Making flour tortillas at home from scratch is fairly simple. This doesn’t mean it is easy, especially the first time. I quickly discovered how hard getting the shape and thickness can be after trying myself.
After watching Youtube videos on how to make flour tortillas. I felt ready to turn out some awesome homemade tortillas. I even kept my phone nearby and had one of the videos playing.
As I followed along and began to mix the flour, then knead the dough. When I rolled out my first one, I realized this wasn’t as easy as the video made it appear.
Here was my first flour tortilla from scratch.
Kind of looks like a dirty sock! Don’t worry though I did get a little better as time went on.
I have a photo of the one flour tortilla that turned out the best. It also happened to be the final one that I made that day.
Reminds me of pancakes where you have to test out a few at first. Until you get the cooking heat and ingredients mixture just right. Same thing goes with making tortillas from scratch.
Attempting to make my own tortillas helped with the research to this common question. In this post I can give some possible answers to help make thinner tortillas, as well as share what I learned.
Why Are My Tortillas Too Thick?
This is a common issue that many people have when making flour tortillas from scratch. When your tortilla comes out too thick, the dough is harder to cook and you end up with a raw tortilla.
Thinner tortillas crisp up a lot easier and don’t have a doughy flavor. The problem usually results from a few simple mistakes made during the process.
Here are the most common reasons for getting tortillas that are too thick.
- Not letting the dough rest enough
- Overworking the dough
- Skipping ingredients
- Using The wrong Ingredients
- Dry Dough
I think it does take some practice and plenty of experience to make really great tortillas. Most people will find just buying them from the store to be much simpler.
Now I think its important to go into more detail about the common mistakes made when making tortillas.
Not Letting The Dough Rest Enough
The dough after it has been kneaded slightly and is ready to be shaped and cooked. Needs to rest for a period of time, that means letting it sit before doing anything else with it.
Place the dough wrapped in a towel inside a bowl. The bowl you used to mix the flour in is what I used.
Cover the top of the dough with the towel. This keeps the dough from drying out and forming a crust. Towels work great because it covers nicely but allows a little air flow.
The dough should rest for around 5 to 10 minutes. Resting the dough gives the flour enough time to fully absorb the added water. Also allows the gluten in the flour to relax, reducing elasticity.
Overworking The Dough
It is important to knead the dough at first. Because you want the gluten’s to form a bond. Working the dough makes these gluten’s stronger. The problem is if the dough is overworked.
This creates a tough dough that shrinks and is harder to roll or press. If your dough is stretched and then returns to shape, then its either overworked or needs more resting.
I would say you only need to knead the dough for about two minutes by hand.
Dough Is Too Dry
This is a common problem and more than likely the dough I used was too dry. Luckily this is a easy fix, just use more water. The dough should be seamless after mixing. So it should not have any folds or separate clumps.
Dry dough is harder to form or roll out along with being harder to cook. Since heating the dough will dry it out even more. You don’t want the dough to be messy wet but just enough moisture.
Another problem that may be causing the tortillas to be too thick. Is not using the proper ingredients. There is a lot of different recipes for tortillas and not all of them call for the same things.
So this might not be specific issue for some, but if you are having thick dough this could be why.
Baking powder is a ingredient that is often skipped. If your tortillas are made without it, try using some next time.
Even though tortillas are usually baked, the baking powder works when you add water to the flour. It will help release more carbon dioxide in the dough and expand the volume and make the dough lighter.
leavening agents such as shortening or baking powder should be used in flour tortillas. Either one or both can be used.
Using The Wrong Ingredients
I don’t want to say these are exactly the wrong ingredients. More like they are unnecessary. Any type of oil or vinegar does not need to be added to the tortilla dough.
How To Make Tortillas Thinner
Once you may have figured out any mistakes that were made in the preparation process. You can try out a these methods to get a thinner tortilla.
Keep The Dough Well Floured
Sprinkle extra flour on the rolling surface to prevent sticking. At first the dough stuck to my roller, so I tossed flour onto the dough.
Doing this makes rolling the tortilla out much easier.
Don’t Use A Press For Flour Tortillas
It has been suggested to use a press only for corn tortillas. While flour tortillas are hand rolled. I also think you can get thinner tortillas by rolling them. Since presses are usually set to a certain thickness.
Roll The Dough Thinner
This may seem obvious but sometimes the problem is that easy. Roll the dough out enough to get a very thin tortilla. If the shape becomes too large then you can always cut it out.
I found that rolling the dough into a near perfect circle is harder than it seems. I also was using a fairly large conventional rolling pin. So I suggest buying a small one for tortillas.
Technique and Tips: What I Uncovered
Talented tortilla makers have lots of experience. Possibly a lot of handed down techniques from family.
I did learn some tips that I will definitely remember for next time. Since baking is precise I think its important to follow ingredients down to a tee.
When you watch videos of others making tortillas, they often just measure out each ingredient by hand. So while its less cleanup than using a measuring cup I wouldn’t recommend it your first time.
Find The Right Temperature
Getting the temperature right on the pan is very important. You can do the water test, by wetting your fingers and splashing the pan.
The water should bubble and steam instantly, I tried less heat at first. Did temperature test and the water would settle first then bubble in seconds. I think it should vaporize instantaneously.
My second tortilla cooked much better as I turned the heat up. I was using a basic non stick pan, so they would probably turn out better in a cast iron.
Problem is I left one cooking for too long while I was rolling the next tortilla. It did burn quite a bit, but would have been a great otherwise.
Make sure to roll and flatten out all the way to the edges
I had read this before I cooked them so it wasn’t a problem. The reason to do this is so you don’t end up with a crust. Again would have been easier with a smaller roller.
Flour Tortilla Recipe
I followed the recipe from King Arthur’s website for “simple tortillas”. I only wanted to make about half of that amount. Just because I was more experimenting.
Also next time if I can get lard I would try that instead of shortening.
This would make about four medium sized tortillas.
- 1 1/2 Cups of Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Cup Crisco Vegetable Shortening
- 1 Cup Hot Water (Almost boiling)