexican food.  Imagine, now, how appalled I was the other night to notice that one Mission brand large burrito size tortilla has a whopping 590mg of sodium!  That's 25% of the RDA!
Sigh.  So I turned to my trusty internet and googled, "flour tortilla recipes," and clicked on the first hit from  The way I figure it, when I make 10 tortillas from the recipe, each tortilla only has 200mg of sodium, which is reasonable.  I reduced the salt in the recipe below by about 25%, so mine had even less sodium, and they still tasted great.  They're not quite as chewy/flexible as the Mission tortillas, but homemade tortillas have a charm of their own that, I think, makes up for that.  These tortillas made great burritos without breaking, and they tasted fantastic reheated on a skillet and buttered.  Mmmmm.  My husband fixed one up with butter and sugar & cinnamon, and THAT was tasty as well.
I think the key to making chewy homemade flour tortillas is kneading the dough thoroughly to develop that wonderful gluten, creating a stretchier tortilla.  I've added lots of detail to the original instructions from, because if you're making homemade tortillas for the first time, I think details are called for.  Sorry if I get too wordy.

Homemade Flour Tortillas
   --adapted from

1. Place the flour, salt, add baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low for a minute.  Add vegetable shortening and mix on low until it resembles cornmeal.
2. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add water.  Mix on low until dough forms a cohesive ball.  You may need to scrape the sides once with a silicone/rubber spatula.  Once it's in a ball, increase speed to medium low and kneed until smooth and elastic (about 5-6 minutes).  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you get your other tools ready.
3. Gather your cast-iron skillet, rolling pin, flour, canola oil, and large plate with a clean dish towel (to place finished tortillas).  Very lightly grease a smooth, flat surface with canola oil by spreading a few drops onto the surface with a flat hand.  
4. Remove dough from the bowl and cut into the desired amount of pieces.  If your skillet is small, cut more pieces (up to 24); if you have a large skillet and want large tortillas, cut no fewer than 10 pieces.  With your hand cupped over a piece of dough that is sitting on the greased flat surface, gently push the dough around using a small circular motion with your hand until you have a well-shaped ball of dough. Place dough balls on a floured plate or piece of wax paper and cover with plastic wrap.
5.  Once you have all of your dough balls, wipe your flat surface down with a paper towel to remove any canola oil residue.  Generously flour the surface and place on dough ball down, flour the top, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.  I start with a couple of strokes across the entire surface in opposite directions, just to get it started.  Then I start so roll from the center and go out, turning my rolling pin about a quarter of a turn with each roll, so hopefully the tortilla will end up in a relatively round shape.  Roll as thin as you possibly can if you want a thinner tortilla.  You'll be surprised at how much they puff up when cooked.  If you like thicker tortillas, don't roll as thin.  You will want to dust off some flour before placing in pan to cook.
6. Preheat your cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Carefully transfer raw tortilla into pan, making sure you don't make any wrinkles.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until light brown spots appear.  My skillet is fairly large, as were my tortillas, so I had to move it around once a crust was formed on one side, to make sure the edges got cooked a bit on the hot spot of the skillet.  
7.  Repeat with remaining dough balls.  When a tortilla is done, put on a dish lined with a clean dish towel folded in half to cover the tortillas.  You can stack cooked tortillas on top of one another as you go.
8. Store leftovers in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator.
Makes from 10 large to 24 small flour tortillas.


  1. i know it's bad, but if you use manteca, or lard, you will have an even tastier, stretchier tortilla, and you won't miss the salt factor. xoxo your socal amiga

  2. I think I might try the manteca next time. But I do feel like I will be exchanging one heart disease for another. :)

  3. I was shocked to realize that, too, when I went low-sodium. Oddly, corn tortillas often have no sodium at all, or only about 25 milligrams.
    I'm lucky that I work for a spice company, so it was fairly easy to replace salt with salt-free spices in cooking. I also now use a lot of flavored vinegar.
    Good luck, those tortillas look like a great start!


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