Step-by-Step Instructions for Flour Tortillas

Kids seem to love flour tortillas - my daughter definitely prefers the thin, flexible flatbread to a traditional sandwich. They're also so versatile - you can stuff them with any kind of protein, tons of veggies, or use them for taco night.


But I have issues with store-bought tortillas. They're super soft, flexible and yummy, but only because they've been made with a number of additives and preservatives. Take, for example, this package of Old El Paso soft tortilla shells. If you click on the image, you'll be able to read the list of ingredients - the ones that concern me are basically everything but the flour, water and baking powder!

So I set out to make my own flour tortillas. I've heard that this can be really difficult, but other than the 45 minutes I need to get it done, I have had an easy time of it! Most likely it's the recipe I use, but I think more than anything, it's the instructions. So here I've included pictures of the process, as well as detailed instructions. This has gotten easier the more I've done it, and I find it's not taking me as much time. A full batch yields enough to last us about a week as a family of four. I call Sunday my "tortilla making day" :)


  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsps of room temp butter, cut into cubes

  • 4 tbsps of vegetable oil shortening (a healthier choice would be lard!)

  • 1.5 cups of warm water

Step 1: Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter and shortening into smallish cubes and throw into your bowl of flour

Step 2: Use a pastry cutter (or your hands, or 2 knives) to cut the fat into the flour. You want to do this enough that you end up with little pea-sized pieces of fat mixed in with the flour. Doesn't take much!

Step 3: Slowly pour in 1.5 cups of warm water, mixing as you go. I start with a wooden spoon, and then use my hands as the dough starts to form. Note: the dough will stick together, but it's ok if it's a bit flaky. If it's too sticky and wet, add 1 tbsp more flour. If it's too dry and won't form a ball, add 1-2 tbsps more water.

Step 4: Cover the dough with a damp tea towel, and go make yourself a cup of tea

Step 5: Separate the dough into 16 balls. Cover again with the towel while you heat up a non-stick frying pan on HIGH heat.

Step 6: sprinkle your surface with flour. I like to use a pastry mat!

Step 7: Roll out your dough. It's very important that you get it VERY THIN...if it sticks to the mat, just sprinkle with a bit more flour

Step 8: Throw it into your hot pan, and watch it rise and bubble. Depending on how hot your pan is, this could take a mere 15 seconds or 45 seconds. Watch very closely, as they burn within seconds! Flip it once it bubbles, and toast on the other side for 10-15 seconds.

Step 9: Repeat! I've gotten good enough that I can throw one in the pan, and roll out another by the time that one has cooked. It takes practice :)

Step 10: Eat and enjoy! (tortillas freeze really well - we put waxed paper in between each one so that they don't stick or break)