There is a trade-off in cooking between taking the time to make something from scratch and buying pre-made. Sometimes the difference isn’t that big and the hassle just isn’t worth it. Other times, the difference in quality is so vast that it’s hardly comparable. Such is the case with flour tortillas. Store bought tortillas are terrible. I think the tortilla people are aware of this. That’s why we’re starting to see uncooked tortillas in the store that you take home a cook, so you get “fresher” tortillas that haven’t been sitting on a shelf for weeks. However, if you’re going to buy the uncooked tortillas and go to the trouble of cooking them yourself, you’ve already done 80% of the work of making your own from scratch.
They couldn’t be made from simpler and cheaper ingredients that you probably have sitting around. I typically make ours mostly or all whole wheat using white whole wheat flour. To the untrained, you might not ever know. This recipe is pretty flexible that way and can go all white or all whole wheat or anywhere in between. Our recipe also uses olive oil instead of the traditional lard or more popular shortening, because shortening freaks people out (me included) and frankly I just don’t keep a bucket of lard sitting around the house, but I do have olive oil. So, without further ado:
- 4 cups all purpose white flour, white whole wheat flour, or a little of both
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, mix in oil and water. I like to use our our stand mixer with a dough hook, but it’s totally doable with a stiff spoon and then kneading with your hands toward the end. Add a little more flour or water if the dough is too sticky or dry. Generally you want it ever so slightly sticky. Whole wheat flour may require more water because it’s more absorbent.
- Divide the dough and roll into 16 balls with your hands. Let the dough balls sit for about 10-15 minutes (I usually am in a bigger hurry than this, and don’t wait this long and they still turn out okay).
- While your dough is sitting, get a large non-stick skillet and put it on the biggest burner on your stove and turn it as high as it will go. Let it heat up for a few minutes. This is the one thing I keep a Teflon-coated skillet around for. Our stainless steel skillets just burn the tortillas and they stick.
- On a floured surface, roll out your tortilla until it is very thin. These get to be about 10-12″ in diameter. Carefully pull it off and lay it in the hot skillet. It will cook very quickly. In 15-30 seconds, flip it over and cook until browned on the other side as well. If the skillet isn’t hot enough the tortilla will dry out too much while it cooks and get all crunchy, if that’s the case wait a minute or three before putting the next tortilla on.
- Repeat Step 4 for each tortilla. Sometimes I can get in a rhythm where I can roll each new tortilla out while one is cooking and the whole process goes quite quickly. The first time you do it, though, I’d recommend keeping a closer eye on the hot skillet and delegating the rolling of the tortillas.