Tortillas are traditional Mexican flatbreads that recipe date back farther than 12,000 years. Traditionally ancient tortillas were made with ground corn, which is how some still prefer them today. They’re so easy to make you don’t need any special equipment, although there are some you can buy to make the process easier. If you do choose to do them by hand there is some tedious rolling which you can get the hang of after a few tries. Don’t be put off though, that’s why we have these recommendations.
There are tons of people who make their own tortillas, and it’s not much of a hassle. It’ll only add around 15-20 minutes to your cooking time but will pay off with warm, fresh, blistered tortillas. The fresh ones actually tare like fresh bread and just feel better in your mouth. It’s worth it.
- Unbleached flour
- Masa Harina
- Tortilla press
- Tortilla parchment rounds
- Rolling pin
- Tortilla holder
If you got the less traditional flour route I recommend you get pre, unbleached all-purpose flour. It’ll help with the color of the tortilla and with the texture. I’m not going to say anything about nutrition, some say it’s healthier, which I believe but only in trace amounts. The real appeal to unbleached flour is that it’s got a rougher grain than bleached flour. Because bleached flour is processed its whiter, milled finer, and has a softer structure.
You may not bake as much as I do, but I find it really helpful to buy my flour in bulk. It has a shelf life of around 6 months if it’s stored correctly so think about how much flour you really use. Even if you don’t bake a that much it’ll be cheaper and more convenient, maybe in case you make in bulk for grandchildren, bake sales, etc.
You can get a 5-pound bag of Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Flour and have it last for a good while if you’re looking for Non-GMO, unbleached flour for your tortillas.
Masa harina is dried, finely ground corn that has been cooked and soaked in an alkaline bath made from water and slaked lime or Calcium hydroxide. It gives the flour it’s distinct color and flavor and forms of it have been used in Native American and Mexican cooking for centuries.
It’s a little more expensive at around 23 cents an ounce, versus the traditional 7 cents per ounce if you buy in bulk. It can be a little tricky to find if you’re not at a special marketplace, so ordering it can just be a lot easier.
Tortilla Press & Parchment Rounds
These normally come in 3 different materials. Cast-iron, Cast-aluminum, or wood. Wood is the most traditional although can be the most expensive and harder to find. If you want to keep it traditional, you can go with Tortilla Press made from Red Oak, not only is it stylishly functional, but it can serve as an excellent conversation piece as well.
Cast iron is durable, stylish, and also relatively traditional. Just remember to keep it seasoned. A good example of a great cast iron Tortilla press is the 8-inch Victoria Cast Iron Tortilla Press.
And finally Cast-aluminum. It’s lightweight, resistant to rust, and also cheap. I wouldn’t recommend one to a Mexican food enthusiast or anyone who likes to cook, But they have their uses. Such as outdoor in unfavorable conditions. If you just need one for a couple of uses or just for the utility of it, I recommend the IMUSA 8-inch Cast Aluminum tortilla press, it’s cheap and it gets the job done!
Parchment rounds are grease paper cut-outs that are meant to fit onto your tortilla press to make sure it doesn’t stick. The handy and make the job a lot quicker because you can quickly stack the tortillas on top of each other without worrying about them sticking together. You can get a big box of them with 200 papers which can last you a while. Depending on how much Mexican food you cook and eat. A box of 200 unbleached 10″ parchment rounds from Geesta is under $13 on Amazon so it’s more than enough for a few Tortilla sessions!
They’re really easy to handle and once you get your hands on one you’ll be able to see and feel how it works immediately. Just open lift the handle so you can unfold the pans. Either flour each side, or if you have them lay parchment rounds use those, place the dough balls into the middle and press down hard for a few seconds. Open the press, then you can simply slide it off with the parchment paper and set it aside to make the rest.
I don’t know what it is about metal rolling pins. I’ve never liked them, especially not for tortillas. The flour doesn’t really stick to them, they’re easily influenced by the temperature of the room and your hand. Not hating on metal rolling pins they’re just not me. I recommend you go with a classy wooden rolling pin instead.
While rolling tortillas out by hand can be frustrating at first, once you have the hang of it, it’s one of those skills you never lose. To make it easier here’s some advice: Begin by flattening the ball of dough with your hand then flatten it with your palm. Take a floured rolling pin and slowly start flattening the dough moving in one direction only. Roll gently to the top or bottom of the disk, turn it around 45 degrees, then repeat until the tortilla is uniform, round, and is about the thickness of a quarter.
Griddles like the Lodge Pre-Seasoned reversible griddles make the best flatbreads and leave the most satisfying char marks on a tortilla. You can buy one unseasoned or pre-seasoned although you’ll eventually have to end up seasoning your own cast iron after a bit of use. When you make your tortillas, place the griddle onto high heat, ass a touch of butter, olive oil, or lard, then slap the tortilla onto it and let it cook for around 30 seconds on each side. Remember cast-iron isn’t safe for the dishwasher nor is it good to let air dry because of the rust damage it will cause.
Not having a perfectly warmed tortilla puts a drag on any dish you’re cooking or eating. These tortilla holders make sure that doesn’t happen and gives you something authentic looking for the table. There’s a huge selection of material, design, style, and capacity to choose fro when you get a tortilla holder and they’re hardly expensive. It depends on who and how you want to serve; Ceramic holders look authentic but are easy to chip and break, plastic will be incredibly durable but not the best for the environment. Fabric holders save space and are convenient, but not exactly traditional. There is an authentic and eco-friendly alternative to all of these, and that is a truly authentic Mexican, handwoven tortilla basket.
- 2 cups unbleached AP flour
- 1 tsp fine salt
- ½ tbsp baking powder
- 2-3 tbsp lard, softened
- ¾ cup of warm water
- First, add the flour to a mixing bowl and whisk in the baking powder and salt.
- Add the lard to the flour and use your hands to incorporate it fully. Run the flour through your hands for several minutes until there are no large gunks of lard left.
- Add the warm water into a well in the center of the flour and begin to form a rough dough. Make sure the water is warm enough to melt the lard.
- Once you’ve formed a rough dough, drop it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you form a smooth ball.
- Let the dough rest for 15 minutes before continuing.
- Divide the dough into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball and place it onto a sheet of parchment paper. Cover the balls with a damp cloth while you form the tortillas.
- Form the tortillas using a floured tortilla press or your hands. If you’re using a press simply place the ball in the center of the pan, close the press, and hold down. Place the fresh tortilla onto a sheet of parchment paper.
- Use a floured rolling in and floured surface if you’re doing it by hand. Flatten the ball with your palm, then use the rolling pin to roll the tortilla out into each direction only rolling in one direction. To make it easier, roll in one direction, rotate the tortilla, then rotate in the same direction again.
- Place a cast-iron griddle onto high heat and brush with a thin layer of oil or lard.
- Slap the tortilla onto the griddle and cool for around 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Place the finished tortillas into your tortilla basket to keep them warm.