The Washington Post

Flour Tortillas

Flour Tortillas 12.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Oct 19, 2020

Freshly made flour tortillas are flavorful and tender, spectacularly different from most grocery-store options. As with so many ancient recipes, the simplest ingredients are at play here — flour, water, fat and salt. Bread flour carries more proteins and helps to build gluten and hold the tortillas together, while keeping them airy enough so they blister. Warm water encourages the fats to melt and combine with the flour. Just a little salt elevates the flavor of the tortilla while too much makes the tortilla difficult to form.

Traditionally, lard is used and it makes a silky, tender tortilla. Try bacon or duck fat if you’re all out of lard. All butter works well, and food writer Cathy Barrow finds them the most delicious and very slightly sweet.

Storage Notes: The tortillas made with butter, vegan butter and/or shortening can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 4 days; the tortillas made with animal fats will keep for up to 2 days. Warm the tortillas directly over a gas stove’s open flame for 10 seconds per side or on a hot ungreased griddle or skillet for 20 seconds per side. Frozen, the tortillas will keep for 2 months. Defrost and reheat as usual.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings; makes 12 8-inch tortillas

  • 4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) rendered lard, bacon or duck fat, slightly cold (see NOTE for substitution suggestions)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) warm water


Place a large plate and a clean tea towel near the work surface.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine the bread flour and the lard, the butter or the combination of shortening and butter. Add the salt and water. Set the bowl on the mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and turn to medium speed, mixing for 2 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. (If making the tortilla dough by hand, mix the flour and fat together in a large bowl. Using your fingers, work the fats into the flour until pebbly, then pour in the water and work with your hands until the ball of dough comes together and the sides of the bowl are clean. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until silky and smooth, about 8 minutes.)

Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and divide into 12 equal pieces, each weighing about 65 grams. (If your skillet is less than 9 inches in diameter, divide the dough into 14 balls, about 55 grams each.)

Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten it into a disk and pull in the edges to form a ball. Lightly roll the ball under your palm until smooth and round and place on the reserved plate, seam side down, draping with the tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces. Let the dough rest for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.

Heat an ungreased 9-inch or wider griddle or skillet over medium heat. Have a large plate covered with a clean tea towel next to the stove. The griddle or pan is ready when a few drops of water tossed on the surface sizzle and evaporate immediately.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Working with one dough ball at a time, flatten it into a disk and flour it on both sides. Flour a dowel or a rolling pin and roll the dough, turning and flipping it over so it does not stick, until you get an 8-inch wide disk thin enough to see your hand through it (see NOTE for troubleshooting).

When the tortilla is rolled out, drape it over your hand and transfer carefully to the griddle or skillet. Do not allow it to pleat or fold. Carefully, lower it onto the hot surface. The edges will immediately start to cook, changing from translucent to opaque, rising off the surface. You might hear sizzles or pops as the tortilla blisters across the surface; after about 1 minute, use a spatula to lift and flip it over. There should be a scattering of browned freckles on what is now the top of the tortilla.

Carefully and lightly, use your fingertips to tap the tortilla here and there to encourage air bubbles in any areas that haven’t blistered. Cook until the underside is freckled with brown dots, 1 to 2 more minutes, and transfer to the towel-draped plate. Wrap the tortilla in the towel to keep it warm and to slightly steam it. If tortillas darken too quickly, raise and lower the heat to maintain a proper temperature in the pan.

Repeat with the remaining dough balls, rolling out each tortilla, carefully placing it on the hot surface and flipping as it lightly freckles, blisters and puffs up. As each tortilla is cooked, stack it on top of the cooked tortillas in the tea towel, and rewrap so they stay soft and pliable. If any residual flour from the tortillas starts to burn in the pan, roll up a kitchen towel and carefully wipe the pan clean between tortillas.

Serve right away or place the towel-wrapped tortillas into a plastic bag (do not seal) and let cool completely before refrigerating. If freezing the tortillas, remove the towel beforehand.


Substitutions: In place of lard, you could use 8 tablespoons (113 grams) slightly cold unsalted butter or vegan butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Or you could use 4 tablespoons (56 grams) vegetable shortening and 4 tablespoons (56 grams) slightly cold unsalted butter or vegan butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Troubleshooting: If your tortilla is turning out more amoeba-shaped than round, embrace the irregularity. It takes practice and skill to roll out perfect circles. If your tortilla cracks at the edges while griddling, the dough is too dry. Weighing the flour and fats will help with dough consistency. If the tortilla, after rolling, is sticking to the work surface, it’s too wet. Generously dust the work surface with flour before rolling the tortilla. Generously dust the dough round. After rolling, brush away the excess flour from the tortilla with a dry pastry brush before transferring the tortilla to the griddle.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Cathy Barrow.

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 235

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 10g 15%

Saturated Fat: 4g 20%

Cholesterol: 9mg 3%

Sodium: 94mg 4%

Total Carbohydrates: 30g 10%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 0g

Protein: 5g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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