How to make Tortillas Group of Mexican Ladies Create Fresh Tortillas

Quick and Tasty Treats: How to Make Tortillas (Flour and Corn)

Featured , Festive , Food

Freshly-cooked tortillas bring a warming hug to some of our favorite foods and fillings, from quesadillas to burritos to enchiladas and more. Homemade tortillas take that love to the next level with crispy, tasty goodness beating any store-bought tortilla.

With a few simple ingredients and kitchen tools, you can soon be prepping your own tortillas to wow family and friends. Once you know how to make tortillas, folks will want to know when you’ll be making them again — and hopefully the answer is “soon.”

Making tortillas is a fun and rewarding activity. Before we get to the recipes for making flour and corn tortillas, let’s look at how the tortilla evolved from a pre-colonial staple food to become the worldwide phenomenon it is today.

What Is a Tortilla?

There are two principal tortillas: the flour tortilla and the corn tortilla, although other ingredients like chickpea flour can be used.

A flour tortilla is an unleavened flatbread made of flour or corn, water, salt, and fat like olive oil, lard, or butter. A corn tortilla is primarily corn and water. The dough of both tortilla types is pressed into thin round disks and then cooked on a griddle.

Flour tortillas tend to be softer and more malleable than the thicker, more brittle, and stiff corn-based tortillas. Tortillas often wrap food or are used to scoop up ingredients from stews or casseroles. Corn tortillas can be baked or fried to form tortilla chips, which are the perfect pairing for countless dips like salsa and guacamole.

Did the Mayans and Aztecs Know How to Make Tortillas?

Before the Spanish arrived to colonize the Americas, people there were already enjoying maize tortillas as a staple food. Mayan legend states that the first tortilla was made for one of its kings. However, archaeologists have found tortillas dating back as far as 10,000 BC , predating the Aztec and Mayan empires .

Our modern understanding of how people made corn tortillas is thanks to Hernán Cortés , a Spaniard who arrived in modern-day Mexico in 1519. Cortés saw people soaking maize in lime and water to remove the corn’s skin, a process called nixtamalized, with the grain then ground into a dough called masa. The lime helped add calcium to the local diet.

A small ball of this dough was spread into a pancake shape and cooked on both sides on a comal, an earthenware griddle. Cast iron comals came with the Europeans as neither Mayans nor Aztecs had mastered iron .

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Are Tortillas Originally from Mexico?

The first-known tortillas were found in what is now Mexico . Many other cultures have similar flatbreads, from chapatis in South Asia to rotis in India and laobing from China, but none dating back as far as in Mexico.

Similar to corn tortillas, flour-based unleavened bread has existed since around 10,000 B.C. However, the tortillas the Spanish named originally meant a maize-based flatbread, so the tortilla is Mexican.

When Did Flour Tortillas Originate?

Flour tortillas originated when the Spanish conquistadors brought wheat and flour to modern-day Mexico from Europe. It didn’t take long for a fusion of local corn tortilla cooking techniques and the new wheat ingredient to birth the flour tortilla.

How to Make Tortillas: What Is the Best Recipe?

Best Recipe for Tortillas Image of Tortillas on a Wood Block source

Store-bought tortillas are fine, but homemade tortillas elevate dishes to fine dining. As the saying goes, the best restaurant in town is the one at home.

Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to make tortillas. Ingredients are accessible and cheap, and you only need to master some basic skills.

Don’t worry if your tortillas don’t come out perfectly the first time. Here are some top tips on making homemade flour tortillas, hopefully better than the ones in stores and restaurants.

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What Ingredients Are in Flour Tortillas?

There are just four essential ingredients required to make flour tortillas, which include:

  • Wheat flour
  • Salt
  • Warm water
  • A fat like vegetable oil, butter, or lard

Some people add baking powder to keep the tortillas softer for longer. Some think baking powder can make tortillas chewy so experiment to find your perfect combination with or without baking power.

How Do I Make Flour Tortillas?

While there are always some variations in recipes, the following flour tortilla recipe is quite easy and requires just four ingredients that you probably already have in the kitchen. The recipe makes about 10 flour tortillas around eight inches (20 centimeters) in diameter.

Prep time: 30-40 minutes Cooking time: 10-15 minutes Total time: Less than an hour


  • Two cups (260 grams) of all-purpose flour plus extra flour for rolling
  • One teaspoon salt (fine sea salt is perfect)
  • Two-thirds of a cup of very warm water (140-160ml)
  • Five tablespoons (70 grams) of vegetable oil, melted lard, or melted butter

Pro tip: Strongly flavored oils, fats, and lards will influence the tortilla’s final taste; use neutral oils and fats to avoid this.


  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Parchment paper
  • Paper towels or kitchen towels
  • Cast iron skillet or a nonstick frying pan
  • Dish towel
  • Fork

How to Make Tortilla Dough

There are several simple steps to follow to make tortillas:

  1. Thoroughly dissolve the salt into the hot water.
  2. Combine the flour with the chosen oil or fat in a large bowl using a fork, until it looks crumbly.
  3. Add in most of the salty water, using a fork to move the mixture to form a dough. Add more water if the dough is dry. You want a medium-stiff consistency, a little firmer than bread dough.
  4. Flour a work surface.
  5. Transfer the remaining dough to the floured surface and begin kneading it until it is smooth. This may take a few minutes.
  6. Cover the dough with a dish towel and leave for at least 15 minutes or up to two hours. Letting the dough rest makes it easier to roll out later.

Rolling Them Out: How to Make Tortilla Disks

Kitchen Dough for Tortillas Being Made source

I t’s time to get rolling, having let the dough rest. You should roll out the tortillas on a floured work surface. Divide the mixture into around 10 equally-sized balls of dough.

Pro tip: You can make tortilla dough in advance. At this point, wrap the balls of dough tightly in plastic wrap and leave them in the refrigerator for up to three days. Before cooking, let the dough return to room temperature, taking them out of the refrigerator usually about an hour before use, then roll them out and cook them.

  1. Shape each ball into an approximate small disk.
  2. Use a rolling pin to fashion an eight-inch tortilla with a rough circle shape. The thinner, the better. Don’t worry if the tortillas end up a little larger or smaller or not exactly circular.
  3. Stack your tortillas, separating each one with a piece of parchment paper.

Pro tip: A tortilla press ( tortillero) is an easy way to avoid rolling out tortillas. Simply add the ball of dough to the tortilla press and close it to produce circular tortillas.

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How to Make Tortillas on a Griddle

Everything is set, so now it’s time to heat that griddle, skillet, or pan.

  1. Warm a preferably cast iron heavy-bottomed griddle to medium-high heat. If the pan smokes, it’s too hot.
  2. Once ready, pop in the first tortilla. Seeing the tortilla puffing with bubbles should take 20-30 seconds.
  3. Check the underside of the tortilla. Once it has some brown spots, flip it and cook the other side until it also has brown spots. Each tortilla takes a minute or two to be ready. If it’s taking longer, then increase the heat.
  4. Pop the cooked tortilla onto a dish towel and cover while cooking the remaining tortillas.

Pro tip: Tortilla warmers are a great way to keep your tasty treats warm while cooking or at the table.

How Should I Store Leftover Tortillas?

Tortillas are best enjoyed freshly cooked and warm. No matter how delicious, you may end up with some leftovers.

Store extra tortillas in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag if you’ll use them in the next day or two. It’s best to reheat tortillas before eating them to enjoy them at their pliable best.

You can also freeze tortillas, just remember to separate them with parchment paper.

How to Make Tortillas Made of Corn

Corn-based tortillas use the basic preparation and cooking method as flour-based tortillas but there are fewer ingredients:

  • Masa harina (not cornmeal)
  • Warm water

Adding salt, fats, or oils is optional and to each cook’s taste. The corn tortilla preparation and cooking method closely resemble that of its flour-based cousin.

  1. Mix your chosen masa harina with warm water until no dry floury bits remain.
  2. Create and knead the dough until it’s like playdough — moist but not sticky or tacky.
  3. Divide the mixture into balls of dough.
  4. Use a tortilla press to create tortilla disks about one-sixteenth of an inch deep, using plastic bags or parchment paper to stop the dough from sticking to the press. Push the dough into a baking dish if you don’t have a tortilla press.
  5. Cook each tortilla on a griddle on medium-high heat. It should puff up in the middle.
  6. Keep the cooked corn tortillas in a tortilla warmer or covered by a dishtowel.

Pro tip: Some corn tortillas dry out during cooking. Spray them with water from a spray bottle to prevent them from cracking.

Corn Tortilla or Flour Tortilla: What to Eat?

Flour Tortilla and Corn Tortilla Images source

Corn tortillas are less elastic than flour tortillas. What you get offered depends on where you are as much as your tastes.

Mexicans love corn tortillas, whereas flour tortillas are more prevalent in the north of Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Corn tortillas are the base of many delicious treats, from tacos and quesadillas to enchiladas and taquitos. A popular snack is tostadas, flat fried corn tortillas with barbecued meat or refried beans atop.

Flour tortillas absorb more than corn tortillas, making them perfect for dishes slathered in sauces. That’s why it’s common to see flour tortillas used for burritos, quesadillas, flautas, and fajitas.

Corn Tortilla vs. Flour Tortilla: Which Is Best?

Personal taste directs which tortilla people prefer. However, there are some points of difference, especially if you’re health-conscious or looking at nutritional information .

In general, corn tortillas contain fewer carbohydrates, calories (kcals), fat, and salt than their flour-based friends. Corn tortillas carry more fiber, magnesium, and potassium but slightly less protein.

Also, a 100% corn tortilla should be gluten-free, which is excellent news for those with gluten allergies who want to enjoy tortillas. Flour tortillas are not suitable for people avoiding gluten because of their wheat content.

People watching their cholesterol levels are fine because there is no cholesterol in either type of tortilla.

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How Do Tortilla Chips Get Made?

Tortillas, corn chips, tortilla chips. While the names are similar they are different. Corn chips are made from the same ingredients as corn tortillas, but the dough is molded into corn chip shapes first, then fried.

Tortilla chips are similar to corn chips but with one extra step in their production. These start life as corn tortillas, made the same way, but then the tortilla is sliced into the famous triangular wedge shape and then fried.

Are Tortilla Chips Made from Flour or Corn?

Tortilla chips are usually made from corn.

How Are Tortilla Chips Made in Mexico?

Tortilla chips in Mexico begin as corn tortillas . Once made, the tortilla is cut into triangle shapes and then fried.

Learning How to Make Tortillas Is Easier Than You Think

Tasty tortillas have been feeding the Americas for thousands of years, sustaining empires and eventually becoming a global food phenomenon.

Both corn and flour tortillas require few ingredients and cooking equipment, and the preparation and cooking stages are simple. Now that you know how to make tortillas, it’s time to give it a go.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Most likely that person who makes eye-rolling good tortillas didn’t get it right the first time. Experiment with the salt, oil, and fat levels — both with or without — until you find what works for you.

And once you have, chances are you’ll be inundated with people wanting to pop by for a tortilla or two. You have been warned!

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