After 20 years of making what I thought were the best homemade tortillas, this all-butter recipe made me realize that sometimes really good things can get even better.
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 6 –8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (*See note)
- 1 1/3 cup warm water
- Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, and stir to combine.
- Add the softened butter and water and mix on medium-low speed until all the ingredients come together into a dough. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adjusting the flour or water as necessary to achieve a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides of the bowl but still sticks to the bottom. (See notes)
- Dump the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into 20 balls of dough. Cover the balls of dough with plastic wrap and let rest on the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Heat a large non-stick or seasoned cast iron frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot. If you sprinkle a drop of water into the pan the water should sizzle and “skip” across the surface of the pan, evaporating completely in a matter of seconds. (You can also use a griddle, turned to high heat.)
- Remove one ball of dough from beneath the plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll it into a thick disk, about 6 inches in diameter. Use your fingers to pat and stretch the dough into a thin tortilla. (You may or may not need to sprinkle your work surface with a bit of flour to prevent sticking depending not the work surface itself and how wet the dough is. If the dough is really sticking to your work surface, lightly flour the surface trying to incorporate as little flour as possible into each tortilla.)
- Lift the rolled out tortilla and place it in the center of the hot pan. Let the tortilla cook on one side until brown spots begin to form here and there on the surface of the tortilla that’s touching the pan, about 20 seconds. Use a spatula to flip the tortilla to the other side and cook until a few brown spots appear on the other side, about 10-20 seconds. Use the spatula to remove the tortilla from the pan to cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
- I generally make these using 6 tbsp of butter, but over the years have heard from other readers who get better results using a bit more – up to 8 tbsp. The bit of extra fat will help the tortillas remain nice and soft and prevents shrinkage as they cook. Play around with the amount and find what works best for you.
- Tortilla dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but not wet. If you’re using a standing mixer, you want the dough to clean the sides of the bowl, but stick slightly to the bottom. The amount of water you’ll need to achieve this consistency will vary based on climate, humidity, temperature, and who knows what other factors. Start with the amount in the recipe and then add more as the dough kneads, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you have a soft, smooth dough that clings to the bottom of the bowl while sweeping cleanly along the sides. If at any point you find that you’ve added too much water, just add a bit more flour.
- If kneading the dough by hand, follow the instructions below using your hands to bring all the ingredients together inside a large bowl. Dump onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2-5 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough.
- Adjust the heat of the pan as necessary if the tortillas start to cook too quickly and burn spots appear instead of the lovely brown spots.
- I received a great tip from a reader about keeping tortillas in a cloth warmer: “I have a cloth type tortilla warmer and after cooking them they went straight into this holder to keep warm and moist for an hour. This is the ONLY warmer that keeps tortillas warm and not hard, stiff nor dried out. You can even use it in the microwave oven to rewarm the next day.”
- I recently heard from a reader who cooked these in a cast iron skillet on his stovetop and said that each tortilla took about 2 minutes to cook. He said they were still soft and delicious, puffing up as they cooked just like they should. I just wanted to add a note about is experience for anyone else who is experiencing longer cooking times and isn’t sure why. The key is to cook them at high heat. If the tortillas cook at low heat, they will dry out. If you are cooking them in a hot skillet at high heat, they should turn out perfectly whether they take 30 seconds to cook or 2 minutes.
Keywords: homemade tortillas, homemade bread, flour tortillas, Mexican food, bread, quick bread, recipe