How to Make Flour Tortillas

Every pueblo in Mexico, no matter how small, has at least one tortilleria. Chelem, the village where we lived, was reduced to a seaside shantytown when it wasn’t tourist season: sandy, hot, windy, strange, barren, and colorful. Our tortilla shop was on the square, a green concrete room with a dirt floor, and ancient ladies using their hands at the same task they’ve done every day, for dozens of generations.

Corn is the stuff of life in Mexico; every morning, women set out to buy warm corn tortillas, wrapped in paper, to feed their family for the day. The edges were rough, they fit in the palm of your hand, and an entire stack costs about a nickel. The only trouble is, I never really liked them.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

I would buy them anyway, as part of my daily routine. Riding into town with Jeep windows down, stepping over half-dead dogs into the cool concrete market that smelled of entrails, where I would buy mangoes, pineapple, oranges, limes and flowers. I dropped off laundry at Rubenesque Ana’s and bought a big bottle of Sol, a terribly urine-ish beer for late afternoon. At the corner store nearest my house, where the big-bellied brother sat sentry in a lawn chair in the doorway all day, I would pick up a package of Bimbo brand flour tortillas and a cane sugar Mexican coke. Then, home, for a dip in the Gulf before work.

Some of my American tastes never adapted to certain aspects of Yucatecan cuisine, some more mundane than others. I never got into corn tortillas, shark ceviche, or the Yucatecan version of shrimp cocktail, served soupy with tomato sauce in a tall ice cream sundae glass. Making flour tortillas turns out to be one of those so-easy tasks I can’t believe I never did it before. What a difference it makes! To keep it real, I used manteca, which is plainly, lard. I was surprised to see a familiar brick available at my local Hannaford. Flour tortillas are a perfect vehicle for fajitas. But use this recipe for any of your favorite Tex-Mex recipes, and you will be pleasantly surprised at how satisfying, soft, and pliable these are.

How to Make Flour Tortillas
Makes 16 tortillas


  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons lard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup hot tap water


How to Make Flour Tortillas

Measure flour into a mixing bowl.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Measure and add lard to the bowl.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Mix with your fingers, working the fat until it is combined with the flour.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Dissolve the salt in the hot water, then add to dough mixture. Work with your hands; you should have large clumps.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Scoop the dough onto your counter or work surface, and knead until smooth.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Divide dough into 16 portions, and roll each into a ball. Cover them with plastic, and allow them to rest for at least a half an hour before continuing.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Heat a dry skillet or griddle over high heat. Roll each dough ball out into a very thin 6 inch circle, flouring and rotating as needed to try and keep a circular shape (although if the tortillas aren’t perfect circles, don’t worry about it. They can be a bit “rustic.”).

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Lay the tortilla in the hot pan. It should bubble and start to inflate almost immediately. Cook for 30-45 seconds, or until dark spots begin to appear. Flip, and continue cooking for another 45 seconds. Remove from heat and wrap in a clean cloth towel, while you repeat with the remaining dough, stacking the finished tortillas in the warm towel.

How to Make Flour Tortillas

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


    1. Jim, we tried that method, but couldn’t get them thin enough. Even tried starting with the press, finishing with a rolling pin. Wasn’t worth the trouble. Just roll ’em out by hand.

  1. Don’t use that awful processed lard – Maine Street Meats has the real stuff or render it yourself (Belfast Coop has unrendered leaf lard). Makes an enormous difference and keeps a very long time frozen.

  2. Damn, girl. These look GOOD and I consider myself somewhat of a flour tortilla expert. Eating them, of course. Never made ’em. I live in San Antonio, so I have at least 4 places within 10 miles of me at all times that have an abuelita lovingly making them.

  3. They are a LOT better if you substitute about 1/3 cup of masa harina for the flour and skip the lard. Any good-for-you oil (I use coconut oil) will work. I’ve been making flour tortillas for 40 years. I use a dowel (about 1 inch diameter) like my Mexican mother-in-law did to roll out the tortillas to the perfect thickness.

  4. Wow, this recipe is soooo good. We were snowed in, ran out of bread, so tortillas were a quick option. Marching orders from the family is to never purchase tortillas again. This recipe is easy enough to comply with their request.

    Next time, I will try your readers suggestion to sub 1/3 c masa harina. We had the flour/corn tortillas on vacation 2 weeks ago (oh the irony – a tropical vacation and returned in time to be snowed in for a week).

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