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Who knew homemade tortillas were so easy (and addictive)?

Last night was my first time making homemade tortillas. And I am here to report that they are really simple, and VERY tasting. I made flour tortillas, since they are my boyfriend's favorite.

After a little searching, I decided on sivyaleah's recipe:

Several other recipes included baking soda, and I wasn't sure if I should include it or not. But searching online, I found a reference to Rick Bayless' recipe, which didn't include baking soda, so I went soda-less. Also, I used Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated shortening. I think shortening is a frightening product, but lard is out (I'm a veg) and I was worried about substituting butter on my first attempt.

Sivyaleah's recipe:
makes 8 8-inch tortillas, maybe takes 1 to 1-1/2 hours from start to finish, including resting time

2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt

Cut shortening into flour. Dissolve salt in warm water, then add gradually to flour mixture. Mix until dough begins to form. Turn onto floured surface and knead about 3 minutes. Divide ball into 8 smaller balls (for ~ 8-inch tortillas). Cover balls with plastic wrap and rest at least 30 min (mine ended up resting about 2 hours).

Heat cast iron pan over medium/medium-high heat. Preheat oven on low (~200 degrees). On floured surface, roll out ball until about 8 inches or so in diameter. Grill in dry pan, maybe about 30 seconds on each side. I flipped mine back and forth a couple of times, until they looked done. I held the tortillas in the warm oven (in between a towel, on top of a pizza stone) while I cooked the rest and plated dinner.

The results? Delicious, tender tortillas, that left your mouth watering for more. We each had one straight off the griddle, with a little butter. Heaven. Two more with dinner (well, the boy had three). And gasp! We ate 7 of the 8 in one sitting! How embarrassing. Maybe I shouldn't make these very often... Today I will see how the last, lonely tortilla survived in a ziplock overnight.

Served with homemade black beans, cilantro rice, fajitas, guacamole, and homebrew (ESB). Oh, and next time - corn tortillas! Any favorite recipes?

Photos of the process:

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  1. And two more photos of the final results!

    1. Very exciting, megek! My husband's great aunt Bea is coming in the middle of May and she is going to teach all of our favorite Mexican dishes to us, including tortillas! (My husband's grandparents were from Mexico.) Anyway, I'm very excited for this opportunity and your pictures make me even more excited! I know one thing I am going to have to have with my homemade tortillas is carnitas!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Katie Nell

        Wow - hopefully you will get to share some of great aunt Bea's techniques!

      2. They look great! What do you use for shortening? (I'm confused on the meaning-is butter considered shortening?) Sorry if it's a silly question, and thanks.

        4 Replies
        1. re: morebubbles

          Hi, she says she used Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated shortening, in the paragraph above the recipe.

          1. re: morebubbles

            If I wasn't vegetarian, I would use lard to replace shortening.

            Shortening is a vegetable fat that is solid at room temp - it is not butter (butter might work fine as a substitute though, I don't know).

            Vegetable shortening is most commonly sold under the brand Crisco (at least in the U.S.), but I used a non-hydrogenated shortening called Spectrum Naturals Organic Vegetable Shortening. It is made of pressed palm oil. Shortening is often used in baking pie crusts and the like - supposed to result in a more tender crust than butter. Hope that helps!

            1. re: megek

              Oops, should have read your orig post more carefully - I was so excited by the photos that I went right to the recipe, then the photos, ASAP!! Thanks, that is quite thorough and helpful. I'm tempted to make them now after your experience--and the lovely photos! thanks again!

              1. re: megek

                For what it's worth, in pie and biscuit making any fat can be considered shortening. It "shortens" the dough... Vegetable shortening has been referred to as shortening so long that it is what everyone thinks of, including most cookbook authors. Very confusing.


            2. Those look great! Do you think that subbing in corn meal or masa harina without changing the water ratio would be very, very bad? I know that whole wheat, for instance, needs more water to hydrate it than does white, so I'm wondering if corn/masa is the same deal and then, of course, what would the ratio be? Maybe one of our resident flour experts can help!

              1 Reply
              1. re: brownie

                I really don't know. I hope that someone weighs in though, because I want to try corn tortillas next.

                Doing a couple searches, I found this thread and a recipe for corn tortillas:

                It looks like you need more water (1cup plus 2T for 1 3/4 cup masa harina).

              2. Um....that looks sooooo good right now. Please tell me how you made cilantro rice...I am obsessed with the flavor of Cilantro!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Keramel

                  Oh, you will LOVE the cilantro rice then. I can't take credit, it is from Robert Lauriston:

                  Make sure to salt the rice like he says, I often forget and have to add salt after its cooked. Also, stir the cilantro mix in right before serving, otherwise its not as beautiful and bright green. Still addictive though, no matter the color.

                  1. re: megek

                    Thanks very much for the tips.

                2. I love making homemade corn tortillas. They are even easier than flour tortillas. You only need water and corn flour. I always use the recipe on the back of my masa harina package.

                  My next goals is to make them with carnitas as the filling

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: peachblossom

                    peachblossom, agree 100%. And with a simple press, away you go!

                    1. re: peachblossom

                      Just had carnitas on freshly made corn tortillas at Carnitas Carmelo de Quiroga yesterday. The little restaurant on the outskirts of Patzcuaro, Michoacan is under construction. Basically we are eating of a food cart - but oh so good. Four huge carnita tacos, one asadero cheese quesadilla and two soft drinks for 60 pesos or the equivalent of $5.40 US.
                      Carnitas and fresh corn tortillas can't be beat.

                    2. Alright, weighing in about corn tortillas. I make them a lot. Just maseca and water (no 'confusing shortening' : )) I never use a recipe. Just add enough water to make a dough. I cook them on ungreased cast iron pan. don't know how to attach photo, so check out my corn tortilla making experience photo here:

                      1. Very timely thread. I'm getting read to try homemade corn tortillas for the first time. Been researching recipes and available product locally. My grocer has Maseca for tamales and Maseca for tortillas. It says simply "masa" on the bags, not "masa harina." According to Internet reading, I keep running into Maseca as something people use for tortillas. Is it the same as masa harina? Will it yield a good result, or should I keep looking?

                        Thanks for your help.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Old Spice

                          Maseca is a common prand for masa flour (masa harina). Masa is actually a dough you can buy at Mexican markets in some area, but it is produced as masa. Masa harina varies widely on how much "off taste" at least to me, but I am super picky about my corn tortillas. I prefer fresh masa, and can buy a ton of tortillas locally that use fresh masa, but use Maseca in my pantry for when I run out. It works just fine. So, yes, use the masa for tortillas to make tortillas, sopas, etc.

                          1. re: jsaimd

                            You mean sopes right? Masa wouldn't be so great in most sopa.

                            1. re: laylag

                              Sopes are still considered one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. I used the recipes in Rick Bayless's Mexico One Plate At A Time. Incredible.

                            2. re: jsaimd

                              Thanks. Looks like there's a big bag of Maseca in my future!

                          2. i am inspired! these look amazing!! thanks for the great (and delicious, i'm sure) idea.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: susie519

                              I've never seen a woman make tortillas at home from Maseca (or other brands) without tossing in between 1/4 and 1/3 part white flour. It makes a huge difference in texture.

                              1. re: maestra

                                fwiw,All the women, and men, that I know use Maseca and water only to make tortillas.

                                laylag, masa can be cooked in bean soup, made into simple dumplings-really good, both soup & dumplings!

                                1. re: maestra

                                  Rick Bayless doesn't so neither do I... I LOVE the texture and taste of 100% masa.


                                  1. re: Becca Porter

                                    Agreed on taste/texture of 100%corn flour. But I was thinking that maybe for the large, flat corn tortillas the addition of white flour may be advantageous, probably makes them more malleable.

                              2. Here's my family's recipe for them:

                                1 kilo Flour
                                250g Manteca (lard)
                                a tsp salt
                                Water as necessary...

                                It might also be interesting if you look up Fabio Trabocchi's book and try his Piadina recipe. When working in Maestro they reminded me of tortillas (it's pretty much the same, but with a few differences in the ingredient list).

                                1. I just found this thread! I'm so glad they came out good! I really enjoyed making these and my husband and I ate them up in a flash. Ridiculously easy to make and far superior to storebought. Thanks for reminding me about this!

                                  1. It's like you all are pyschic my Chowhound brothers and sisters! I was JUST lamenting the dismal state of store bought tortillas in New York City, and on the recommendation of some Chowhounds in LA ventured out and bought a tortilla press. I was planning on my first run through this weekend! This was inspiring!

                                    I bought a small bag of stone ground, organic blue corn meal/flour (it's ground to about a consistency halfway between meal and flour) with my new tortilla press. Does anyone think I'll have a problem using this for my tortillas? BTW I'm so glad to hear that I only need water for corn tortillas! I was going to go out and find some good lard tonight.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ballulah

                                      Corn tortillas are made with masa not cornmeal. Masa is corn treated with lime and then ground. Best with fresh masa, there is a masa flour available in many places. The most common brand name is Maseca. Maseca is just mixed with water and then pressed into tortillas.

                                      You can make a corn cake with the flour you have, it just won't taste like a tortilla necessarily.

                                    2. I just made these a couple weeks ago & I'm so with you super easy! I'm making them again tonight for fajitas!

                                      Thanks for this awesome recipe!

                                      1. I used to make flour tortillas nearly every day when we lived on a boat (I didn't have an oven to bake bread). I found that letting the dough sit for ~4-5 hours before rolling/cooking made the tortillas taste the most like Baja tortillas (my standard of excellence). Letting it sit longer just makes it harder to roll out.

                                        1. Is it authentic to use the fat in the dough (shortening, lard, etc.) ?? im just wondering. my mom makes a similar flatbread at home with just flour and water, then adds butter to the top after cooking.