How To Make Tortillas

If I were a taco-architect and someone asked me to build a skyscraper out of tacos, I would require the finest, the freshest, the BEST tortillas available on Earth. If I were a budget-conscious taco-architect, (or one that hailed from Siberia or somewhere else where the BEST tortillas are unavailable) I would make those tortillas personally. Well, lucky for you and the people who hired me to make a taco skyscraper (Hint: It was not Jack-in-the-Box), I HAVE made those tortillas personally and now I will spread the gospel of How to Make Tortillas to my fine cooking friends: YOU. A special thanks goes to Beau for the inspiration and the recipe (which I have changed slightly). Thanks, Beau!

While corn tortillas dominate through most of Mexico, when you get close to the US-Mexico border, you will find flour tortillas much more common. They are usually made with lard, but you can use oil (as I’ve done) or vegetable shortening. In fact, I’d say from my experience eating tacos and tortillas all across this great state, while lard is typical in Mexico and in the border towns on both sides, shortening becomes the preferred fat as you head Northward towards San Antonio. And while corn remains very popular to hold such fillings as carnitas and al pastor, flour tortillas are almost always what you will find cradling your breakfast tacos and accompanying your fajita plates.


4.9 from 13 reviews
How To Make Tortillas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Homemade flour tortillas
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus about ½ -3/4 cup more for kneading)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • ¾ cup milk, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Combine dry ingredients well. Add oil and milk and mix to form a soft dough. Turn dough lump out onto a floured board and knead for two minutes.
  2. You will need to add more flour a little at a time as you knead. After about a minute, the dough will change from very soft and squishy and easily torn, to slightly firmer and stretchier. At the end of two minutes, it will be a smooth dough ball, no longer sticky, but elastic.
  3. Put this beautiful dough ball back in the bowl from whence it came and cover it with a damp cloth for thirty minutes. This resting step should not be omitted - the resting allows the gluten molecules in the flour to align themselves perfectly to create a tender, chewy tortilla and also to possibly take over the world.
  4. After thirty minutes, come back and divide the dough into 10 equally sized balls. Easiest way to do it is to divide in half, then each half again, etc. The balls will be about the size of a golf ball or ping-pong ball.
  5. Put the balls on a plate and let them rest another ten minutes. Patience.
  6. Come back and on a lightly floured surface, pat each ball out flat to start it, then with your floured rolling pin, roll into a circle (or as close as you can get it) about 8 inches in diameter. Remember when rolling stuff out: start at the middle of the circle and push out to the edge. Then back to the middle and towards another edge. Keep going around until you have a circlish thing that looks like a tortilla.
  7. Once you've gotten the hang of it, go ahead and turn your cast iron skillet or griddle on high heat. Let it heat up sexy-hot while you continue to roll out tortillas.
  8. When it's hot as shit, throw a tortilla on there.
  9. After about a minute it will start to grow bubble-warts.
  10. When those bubbles have almost covered the whole surface of the tortilla, flip it over for another thirty seconds or so.
  11. Put it on a plate and do that with the rest of your dough discs.

Video thumbnail for youtube video How To Make Tortillas - Hilah Cooking

And THAT is how you do it.

I think you’ll have fun with this. Make hangover tacos! 

Or make your own corn tortillas! They’re even easier!

Comments

  1. Man, those look good enough to eat. I must try making them, and then recommend that you make them, and then I’ll be so inspired by watching you make them, that I’ll try to make them. I’ll be so blown away by the taste that I’ll ask that you make them on your show! And the space-time continuum will forever be in limbo!

    Hooray for tortillas!

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Have you tried it yet? How was it? Should I make them? Is the world still spinning? I think my watch stopped!

    • Hola Hilah, hey that’s kinda fun to say! Anyhoo, a quick question about the tortillas, would it work if I used a non-fat milk? of course I know that whole milk is awesome and all, but I’m just trying to save on the calorino’s, if you know what I mean. I know some folks use a non-fat or low fat milk instead of the good stuff and end up eating twice as much, kinda like lite beer, “Oh it’s lite beer, give me two more of those bad boys, I’m on a diet!” lol. And by the way, I made your empanadas, using squash, potatoes, spinach and havarti cheese, three words…”To Die For!” Thanks a bunch, and don’t ever go away!

      • Hi Stace!
        I think that would work just fine and dandy! You can even use water, as a matter of fact. Those empanadas sounds rad-as-hell. I love havarti almost as much as I love beer. Thanks for writing!

  2. Random Cole says:

    Those look delicious. Who knew it was so easy? Definitely going to try this. I do kind of feel ripped off at not getting the full 2 minutes of breathless kneading, though.

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Ha! Sorry about that! I guess Chris is less interested in sultry breathing than he is in not perving people out.

  3. I have this marinated chicken taco recipe that I’ve been dying to make….I’m glad you posted this cause I think it will be so much better with my own fresh-made tortillas ! :-) Love your videos!

  4. Hey Hilah, I made your tortillas today! I used water instead of milk cuz I’m a vegan, but they tasted awesome. Of course mine looked a bit ridiculous, more like amebas, and I didn’t get the hang of rolling them thin enough till the last three or four, but they tasted like MORE!

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Thanks for trying it with water and letting everyone know it is possible! Wacky-shaped homemade tortillas still taste like delicious homemade tortillas!

  5. Hi Hillah, I have made many tortillas in my life and tried many recipes, but WOW!!!! these are the BEST tortillas ever……I made your recipe last night and filled them with mushrooms fried in an extra lite margarine, mixed salad leaves, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, avos and smoked chicken breast ham, absolutely AWESOME!!!! my husband who normally has one large tortilla, ate three!!! definitely a favourite by me, and I will be passing this recipe on to family and friends with absolute confidence. Thanks a stack for this GREAT recipe. Kindest Regards

  6. Just made these this weekend and they’re amazingly simple and amazingly delicious! Love your mad skills and non-professional terms, too. I laughed out loud numerous times during your show. Ha!

  7. wow, now im going to make a breakfast steak burrito with this!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Holy moly, I made these and now I’ve got big problems…my husband and son won’t eat the store bought ones any more. What to do?

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Oh, Alison! I feel your pain, girl. Maybe you could teach your husband and son how to make them? ;)

  9. I’m a bad food blogger I guess, cause I had never heard of that Bitchin Kitchen chick. Went to her site and watched a video but she’s just too kitchy for me. You’re 10x funnier. I’d like a Hilah Cooks show on the Cooking Channel, please. Get on that!

  10. Thanks to you now I know how to make Mexican flour tortillas. I can say they´ve already become a success within the members of my family. I wanted to learn how to make corn meal tortillas. But I can´t get masaharina here. Polenta is popular. I´ve tried once to make a dough with polenta, and of course, I failed. I did it because I had tried taco shells which I could get at the only Walmart there is in my hometown and they tasted like polenta, I didn´t know about masa harina.
    If you say Tacos, people will understand “high heels”because that´s the meaning at least in Argentinian Spanish hahahaha. Funny, isn´t it? If you say tortilla (pronounced “tortisha” here), people will think of a Spanish tortilla, which is an egg and potato omelette. So most people have no idea about Mexican food in my country. I became Mexican food curious because of the American movies.
    Thanks again for your book and your videos. They´re great fun!!

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Hi Daniel! I’m so glad you had success with the tortillas! Corn tortillas are a little trickier, just because the dough is more fragile. You should be able to order masa harina online if you are still interested.
      That’s funny about the taco = high heels! I love how words change meaning over time and space.
      Thank you for writing! I enjoy so much hearing about people’s kitchen experiences.
      -hilah

  11. Nah, they’re not real tortillas unless they’re made of corn!

  12. Long time fan, first time writer… So I just made these and yup they are great! My question is if I want them to brown but not crisp up on the griddle, would I add more oil? I just like them slightly chewier… Also, there was residual flour on them I couldnt brush off after rolling out and it gave ‘em that flour coated texture I’d prefer wasn’t there… Do yours? Ideas for next time to help me out? Am I just over flouring the board when rolling?

    Again, thanks for the inspiration!

    John

    • Hi John! It’s great to hear from you!
      I’m happy to hear you like the tortillas. For browning without crisping, try using less oil, on a slightly lower heat, for a longer time.
      I don’t have a problem with the extra flour on the outside, but that could just be me. It could also be that you’re overflouring. It’s easy to do that when you’re starting out and worried about the dough sticking. You could also use some parchment or waxed paper paper, one sheet underneath and one on top, and roll the tortillas out between and you’d need very little flour.
      I hope that helps you next time! Let me know if you have any more questions!
      -Hilah

  13. Made these wundrous torillas Sunday morning, which lead to breakfast burritos with corn and black bean salsa, which lead to bloody mary’s. We had a very happy New Years Day! Hope yours was great too!

    • Sounds like a PERFECT New Year’s Day, Linda! I’m so glad to have been a small part. ;)
      We had a great day, too, just quiet at home with the dog and some whiskey-sodas. Happy 2012!

  14. When I was growing up in SE Iowa in the 1970s, we used to eat what we considered authentic Mexican food from restaurants owned by descendants of Mexican workers that came through with the construction of the Santa Fe railroad. The tacos of my youth were wrapped in dough that we called a tortilla and pan friend with ground beef filling inside and then opened up and topped with the requisite lettuce, tomato, cheese and salsa. Is this just an Iowa thing?

    • Hi Ronda!
      That’s a great question. And I’m not sure I know the answer. I’ve never seen anything like that here. If you had described them as being filled with cheese, I’d say it sounds like a quesadilla, which in Mexico are made with cheese wrapped in raw dough and the whole package is cooked at once, rather than the American-style two-tortillas-stacked-with-cheese-inside.
      Unless… I was imagining flour tortillas. If they were corn, then maybe what you had was a version of a pupusa or an arepa? But those are more South American than Mexican.
      I’m really curious about this now. I’ll ask around to my Mexican friends and get back with you if I find anything out.
      Thanks for writing! I love hearing about new foods.
      -h

  15. Hilah
    When I made the tortillas in to dough balls it stuck to my hands, what did I do wrong? Johnny.

    • Hey Johnny!
      Sounds like your dough was a little wet. If it happens again, try kneading a little more flour into the dough, or just flour your hands well before rolling the balls.

  16. Veronika says:

    Another great looking recipe! I am dying to try this but I prefer to cook with whole wheat flour (do I even have white flour in the house?). Do you have any suggestions for converting this recipe to whole wheat?

    • Hi Veronika!
      If you want to substitute whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour, it should work fine. That’s the type of ww flour I use and I’ve always just swapped it out with no problemos!

  17. Hilah,
    The tortillas are amazing. I did cheat a bit, rolling pins just don’t like me. So I placed plastic wrap over the dough ball and smushed it with a dinner plate. Perfect round tortillas.

    • Hey Linda! Thanks for that bit of genius kitchen-witchery! Perfect solution for someone who might not even own a rolling pin.

  18. So, I found your video on youtube and just tried making these, but they came out really thick….like pita bread. I rolled them out really thin too, but I did use a regular pan instead of a skillet. Any ideas why they would come out so thick? Is it cause of the pan?

    • Hmm. I’m not sure, Nicole. When they’re rolled out thin enough, they’ll be about 6-7 inches across – does that seem about right? If that part was okay, I wonder if you could have maybe added more baking powder accidentally? I don’t think the pan would make a difference. Homemade tortillas are usually a little thicker than store-bought, but not quite pita bread thickness. Hope you could still use them!

  19. Lol Hilah i think i love u thanks for your wonderful recipes

  20. what do the salt and baking powder do in the recipe?

    • Hi Danie! The salt makes them taste better and the baking powder makes them light, tender and fluffy.

      • The baking powder can be left out. Maybe the tortillas will not be as light, but with the baking powder missing, you can still make the dough and still roll and cook the tortillas, and they will still be able to wrap.

        • An afterthought—-
          Tender, I am unsure yet. The tortillas I made and sampled so far seem tender already and without any baking powder. I’ll have to make a couple batches more, with and without baking powder to be more sure.

          • Thanks for experimenting and letting us know how it’s working! :)

          • G_Joseph says:

            Puffy, yes. Tender, not seem so. Thickness is hard to measure, but certainly puffier than without baking powder. The tortillas seem drier than without the baking powder, but this may have been from misjudging the amount of fat and water to be needed. I tried a simple tortilla recipe, 2 and 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

  21. Hi Hilah!

    I just made these using whole wheat white flour. Oh my goodness – it is ridiculously delicious!! Not to mention easy it is to make.. I don’t think I’ll ever have to stop by tortilla section at groceries again. Thanks for an awesome tutorial. I recently discovered your site, and I feel like I found a little treasure on the Internet :)

    • Yum! Thanks, Julie! I’m so glad you had success. It’s very rewarding to eat homemade tortillas, is it not? :)

  22. Hi, Hilah! Thanks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much for this recipe! Because of our allergies our family has to eat dairy and citrus free and tortillas are a real pain. Having a basic recipe that I can play with is going to be so helpful! I am actually writing a dairy and citrus free cookbook and an altered version of this recipe will probably appear in it in some form (with proper credit of course) if that’s ok. Please can you do corn tortillas? There are plenty of recipes to make corn tortillas – that of course all use masa harina, which has lime in it. Is there a way to make them from cornmeal instead?

    • That’s wonderful, Heather! So glad the recipe works for you. Take it and do what you will with it. :)
      As I understand it, the corn used for making masa is first treated with lime (calcium hydroxide) which is an alkaline compound similar to lye. So, same word, totally different meaning! I think I’ve seen some pre-made corn tortillas (definitely some tortilla chips) that also have lime juice added, but if you buy the dry masa harina there shouldn’t be any citrus in it.
      However… corn tortillas have been on my list of recipes to demo so I’ll try to move them up in the queue. They are fun to make.

  23. G_Joseph says:

    Your recipe can be made with water instead of milk, and the results will work great. I made tortillas for the first time, just a few days ago with a recipe almost identical to yours, but with water instead of the milk, so I know.

  24. Julio Perez says:

    Hilah,
    I know how to make homemade tortillas its called ( White Wings ) , just add water…Ha, Ha, Ha…the easy way and quicker. But I have been looking at your other recipes they sound yummie….

  25. Hi Hilah. I made these last night for fajitas and they were delicious. Tasted just like restaurant tortillas. I made a point to save a few to make breakfast tacos in the morning and I put them in a ziplock on the counter. But come morning, they were dried out and tasted like cardboard. I even heated them up a little in the microwave with a sprinkle of water until they were pliable but it still tasted horribly stale. Help! What should I do in the future to save my tortillas?

    • Katrine says:

      You should be able to store the dough refridgerated for 4-5 days. I know that requires you to do the rolling and cooking part on the second day, but you’re guaranteed a better result (in my opinion).

  26. G_Joseph says:

    Lynda,
    I’m not Hilah, but my response is, a better way to store the tortillas after freshly made is in a ziplock bag refridgerated. The next day, when you want to make the tortilla flexible again, use a pan or griddle; sprinkle a bit of water or spray a bit of water, and heat on both sides using the pan or griddle until warm. This may take about 2 minutes one side and one minute the other side. So far that’s the way I’ve done the reheat and this has not made the tortillas dried. Also, my tortillas were (almost) all used before 4 days after making.

    Microwave may be okay, but the flat pan or griddle is better.

  27. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this recipe! It’s the only one that works for me, since I live in Asia with limited kitchen equipment or ingredients. Saves me a ton and allows me to make the things I miss (:

  28. I made a test run tonight halving the recipe to make 5 tortillas–pretty easy to make and much better than the store bought ones. I like the slight smokiness they get from the hot cast iron pan. So now I’m ready for the weekend when I make your chili dog chili (yet again!). Anyway, with this test batch I made peanut butter and grape jelly “tacos” for lunch at work tomorrow!

    • PB&J tacos sound good, Steven! I want that for dinner now instead of my dumb fish and salad. ;)
      Thanks for the update about halving the recipe, too. That is good to know!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I think I must be your newest fan! A couple of days ago I searched youtube for a fried fish recipe since that was my hubby’s request for a dinner this week and I’m terrified of frying things. Your fish and chips video was towards the top of the search and I watched it and knew I needed to make that recipe. That recipe was awesome. Since then I’ve been perusing all of your older recipes and found so many amazing things! My favorite pancake recipe is extremely close to yours, the only difference is the addition of lemon juice. However, I couldn’t get them to cook up just right even on my cast iron. Today I got them to turn out perfect using a few pointers I learned from you. And I always make home made tortillas-at least once a week. Tonight was burrito night at our house and again I decided to watch your video for some pointers. I grew up in NM (but a TX transplant for the time being as my hubby is AF), so home made tortillas are commonplace. But mine always turned out too thin and not soft enough. I do olive oil instead of lard. I was beginning to wonder if that was the problem. But I discovered I was leaving out the baking powder. I must confess that these tortillas were so good that I ate three of them tonight. I love that I’m able to learn how to perfect my existing recipes by watching your videos. I think you’re amazing and I look forward to learning more techniques and recipes from you! Thank you for sharing your talent with the world.

    • Hello Elizabeth!
      You have no idea how happy this message makes me! :D I am so so glad to hear that you’ve picked up some new tricks from my videos.
      Thank you so much for writing and I hope to hear from you again!
      -hilah

  30. I just made these tortillas and I indulged a little bit by using salted butter instead of the oil. I also omitted the 1/2 tsp salt and used skim milk. They turned out perfectly and this will now be my go-to flour tortilla recipe!

    Thanks!

  31. My tortillas don’t bubble… And also, in spite of the fact I follow the recipe, they are a bit dry and tough. What am I doing wrong? Please help! xx

    • Hi Polly!
      You may be overkneading the dough. Try mixing it just until it can roll into a ball. That should take care of the dry/tough problem.
      And if they don’t bubble, that’s not so bad, but you might try buying some new baking powder. It can go stale and not work so well anymore if it’s been open for a while.
      Hope that helps, dear!

      • Yup, overkneading was the thing. And it also turned out I rolled them too thinly. Now they’re nearly perfect! They still don’t bubble though, don’t know. Thanks for your help, Hilah :)

  32. Do not worry about the baking powder. Roll as thinly as you can work and handle the formed tortilla. Two guesses what might be the non-bubble trouble: too low a ratio water to flower, or not enough heat.

  33. Thank you Hilah for this wonderful recipe! I have tried so many different kinds of tortilla recipes, and I believe this recipe works because of the milk and baking soda. The thickness of how you roll out the tortilla matters. I tried experimenting with different thicknesses and different cooking times – which changed the texture of the tortillas. I would suggest people who are having difficulty getting the tortilla they want to try experiment with the thickness and length of cooking time until they discover the tortilla that will conquer the world! A really hot pan is a must!

  34. Hi Hilah!

    LOVE these tortillas – I’ve only made them a dozen times and each time get rave reviews. Today I subbed half whole wheat flour and they still turned out perfectly, next time I think I’ll go almost all whole wheat (healthy 2014, what?!).

    But I do have a question, I often want to make these when I know my husband and I won’t be able to eat them all. Do you have a tip for storing and/or freezing them so we can have a batch on hand anytime? I can’t stand store bought tortillas now that I know how to make them at home. :)

    Thanks!
    Megan

    • Hi Megan!
      So glad you’re enjoying these! I’ve not tried freezing, but what I suggest trying is to roll them all out, layer between waxed paper, and freeze the stack in a gallon size bag. Pull out as many as you need and thaw them with the paper between, then peel off and cook! Let me know if that works, if you try it. Thanks!

  35. Nicoleincos says:

    These are awesome. I made them once months ago and subbed rice milk for dairy milk. They were pretty good. Yesterday when I made them, I used water instead. I also realized (hours after we ate them,) that although I doubled the recipe, I forgot to double the oil. They were absolutely awesome! So, if someone doesn’t have enough oil, know that it will work with less! I rolled them all a little bit from the ball phase and let them rest again before coming back and rolling to tortilla size, which helped me to roll and pull them pretty thin. I kept the uncooked ones in a damp towel, (so I could roll ahead.) Thanks again, Hilah!

  36. Another awesome recipe. I don’t have a rolling pin so they turned out 1/4 inch thick or so. They turned out to be the best that I have ever had. Seriously, I can’t wait to get hilah and find a new recipe of yours to make. ;)

    Cheers,
    Josh

  37. My Mexican lady friend uses evaporated milk in her tortillas. They are so good. May add just a bit more flavor to it. Thanks for this recipe and all the others you post. Very Nice!

  38. Your recipe is awesome and easy!Good torillas!LIKE!

  39. I’ve tried a couple of different tortilla recipes with varying degrees of success, but this one is just fab! My top tip is that you really can’t roll your tortillas too thin…as long as they still hold together, the thinner the better as they puff up a little from the heat – my first couple were waaay too thick. I’ve gotten into totrilla making so I can make my own tortilla chips, and let me tell you, this recipe is perfect for these too! The video and recipe is SUCH a great idea. I’ll be visiting your site regularly from now on!

  40. la tasha armendariz says:

    Hi Hilah,
    I have a question that has baffled me for awhile now and I just can’t seem to get it right. I have been using the”just add water” tortilla mix for some time now, cause I thought if all I have to add is water how hard can it be. Now I have made them the long way too all the above ingredients, but this was just faster. My problem is they don’t last for more than a day by the next morning they are hard, they crack and at that point they’re more like chips.

    • Hi La Tasha,
      I’ve never used the tortilla mix, so the problem might be something specific to that product, but I would first ask how you are storing them. If you have a leftover bread bag or a large ziploc bag, I recommend storing them in that. Press the air out and seal it tight. Sounds like the tortillas are getting dried out from being exposed to air. Hope that helps.

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