Tortilla! Tortilla! Tortilla!

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We love to cook. (And to eat, as is evidenced by the fact that I have a food blog.) But we’re also very busy and don’t have a lot of time to plan our meals. And we live about 20 minutes from the closest grocery store. So we end up with fallback meals we can do any time, with little or no planning. We keep certain ingredients on hand, which means we can always cook certain meals such as pizza, pasta, or stir-fry.

So on Saturday evening at 6:00pm, when we were debating what to make, we went to an old stand-by: tacos. We keep a (healthy?) stock of cheese, ground beef, salsa, and soft tortillas around so it’s easy to whip up a tasty meal. But upon looking in the refrigerator, I realized we only had two tortillas. Fortunately, my list includes flour tortillas.

They were surprisingly easy to make, with just a handful of ingredients that most people would have on hand, and while they were tasty enough stuffed with seasoned chicken, onions, salsa, and cheese, we ended up eating half the batch plain or dipped in a bit of salsa. I definitely prefer these to the ones Amber likes to buy, the dry, crumbly flavorless ones with a vaguely ethnic brand name and bright packaging.

That said, this would have been much easier with a tortilla press or griddle press. I was able to roll them out nice and thin, and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is just about ideal for this project. My skillet is still fairly new, but handled the job nicely.

Soft Flour Tortillas


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening


Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. It’s kind of like making a pie crust – the shortening will affect the texture later, so cold shortening works well to stand up to the mixing. Add the vegetable shortening in 2-3 batches, mixing it in with a fork or pastry cutter. Slowly add the water until a soft dough forms.

Knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s smooth. Divide into 10-12 pieces, rolling each into a ball. Let them rest for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.

Roll out each dough ball to very thin – 1/8” or 1/16”. Dust very lightly with flour if you need to, but too much can create a dry tortilla. Rest for a minute before adding to the skillet.

Lay a tortilla in the skillet, being careful not to fold the edges over on itself. It only takes a few seconds – maybe a minute on each side. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. Repeat with each tortilla.

Keep the tortillas warm, covered in a towel or in a tortilla warmer.